It’s difficult to know where to begin writing about Bariloche to give the place the description it deserves! My hope is that through the writing and photos in this post, you will all have a good understanding of a few things this amazing place has to offer and that you will one day visit. There’s something for everyone here!
As I write this, Brandon and I have enjoyed just over two weeks in Bariloche, Argentina, which falls in the northern section of Patagonia. We decided to give full immersion Spanish learning a try in Bariloche, signing up for a homestay and Spanish school. We lucked out with our decision – Mara (our homestay mother) welcomed us into her home with open arms. Every morning, we woke up to breathtaking views of Lake Nahuel Huapi from her balcony followed by a light breakfast and every flavor of tea you could imagine. For mate drinkers, there’s no shortage of mate in Argentina. Every night, Mara home-cooked a massive spread of dinner ranging from traditional empanadas and pizzas to Argentinian beef paired with potatoes and Argentinian-styled shepards pie. I will certainly miss her cooking. Naturally, I befriended Mara’s cat, Poncho, spending many hours relaxing with him at the house. It was a full house. In addition to the two of us and Mara, her two daughters, Belen and Paula were also living there for the ski season which made it a lot of fun for Brandon and me to learn about life in Bariloche. Additionally, Mara is renting another two rooms to Martin, an Argentine who works as a ski instructor, and Gonzalo, who returned to Bariloche from Buenos Aires to work at Cerro Catedral for the South America winter. Nightly dinner discussions ran the gamut from conversations around their healthcare system to the government’s decision two years ago to limit the possession of USD among the Argentinians. On the lighter side, we learned about the history of Cerro Catedral and where to ski. We also learned about Bariloche in the summer: epic mountain bike trails, white water rafting, sailing on Lake Naguel Huapei and accessing hidden beaches, and waterfalls along day-long hikes through the mountains. For nature lovers, it’s breathtaking and all here at your fingertips to enjoy!
Brandon and I filled our weekday mornings in an intensive Spanish school at the Academia Bariloche (muchas gracias to Mike Stewart for the recommendation). My Spanish went from hola and gracias to a few full sentences and Brandon’s has improved drastically! Because Brandon was the only intermediate student signed up for the course the last two weeks, he had private lessons with his Professor, Sol (pictured below). For my first week, I had solo lessons with my Professor Fatima before Stefano, an Italian, joined my class the second week. Although Stefano and I had the same number of hours learning Spanish (approximately 15 hours EVER), he picked up the language as if he knew it from a prior life. Clearly because Italian is so similar to Spanish, those speaking Italian can pick up Spanish faster than English speakers! Overall the Spanish school was challenging and I found that I enjoy learning a new languages and I hope to continue to study Spanish over the coming months.
The last day of class was interactive as we played guessing games entirely over Spanish where I overused the phrase, “Como se dice en espanol?” Also on “graduation day,” we learned to make beef empanadas, so when Brandon and I return to SF or visit any of you in your respective cities, we promise to whip up some homemade, piping hot empanadas!
A Bariloche post wouldn’t be complete without discussing the massive quantities of beer that this town produces! When we decided to come to Bariloche it was primarily because we wanted to check out northern Patagonia and do some skiing. Unbeknown to us, Bariloche also happens to be a beer connoissuer’s heaven, which certainly made Brandon very happy. In the Bariloche area there are no less than 20 ceverzerias. Here, being a ceverzeria means that you make your own beer, which is kind of like a micro-brew in California, except the beer they make here they call “artesenal” and it is basically homebrew. Each of the ceverzerias makes an assortment of different beers, with negros (black Stouts and Porters), ales (pale ale, IPA, blondes), and rubias (reds, Scottish) being the most popular. Brandon has tried about 30 different kinds of beers so far like he is on some kind of crusade to try them all. Also, for us the beer is cheap! Everyplace has happy hours that begin around 6pm and go until about 9pm and you can get pints for $2. So awesome!
Brandon enjoying a Cerveza at one of our favorite Cervezaria’s in town, Manush. Beer flows like water in this town (and costs just as much)!
Finally, one last fun activity that filled an afternoon was biking El Circuito. This was about a 25km ride that loops around the western part of Bariloche, half of which is a protected, undeveloped forest. The glacier carved land here is rather with frequent ups and downs which made the ride a tad harder than perhaps we expected. During the ride we visited the famous Loao Loao hotel, made frequent stops to “take it all in”, found Lago Escondida (Hidden Lake), and were able to get a real feel for the land. I think I originally thought that everything would be too cold and snowy for biking here in Bariloche, but the lake is only about 1500 feet in elevation and so even in the winter it has proven warm and nice enough to go biking. I love Bariloche!