BARILOCHE

 As planned we spent the night in Buenos Aires before our 2-hour flight to Bariloche the next day. So early next morning we ran out of the hotel looking for a place to have a "porteño" breakfast. We enjoyed some “media lunas” (Argentinian version of a croissant) and some “facturas” (local pastries), and went back to the hotel to get our things and meet with Alberto, our driver who drove us to Jorge Newbery Airport or Aeroparque. To my surprise we arrived in 5 minutes, we checked in, got straight in to the boarding area. Zero stress.

After a short flight we landed in Bariloche’s  small airport. Everything was very easy. On the way out we are met by the hotel staff that arranges our transfer to the Llao LLao hotel. Everything seems perfect. People are super kind and gentle, and willing to help in any way possible.

The ride to the hotel is long, but the views of Nahuel Huapi lake on one side make up for it. I thank my memory for keeping souvenirs of that place forever in my mind.

Once at the hotel we began to marvel at this beautiful place surrounded by snowed peak mountains and lakes. We had some trouble with our reservations but they tried to solve it  in the end they succeed. That same afternoon, we go it the hotel transfer to Cerro Catedral, to take advantage of renting the skis and buying the passes in the afternoon before the start of our skiing week.

 

I had already been warned: Cerro Catedral is far away from the hotel. No ski in-ski out for us. I wondered if I was really going to go skiing every day.

Once there, we went for lunch at the Llao Llao Hotel shelter at the base of the mountain. It is a cabin that offers a small food menu, some wine, fireplace and all kinds of assistance to hotel guests.

 

That same evening we still had energy to meet again for a drink at the Hotel’s  bar Happy Hour and then have some ¨carne and vino¨ at the hotel's own barbecue. Just a few hours of sleep later but with an unbreakable spirit, we woke up to take catch the half past nine transfer but never before our breakfast; I have rarely seen something similar: breads, jams, cheeses and hams, eggs and “the” waffles filled with whatever you wish, dulce de leche, fruits...Leave your diet at home!

 

       Once at Cerro Catedral, the process of putting on your boots and picking up your skis begins. This turns out into a minimal effort since the staff is waiting to help you put on your ski boots. Then they hand over your skis and it off  to the chairslifts that are just a few steps away. This happens at Catedral Ski and Snowboard Rental by the Séxtuple Chairlift.

We had decided ahead to hire ski instructors during the entire stay for several reasons but, undoubtedly, the first one is to perfect the children's skiing. The instructors, just like the rest of the Argentinians, are super friendly and attentive. We went up the mountain in a very long and frightening six-fold chair  to what they call: 1600 (for mts above sea level). In this first part of the mountain there was a lack of snow.  Only about two or three times we reached the base of the mountain skiing.

That first day we started to get to know the slopes of what is considered the largest ski resort in South America. I have been to much bigger resorts, some with more snow or better lifts, but this place has its own magic. I don't know if it's skiing in Spanish; I don't know if it's the Argentinians, the stunning views or the food.  But Catedral has definitely something!

Here there is little modernity in terms of tractors to groom the snow or artificial snowmaking machines but at the top of the mountain they do get a lot of snow. I have never seen such huge snowflakes!! That year we got about three meters in just two days.  But I also know that the week before our arrival there was almost no snow. A consequence of global warming? I don't know, but the views are more than enough to make you feel happy. To find oneself looking at the Andes, infinite to our eyes, fills you with a mystical energy that is hard to forget.

 

We always had our lunch at any of the mountain restaurants. No fast food here!  Lynch, La Roca, 1600, Barrilete or Rodeo.

Have to say that all the places were always full and sometimes the services was slow but the food eberywhere was delicious and tasty. We also ate the best waffles of Bariloche at the Resort base in Tage. Don’t miss it!!

As far as shops are concerned, the mountain has relatively little to offer, almost everything is clothing and ski equipment, of which imported ones are expensive.

