Saturday, January 29, 2011

Week Eleven Daily Journal

Don't worry --- we are safely out of Cairo and are now heading to Austria for some skiing!

Friday, December 10
El Bolson, Argentina

We ordered the "five sweets sampler" thinking it'd be dessert.
It was jam.

It was pouring when we woke up so we spent the morning in the cabin and had leftovers for lunch.  Finally we took the car out and drove to the Lago Azul lookout and then hiked up to the Cabeza del Indio, which ended up actually being a rock that looked like a head.  The rain actually stopped while we were there which was a nice surprise, and we finished off the excursion at a cute little teahouse where we had bread, jam and a submarine (a bar of chocolate dropped in hot milk). Later we went to the in-town location of El Bolson Cereveceria and then to dinner at A Punto, which was really good.  We finished up the night at the El Bolson jazz fest and then had some ice cream

Saturday, December 11
El Bolson & Bariloche, Argentina

The beach at Lago Nahuel,
right near our hostel.
Amy and Dustin cooked up delicious eggs benedict for breakfast (we will definitely visit your future b&b!).  After checking out of our cabana, we drove back over towards Lago Puelo.  We parked by a hanging bridge and took a hike along the river.  The trail was not often much of a trail and we did a lot of climbing over fallen trees, scrambling up muddy slopes and ducking under barbed wire fences. It was a nice hike though and we especially enjoyed the picturesque meadow with grazing horses and sheep.  Afterwards Amy and Dustin drove us up to Bariloche (thanks!) and dropped us off at Hostel Patanuk, which had awesome lake views.  We spent the evening sitting on the couch writing blog posts (and then sharing a pasta) at Santos, which had a great atmosphere and good (but not great) food.

Sunday, December 12
Bariloche, Argentina

Chocolate sampler
After a mediocre (D)/bad (J) lunch at Rock Chicken (basically Bariloche fast food), we took the public bus over to Cerro Otto, and took the gondola up to the top.  The views were great but it was freezing and so windy, and the tourist area at the top (complete with rotating restaurant and art gallery featuring a replica of michelangelo's David was beyond touristy.  We decided to hike down instead of take the gondola.  We walked down a bit on the road until we came across the park ranger station and met park ranger diego.  We chatted and shared a mate.  We continued down the road until we reached a refugio.  It wouldn't be open for 10 more days but the people working on it directed us to the trail.  All was going well until we missed a turn and found ourselves in a creepy, silent forest with a human grave (of a guy who had died in august 2010 on his 21st birthday) and a scary abandoned shed.  After half an hour of searching around we finally located the path and were happy to get out alive.  The rest of the hike down was steep but nice, especially the meadow at the bottom.  Later we went into town and sampled some of the chocolate for which Bariloche is famous.  Our favorite - the dark chocolate almond and pistachio clusters from Mamushka.  The worst - the Johnny Walker filled milk chocolate.  I've never seen Dave gag from whiskey before.  That night we went to Butterfly for one of the best meals of our whole Iives.

Monday, December 13
Bariloche, Argentina

Along the route you could stop
and pay to have your photo taken with a St Bernard.
Today we rode the Circuito Chico, the scenic road that wraps around and between lakes and goes by the famous Llao Llao Hotel.  We took the bus to kilometer 18 (our hostel is at km 1) and got off at the bike rental place.  It wasn't until the day was over that we realized we had gone to the wrong bike place (ie not the one we had made a reservation with), oops.  We ended up spending the day with the people renting bikes at the same time - Molly and Rachel, and Dan and Caitlin.  It was a fun day but hard, over 30k with lots of big uphills.  The scenery was gorgeous.  We met up with the group for dinner at a Mexican place and then a drink at an Irish pub, and finally went to bed exhausted.

Tuesday, December 14
Bariloche, Argentina

We decided to take it easy and recuperate after the big bike ride, so after Dave made us some delicious eggs for breakfast we took the bus out to Cerro Campanera.  We had been told it was a 30 minute hike so while our new friends Chewy and Ben took the chairlift up, we decided to tackle it.  It was true that it was short, but it was straight up.  We rewarded ourselves at the top with spectacular views and an amazing piece of apple strudel with whipped cream.  On the hike back down, Dave and i disagreed on which path to take when the trail split, so we each went our own ways.  Needless to say, J made it quickly down to the bottom while D ended up on a totally overgrown trail that dumped him 2k down the road.  JSR!  We took the bus into town and did some errands (bus tickets, supermarket, chocolate) and then headed back to the hostel and cooked a delicious stir fry for dinner.  Then we lay awake until 4:30 am listening to hundreds of Argentine teenagers party and scream outside the club up the block.  Awesome.

Wednesday, December 15
Bariloche, Argentina

We headed out with some people from our hostel to catch the 10am bus to Cerro Catedral, the main ski mountain in Bariloche, for the hike to Refugio Frey.  There ended up being 8 of us hiking together, and it felt like a great accomplishment when we finally reached the Refugio after a dicey river crossing!  After enjoying the delicious chicken sammys we had made and brought and checking out the area near the Refugio we headed back down via an alternate route.  All was well until we reached the bottom (a total 20k hike) and learned we had to hike an additional 3k to get to the bus station.  Ugh!  We enjoyed a much needed empanada while waiting for the bus and when we got  home pretty much just got in bed and watched tv.

Thursday, December 16
Bariloche, Argentina

Today we rented a car to do the famous Siete Lagos drive.  The day started off sunny and the scenery was gorgeous.  We stopped in Villa Angustora for a delicious parilla lunch.  As we continued on the drive the weather got really crappy and the road turned to dirt/gravel.  We stopped in Villa Trafew for a coffee and continued the rest of our drive.  We finally got back to town around 7:30, dropped off the car, shopped around for a backpack and went to dinner at Boliche de Alberto, the pasta restaurant recommended by Tanny and many others.  We had delicious gnocchi and a giant lasagna.

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