We splurged on a fancy-pants resort for our 3 night stay in Bariloche. We checked in to gorgeous views of the lake on a uniquely calm day.
The first night, our buddy Ivan at the front desk recommended the best (and best priced) parilla experience of our trip: El Boliche de Alberto. It was a nice 1.5 Km walk, each way, which was a good thing because we opted for provoleta, salad, and huge Entraña in addition to wine and water. This may have been my favorite meal of the trip.
The next day we walked to Teleferico de Cerro Otto and took the old-school two-cable gondola to the top of the mountain for an awesome lunch of local specialties (smoked venison, wild boar, fish and cheeses) and salad while we rotated through the 360 degrees of views in the rotating restaurant. After 2 hours of rotating, we hiked to the nearest peak and enjoyed the views.
From there, we headed downtown and walked until we'd worked up an appetite for gelato at Jauja heladeria (mmmm... thanks for the recommedation ALV). We walked around town, watched a windsurfing race, toured the cathedral and eventually figured out how to catch a bus to somewhere near our hotel.
We liked our first night's recommendation for dinner so much that we asked Ivan for advice on night two. He recommended El Patacon (check out the picture of Bill on the homepage!). Upon entrance, they pour you rosehip pulp mixed with white wine -- a bit odd, but quite delicious, actually, and it makes their guerrilla jewelry salon sales efforts more tolerable (thanks to their efforts, I bought a handmade necklace of leather and metal, so perhaps they know what they are doing). The fire with the splayed lambs in the lobby won E over on first sight, and, fittingly, after smoked venison and glazed mushrooms starter and an empanada, they served him his favorite meal of the trip -- an amazing medallones de lomo preparation with mashed potatoes (my trout was bright pink and flavorful in a light acidic break from the red meat orgy).
The last day, after a false start with the bus system and waiting "ten minutes" (aka 40 minutes) for a cab, we headed out to the much fancier than our digs resort of Llao Llao, where we were unable to take the hike we'd scheduled, but were mistaken as guests of a wedding (American daughter of ex-pats who live in Bariloche marrying a Central American man, I believe) and, so, they allowed us to sit for lunch in the fully reserved lobby bar. (Score!) Food was good, but the views, eavesdropping, and people-watching were phenomenal.
Perhaps this is why the port for our boat tour out to a peninsula and an island in the middle of the lake left from their driveway. You know what they say: Location, Location, Location. The entire boat ride, E and I couldn't help but gape in awe at the majority of the lake's edges and their pristine state of undeveloped nature. Thank you Perito Moreno (think the John Muir of Argentina).
Upon return to our hotel (we made the bus system work for us on the way back), we learned we'd been upgraded to a suite with an in-room sauna for our last night (double score!).
For dinner, we walked to the finest meal of our trip at Butterfly. With only 7 tables and two seatings, reservations are very difficult, but ALV had given us the head's up so we'd made it a priority ahead of time. Wow! Assuming I can find the time, there will be a whole separate post to rave in particularity with pictures. Regardless of my schedule, suffice it to say that this group of folks is on the rise. In an amusing coincidence, the Irish chef, Edward (from Cork) had attended the wedding at Llao Llao the night before and he, like the Llao Llao staff, mistook us for guests he'd met there. He was embarrassed and apologized profusely, but we were very amused. Apparently, the parents of the bride are very good customers and fans of his restaurant, so he was invited to the wedding -- this explains the unexpected cancellation of our original reservation and their request to reschedule. A nearby table during our dinner was 4 obvious guests on the American side, as well, all currently living in New York.
This was one of those times that travel really makes you think -- events that have nothing to do with your life prior to arrival can become extremely relevant during your stay. To travel well is to be aware of your own frame of reference and your life's state of relativity.
Speaking of frames of reference. While it occasionally annoyed us (buses, dry dirty roads -- or choking dust, as E liked to call it), for the most part, Bariloche spoiled us.