Monday, April 6, 2009

El Bolson ice cream and Bariloche chocolate

Our long journey on Route 40 ended in the town of El Bolson. Technically still in Patagonia, the landscape has changed quite a bit to mountains and lakes. El Bolson in nestled between 2 Andes mountain ranges on the north end of the Patagonia region in the Lakes District of Argentina. This little town has many fruit and hops farms on its outskirts which lay at the bottom of the mountains. The area produces 3/4 of Argentina´s hops, making for some great micro-brews here.

We would have liked to get a hike in during our stay in El Bolson but as it turned out, we had a lot of time to sample the beer as it was raining when we arrived kept on and off throughout our two days there. We wandered around town and did a fair bit of lounging in the cafe´s, eating helado from the best helado shop we have found yet (called ´Jauja´), and reading.

We also visited the Feiria Artesenal. Anyone can set up shop at the market so long as their wares are homemade. We ate a lunch of empanadas and micro-brew beer as well as delicious belgian waffles with fresh raspberries on top.

We continued our journey north of El Bolson with a stop in Bariloche. This medium-sized city of 98,000 sits on the shores of Lago (Lake) Nahuel Huapi in the middle of the National Park of the same name. The soaring peaks of Cerros Catedral, Lopez, Nireco, and Shaihuenque- all over 2000metres high ring the town- and we saw them when the rain stopped and the clouds finally cleared on our last day there! It resembles a swiss town with log buildings and even barrel-toting Saint Bernards in the main square! It is also home to delicious chocolate shops and is Argentina´s chocolate capital. We took it upon ourselves (with Easter approaching and all) to sample a few of them in order to decide which shop had the best chocolate in town. We found it in the chocolate covered mints (like a Peppermint Patty) called ¨mentitas¨.

Argentina Fun Fact #6:

Argentinians love their naps. Most stores close for lunch and siesta from around 1pm-4pm. They then re-open until 9 or 10 at night. If it´s warm out, some people head to the parks and plazas for their mid-day naps.

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