Up in the Lake District, like a Bavarian dream, is Bariloche. Buildings of pale wood and stone line the streets, while below chocolate and beer parade around in toy-like shops. The tinsel town like feel would be strange, but the warm breeze, tall lush trees and blue lake transport you to another place.
There are hundreds of lakes in the area, making Bariloche a playground for water sports and getting outdoors. Take the ferry across Lake Nahuel Haupi, raft through the mighty waters of the Manso river, kayak with your friends or sit back on relax up on a horse. If you want full views of San Carlos de Bariloche, walk one of the many trails up the hills, through pine forest with friendly birds. Buses connect the town centre to communities around the lakes, and are your tickets to the hills. Cerro llao llao, Cerro Campanario are both short achievable walks, the latter has a chair lift for those with achey legs and the cafe at the top serves some mouth watering cakes.
Steak, Chocolate and Beer
In Bariloche, it’s all about chocolate. They don’t just sell it, they craft it. Go into Mamuschka or El Turista to see the many chocolates on offer, the crazy sculptures they create and sometimes a live demonstration. It’s also worth looking out for the ice creams, candied nuts and sweet breads. When you’ve eaten a small cows worth of chocolate, wash it down with a fresh beer. Cervezarias start just off the main Mitre street and sprawl through the town. Your best bet is going after 8pm, as the Argentinians tend to take the afternoons off. By night, shutters are opened and the tables are laid out on the streets. If you want to get into Manush, you’ll have to queue for a table, but you’ll pay half the price and get a warmer welcome at Konna bar.
Being pescatarian, I’d never had steak before, but I’d been told that in the nation of steak Bariloche was the capital, and I was willing to give it a go just for that. Parilla is the traditional meat grill, perfected over time to become a special art. Parilla restaurants are everywhere here, offering cosy home style cooking or gourmet fine dining. Chose from several cuts of beef, or have a selection plate. We went on recommendation to El Boliche de Alberto, sharing a Ribeye, Stirloin and a hearty red wine with new friends. It was juicy, flavoursome and addictive. Even I can see what the fuss is about.