Travel Journal


(Saturday 2 April 2011) by Mike and Julie's sort of round the world trip
Day 232-33 3/27-28/11
We pulled in early and it was cold enough to see my breath which is something I planned this entire trip to avoid. I definitely will not be heading any further south than this. I caught a local bus heading into town and found a hostel fairly cheap in the book. The owner was a kindly older woman who didn’t speak a word of English but we managed to communicate for the most part. The room wouldn’t be ready for awhile so I got my gloves and knitted cap and headed out to get breakfast. Food is rather expensive in the city center but I was hungry and ordered an omelet which was French fries with scrambled eggs, cheese and tomatoes on top. Not great but very filling.
After checking in and taking a shower, the owner pointed to a shoe repair shop on the map that would be open tomorrow as today was Sunday. Tourist information was open though and gave me a larger map of the area and pointed out Biloche Vieja which I wanted to visit the following day but told me I would have to take a taxi for around $20 to get there. I took some pictures of City Hall and the Turista chocolate shop which the Amazing Race had stops. There is a strong Swiss influence here with stone and wood buildings, fondue restaurants and many chocolate shops but there doesn’t seem to be many Europeans living here. There are quite a few backpackers on the street and you can tell tourism is a big part of the town’s economy.
After the typical Argentinean breakfast, I noticed the map had a bus line near Biloche Vieja and talked with the owner who indicated that that line still ran. It curved off about two miles from where I wanted to go but that was an easy walk. I tried to get my shoes repaired but either they didn’t understand what I needed or they didn’t do that work. I walked a little while to I happened on a paint shop that sold glue so I bought a tube and glued the insole myself and gave it about a half hour to dry before I got to antsy and put it on and headed out. I caught a bus back to the bus station as I knew the public bus I wanted went by there and thought I would also go ahead and buy my outward ticket to Santiago for the next day. I tried several companies but they were all sold out Tuesday. I finally got a ticket to Orsorno where it should be easy to get a bus up to Santiago. I had to buy from Via Bariloche which I had noticed sells tickets at least 50% higher than other companies but I really didn’t have any choice at that point.
I waited awhile for my bus but finally it came and the driver assured me that he did go up near where I wanted to go. It was crowded with many students and I wasn’t sure where they were going at noon. We curved off the main road and I got ready to get off but the driver shook his head and motioned for me to stay onboard. We bounced down a dirt road for awhile and then stopped in front of the entrance to a cavern park where the driver indicated I should get out. Looking at the map I realized I should have gotten out when I thought and we were a couple miles away from that point so I didn’t get out immediately. As we went further and further away, I considered getting off as I wasn’t sure the bus was on a circular route but a nice young man asked if I needed help and after I told him my situation he told me I should stay on as the bus would turn around soon. The road ended in a dirt parking lot and the students all go off and where replaced with more students and the bus headed back and this time I got off at the right place.
It was a nice walk to Biloche Vieja which is now a restaurant. This was a regular hangout for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid when they hightailed it out of the US and came down to South America. I went all out and got a steak dinner which was really good and enjoyed imagining the place back in the days.
Coming back was a bit of a pain though. My shoe doctoring came apart and I had to wait about an hour and a half for the bus. I meant an interesting Chilean who was over here picking fruit during the season before returning home. He didn’t speak a word of English but we actually communicated very well as he would speak slowly and repeat himself or use charades to get his meaning across. I give him all the props here as I know my Spanish really isn’t that good.
Getting back, I packed for the bus trip which means anything I might need on the bus goes in my daypack and everything else including the laptop goes in my backpack. I set the alarm early as the bus left at 7:30 AM. I then used about half the tube of glue for my problematic shoe and left it overnight to dry.


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