Sunday, 23 November 2014

San Carlos De Bariloche

Despite there being a howling gale and it raining cats and dogs, I decided to ride on to Bariloche today so that I could get down to Puerto Pañuelo, where Daniel from Cordillera Bikes is located early tomorrow morning and thus give myself time to disassemble and pack my bike for my flight Tuesday week to Buenos Aires.

It's a pity that it's come about so quickly cause I'd like to have spent more time traveling around Chile, the scenery and the people were to die for, Orsono being the possible exception.

Unfortunately however, if I'm to get down to El Calafate before I fly off to Buenos Aires then something had to give.

As for today's ride, it was bloody cold, wet, slow going owing to the wind and not a great deal of fun, I've got to be honest, but I made it. Something that I didn't do a fortnight or so ago, when the weather was considerably better, but what the heck! I did it and those with Strava access will be able to see me full circumnavigation of the last week or so.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Pro Forma - Villa La Angostura

It's with a degree of trepidation that I set out this morning.

It wasn't particularly warm and the weather forecast for the next two or three days didn't look particularly appealing. Rain!

Unfortunately as this trip unfolds it becomes more acutely obvious to me, just how poorly I'd prepared. Ah well, it is my first go at doing a self-supported ride and it was put together somewhat at the last minute and in a foreign environment.

As I'd discovered on Tuesday not having enough warm clothes, my tent & sleeping bag, along with detailed maps or a GPX route that I could upload into my Garmin bike computer, (a bike computer incidentally which is now so out of date that it doesn't have the live mapping or course correction option found in more recent and more expensive versions) was making things a little tougher than they needed be, albeit my panniers (which I subsequently discovered weren't waterproof) being lighter as a consequence.

I just wish today i could have ridden at my own pace, as opposed to having that nagging feeling in the back of my mind that if I wasn't careful I wouldn't be able to negotiate my way through both the Chilean & Argentinan customs.

Essentially, I needed / wanted to get back to Bariloche as soon as possible, so as to give myself time to pack my bike up, etc! If I'd had more time however, I would have paid a visit to the small car museum I passed along the way, as well as allowing me time to lock my bike up and join in / watch the fun and games of the rodeo that I only temporarily stopped at....

At any rate, arriving into the little town of Entre Lagos around one o'clock, I decided to grab a bite to eat, though there wasn't much on offer as far as cafés and restaurants was concerned. I did however manage to track down a street vendor who was selling large sized Empanadas and cups of Milo but you know, I think I'd got off the tourist trail there somewhere, despite being on the main (well most direct road between Osorno, Chile and Bariloche, Argentina given the lack of eateries / hotels and so on!

Lunch consumed, I headed on, with unfortunately only a rough idea as to the distance and profile, and as dawned on me as I continued turning the pedals, the hours that the Chilean and Argentinian Customs offices were open! The idea of having to turn back, or sleep rough in the cold with the rain coming down, frightening the daylights out of me!

What I particularly didn't count on when I got to the Chilean Customs Office at around five o'clock is that it was some twenty kilometres (all of it uphill) till I'd get to the border and a further ten kilometres before I'd hit the Argentinian Customs Office.

As the time ticked by, the rain came down and I become enveloped in fog (or a cloud) that made me even more anxious to reach the customs office, before it closed, cause after that it didn't matter too greatly how long it would take to get to Villa La Angostura, I knew I could do it and would end up in a hostel / hotel somewhere in town, even if that waking up the reception desk!

I contemplated stopping a car / truck for a lift to the border, how I was going to negotiate it given my lack of Spanish I don't know, but nonetheless, something inside me said - Keep going, whilst there is still traffic, there's a likelihood that the customs office will be open! As proved to be the case! Paperwork completed, I then headed on to Villa La Angostura just hoping to get there in time to find a restaurant still open and a centrally located hotel with a room available. Sure enough I did, but it did take a few kilometres and a bit of time to find a hostal with a bed available, there obviously being something on in town! Phew!

A quick bite to eat was found to eat, followed by a very long and relaxing shower.  

Friday, 21 November 2014

Pro Forma - Osorno

Whilst I left Puerto Varas a little later than planned, cause I had to hunt down a couple of bananas and a tin of tuna or what have. I mean if I'd thought about it, I would have done it yesterday.

Either way, essentially I wanted / needed them cause I wasn't sure how far or hard today's ride would be and I wanted to make sure I had a bit of food in reserve should it be required. Ultimately it wasn't a problem, as the photo below indicates!

I think doing a circumnavigation of the lake is a fairly touristy thing to do, even if most people are more sensible than myself and do it on a motorbike, in a car or as part of a bus tour rather than a bike. Either way, I'll end up eating them in the next day or two, regardless of how many cafe, restaurants stops there may be on my route back to Bariloche.

The next little problem I had was getting out of town, having not sourced a map of the town and therefore having no real idea of where I was going. Fortunately I've got a fairly good sense of direction and was able to find the major highway which was to be part of today's route. Yeah!

I then headed on to Puerto Octay along the shores of Lago Llanquihue and with the sun shining down and yet not getting too hot, I've got to say it was a really, really enjoyable ride. Once I got to Puerto Octay, I had a bite to eat and then decided to press on, with the aim being to get to Entre Lagos, some 60KMs away.

