When we decided to visit Bariloche, the original plan was for three days. When we stepped off our bus and were walking to our hostel, I immediately looked at Daniel and said, "I want to stay for a week!" So we did. Normally, we don't fall in love with extremely touristy places, but Bariloche was just what we needed at this point in our trip. It is situated in the foothills of the Andes and is surrounded by gorgeous lakes and mountains. The views are to die for, the weather was phenomenal, they are famous for their meat, the trees all wear adorable "sweaters", and there are about a gazillion gourmet chocolate shops... what more could we possibly need?
We cooked our own meals most days, but we did splurge on fancy food and ice cream (of course) a few times. El Boliche de Alberto serves some of the best meat in Argentina, so getting a steak was at the top of Daniel's to-do list. The meal was fancy and expensive by our standards, but a similar quality meal at home would be double or triple the price. Let me tell you, it was worth every penny.
We spent an afternoon browsing the many chocolate shops, eating free samples as we went along. By the time we were finished, our bellies were full and happy. Most of the ice cream shops also made their own gelato, which was of course amazing. The first time we had it, we didn't realize that a large cone came with three gigantic scoops. After that, we tried to tone it down in subsequent visits and get a measly two scoops instead.
Thankfully for my waistline, Bariloche had some fantastic places to run. There was a wide sidewalk/trail that went alongside the main road near the water with a beautiful view of the mountains just past the lakes. There were a few lookout points along the way that took my breath away (either that, or I am getting out of shape). If I could have that view every day, I would never have an excuse not to get out the door again!
We took a short day trip to Cerro Campanario, which is a short (but STEEP!) walk straight uphill to a view point over the city. The view of the mountains and lakes was absolutely stunning. We had a nice clear day, so we took our time taking pictures and having some snacks at the top. When we came down, the original plan was to continue a bit down the road to rent bicycles to attempt the 60km Circuito Chico route. By the time we got there, we would have had to have the bikes back a few hours later. I won't lie... I was disappointed when we decided to skip it, but it ended up being a good decision.
There are many hiking opportunities in the area, but most of the trails were closed when we visited. The high season doesn't get into full swing until mid-November, so settled on doing one hike that deserves its own post. The rest of the time, we just relaxed and enjoyed the gorgeous weather. We had to mentally prepare ourselves for what was to come... a 29 hour bus ride into Calafate. So far, our limit has always been about twenty hours. Unfortunately, there really is no feasible way of getting into southern Patagonia without a ridiculous bus (or expensive flight). Luckily, the ride wasn't as bad as expected and we made it to our destination in one piece.