       

Back at our wonderful lodge we started enjoying the afternoon activities for the guests. From activities for the little ones at the Nahuelito’s room, to the Happy Hour of local beers by the heated swimming pool that has one side out in the cold air and the other indoors, and finally to the maximum level of pampering: the Spa. I bought a package that included all the massages possible. The therapists greet me by my name and thus I begin a week of relaxation that I had not enjoyed ever in my life...decontracting massage, with oils of rosehip,  chocolate therapy, massage of four hands, Thai.  In all of them I managed to rest deeply. I would not go back to Bariloche without this plus.  As f it wasn’t enough, I go to the hotel's hairdressers where they take care of you as if you were a lifelong customer. And so once again the time comes to meet up at the bar for an aperitif, wine, prosecco or the dreaded pisco sour and then drive to town for dinner. We did go to Los Cesares and to the Patagonia Café inside the hotel. But we also ate at the center, which is very far away, about 40 minute drive from the hotel.

I recommend that you book a table in advance. The hotel is always willing to help you with reservations.

We enjoyed dinner in every restaurant we went to. I would happily go back to each one of them although prices didn't seem cheap to me. I think that inflation, although hidden in official figures is doing its part in these high prices that are definitely more attractive to tourists than to locals.

We had lunch in the centre in two good restaurants: Don Molina and El refugio del montañés. Both have excellent wine lists.  One night we went with the “millennials” of our group to a Club (“Boliche” in Argentinian). The center was very peaceful but full of young people strolling around. First at about 12.30 am the ¨pubs¨ started to fill up. Pubs are the places you go before going to the Club. We left them at the Roxbury and then they walked to Nubes. While we waited we adventured in to the Casino de Bariloche which we found depressing and left within minutes. At around 2 am it was finally time to go to Grisú, a Club with different music style but always a good at each one of its lower floor, because you get in at street level and then you can move downward about five floors. The girls opted for  Cerebro. We returned to the hotel by 4.30 am. So of course we were destroyed the next morning  grateful for the snowstorm that prevented us from leaving the hotel that morning. Some of us opted for the gym, not me!

And skiing, drinking, eating, having fun ,enjoying views, the ninth night arrived. It all happened too fast. Time to say goodbye. We know we have to come back there’s a lot yet to be seen. Drive around the Seven Lakes, visit  Villa La Angostura, renting snowmobiles at the Arelauquen Hotel,  cable car ride to the top of Cerro Otto and the Campanario, navigate the Nahuel Huapi lake, rent bikes at the  Arrayanes Forest. All the walks around the Llao Llao. I even think I missed a little bit of shopping…

I believe that Bariloche, as a vacation, is like a four-legged table, you take one off and it falls apart. Success results from a calculated combination of good food, wine, skiing, hotel and, a funny group of friend. I think I did it.

I'll be back.

 

P.D.

 

And I came back, for the next ten years in a row, like a spell that brought me back to the same place every year. I know so much about Bariloche! Somehow it's kind of a home to me.

 

I update the  information for you.

 

WHERE TO SLEEP

 

I returned several more times to the Llao Llao. It's still far away, but then I discovered that renting a car was the solution, we left the Hotel at the time we wanted and we did the driving  in half the time.

 

GALILEO BOUTIQUE HOTEL I wanted to try staying closer to the slopes and we chose this place. We rented a very good apartment a few minutes away from the Hill. It has an incredible observatory. It is very familiar place and as it is near the base of the hill, but not next to it, in the mornings they would drive you right to the entrance.

 

EL CASCO ART HOTEL on Bustillos Avenue on the lake at kilometer 10. Good breakfast and impeccable rooms. It is very close to the entrance to the road that leads to Cerro Catedral. The atmosphere is not like that of Llao Llao, but the views are just as spectacular.

 

ARELAUQUEN BUNGALOWS Arelauquen is a very nice place. It is a private community with new, modern houses some of them keeping that typical southern mountain style. It has a golf course. It has several places to stay inside. The Lodge is luxury with a very cozy clubhouse. But we rented a fully equipped house. It was perfect for us. Price a little lower than Galileo. Although they are not on the hill, their location avoids the traffic that forms on Bustillos Avenue that sometimes becomes eternal. Arelauquen is by Lake Gutierrez.

