Seats With A View

29th Nov. 2016

But not these seats!Today is the last long bus journey of our trip as we continue to go southwards to Bariloche – San Carlos de Bariloche to give it its full name. We’ll take day trips out of both Bariloche and Buenos Aires but we’re going to fly between the two because a 23 hour bus trip is too much even for us. Four years ago we were about level with Bariloche on the Chilean side of the Andes and heard many stories as to how beautiful it was. Well, now we get to find out for ourselves.

Flat straight road out of NeuquenThroughout Latin America, travelling by bus has worked incredibly well for us – they have been surprisingly punctual and usually very good value for money. However, we won’t miss the bus terminals which tend to be chaotic and grimy with people and buses milling in all directions and little information as which bus is where (and when). Neuquén terminal is the exception to the rule. It is big (massive), modern, a taxi ride from the town centre – and empty! In the time we were waiting for our bus, we only saw a couple of other buses in here. It is fair to say that the town has scope for expansion – though, as Janet described yesterday, not necessarily any reason for that expansion.

Causeway across the lakeBy now we know what seats to book on the bus and, so, we are sitting at the front on the top deck again – and there is no plastic mesh on the window in front of us. My word is the view worth it. The scenery was consistently stunning and dramatic for all 6 hours of the journey south. At first, the view is just the long straight road with scrubby desert on either side. Then we get into rolling hills and Lakeland. Every time I put the camera down to concentrate on the blog or whatever I’m reading, there is a need to pick it up and try another picture. And then the hills start turning into mountains with snow on the peaks. Oh my goodness, we’re going to enjoy Bariloche.

Lakes and mountainsFollowing the lake

This is reinforced when we get to our apartment for the next few nights. We get a decent amount of space (which is not always the case) and it is close to (if uphill from) the town centre. Gustavo the owner/manager is very friendly and helpful and points out where the supermarket and lavandero are. Even better, it turns out that TripAdvisor’s No.1 rated restaurant in Bariloche is just round the corner. Better still, it is a parilla and so I am going to get my long awaited steak. What a joy Alto El Fuego is – busy, buzzing, good wine and great food with a waiter who helped us to make some great choices – including the chorizo sausage big enough to share as a starter.

Now that's a proper sausage!We’re now at the southernmost point of our trip – 41oS, about as far south as Barcelona is north – and, if today is anything to go by, with about the same climate. Bariloche is nominally in Patagonia (as is Neuquén) but regardless of what Wikipedia says, this isn’t Patagonia as I think of it – rugged, windswept, barren. The sun is shining, there isn’t a cloud in the sky and it is beautifully warm. As we are arranging house viewing for our return, we had a reminder that not only is it cold back home, it also gets dark in the middle of the afternoon. So perhaps we’d better not quibble about what region it is in and just get on with enjoying it.

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