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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Normlas, Sep 9, 2017.
Excellent Fish photo!
Home sick and this has been a great read and welcome diversion. Looking forward to more.
carry on kiwi...
Thank you all for your nice comments, always great to get feedback and know that someone other than me is getting a kick out of this :)
Our rainy day at the Puma Hostel in San Martin de los Andes was fun and we did go for a quick walk around the town between showers but with crazy strong winds coming across the lake.
And home is just down that way !
Turns out that booze is a bit cheaper in Argentina too and this bottle of acceptable local whiskey was only about $7USD
We enjoyed it back at the hostel hanging out with an oddball bunch of people who turned out to be a troop of circus performers in town for a circus festival, a groovy and relaxed bunch of slightly strange people.
The next day we are away early and head down the famous ruta 40 towards the Nazi hideout town of San Carlos de Bariloche. Turns out that the Argentinian president of the time, a dude called Peron, was a fan of both Hitler and Mussolini and welcomed the Nazi's escaping Germany at the end of WWII to Argentina. Many of these settled in Bariloche and were so welcome that they didn't even bother changing their names or trying to hide their past. One famous Nazi even started and ran a German language school there which proudly flew the swastika flag???
So Greg and me were on constant Nazi watch and had a bit of fun with it, what else can you do with something so crazy??
Here's a few pics on the way down to Bariloche.
At one mirador (view point) this little fella turned up and came pretty close, cool thing I learned is the Spanish word for fox is Zorro.
Lunch stop in the recommended lakeside village of Villa La Angostura.
The views are just crazy reminiscent of NZ and although they are lovely, it's not really what I came to South America to see......today we rode via the twin of Lake Whakatipu in Queenstown with a less than remarkable set of remarkables, past Lake Rotoiti and caught a glimpse of Mt Ruapehu .....
We arrive in Barriloche and are immediately struck by how very German it all looks, the town even specialises in German chocolates and Swiss fondue....go figure, as tempting as it was, we did not goosestep through the Plaza de Armas although we did make a lot of anti-Nazi jokes, because, well, f$ck Nazi's that's why :)
We play the hotel game and after the third or fourth try we find a good place by the park and just behind town with great parking. After settling in we go for a walk around town and play the Nazi-spotting game, I'm pretty sure I saw one but he was surprisingly quick for an old boy once his cover was blown.
We are all keen for a good taste of the famous Argentinian grill and given it was also the American thanksgiving, we google the best steakhouse in town and find the number one place in town turns out to be within stumbling distance of our hotel, this would work to our benefit later in the evening ......
The meat was fantastic and the portions were huge, because we hadn't booked we had an outside table which was shared with other diners. At first a German girl Jutte joined us and she was great fun, then a couple of Israelis joined in and they were good too, and of course, we compared Nazi hunting strategies... politically incorrect fun was had, and when 4 more of the Israeli's mates turned up and squeezed onto our table, I made the comment that it was typical of them to turn up with one or two and then suddenly occupy the whole table - even they had to laugh and agree, fun was had deep into the night.
Then the waiter joined in and offered us a taste of some local liquors even inviting us to sit in the private wine cellar and leaving us with 4 open bottles of liquor at which point it just got plain messy.
We had arrived at opening time and were the last to leave the restaurant after two sittings - a pretty big night! And Steve picked up the tab for everyone which was very generous of him, thanks mate!
The next day was another slow start and we think that maybe the Israeli's were actually Mossad agents and had probably spiked our drinks with some kind of nerve agent given how we're feeling.... we have little on the plans today other than to catch the gondola up the mountain to a mirador and rotating restaurant and do more Nazi spotting.
And as always - fun was had.
And the views were spectacular
We drop back into town and do a bit of shopping and decide that the steaks last night were so good that we return to the same restaurant and Jutte the German girl joins us again. Surprisingly we are welcomed back by the staff and enjoy another excellent meal.
More to follow soon, thanks for coming along.
Bariloche was a fun time for us all and the steaks were fantastic !! And not crazy expensive with a very large 600gram chunk of rib eye cow costing about 500 Argentinian pesos or around $16USD.
A handy note for other travellers - it is very expensive to use ATM machines in Argentina, they charge almost $10USD per transaction, offer a crappy exchange rate and only allow a maximum of $10,000 peso withdrawal (about $250 USD). A better way is to use the ATM's in Chile, use the ones at "Banco Estado" as they allow you to withdraw 400,000 Chilean pesos ($600 USD, the other banks only allow a 200,000 maximum) and charge $7USD per transaction, then change these to Argentinian pesos in Argentina at a bank that does foreign exchange (cambio) as they give a much better rate than the dedicated change places.
