And now let’s switch to the towns of Puerto Varas and San Carlos de Bariloche, my final destinations in Patagonia 2018-2019. Although each of the two towns is rather unique in their own way, both places feel rather resort-like and both are located on shores of glacier lakes of Lago Llanquihue, respectively Nahuel Huapi Lake. The resorty feeling and relatively close proximity are the main reasons why I’ve decided to write a joined piece about both towns.
Furthermore, it’s also the fact that I found them both a bit pretentious, which is of course purely subjective opinion of a person who grew up in a kind of pretentious resorty place himself. The major difference between the two towns is that while Puerto Varas held the Norah Jones kinda soundtrack feeling to me, while Bariloche was more of a 4 Non Blondes with occasional hints of David Guetta atmosphere. Pick your own sonic poison 😉
Warning: This text contains some bad words, such as “Daily Mail”, “hitler” or “nazi” and more. If you are easily offended by bad words – be aware please – there will be some 😉
It might have been the slow-paced atmosphere or the rather higher average age of the visitors that reminded me of my home town a lot, although my home town doesn’t have the glacier lake and a perfectly-shaped volcano. It is Volcan Osorno, which could be called an icon of Puerto Varas. Apart from the fact that it looks like a child’s drawing of volcano (a perfect triangle with a white hat), it is a great option for a day trip and it turns into a ski resort in the winter.
For the non skiers and non trekkers, there’s also the cable car option available to get some panoramic views of the lake. There are about trillion agencies selling the expensive trip to the volcano, otherwise it is accessible by car via Route 225. Other favourite activity is hiking to Cerro Philippi, that offers alternative views over Lago Llanquihue. Or you can go a bit crazy and swim in the lake like me. FYI, I’ve lasted about 8 minutes 😀
San Carlos de Bariloche is famous for several reasons, among which, one would name mainly the beautiful scenery; various activities such as trekking, skiing, rafting at Rio Manso or doing anything in Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi. However, being rather overdosed by the Patagonian nature south of Bariloche, I was looking for something else. And I was glad to find out that this town have had a reputation of being a nazi hideout in the past.
OK, let’s fast-forward. I was half-way up a description of the history regarding the immigrant nazis in Argentina, drowning the text deeper and deeper into explanations of particular contexts and semi-apologies for Evita and her husband (then a president) because not all their policies promoted such horrible ideologies.
Anyway, it was just when I begun to consider rewriting all that or even skipping the whole nazi hideout part because it was getting more and more off topic, I found this stupid article in Daily Mail, a paper that somehow can’t get rid off its fascination with nazis and any form of general fascism, even though it’s been more than 80 years since they have begun promoting it as a way to go forward.*
The article itself doesn’t explain anything about the history of nazi emigration to South America – it’s not a journalism, like any other article in Daily Mail – it’s full of shit and misleading information (well, except the sport’s section because one has to be very talented to screw the 6:1 for FC Liverpool text up). The article is just another stupid click-bite piece but for me it offers a way out of this nazi hideout theme as well as a chance to have a go at Daily Mail‘s and its fascist history.. One should wonder how such a paper could exists until now…**
Fuck Daily Mail
In case you haven’t drifted away by clicking on more and more articles about nazis in South America or Daily Mail‘s racist history (and presence), here’s the rest of my piece about Puerto Varas and Bariloche. But yes, it must have been weird, the clash between those poor Germans who fled hitler and the scum that fled Germany in 1945 with all the money they have stolen…
Anyway. The town’s centre (Centro Cívico) is reminiscent of the Swiss Alpine houses and it hosts plenty of restaurants, cafés and bars. Generally, it was refreshing for me to grab a few and not pay the London price for a pint like in southern Patagonia. Other than that (or because of that?), I turned a bit lazy, with the great excuse of having my right knee a bit overloaded from the previous 6-12hrs treks a day for few weeks in a row.
Cerros Otto, Tronador and Catedral
So I took a cable car up to Cerro Otto. The views were worth the 550,-Argentinian Pesos (€12,90) and, while sipping cappuccino in a rather spectacular bauhausy spinning restaurant on the top, I didn’t find it very difficult to forgive myself that I’ve opted for such a means of transportation instead of walking couple of hours uphill and then downhill, which was where my knee would come into the occasion properly (:0
Btw, bellow the restaurant, there was also a bizarre exhibition of a local artist who must have dedicated way too much time to copy works of others, particularly of Michelangelo, including the copy of the famous statue of David. FYI, I still wasn’t able to find out if he was circumcised because even here it wasn’t quite clear but I must say that it might have been due to the fact that I haven’t spent ages looking at his penis 🙂
Except the statue of David, there was another bizarre fact was that there was also a night club in the building. David Lynch would definitely shoot a scene or two in there, if he was aware of its existence.
