Arriving in Bariloche, I felt like I had taken a wrong turn in the sky and landed somewhere in Europe. The region’s landscape shares commonalities with Europe’s great alpine regions. Dense cypress trees, snow-capped mountains, turquoise lakes and tudor style buildings. I didn’t care where I was, it was beautiful.
San Carlos de Bariloche is small town situated on Lago Nahuel Huapi, at the base of the Andes. First settled by German immigrants in the early 1900’s, the town has developed a reputation as an outdoor adventure destination due to its extensive and diverse landscape. For me, I was travelling there because of water. Known as the lake region.
One of my highlights was hiking up to the Cerro Campanario and witnessing one of the best panoramas I have seen. While the hike itself was not overly challenging, 30 minutes straight up, when you reach the top you are greeted with breathtaking lake views and snow-capped mountains. I treated myself to a hot chocolate while I was there, just to complete the picture.
Weather around these parts can be contrasting from day to day. I was having a string of luck with the blue skies, so I wanted to bank that luck with a bike ride around the Circuit Chico. The 27 km gave me the opportunity to stretch my legs and pop on my lycra. This was my Tour de France. I made friends with a lovely quartet riding the bus out to the bike hire shop and instantly had myself a posse. We were all geared up in our high visibility vests and helmets, the height of fashion, and were on our way. We had completed no more than 3 km when we came across the Patagonia Cervaceria, a German beerhaus located adjacent to a spectacular panoramic view of Hotel Llao Llao.
After a couple of beers and a bite to eat, we became aware of the time and hit the road again. The road was paved and hilly. Each turn I could feel my legs burning and no matter how hard I pushed I felt like I was losing pace. I pushed through and on only a couple of occasions did I have to get off and push the bike. Maybe, my cycling career won’t make it to the Tour de France, but it did complete the Tour de Bariloche. As painful as the cycle was, each turn provided a stunning glimpse of another majestic mountain, or a crystal blue lake. It was impossible to drown in the pain when those views were so prolific.
The days that followed were dreary for some, but a highlight for an Australian like me. It snowed. It snowed a lot. While I have seen snow before, it is not a regular occurrence for me to see it fall from the sky. Sitting in Hostel Penthouse 1004 and watching the landscape get blanketed in the white flakes, I was in heaven. Maybe I am a winter person afterall!