We have a much quieter night at the same restaurant as none of us have completely recovered from the night before..... Greg has to be back in Osorno, Chile in 4 days to return the bike and fly home and the next border crossing South is too far away and would make for some massive riding days. Given the weather is cold and changeable, he decides he can't take the risk and will return to Chile via the border directly West of Bariloche. I make the difficult decision to split from Steve and head West with Greg, both to enjoy his company and to help him with the required border crossing and all the normal stuff that we've been doing for a year and which is completely new to him, as is the Spanish language..... The next morning Greg and I get away at around 10ish, say our goodbyes to Steve who has been a great riding buddy, and head West around Lake Nahuel Huapi. And then there were two.....
Just outside of town we get pulled over at a police stop and get a pretty thorough check of our paperwork, we of course go straight into smiley idiot tourist "sorry we speak NO Spanish" mode, which always helps at these things. It goes OK until the cop asks me for my international insurance for the bike which I don't have and it's unclear if it's officially required, I look confused, say yes, give her my international drivers license and then distract them with some random English comments about the weather and the scenery.... it works, they forget about the insurance and let us go on our way.
We stop for coffee at the Villa La Angostura and then slowly head to the Argentinian border at around 1pm, check out is no problem, taking just 10 minutes, although the guards seem particularly grumpy here, then we ride through an unusually long no-mans land of around 30kms. It is COLD, very cold and we even pass by a snow field.....bbrrrrr.
We stop at a possible camping spot in no-mans land which is stunningly beautiful but agree it's just too cold to camp here, even with the sun shining it's only around 5 to 10 degrees! Then we get to the actual border with Chile where you can see the different road surfaces with a distinct line across the road.
And I leave my mark on the Welcome to Chile sign.
The Chilean border crossing is no problem and we are through in about 20 mins although they do go through our bags, just as they did when we first entered Chile, apparently they are similar to NZ here and are primarily concerned with fruit, veges, meats and interestingly, the fresh water algae Didimo (rock snot), which has also become a big problem in NZ rivers and lakes.
The scenery is just like NZ and after riding through the Haast Pass and by Lake Hawea we get to a slightly lesser Huka falls.... No cricket referees were seen floating by :)
After an hour or two we get to the lakeside village of Entre Lagos and find a nice Cabana right on the lake for just 25,000 a night for the two of us (about $30US) and we have three bedrooms, a lounge, kitchen and a fireplace which we get roaring. There is a group/school/flock? of hawks living in the garden which make for nice bird watching as we sit in the sun and enjoy a relaxed afternoon.
We pop up to the supermarket get some supplies for dinner and breakfast and also a new lowest common denominator liquor - 1.75L of Virgin Island Rum in a plastic bottle for just $6 USD!
We are still keen to camp so the next day we pass through the town of Osorno and head for the beach town of Bahia Mansa. Unfortunately it is not only cold but very windy and camping is out of the question, after a couple of misses playing the hotel game we end up at another Cabana near the beach. The riding is again just like NZ and we rode through Coatesville and Riverhead ending up at a mix between Tairua and Pauanui, staying in a typical old-school Cabana (batch) very reminiscent of the dodgier parts of Whangamata......
We have a fun night, watch a movie and get the fire roaring. The next day we make a relaxed start, head back to Osorno and check into an apartment hotel right my the central bus station. My big job for the day is to find a new rear tyre, the Dunlop I got in Peru has been disappointing and I only got about 8000km out of it, it needs to be replaced before I hit the Caraterra Astral which is many 100's of km's of gravel and just South of here. We try a few bike shops and end up at MotoAdventure Chile where they sort me out with a new Midas for 76,000 Chilean ding dongs, or about $115 USD.
We have a fun last night and just joke and laugh the night away, the next day I slowly get ready and Greg arranges for his rental bike to be picked up, sad good byes are had and I head off at around midday whilst Greg heads to the airport for his flights back to Santiago and then home to Auckland.
As I pack up my gear I discover a minor disaster as my full bottle of Motul oil has sprung a pinhole leak and completely emptied inside my pannier !! Puta Madre !! It's a huge mess and nearly everything is covered and soaked in oil, many rolls of toilet paper and hot soapy water are required for the clean up. I also end up having to throw a few things out which can't be cleaned including my tool/parts bag which was also my range bag back home and will be missed.
Ciao mate, thanks for an awesome couple of weeks !
And then there was one...... it feels very strange to be heading East out of Osorno without a bike or two in my mirror, but also kind of exciting.