From Bariloche, there are also two other day trips to Cerro Tronador and Cerro Catedral people seem to like. The cheaper pints and the knee excuse prevented me to go but from what I’ve heard, the first one is the highest mountain in the lake region of Argentina. The Cerro Catedral is only about 19km from the town and as a ski resort, it also has a cable car 😉
A little tip for a late night sip
I was staying on Juramento street and there were few nice little trendy joints offering snacks, burgers and artesanal beers. My fav feature of any establishment: terraces were also present, not to mention the happy hours 😉
Other destinations near by
About two hours of bus drive south of Bariloche, there’s is the small town of El Bolsón. Because of the German immigrants (well before the nazis), it’s known for its production of cheese and beer. For the previously mentioned reasons I did not go myself but many people I’ve met several travellers who raved about El Bolsón, its hiking routes and Cajón de Azul, a a lake where one can swim.
How to get there
- Puerto Montt to Puerto Varas: it’s a short bus ride. Buses are frequent and cheap
- Castro to Puerto Varas: 2,5hrs @ 7500,- CLP (€10)
- Puerto Varas to Bariloche: rather stunning 6 hours ride through the Andes @ 18 000,-CLP (€12,90). Try to get the front seat on the upper deck if you can 😉 FYI, you can also fly here from Buenos Aires on cheap if you book early.
- FYI, once in Bariloche you will need a local Oyster card (SUBE) you can top up in order to use the public transport. This card is also usable in Buenos Aires so if you’re planning to visit the gorgeous capital of Argentina, it’s definitely worth to get SUBE 😉
- Puerto Varas: I’ve stayed in one of the cheapest places in this rather expensive town. Airbnb’s Cama en habitación compartida mixta s/desayuno for $12 was just about all right for its price to serve the purpose.
- Bariloche: I’ve picked the Airbnb’s Bariloche Patagonia Jazz Hostel. Given the $12.50 per night for a dorm it was again one of the cheapest accommodations one can get in town. The staff was super-friendly and the place appeared to attract a nice crowd. It was pretty much centrally located and there were community dinners. Overall it’s a nice place and I have a good memories of this hostel 🙂
Other popular destinations travelling south
- You can access the mysterious Isla Chiloé from Puerto Varas in the matter of hours
- Once you are in the area, I’d definitely recommend exploring the stunning Carretera Austral
- While you are at it, you can also visit the little village Puerto Rio Tranquillo to experience the beauty of Marble Caves
- About 1/2 day’s drive further south on the Argentinian side of Patagonia, I’d recommend visiting El Chaltén to take upon some treks in the Los Glaciares National Park
- If you made it this far south, please do not miss out on what I guarantee would be one of the best experiences in your life and visit Perito Moreno Glacier near the Argentinian town of El Calafate
- A few hour’s drive over Andes from El Calafate, there’s a Chillean town of Puerto Natales, which is a gateway to the famous Torres del Paine
- To get to the end of the world from here, travel further south to Tierra del Fuego with the town of Ushuaia and its stunning National Park nearby
Life is not just about trekking
I have to admit, at this point, I was missing a social life. I was missing different conversations other than about trekking and how much is what hostel or park entry. I’ve missed a city. I realized that when I’ve had a glass of red and a coffee in El Calafate in a 30 minute window of clear skies to be able to sit outside on a terrace. I was ready for the city people, tango, wine, cafés, terraces and happy hours of Buenos Aires 🙂
*Daily Mail has been faithful to its heritage of hate towards minorities but it’s contemporary incarnation is rather flexible about what kind of hate it spreads and about whom, if compared to when it was founded. In case you are worried about antisemitism in particular, in this case you don’t have to worry so much, at least when it comes to Daily Mail because most of the hate they have been spreading lately isn’t aimed at Jewish people.
In the recent decades it’s been targeting other groups, in general it is any immigration of the non-white or poor people, but mainly it’s about Eastern Europeans and Muslims.
**Just look at the state of the 42% of modern Britain…
Epilogue on hate: Isn’t that bizarre how hate has its genres? Isn’t is just One Hate, Bono? And isn’t racism just racism? Or if you like Chinese and hate Japanese or other way around – are you any better? We even invent PC terms for these assholes now. Alt-right? What’s that? As someone pointed rightly out: if you fuck a sheep you stay a sheep fucker, you won’t become an Alt-lover…