Refugio Fray – Cerro Cathederal – So we did another very big hike the other day. We hiked to Refugio Fray which sits atop Cerro Catehderal and is a highlight of our trip – from trekking anyway. It’ a longer hike 24KM, with about 600 vertical feet that you do mostly in the last two kilometers. Once you get to the top you find other people who are generally climbing and camping at the refugio. In this section of the park there are many refugio’s that you can hang out at – have some supplies and generally there are other people there. It also had a very nice lake, ice cold water and some places to hang out and relax after the long hike in. We met some people from Kansas/California, England, Germany, etc. For the most part our boys are generally the only kids doing these longer hikes – which is great for them – and they get interesting reaction from others when they are coming down and others are coming up. Usually a “he’s coming down from the top?” sort of question – implying I think if the kids could do it then well so could they… We are sort of building up our endurance for when we are in Torres Del Paine in the southern part of the country in two weeks so we can really push ourselves while in the park. It took us about 8 hours to do the trek – and we were definately tired when we got down about 7:30 at night. You start this hike at the base area of the ski resort – it actually looks like a nice place. We also found out that high season here is in the winter not summer, so that’s good news for us.
Tourist for a Day – we typically do try to stay away from the active tourist spots that scream tourist back to the world, however after our big hike we needed a relax day – so we got to take chair lifts up and back down from this nice viewpoint at the top of the hill. Yes it was nice, but compared to what you see on one of these hikes it’s pretty plain. Lots of lakes, and mountains. One thing that we could see is the refugio Lopez that we hiked up to the other day – and it gave us good perspective as how high we really got during that climb.
Another Great Meal? – One of the things we are learning is that there are definately good food places to go in Bariloche and others that you can tell are more touristy and the food is not as good. One thing Cindy and I have both noticed is that the service here is really when you want it. So if you order food, it shows up, but if your drink glass is empty no one will come by to ask if you want more. You have to call waiters/waitresses for nearly everything. We were thinking – boy they sure would sell more wine/beer if they came back and asked “would you like another?” – but that’s not the culture here.
We walked by this very busy place the other night and it definately caught my eye – so decided to put the family back in the car, go back into downtown last night for dinner. Of course we showed up around 7:30 – the place is completely empty – but that was ok. First one in, you get lots of time/attention and help from the wait staff. The one thing I will say is that we have had more waiters/waitresses here that speak english and that our ability to communicate with people in Spanish has been much better than in Pucon Chile. It seemed like in Pucon hardly anyone spoke english. I wouldn’t say that it’s everyone, but I have definately noticed it. It’s also better for us as we are able to communicate in Spanish and I can tell it’s much easier to get around/along understanding the language. You fit in easier.
Anyway, we found ourselves at the restaurant “El restaurante del los fuegos” – restaurant of the fires. Boy was it good. They even had a play area for kids – so they boys got to play WII for a couple of minutes which was good for them. We had an excellent meal – Cindy had Kebob’s that were chicken/pancetta, and I had Bife de Chorizo – which was a steak, butterflied with cheeze and chorizo in the midle then grilled. They were served with three different oils, infused with different flavors – all very good. The boys had very nice plates of pasta. We talked with the owner at the end and found out that the place has only been open for about two months – but when we left there was a line to get in, so I think he’s doing ok.
We leave Saturday, back for Chile (Frutillar) where we will be until next Friday when we board our ship for the tip of south america. It should be an extroidinary experience for the boys. Cindy and I did a part of this trip when we were here 14 years ago – so it will be good to see what’s changed – my guess is not much as there are no roads and not much as far as infrastructure to speak of.
Insurance – on a positive note, our insurance came through in a huge way for us and we have a good settlement for the things we lost in Pucon. For anyone else travelling you should take note about how much currency your insurance will reimburse you for – in our case it was $200 – total. In a country where you need us dollars (argentina) and cashiers checks don’t work – well you have to be very prudent about hiding and managing your cash. I told Cindy this a.m. that last night Ii figured that the perfect hiding spot would be a tampon box – no robbery is going to open a box of tampons. So we might buy some at the store and turn it into our portable safe. We lost a lot more than that, but the insurance adjuster waived our deductable which happened to be the same amount of the cash — so we are whole. There are a couple of things we are trying to work out – one is how to refresh our US Dollars here during our trip – having lost some from the robbery. Things that you think of “travellers checks” are now sort of old school and banks charge crazy amounts to process them. YOu cannot withdrawl US dollars in Argentina – so you have to figure out a different way – which we are working on. One thing I can say is that it’s not easy and that I’m surprised a bit in 2015 that things are so difficult to simply wire money to withdrawl. Oh well all part of the life lessons we are learning.