Hiking is all nice and good, but there can be too much of a good thing. Not mountains of course, mountains are always awesome. So I decided to see some mountains by bike instead. Of course, for me, that means seeing mountains at a distance. I’m not a mountain biker and I seriously dislike climbing inclines with a bike. The circuito chico is a 27km loop close to Bariloche, ideal for biking. On the way to the circuito is the …. Which I had been told is among the best views in the world as selected by national geographics. Arriving at the foot of the mountain and keeping in mind my decision not to hike, I directed myself to chairlift. Seeing the prices was all the excuse I needed to hike up after all.
Reaching the top, I had to admit that I had chosen a bad day to come. It was very cloudy and my optimism that the weather would accommodate my desire for clear skies was unwarranted. Even with some of the mountains hidden in the clouds, the view was quite impressive. Water, mountains, forests made for a colorful combination. I stood and watched for a while, until I noticed the heavy clouds closing in at a distance. Keeping in mind that I still wanted to cycle the 30km’s I went back down and walked over to the bike rental. There, to my surprise, I found another drawback of traveling of season: Rather than closing at 7pm, as was advertised on the flyer, they were closing at 5. Meaning I had just under 3 hours left to do the circuit. Including the planned lunch in the swiss colony… I really have a knack for making things stressful. In particular my holidays.
The bike rental all seems to have absolutely zero faith in their renters. At first I thought he was being ironic when he told me to always brake with both brakes and to pedal forward to go forward. But then I saw that the map they handed me included instructions on which gears to use for uphill/flat/downhill. The flat section seems a bit superfluous as there was no flat bit anywhere, only up and down.
The first hill to conquer is the hardest, but it also yields the nicest view because there’s a natural opening at the top with no trees. During this ride I thought back frequently to a friend traveling with me back in Cerro Castillo. She had left us with the words “I can’t take those trees anymore. They’re everywhere and keep blocking my view”. During my stay in Bariloche I started to seriously relate to her feelings and in particular during the bike ride I was often left with the feeling that the view would’ve been amazing if it hadn’t been for the trees blocking it. And those trees didn’t even have any amazing foliage. They were all green.
Even though I was already short on time, I decided to stop at the swiss colony. Mostly because the food there had been recommended to me two months prior when I was still in El calafate and it sounded like an experience. The curanto is a typical dish cooked in the ground. A layer of leaves is burned, meat, vegetables etc are put on top. Another layer of smoldering leaves is added before earth is added on top. Four hours later the earth is removed, the food extracted and served. It has a nice smokey taste with some notes from the leaves. In particular my apple tasted absolutely delicious.
After being served a selection of meats cooked curanto style a waitress came up and asked me if there was anything else I wanted. I asked if they also had vegetables and she said “Of course, we have everything”. So I let my mind run wild.. Some eggplant would be great or zucchini. Maybe some mushrooms? She turned around and came back with a plate containing a potato, a carrot and an apple.. I’m still confused by this selection of “vegetables”.
The lunch was nice, but it took almost an hour. So when I left the place, I only had about an hour left to do the second half of the circuit, which means that I wouldn’t have the time to stop at one of the breweries that seemed to plaster the way. Maybe it was for the better, don’t drink and drive!