 

CABAÑAS LA CAMPIÑA in Bahia Serena at km. 14 (of Avenida E. Bustillos) They are cheaper and undoubtedly very practical. It all depends on your budget. They are located in front of Bahia Serena, which is very beautiful and, once again, with an unbeatable view of Lake Nahuel Huapi

 

AIRBNB APARTMENTS More recently we have stayed at apartments rented from this company, with the idea of staying more in the center to be able to move on foot at night and enjoy little walks. The truth is that you can do well or bad. You have to get deep into the pictures on their web site when choosing, but in general we have done quite well.

 

WHERE TO EAT

 

Having a meal in these places you won't go wrong, but Bariloche has grown over the years and there are lots of places to eat in. Still it doesn't look cheap to me, but you can find everything. I always recommend that people to discover for themselves, go after their own cravings.

There’s nothing we would love more that to get a recommendation from you!!

 

CASSIS is the gourmet restaurant of Bariloche “par excellence”. It feels a little stiff for me, but I can't deny that one eats very well. It's near the Arelauquen.

 

BUTTEFLY It's a small place with only 5 tables overlooking the lake. It is essential to reserve because it is a tasting menu that varies daily and it’s prepared according to the people who go. After eating you can have a drink on the little terrace over the lake.

 

IL GABBIANO I love this Italian near the Llao Llao. I have dinner there everytime I go.

 

LA MASIA It's owned by a nephew of the owner of Il Gabbiano, so he keeps the same Italian food line, but in my opinion it's a bit more exclusive and the prices are too...I just by the lake so the view at lunch time is spectacular.

 

ALTO EL FUEGO It's a grill and it's in the center. It has good music. It fills up very easily.

 

EL BOLICHE DE ALBERTO There are three in Bariloche but I go to the one that is just by the entrance to the road that leads to Cerro Catedral. It's km 8. I love it. Zero fancy but the meat is first class and they make irresistible French fries. The grill is in sight, so you almost get to choose your piece of meat and they make it to your exact  taste. Alberto also has pasta at Alberto Pasta. I've never been there.

 

CHEZ PHILIPPE It's a restaurant that specializes in fondue. If you have that craving, it's the perfect place to go.  There are different variations to the traditional one and for dessert they offer chocolate fondue.

 

DIAS DE ZAPATA (now I think it's called El Mexicano). Great to give your palate a change. Good atmosphere, Mexican food and a good tequila.

 

And for a snack...LA CASA DEL CHIPA. How nice is this late discovery. After years of going to Bariloche only a few years ago we discovered this place on Mitre Street. Chipás are made from yucca (tapioca) mixed with grated cheese. You go to the place for made to order chipás and a coffee. Don't miss it!

     Como planeado pasamos la noche en Buenos Aires para conectar a Bariloche al dia siguiente. Así que en la mañana salimos corriendo a comer en cualquier lugar cercano para desayunar  algo “porteño”. Disfrutamos de unas medias lunas y algunas facturas, y nuevamente corremos, esta vez para alcanzar a Alberto Centenaro nuestro chofer y hoy día nuestro amigo que nos lleva al aeropuerto Jorge Newbery / Aeroparque. Para mi sorpresa llegamos en 5 minutos, nos chequeamos, entramos  y directamente a abordar. Cero stress. Y,  luego de un corto vuelo (unas dos horas) llegamos a un aeropuerto casi privado, pequeñito. Todo resultó muy fácil. A la salida nos esperan de nuestro hotel: Llao Llao. El recibimiento es perfecto y lo que se repitió un muchas veces, la gente super amable y gentil, y dispuestos a atender de la mejor forma posible.
     El paseo hasta el hotel parece y es, larguísimo. Lo salva la carretera, todo el tiempo bordeando los lagos. Hoy le agradezco a mi memoria al regalarme el recuerdo de ese paisaje una y otra vez. Lo veo incluso con más detalles.


