Friday, January 22, 2010

Bus to Bariloche

Today we took a six hour bus ride from Neuquen to San Carlos de Bariloche. Buses here are surprisingly comfortable and it was actually fun to sit on the upper deck.  The cost? $12 per person which included two movies and lunch. Admittedly, the views for the first part of our journey were of a vast flat desert but then after four hours we saw the snow capped Andes and I got excited when I spotted my first guanaco (a cousin of the llama). As our bus began to ascend to the lake country, we took note of the trout breeding areas that are a chain of lakes.Hawks and ducks flew around us.  Now I am on a quest to see a flightless rhea (resembles an ostrich).....maybe tomorrow?
It is amazing to see the similarities in landscape with the US and Europe. Buenos Aires reminds one of Paris because of the architecture; Mendoza looks like the Napa Valley because of all the wine production and palm trees; Neuquen has the landscape of the Yakima Valley due to the large tracts of fruit production with a river running through it. 
Bariloche, founded in 1902 by German and Italian immigrants, has architecture like Leavenworth and Bavaria and views similar to Stehekin times ten! The difference is the scope.
Bariloche and the other important tourist town, Villa La Angostura, are on the gigantic Lago Nahuel Huapi. The lake has hundreds of bays, all surrounded by shockingly high mountains. It is 80 degrees here today but the mountains are covered in snow. Tomorrow we get to tour up to the top of several mountains. The sheer vastness and variety of landscape is staggering. I admit, I'm already planning my next trip to Argentina :)  Gail

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