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Colin and Sue’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 24 Dec 2006

Location: Lake District, Argentina

MapAfter Ibera we decided to head straight down to the Lake District, or as straight as you can when it´s over 3000 km away. Two more overnight bus journeys - 13 hours back to Buenos Aires for a shower, book exchange and some culture at the MALBA (Museum of 20th Century Latin American Art) then another 17 hours to San Martin de los Andes (we upgraded to fully reclining seats for that one and slept really well after our champagne nightcap).

A real shock after leaving the 35 C sunny north - rain and cold, just like the English Lake District really. We stayed in two small towns, San Martin and Villa (pronounced veezha to fool us) La Angostura and then moved to Bariloche where we join an organised tour down to deepest Patagonia on Christmas Eve. The area is more geared up for hikers than party animals and the hostels are really good.

We´ve had 4 nights at the Ruta Hueney Hostel in Bariloche - it´s got a great kitchen overlooking the lake so we´ve taken advantage and had home cooked food. We even found the magical combination (after visiting three supermarkets, a greengrocers and a deli) of fresh mushrooms (a rarity here and everywhere else in South America), good dried mushrooms, proper risotto rice and real Parmesan cheese and so have had 2 mushroom risottos. This may seem excessive over 4 nights but it´s the meal Colin has been yearning for. Bariloche is generally good for food - we´ve also had delicious raspberries and icecream (our obsession) and haven´t even tried the chocolate yet - Bariloche is famous for its chocolate shops.

But we haven´t just been eating. The scenery here is lovely - Alpine-like lakes and snow-capped mountains. We´ve had an exciting mountain bike ride that was somewhat more technical than we expected. Colin was practising his new "going down woodland steps" technique when he went headfirst over the handlebars landing on his shoulder and bashing his ribs and knees. His excuse is that the brakes are the opposite way round to English bikes and he pulled the front brake instead of the back. (Old dogs and new tricks spring to mind). It would be nice to say that I cycled down without a problem but I took the sensible option of walking. We´ve also had a boat trip and lots of walks. The weather is still very changeable although always windy. We took a cable car ride a few days ago, going up they used concrete blocks in the cars to stabilise them but we had to come down by minibus when the wind picked up even more and it hasn´t run since.

Christmas Eve dawned bright, sunny and not too windy so we took advantage and had a fantastic bike ride up (up being the operative word) to a refugio up in the mountains. Between lunch and afternoon tea at the refugio we had a lovely walk to a lake and viewpoint.

We´ve moved from our hostel now to a 3 star hotel (the first hairdryer for 3 months so luxury indeed) for the start of our organised tour down through Patagonia.

Merry Christmas to our readers.