     Una vez en el hotel comenzamos a maravillarnos con este lugar precioso rodeado de lagos y montañas. Tenemos algunos problemitas con nuestros cuartos que se esfuerzan por solucionar y al final lo logran. Esa misma tarde y por sugerencia de unos amigos  salimos en un traslado del hotel hacia el Cerro Catedral, para aprovechar de alquilar los esquís y comprar los pases. Ya me habían advertido,  pero constato que es super lejos. Me pregunto si realmente iré todos los días a esquiar. una vez allí vamos a almorzar al Refugio que tiene el hotel Llao Llao en la base de la montaña. Es una cabaña que ofrece un pequeño menú de comida, vinitos, chimenea y todo tipo de asistencia a los huéspedes del hotel.


       En la noche comenzamos a disfrutar de lo que ofrece este lugar y sin descanso nos reencontramos en el happy hour del bar para luego ir a comer ¨carne y vino¨ al Asador  del hotel. Pocas horas de sueño, pero con el ánimo inquebrantable, nos despertamos para aprovechar nuestro traslado a las nueve y media después de un desayuno en el cual uno se llena con sólo mirar. Realmente excepcional, pocas veces he visto algo similar: panes, mermeladas, quesos y jamones, huevos y las wafles con lo que desees, dulce de leche, frutas...


       Una vez en el Cerro Catedral y después de los treinta largos minutos de camino comienza el proceso de ponerse las botas y recoger los esquíes, esto se torna en un mínimo esfuerzo al descubrir que el personal te pone las botas de ski y te guarda las tuyas. Luego te entregan tus esquís en las manos para salir a las sillas que quedan a escasos pasos. Esto ocurre en  Catedral Ski and Snowboard Rental de la Séxtuple. Habíamos decidido contratar instructores durante toda la estadía por varias razones pero sin duda la primera es perfeccionar el esquí de los niños. Los instructores  como el resto de los argentinos súper simpáticos y atentos. Subimos en una larguísima y aterradoramente alta silla séxtuple hasta lo que llaman 1600. En esta primera parte de la montaña escaseaba la nieve.  Sólo unas dos o tres veces llegamos a la base esquiando. Una vez en 1600 comenzamos a conocer las pistas de la que es considerada la estación de esquí más grande de Sudamérica. He estado en lugares muchísimos más grandes, en otros con más nieve, con mejores medios de elevación pero este lugar tiene su magia propia. No sé si es esquiar en español, no se si son los argentinos, la vista o la comida.  Aquí hay poca modernidad en cuanto a tractores para pisar la nieve o máquinas fabricadoras de nieve artificial pero cae gran cantidad de nieve o en su defecto cae agua producto (me aventuro a decir) de la gran cantidad de lagos. Nunca había vista nevar copos tan enormes ni tanta cantidad de nieve tan seguido. Unos tres metros en dos días.  Pero también sé que la semana anterior a nuestra llegada no había casi nieve. ¿Consecuencia del calentamiento global? No lo sé,  pero las vistas bastan para congraciarse con el sitio. Encontrarse mirando "las tres  montañas" o si las nubes te lo permiten, la Cordillera de los Andes, infinita a nuestros ojos te trasmite una energía extraña que te hace revivir cada día.