My goal for the day is a short 2 hr ride to the lakeside town of Puerto Varas, it's a beautiful ride there and I end up having to do about 40kms of gravel as a bridge is closed for repairs and I am keen to avoid the Ruta 5 Pan American Highway from now on as it's just boring and could be anywhere in the world. I think the people who do this ride sticking to the Pan American Highway are really missing out.
Puerto Varas is a pretty and touristy lake-side town and full of hotels, cabanas and hostels but the hotel game turns out to be a strangely difficult one as I only find places that are either full, closed, crazy dirty or only have dorms (which I try to avoid at all costs), I end up at Cabanas Seemann right by the lake and do one of my best negotiations yet reducing the price from 35,000 a night to just 15,000 !! It's clean, comfortable, in a handy location, has English TV and I can get my washing done. The forecast is for rain tomorrow so I'm thinking to chill here for a few days, it's a been a very busy two weeks and my liver and I could do with some R&R. I also want to slow my pace down a bit and wait for summer to kick in a bit more so that it's warmer and I can do more camping.
It's very strange to suddenly be on my own after travelling with Steve for so long and then with the three of us for the last two weeks but I'm also excited about starting a new chapter in my adventure.
Thanks for following along everyone !
I just realized Im reading your report in a damn new zealandia accent as I go!! haha, lovely!
Ive got that same mitas on my front and its wearing like iron, should do well for your rear!
Ive coined the title for your book when you finally get done, "Drinkin' round the World!!" by Arjan .... Keep up the good work, Sir!!
thanks mate, but I don't know what you're talking about because I'm the only one who doesn't have an accent ??
you keep telling yourself that
Amazing pictures Norm!
If you come back to Argentinian Patagonia you MUST order a "Corderito Patagonico", best meat ever!
And If you come to Buenos Aires I can show you the city.
Muchas gracias Juan, estaré en contacto pronto.
I've been a bit slack with the ol' blog so this might be a big update.
The cabana I scored in Puerto Varas was just great, super comfortable and with everything I need and more so I ended up staying there for about 4 days, and also, there's no hurry.
I got the usual stuff done, shopping, charge up the phone and explore the area. The lake by my doorstep is just stunning, surrounded with snow capped mountains and volcanoes and complete with great sunsets.
The temperature is also good and once the rainstorm passed the weather returned to perfect blue skies.
One strange thing here is that I tried 3 different supermarkets and no one has peanut butter - one of the staple foodstuffs of any well travelled biker....WTF Chile, sort it out!!
I finally manage to drag myself away from my comfortable lodgings and head South, through yet another Nazi hideout town of Puerto Mont and here's where I make another rookie mistake and I don't fuel up even though I am under half a tank. I am aiming for the ferry port township of La Arena, because there's surely a tank station there.....wrong! woopsy.
But I am finally on the famous Carratera Austral, or Chile Ruta 7, which starts here and goes most of the way down though Patagonia to Tierra Del Fuego. Whilst waiting for the ferry I talk to a local who assures me there's petrol on the other side, about 60kms down the road, and I should make that so I assume my Spanish was OK, that I understood him OK and get I on the ferry. It's a stunning boat ride through the Fiords and I know this is getting boring - but damn it looks a lot like NZ!
There is no choice other than to catch the ferry here as there simply is no road...
It's a quick 45 boat ride to the other side and I have spotted a great sounding wild campsite on Ioverlander, right on the coast and reputably, full of mussels which I love.
I head down a long coastal gravel road and find the peninsula but have trouble finding access, then I bump into the farmer's wife and ask her in my best Spanish if it's OK to camp on the coast. She tells me I have to go and ask mama at the house, so off I go, once there the people are just lovely and tell me not to camp on the coast as it's very windy but I'm welcome to camp in their paddock, nicely sheltered from the wind and within 15 meters of the beach !! Awesome.
Looking back towards the snow-capped mountains from the beach - which is chocka full of mussels!
I just get my camp set up and Armando shows up, the oldest son, and explains that the whole Peninsula is owned by the same family and that I had spoken to his sister and his Mum. He's super friendly and invites me back to the house and shows me around the farm, the first stop was his "blokes shed" and he gets me to try his homemade apple cider made from home grown apples from a large apple grove surrounding his house, and it's lethal!
Turns out he and his brothers and brothers in law are all ship builders, for which they log the timber themselves and make from scratch, and these are not small boats! Very impressive and they are super welcoming.
Armando takes me out to the beach and we collect a huge sack of mussels and various other shellfish before heading back to the "blokes shed" where we finish a couple of bottles of his lethal homebrew and head into the house where he gets out his guitar and belts out a few numbers whilst his mother fixes us lunch - awesome!
