Argentina, the land hairdressing forgot.. Bariloche to Cordoba, most of it drunk.....

Cordoba Travel Blog

 › entry 21 of 31 › view all entries
So we left our intrepid travellers on a night bus to Bariloche after a thoroughtly dissappointing nature watch on the penninsular ( except the penguins, they are always ace, even in that piece of shit Happy feet film, at least the mexican sounding penguins were good !).

Bus was the same as ever, noneventful, which is good I suppose, better than breaking down (a la Peru) or getting hijacked etc . However after sitiing through ´I now pronounce you chuck and larry´ with Adam sandler, the kidnapping seemed a lot more appealing.
Well, the weather in the south never failed NOT to dissappoint, ( yep you read that right), and we arrived in the lake district to more grey skies and rain.. sigh !! The town looked busy and bleak as we trudged to the local bus stop, caught a busy bus into town and alighted to try to find our refuge for the night.
Bariloche is in the lake district and is set up with loads of campsites and nature reserves, which are perfect if you have a car ( something we oft noted in Argentina, you really need a car here !). We had read in the guide (which i´m thinking of now only referring to as the 'blind') that there was a campsite on the outskirts of town. So we trudged on, up steep hilly roads to find it, which we did, however after getting in the ´blind`, custom must have gone up as they no longer did camping. Instead they only had brand new and very expencive apartments constructed on the old campsite. D´oh !! So we had to go to plan B ( we did not have a plan B of course), and after asking at a few hostels in town we realised this was the weekend, and the whole place was full !!
Luckily a passing american couple took pity on us as we wept inthe rain and took us to their hostel, '41 below', where there were some dorm beds still available and at not too bad a price. Well, we have not been in Dorms up to this point, as I was not too keen, snoring, farting, odd people etc Im not a fan ! but needs must and we took it !
Our moods then improved with the weather and as  the sun broke through and the blue skies cleared, so did our grey mood and we set off to explore the town with a new vigor ! Lunch was cheap and we found pubs with 2 for 1 beer on happy hour so things were definately looking up. The hostel had a really nice shared space with TV music and books etc that everyone staying there sat in and tried to out do each other with nobbier stories of their travels.. now I know I do this, we all do, and please when we come back to wherever, slap me when I start getting nobby with the travel stories.. ´yaaaaaah, we met like this amaaaazing shamen in the amazon who taught me the faaantaaastic secret art of shabullu, now i can like, totally, stick my whole hand up my arse.. etc etc ` But we joined in here and there while we cooked our steak dinner and drank a bottle of good cheap Malbec (getting into wine country ... yay!).
The staff were argeninian and chatted to us about some places to get a good drink later in the evening and at about 11pm , we set off with one of the staff and some other new chums to the first bar cum club of the evening.. well, we were alrerady drunk, the beer was cheap, the TV showed lots of people having sports injuries.. I was in heaven.. this persisted for a while ( one of the chums we met was from london and at one point passed out right there at the bar.. but she was ok shortly afterwards ;-) and eventually , very sozzled we ended up at the famed irish pub , the Wilkenny for a few last beers ( v expencive) a dance, and me accusing Harriet of chatting up a young argetinian bloke, (who scurried off pretty damn quick as I lumbered over with a face like thunder !!) ahh, the joys of alcohol enhanced mood swings.. but we all made it back to the hostel safe at about 4am.. and into our bunks....well, not all of us were safe, the northern lad in the bunk above mine was so drunk he fell out of bed about 4.30 am .. how we all laughed as his broken body tried hauling itslef back into bed.. ahh happy memories !!

You may think after such a night of debauchery we would have stayed in bed all day, but no!! we are professionals here people, and the next day we had a bus booked to Mendoza ! So we got up ( feeling a little woozy), packed, checked out and went off for a days hiking in the lakes before the evening bus. We had the option of taking a cable car up to the viewpoints, but naturally we declined and instead chose to drag our dehydrated bodies up the hills in the blazing 30 degree sunshine.. but it was definately worth it as the views from the top were spectacular ( i still cannot get bored of the amazing vistas here - see the photos H is uploading)
Then back to towen for the best ice cream of the trip - dulche de leiche ( or caramel as we know it) and chocloate barriloche ( with chocolate chunks in it), a choripan, (like a brillant sausage sandwich) and then off to the bus station for the 18 hours to Mendoza, but we did not mind, we were so tired we were to sleep most of the way there.  In retrospect, I would have liked to stay in the lakes a bit longer and would like to return as it was truly beautiful here.

Ahh Mendoza, capitol of the Argentinian wine country.. joy.. pure unadulterated joy!

However.. note to self... NEVER arrive off a night bus to a new Argentinian town on a sunday. Everything is closed.. and I mean everything !! we needed to jump a bus out of town to a place called Camping Suisse, our base for the next few days. The buses run a system a bit like oystercard in London, where you charge up a card. So we found the tourist office ( after walking deserted streets by the bus station with the obligatory friendly local telling us that we should not be there and it is not a safe area.. standard..... ) and asked where we could buy a card.. 'well'.. she said.. 'there may be one kiosk in town that is open on sundays that might have one'.. ONE KIOSK !! in a town the size of cambridge !! sigh.. so after more searching, finding this kiosk did NOT have any, we got a taxi.. sigh.. so much for trying to save money camping !!