        Los almuerzos siempre los hicimos en grupo en La Roca, 1600, Barrilete o en Rodeo. Me faltaron varios, me dicen que en el Lynch las vistas son insólitas pero siempre estuvo cerrado el acceso. Todos los lugares excesivamente llenos y a veces lentos pero muy sabrosos. También merendamos las mejores wafles... de Bariloche en Tage. En cuanto a tiendas, el Cerro tiene relativamente poco que ofrecer, casi todo es ropa e implementos de esquí, de las cuales las importadas son caras.
        De regreso a nuestro maravilloso lugar de alojamiento, empezamos a disfrutar las actividades de la tarde para los huéspedes. Desde los más pequeños con el salón Nahuelitos, pasando por el Happy Hour de cervezas en la piscina temperada con una parte al aire helado y la otra adentro, hasta llegar al consentimiento máximo: el Spa. Compré un paquete con todos los masajes, me reciben por mi nombre y así comienzo una semana de relajación que no había disfrutado en mi vida...descontracturante, con aceites de rosa mosqueta, de chocolate a cuatro manos, tailandés.  En todos logro "entrar en alfa¨ y descansar profundamente, sin dormir, pero sin pensar. No podría repetir el viaje sin este complemento necesario. Luego voy a la peluquería del hotel donde te atienden como si fueras cliente de toda la vida. Y así llega una vez más  la hora del reencuentro en el bar para un aperitivo, vino, prosecco o el temible pisco sour y luego, salir a comer. Fuimos a Los Cesares y al Café Patagonia dentro del Hotel, comida buenísima en ambos. También comimos en el centro que queda lejísimos,  a unos 40 minutos del hotel en varios lugares. Les recomiendo reservar en todos. Pudiera detenerme a detallar la comida pero a rasgos generales, en todos comimos riquísimo. Los repetiría cada uno de ellos. Los precios no me parecieron baratos. Creo que la inflación aunque escondida en cifras oficiales está haciendo su parte en estos precios elevados aunque todavía atractivos para el turista. Almorzamos en el centro en dos restaurantes buenos: Don Molina y El refugio del montañés. En ambos con excelente carta de vinos.  El restaurant que más nos recomendaron, el Cassis,  lo dejamos para una próxima visita. A cambio, esa noche fuimos con las millennials del grupo a una noche de boliches. El centro estaba muy tranquilo y lleno de gente joven. Primero como a las 12.30 AM comenzaron a llenarse los ¨pubs¨ (pabs, en argentino). Las dejamos en el Roxbury y luego ellas caminaron al Nubes. Mientras esperábamos paseamos por el Casino de Bariloche que me pareció deprimente y luego nos fuimos al Roxy, con excelente música y buen ambiente sólo que lleno de  fumadores. Salimos como las comidas patagónicas: ahumados. Como a las 2.30 am comienzan los boliches a llenarse. Las niñas fueron a uno de tantos, Cerebro. Esperamos en Grisú, otro boliche, muy grande con varios pisos hacia abajo. Muchísimo ambiente y gente de todas las edades. Nos fuimos empezando la noche... a las 4.30 am. Por supuesto, destruidos,  al día siguiente agradecimos la tormenta de nieve que nos impidió salir del hotel y nos llevó esta vez a aprovechar las máquinas del gimnasio para no perder el impulso deportivo. Y así nos llegó la novena noche. Pasó demasiado rápido. Las despedidas y los vuelvan pronto. Nos faltó mucho. Teníamos una lista con paseos a los siete lagos, a los tres lagos, a Villa La Angostura. El alquiler de los snowmobiles del Hotel Arelauquen, el paseo en teleférico al tope del Cerro Otto y el Campanario, la navegación por el Nahuel Huapi, el bosque de Arrayanes. Las caminatas del Llao Llao. Incluso creo que faltó un poquito de shopping, tampoco tuve tiempo de tomar las clases de tango que ofrecía el hotel.


          Y si no hay nieve?? Disfruta las vistas, las montañas, los lagos. Visita el Cerro Otto. Si te sobra tiempo ve de paseo a Villa La Angostura, o alquila bicis por el Bosque de los Arrayanes. Haz el recorrido de los siete lagos en barco.
Haciendo un balance del viaje creo que Bariloche como vacación, es como una mesa de cuatro patas, le quitas una y se cae. El éxito resulta de una calculada combinación de buena comida, vinos, ski, hotel, grupo y paseos.  Creo que yo lo logré. Volveré.

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My name is Ana Bazo. I'm traveler and a tourist. Planning a trip seduces me. I love visiting far away solitary places. During my travels I write and take pictures... So, one day I put all that  together and The Undercover Pilot was born.

 

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