You like lakes, snow sports, craft beer and having your wallet spanked at every opportunity? Please, come to Bariloche. Feeling pretty early on in the picture that this would better reflect the lakeside towns tourism marketing campaign, we insist this not put you off. To make up for it the excellent craft breweries have cracking happy hours, some for seven hours on Sunday Funday.
Desiring to gaze out over the lake, Hostel Inn with its front deck and common rooms flanked by massive panes of glass overlooking the water is the best choice for the price ($10 USD for a comfy dorm bed with private bathroom). Managing to score a first floor four bed dorm to ourselves with views over the lake, it’s a bonus which after the commencement of the ski season the following week would be impossible to swindle.
With craft beer, snow sports and a climbing mecca in close proximity, we throw aside the latter two and concentrate on the former, beer. Possessing a climate ideal for horticulture nature’s best invention, hops, it would be a crime if there wasn’t a ludicrous amount of brewpubs infused in town. With over a dozen located in and around Bariloche, we make haste first to check out the ambers at Bachmann pub, on a street in town which has six located within 100 metres of each other.
At half price and with one of the best happy hours in the country, it would be rude not to sit for a couple. With the atmosphere leaning towards the ‘refined’ crowd it’s a hop skip and a jump to Antares. A lofty warehouse style space with wrap around mezzanine floor, it’s Sunday, six in the evening, the place is heaving and it’s happy hour until one in the morning, oh the disappointment.
Sliding up to the corner of the bar we gaze over the extensive selection of beers. At the equivalent of USD$2 a pint we start through the list. All the beers here are good with the favourites being the honey beer and cream stout, so far. The dude behind the bar owns the scene, able to converse and pour brews all by himself without missing a beat – we’re yet to see anything like this guy.
WHAT IS THAT?!!
A wheel with all the beers and a space or two reserved for the barman’s selection, The Wheel of Destiny, as it quickly becomes known, promptly gets spun. Hitting the jackpot Sarah gets the equivalent of a roulette zero – the Barley Wine. At 10% it comes with a written warning in both Spanish and English. Enjoying the rest of the night with the Copa America on the big screen, we stumble home unable to make it to the 1am Happy Hour cut off time.
The main square of Bariloche, leading though the gates to the main thoroughfare and tourist haven, has been built in an alpine style, fitting with its surrounds. With its position overlooking the lake and small artesian market it should be a pleasant space, however it’s also filled with sorrow, protest and pain.
The plaza is dominated by a statue of President General Julio A Roca, who led Argentina’s ‘conquest of the desert (Patagonia)’. Protests have taken place here to remove the statue as it’s offensive to the local Mapuche people, who’s relatives were slaughtered without any consideration in the campaign.
To add to this, the entire space is covered with white scarf images, names and dates, signs of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo of Buenos Aires fame. Their silent weekly protests (begun in 1977) demanding to know the whereabouts of their children, missing from the ‘Dirty Wars’ of the 70’s and 80’s, has ensured this part of Argentina’s history is not swept under the carpet.
Along the main street the money changers are jostling for your USD (see tips), trying a few we succeed in obtaining a rate we’re (mostly) happy with, before proceeding to chocolate heaven, Mamuschka. With its spinning Russian dolls greeting you above the door, you’ll be blown away with the choice on offer and left scratching your head at how chocolate could be worth more than the price of gold! We’ll say it again, Bariloche is expensive. Though they are pretty generous with their samples so head on down.
We spend a lazy afternoon on the front deck of the hostel, watching the sunset and building up the energy for the bike ride tomorrow.
Bariloche and it’s surrounds are beautiful, but don’t take our word for it, check out more pics on Flickr.
TIPS FOR BARILOCHE
- In high season (winter) once the Catedral Ski Resort opens the price of almost all accommodation doubles – be aware.
- Yes, Bariloche is crazy expensive though cooking at the hostel, drinking at happy hours, not buying ski equipment (it is ridiculous how much it cost, like $300 USD for a pair of Quiksilver gloves!) along with exchanging money in a city before coming will help to prevent a budget blowout and subsequent heart failure.
- Money changers are going to rip you off if you do not have a complete grasp of the Spanish language. A guy in front of us got a far superior rate to what we were offered. If you’re not happy just walk away no matter the pressure they place on you. Remember, they’re the dicks that are ripping you off!