Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Goodbye Chile, Hello again Argentina ....

Bus journey over the Andes, Chile to Argentina
The Friday before last, we said goodbye to Chile. As a treat on our last day, we allowed ourselves a taste of the standard breakfast, with the homemade wholemeal bread and homemade cake, the smell of which had been tempting us every time that they baked it. We said Hasta Luego to the staff that we had got to know at the hostel, and they dropped us of where our bus was due to leave from.

We were pretty early, but this turned out to be a good thing. As we waited, a woman came up to us and asked us if we were going to Bariloche with the Andesmar bus company. When we said yes, she proceeded to tell us that she was from the company, that there was a strike, and so we should go with her and she would put us on a bus with another company to take us to Osorno, where we could then get an Andesmar bus on to Bariloche. At least we thought that was what she said, as it was all in Spanish.

Bus journey over the Andes, Chile to Argentina
Now the cynical part of me is always a bit dubious about this kind of thing. Is it just another company trying to steal the business (though we had already bought our ticket with Andesmar), would they try to charge us extra for the bus to Osorno, or even was this an elaborate ruse to get us to go with her and then we'd get mugged? Any of these is possible, but we were reasonably confident that she was on the level, so we went with her.

We picked up another couple on the way, which was a good sign, and when we got to the other bus station, she went in and bought our extra tickets and explained it all to the driver. So all was good, no scams or dodgy deals, just another case of strikes in South America requiring a change of plans. Just as well we were early though, as otherwise we would have missed this alternative, and I'm not sure what would have happened then.

Bus journey over the Andes, Chile to Argentina
We arrived at Osorno an hour later, were able to get our tickets altered without any problem, and off we went for the 6-7 hour trip to Bariloche.

We've had some pretty lengthy and painful border crossings between Chile and Argentina in the past, although usually going the other way, so we were ready for a slow process when we got to the border. Leaving Chile was quick and easy - most places are generally pretty relaxed about you leaving - and then we had about an hour further to drive through no man's land before we officially got to Argentina.

This drive had potential to be really pretty, as it went up across the Andes. What we could see was nice, but visibility was pretty poor as it was snowing quite a lot up there. No sooner had I cleared the condensation off the window, it was back again, and even without that, most of the time you couldn't see very far anyway. Hence the lousy photos.

Bus journey passing the lakes to Bariloche, Argentina
After we'd crossed the mountains, and left the snow behind, we finally arrived at the Argentine border. Sometimes they insist on every piece of luggage coming off the bus, and do a lot of bag searches, but today was straight forward, with just a few sample bags checked and we were off again fairly quickly.

We arrived in Bariloche, got our remaining Chilean money changed, bought our outward tickets and grabbed a cab into town. We had a very chatty taxi driver, who was keen to point out things that might interest us on the way, as well as talking about the weather and other topics.

Bariloche - or rather to give it its full name - San Carlos de Bariloche, is famous for its scenery, but also for its chocolate. So knowing that we would be unable to resist completely, the first thing we did here was to join a gym, figuring that even if we only go half the days, it will help to offset any bad moments. If you ever need a gym here, I would happily recommend Vertice 7 - good cardio machines, excellent weights machines, and friendly helpful staff.

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