The bus ride marathon in Argentina began with the route Mendoza-Bariloche; only 20 hours. We searched for a hostel on the spot as we couldn't book one from Mendoza thanks to the blackout. We finally found two beds in one that we can't remember, without hot water...great! Considering the 15 °C outside and the wind...why would we need it?
Bariloche is gorgeous, it feels like you're in the Argentinian Switzerland; snowy mountains, lakes, alpine houses, chocolate shops and lots of St. Bernard dogs. The main square is packed with these dogs that have a little barrel hanging from their necks, accompanied by some smart Argentinian who wants to make some money out of it. The main street is full of trekking shops, and all travellers seem eager to do some sort of outdoor activity. Actually, Bariloche is in the middle of a national park, right next to the lake Nahuel Huapi and there's so much you could do, it only gets boring if you want to! Our first mission in Bariloche was finding a bus that would take us south to Calafate or El Chaltén, which seemed really complicated due to the distance. All the agencies we went to offered a 2-day trip with accommodation, but we wanted to go straight and save some money. In the end, a nice lady from El Calafate who worked in a random office helped us find a direct bus (30 hours) to El Calafate. We couldn't believe that we would stay 30 hours in a bus, but the flight wasn't an option.
The guys working at the hostel were organizing an Asado i.e. Argentinian barbeque for the night. The Argentinian way of cooking the meat is slow; they started the fire at 8 pm and we didn't get the meat cooked before 10, which made us only more desperate, but it was so tasty and yummy that we couldn't get enough afterwards! We spent the evening chatting away and drinking Argentinian wine with other travellers who were staying in our hostel, happy not to spend another night in a bus!
The next morning we decided to do a little tour around Bariloche. We rented two mountain bikes to do the Chico Circuit, a lap of 30km where you see a part of the Lake District. We had heard it was hard as there were many steep slopes, and we had to work our asses off to complete the circuit! We took it nice and slow and stopped everywhere we could to take rests and some pictures. One of our stops was at a beach by the lake; there were only locals there, relaxing and sunbathing whilst drinking their national tea, mate. It was nice to just lie there, despite it was chilly and windy. After the bike tour we took a chairlift to go up Cerro Campanario, a hill from where you get an awesome view of the whole area we biked around. It was very windy and cold, and amazing...such a pity our camera decided to die that day...
We spent the evening walking around the city centre again, shopping a little and indulging ourselves with hot chocolate and alfajores in one of the many chocolate stores. Bariloche is simply enchanting...somewhere you would always go back to, whether it's for a skiing trip or just to relax by one of the many postcard perfect sights around.