February 24, 2004

Argentina flagIt was nice sleeping in, but finally we got up about 8:30 am. We both needed showers badly so that was first on the agenda, and then we made our oatmeal for breakfast. The morning was spent window-shopping and in buying some jams and chocolates to take home as gifts and souvenirs. By the time we were done it was 11:30 am, so we headed back to the hostel, on the way buying some juice and fruit. We found out from Juan where the nearest bakery was, then went right over to it to buy some bread and a couple of churros (deep-fried bread sticks filled with dulce de leche).

Back at the hostel we had tomato sandwiches, then peaches, which were extremely good. The churros were really good too. After lunch we decided to go to Cerro Catedral, but once again had to rush out the door as the bus ran only once an hour. Luckily the bus was late, so we had plenty of time. We had expected one of the city buses, but the Cerro Catedral bus was one of the more luxurious inter-city types of bus. We wouldn’t have recognized it without the sign in the front window. The trip cost 2.40 pesos each and took about 40 minutes.

Cerro Catedral is a big ski area on the slopes of the mountain of the same name. It is a mass of ski lifts; we were amazed to find out from the map that there were 25 lifts of various kinds! We paid the higher price of 25 pesos each, which enabled us to take the high-speed 30-passenger gondola to the top. The ride up took about 6 minutes with great views over Lago Nahuel Huapi and Bariloche, after which we switched to a 2-person chairlift to get up to Refugio Lynch on the top of the ridge.

From there the views were spectacular; the sky was a bit hazy but nevertheless we could see Tronador and all sorts of other peaks including Volcán Puntiagudo in Chile. Not Volcán Osorno, though, it would have been behind Tronador. We walked up to the mirador, about 20 minutes up the ridge. From there we could see the craggy spires of Cerro Catedral itself. We met a woman from Australia who took our picture for us with our camera and in return we took her picture with her camera.

We decided to take the slow way down, which involved three separate chairlifts starting from Cerro Condor, just a short walk down the ridge. While on the way down we kept a watch out for the bus as we knew it was scheduled to leave on the hour; not seeing it arrive we assumed we’d be in time for the 5 pm bus. We hurried over to the bus shelter but no bus showed up until 6 pm.

Back in Bariloche we had Jauja ice cream, then we went over to the Via Bariloche bus ticket office to book our tickets for tomorrow. We have decided to go to San Martin de los Andes via the scenic “Seven Lakes” route, and then onward to Chile in some way which we will decide at San Martin. It’s just as well we bought them tonight, as the bus was almost full. After that we went to La Esquina for dinner, the same place we had been to before because it was busy. Rosemary had the bife chorizo y papas fritas (steak and chips) and Paul had ciervo al cazador (deer cacciatore).

Returning to the hostel, we finished writing our diaries, then headed off to bed at midnight. Our bus doesn’t leave until 11:30 am tomorrow, so we don’t need to get up too early.

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