And they have a cool cat that quickly takes up residence on my lap, this is getting hard to beat now.
Here is Mamasan with a big plate of what else....mussels, she also made a hearty smoked mussel and vege soup and lots of freshly made bread.
But she pulls me aside and warns me not to go drinking with Armando, that he is "troubled"......hhmmm OK, fair warning, but it's kind off too late.
We head back to the bloke shed for a couple of vinos and then back to my camp where I pull out my 1/3rd bottle of rum and coke which we also polish off whilst watching the sunset over the ocean, good times.
The he tells me we should go to the "negocio" to get some more booze, but we are in the middle of nowhere and I had not seen a shop in many miles, but off we walk down the driveway and it turns out his neighbour Fernando, runs the only shop in the area - and it's a bottle shop!
We end up at Fernando's late into the night and apparently it's not allowed to drink there and so we have to hide behind the door to take a drink and the door has to stay open......whatever, fun was had. The lesson here is to spot the alcoholic and not to go drinking with him! OMG, not sure how or when I got back to my tent but clearly I did as I woke up there lying head downhill and fully dressed.......hmmmm, I woke up a broken man. That's what you get for partying with the locals Navolado styles :)
The plan was to just stay one night but by the next morning this was clearly out of the question and a slow and lazy morning was had.
Here's Armando's nephew Robin trying out the KLR for size.
I have friendly visitors at camp and enjoy a relaxed day, I also help Armando get a huge bin of mussels for his sick Sister and brother in law, turns out Armando is also a little under the weather and can't work today :)
Did I mention that it still looks JUST like NZ - even the locals are reminiscent and they also have a big problem with Gorse, just like we do (an invasive and prickly plant).
Later in the evening I head back down to the mussel fields and gather myself another bag of goodies for dinner and also come across these very well camouflaged seabird eggs right on the path.
I watch a stunning sunset as I cook my mussels on the beach to discover that my gas cooker is leaking and it's OK when there's some wind but without wind it's a bomb and the gas bottle lights on fire twice through the gas leak.....muy malo y peligroso !!
I didn't really need to cook my own dinner as I was just cleaning up when Armando's brother Luis comes by and invites me to join him and his wife for dinner, and guess what, it's mussels!!
To be fair there were also beef empenadas and homemade cheese and bread, lovely people and again a very nice and alcohol free evening was had! My Spanish is ever improving.
The one great thing about travelling alone is that it is so much easier to meet nice people and get invited into places than it is travelling with two or three, I am really enjoying travelling like this.
After a peaceful night I pack up in good time and am ready to hit the road around 10am, I've been warned that there are lots of road works between here and the next ferry and that they close the (only) road completely between 12 and 4pm so I want to get going. I say my thank you's and farewells and hit the road for the town of Hornopiren, nestled between the snowy mountains and the Fiords. It's a slow 60km ride through very rough gravel and many roadworks but I get there around lunchtime and after playing the hotel game find a great cabana with a kitchen and three bedrooms that I have to myself for just 8000 ding dongs - that is very cheap for here! And I get gas, thankfully as I am riding on fumes.
I walk around town and find the ferry ticket office and get my tickets for tomorrow, it will be about a 5 hour ferry ride across the Fiords and it is supposed to be stunning.
BTW - still no peanut butter !
Enjoying your pictures mate and while the stories are amusing i hope you make it back home with your liver intact
Thank you for your concern oldbeer, but to be fair that's the first drink I've had in about six days so I think I will be ok :)
I am also following a strict liver cleansing diet which includes instant noodles, bananas and bread (currently without peanut butter)
Here's a short video I made of my campsite on the farm;
Ya can't make this shit up.... What a great post.... Some great people you met.... Thanks for takin us along!
Here you go then...not sure i could survive without peanut butter. Respect.
oh and pics too, only the best
Don't want you to feel home-sick but...
I've just been concentrating on your Peruvian section, since I want to go there sometime. I like all the ancient sites - and the carved idols of the Recuay culture in the Huaraz museum are great. Some of those sites are missing from the Megalithic Portal website on which I'm an administrator (e.g. I'm surprised we don't have the Huaca Rajad at Sipan included) - I'll be adding them, cheers.
One question - is the rock art on the AN-1251 through the Huascaran national park signposted?
Thanks for all the support guys, have been through three more towns and four more supermarkets and still no peanut butter, I don't know what the hell is going on in this country.......probably something to do with the Nazi's.......bloody Nazis !