Patagonia in Words & Pictures

Hey folks!

Recently my computer has been playing up and sending me all sorts of friendly alerts telling that it’s running out of space and that I really should clear some room on this thing or it will slow down even more than an episode of Mad Men (badum tish!). After weeks of this happening (I live in blissful ignorance when it comes to electronics) I have finally heeded its warnings and have moved heaps of files onto my separate hardrive (cutely called ‘My Passport’ which I find quite befitting of a travelling wilbury such as myself).

I had put this off for quite a while for a number of reasons, mainly (nerd alert!) that my hard drive needed to be reformatted to be functional again, and I could only do this on a PC, and I happen to have a Mac (#notasnob) and the PC’s at school are all in Korean. Soooo, to cut a long story short, my amazing friend Sehar and of course Gavin helped and, ta da! I have hoisted a lot of junk off this thing and hopefully it will start running in the same time zone as myself.

What is the point of me telling you all this?

Well, if you’ve stayed with me thus far, firstly thank you! You are a true reader and I shan’t forget it. Secondly, it means that I have been looking back through a lot of my files (many of which are junk and should’ve been dropped like it was hot a long time ago) and photos (awww! eek! ewww!) and reminiscing on the times of old. Depending on what I find, there may be some throwback posts to come, so keep an eye out for those!

But today I want to share with you some photos and tales (a photo essay of sorts) of when Gavin and I went to Argentinian Patagonia. We were lucky enough to spend six weeks in Argentina in 2011, two of which were enjoyed in the stunning Patagonia. This was the view from our apartment window on our first day:

Stunning... this view left me speechless.

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Amazing, no? I could not believe places like this exist, and I still can’t. Patagonia is the things dreams are made of, and it has long been the muse to many writers. Shared between Argentina and Chile, this region is something of a mystery to the West. The part we stayed in, San Carlos de Bariloche, is located at the base of the Andes (which we could see from our window) and which subsequently has incredible skiing. It is also a popular tourist spot for wealthy Brazilians, and mainly Brazilians (although we happened to randomly meet a couple from Canberra while we were dining in a Mexican restaurant. Small world!).

The whole point of our trip was to relax and see the sights in our own time, and one day we decided to be adventurous and booked a 4×4 tour around the area. It was us, a pair of newlyweds from Brazil, an Argentinian married couple with the cutest little daughter called Isabella, and the best tour guide ever. We hopped into a muddied red four-wheeler, strapped ourselves in and off we went! It was bumpy, it was off-roading and it was SO much fun. We stopped at beautiful lakes, mountains and rivers, where Gav practiced skipping stones. One time, we were bumping through reeds and rocks and splashing water all around us, and Isabella was just laughing and so excited that I laughed so much I cried. It was the best.

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Another day (in between eating and sleeping and resting) we decided to take the cable car up Cerro Otto. There is a revolving restaurant up the top of this mountain that is a popular attraction in the Bariloche area. Firstly, who doesn’t love a spinning restaurant? Also, the views from above are slightly amazing, you know how it is.

The cable car ride itself was entertaining, and Gav was making me laugh so much. I know there are a lot of gratuitous pictures of us in here, but hey, I like seeing happy photos of myself and my loved ones ūüôā

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This city is actually one of the most beautiful places I have ever imagined, and has such a strong European influence as well.¬†Walking around the (tiny) town of Bariloche, I was overwhelmed by one thing: the chocolate! During the late 1800s, the area was slowly discovered by a number of European immigrants, including Italians, Austrians and Germans. By the 1930s, Bariloche was known as ‘Little Switzerland’ due to its similar architecture and, and of course, the food.

However, the story of Bariloche doesn’t stop there. After the Second World War, a lot of Nazis (as well as Italian and Croatian fascists) headed to Argentina to escape war crimes with the alleged blessing of then-president Juan Peron. Bariloche was a haven for war criminals who banded together in a pact of silence and who lived mostly peaceful lives in the then-isolated town.¬†This was something I never knew, and which Gav brought to my attention when we were in Buenos Aires.

Despite its murky origins, Bariloche has a retained a number of German- and Swiss-influenced customs and cuisines. As I mentioned, the chocolate is AMAZING. ¬†One store, RapaNui, is famous for it’s rama chocolate. This is basically a roll of flaky chocolate (like a Cadbury Flake, funnily enough), and can be either milk on the outside with a white chocolate filling, or vice versa.¬†One of the shops also happened to have a Saint Bernard dog outside with its puppies, which you could get a picture with. As you can see, they were absolutely adorable, both mama and baby. Just after this shot was taken, mama dog did a big head-twist with flying slobber a la¬†the movie¬†Beethoven. It was pretty amazing and more than a little bit messy!

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On one of our last days we decided to make the approximately 2 hours bus ride to Lake Llao Llao (pronounced ‘Jzhaou Jzhaou’… sort of). There is a famous hotel here, creatively enough called Hotel Llao Llao, and they do a bangin’ high tea. Now, I am a well-travelled British lass and I love to explore new places and cuisines, but I am a British lass all the same and can never forego a serving of scones with jam and cream. I just can’t ignore it, high tea draws itself to me and I just. have. to. have. it. That’s about it, really. So, as a treat, Gav took me there and we enjoyed the stunning sights of the hotel and its surrounds.

(Also, in case you were wondering, you can take the books away from the girl but you cannot, I repeat cannot, take the girl away from the books.)DSC_1060-2

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And so concludes our amazing trip in Patagonia. Sometimes it feels like this holiday was a dream, and looking through these photos makes me remember that I was actually. Argentina isn’t necessarily a hotspot for Western travel (at least not yet), but if you can get there, I implore you to discover Patagonia. Of course, there is a lot more to this area than Bariloche and I certainly don’t know it all – but the parts I saw were heaven. Hashtag no filter to the umpteenth degree!

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed my mini-photo-essay/written essay. I certainly enjoyed (digitally) rifling through my photos for you!

Until next time,

Steph x

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