The campsite however was excellent, we had a pitch under a palm pagoda, it had electricity, BBQ pits, light , a pool and even an outdoor cinema ! (well, a video projector and a white sheet !) What a great place. An australian couple were leaving as we arrived and gave us their maps and guides and even some small change !! They were so nice and advised us what to do and where to go !! Brilliant. and when we wanted to go back into town to do some shopping ( ther were no shops by the campsite, just some big superclubs only open at the weekend and the strangest church we heve ever seen (see the phoitos , it seated thosands and was dedicated to lourdes !  V odd )). The nice lady at the campsite gave us a bus card and just asked us to charge it back up when we were finished .. RESULT !!! So we headed off into town.

Mendoza is world famous for its wineries, and we had arrived in the biggest wine festival of the year. The BIG night was saturday , so we had missed that , but the program of events went on till Monday, so we expected great things, wine tastings, parades etc.. Well, there was NOTHING, I mean it ,you could not tell that there was a festival even going on. Apparently if you had tickets you could see a repeat of the main event, a beauty pagent, in the amphitheatre 10 km out of town, but as we did not, we could not, and so we wandered around the town a bit bemused looking for an open shop to buy some food and drink top take back to the campsite. This proved a difficult task as EVERYTHING was closed, we searched for hours to buy just a bottle of wine.. in the argentinain wine capitol, DURING THE WINE FESTIVAL !! and could not for love nor money find one !! ARGGGHHH !!
As we wandered, another of life's sublime coincidences happened, and we bumped into a girl we were drinking with in Santiago, chile ( random) and then even more random, we saw Lev sat at a small cafe ( the Alaskan guy from the galapagos !!) How random, so we had a beer and arrange to meet up later in the week. Eventually we found the only open supermarket in town and FINALLY got our meat and wine, retiring back to the campsite for BBQ and some sleep ! BBQ was great and we were assisited by the argentian couple at the next pitch who not only helped me get the fire going, but lent us a big light so we could see what we were doing !  As ever, there were loads of dogs and cats around, and as we turned away from the table for a moment to chat to our new argentinan friends, a little tiny kiuttly jumped up, knocked the lid off the pan and legged it with the biggest of the 4 sausages I had been cooking !! DAMN KITTY !!! Worse that that bloody racoon !! ah well, at least we still had the chicken and the steak.. he he !
Next day was pretty slow, in the evening we met up with Lev and swapped stories in some of Mendozas more swanky bars.. well, we sat down the street from the swanky bars that were too expencive and had a cheap beer ! then retired back to the campsite in readiness for the main event of tomorrow.. the WINE TASTING TOURS !!!
We had been advised the best way to do this was to go on a bike and wine tour.. sounds promising .. lots of wine and riding a pushbike.. I like that combo, and had been told that the place to go was MR Hugo's .. so we jumped a bus out of town and with the help if a new doggy guide, we found Mr Hugo's no problem. 2 bikes, a map and helmets (we were the only people wearing them that we saw all day, but as we are such hardened drinkers I thought it would be prudent :-) we set off to taste mendozas best..
It was a fantastic hot sunny day and we visitied 4 different vinyards and tried 11 different wines (a glass each time) , the service varied wildly, from bored youths not interested, through a 1 hr tour from a lady that knew everything about her place, to the winery with the best looking staff on the planet (seriously , we were served by Kiera knightly.. no guff !!). Of course we had forgotten to eat anything , so after all the tastings, at the end of the day, we wobbliy cycled back to Mr Hugo´s,  past the tourist police, who did not even bat an eyelid, and relinquished contol (gladly) of the bikes.
If you thought that was the end of it, WRONGO.. Mr Hugo was such a nice fellow. He sits all his customers down after their long day in his garden and plies them with soo much free booze its unbelievable ! We were at a table with three americans from the mid west ( 2 guys and a girl, she had really taken to travelling, I have never seen such long underarm hair, even on a man.. or a monkey for that matter....) but they were nice, and between us I recon we put away about another 2-3 litres of Malbec, all on the house ! Mr Hugo just kept plonking new bottles on the table !! Eventually we had to go or would miss the last bus home, so VERY drunkenly by this point ( remember .. no food) we managed to get back to the town, do a quick shop, and even sorted out a post midnight BBQ to try to soak up some of the gallons of Malbec we had inbibed over the past 7 or so hours !! What great fun !
One of the greatest things aout camping is that they really dont care when you check out. and thank god for that as we were both EXTREMLY hung over the next day ! We got up about midday, managed to pack up our stuff and got to the bus station to drop off our bags. A bit of shopping and intenet playing later, we found a free modern art museum with air con where we could hide from the heat for a bit ( same old crap, wardrobes as art, white canvasses etc...) . We said a farewell to Lev who would be travelling in a different direction from now on.. ( more serendipity, Lev knew Evan , the other alaskan we met in Chile.. how mad was that !) and after an excellent dinner of Panchos (hot dogs) from MR DOG.. ( stand aside Mr Egg!!) we settled back into another ankle swelling night bus to Cordoba, our next destination. Well the movie was good, the food sucked and as we drifted off into a hangover induced sleep, we could honestly say that Mendoza was one of the high points of Argentina so far. Not for the architecture or the scenery, but for the food and the wine, it was hard to beat !!
In next times thrilling installment..

Gasp in awe as out intrepid travellers go to a tango show, drink a lot more wine in Cordoba and make to to Buenos aires, where to have a balcony is Bliss .........
Caio Caio.

(ps ther hairdressing comment.. its so true, I mean I lived in Germany for years and they are totally clueless, but look like style icons compared to the haircuts here, and I dont just mean the men !! Its like hairdressing never moved on from the stone age !! CRAZY !! The mullet is years ahead of the rats tails and wedge cuts they proudly sport here !! Amazing !)
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photo by: nolan