Unfortunately however I missed the turn off the major road out of town, it wasn't sign posted (honest) and instead I found myself heading into the major town in the area - Osorno! The one advantage in doing so, was as proved to be the case, one of increasing my odds of finding a hotel for the night.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Puerto Varas

Whilst I'll probably kick myself a little when the credit card bill comes in or when it starts raining on Saturday, as forecast and I'm heading up an unpaved road over / through the Andes, but nonetheless, I decided to extend my stay in Puerto Varas another day.

Whilst I probably should have jumped on my bike for the 40KM return trip to Puerto Monte.

Apparently it's a beautiful little village on the Pacific Ocean, I decided against doing so:
  • Partly because of the hassle of getting my bike out of the hotel's storage area;
  • Partly cause I just needed time to get a few things organised, such as hotels in El Calafate and Buenos Aires, a sightseeing trip to the glacier in El Calafate, transport down there and back from Bariloche, etc; and
  • Partly because I just needed time to unwind.
What better place to do that than a five star hotel with a decent view.....

I just wish their restaurant knew how to make a decent coffee and my life would be complete!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Puerto Varas

I stayed at a B&B, called Hamilton's Place, in Ensenada last night and I've got to say it was a fantastic

I had probably the best salmon, I've ever had anywhere, bar perhaps some of the stuff I've cooked at home for myself (which I suspect is my way of acknowledging, that I need to get back into the kitchen)!

had a wonderful conversation (lasting long into the night) with my hosts, before subsequently retiring to a very warm and comfortable bed and unfortunately though, that proved to be part of my downfall cause with the rain drizzling down, I deferred the start of my day by an hour or so, with the idea of simply lazing under the doona proving too appealing.

When I finally arose and ambled downstairs to the dining / lounge room, I was greeted by some juice, some scrambled eggs and a couple of pancakes accompanied a cuppa tea. T'was, yum!

At any rate, it was still only nine thirty by the time I'd finished up, and I still had plenty of time for me to do the 60-80 kilometres I had in mind doing, before then finding myself some accommodation for the night and More importantly somewhere to grab a bite to eat. 

What I didn't count on though, is still being there three or four hours later still chatting. Some people could chat the hind leg off a dog! Seriously though, it was getting a bit of perspective on what it's like for an ex-pat from Canada to live in a country such as Chile.

As a result it was a bit of reluctance and the sight of grey clouds approaching that I decided to jump on the bike. 

Whilst I rode as fast as I could, I ultimately got caught out, some ten kilometres from the town of Puerto Varas in the rain when it started to bucket down. With it went my aspirations of cycling on to Puerto Monte (and the Pacific Ocean) but the idea of spending another hour or so in the rain not really doing anything for me. 

Maybe I'll visit it tomorrow. 

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Ensenada, Chile

On the ride down to the first ferry, well catamaran actually, I realised I'd forgotten to pack two vital things:
  • The strap for my heart rate monitor (I'll just have to play it by ear); and
  • A pen in order to complete all of the paperwork I'll be given by the Customs / Immigration officers either side of the border. 
Having never packed for a week long self supported ride before (albeit one in which I intend to stay primarily in hotels), their not exactly an automatic inclusion in the "Must pack list".

At any rate, getting back to the ride, well whilst I'd like to be able to include a few photos taken during the first two lake crossings, it was bucketing down with rain, so there was no chance of my getting a decent shot or two, even had I been brave (or silly) enough as to have gone outside. In saying that, I should also confess that I had to pop my winter & wet weather stuff on during the third ferry trip.

The Troll enjoying it's third ferry ride for the day!

Of course it was probably a bit late doing so by this stage in the day, having started this morning in only my shorts and a summer top. None of which of course kept me particularly warm during my 30 KM ride between Peulla and Puerto Frias an unpaved road through a wonderful nature reserve and which is also the prime means of traveling between Lago Frias and Lago Todos Llos Santos.

I suppose that was my second mistake for the day - Not checking the weather forecast for the day ahead. Ah well, shit happens!

Monday, 17 November 2014

San Carlos de Bariloche

With panniers fitted / loaded and a ferry ticket bought, tomorrow the journey begins again.

Daniel, a decent chap who owns and runs a bike hire company here, in Bariloche, has helped my create a six or seven day route, that will include more than a couple of days or so in Chile, before returning to Bariloche, Argentina.

It starts with three ferry rides across the lakes in the area, one of which I believe is shared between the two countries and I can't wait to get started. It's funny, but I'd talked to Julia about the concept of doing a two or three day self-supported tour of Victoria when I got home. To see how much I enjoyed the concept and how it compared to doing something like "The Andes Trail". IE: Riding with a group of people. It appears however, I'll be putting that concept to the test a whole lot sooner than I'd expected. Ah well, nothing like throwing yourself in at the deep end. Besides, I couldn't finish my trip to South America;

  • Without at least riding through Chile, as had originally been on the cards, albeit on a different route; and
  • Allowing my cycling miles (achieved over the last couple of months or so) to go to waste. Got to keep the momentum going, particularly if I'm to achieve cycling some goals I'm already setting for 2015.

Heck, who knows I might even try to do the same thing when I ultimately get to Los Angeles in terms of hiring a rack, panniers, and so forth, so that I don't become a pain in the arse to the friend I'll be staying with over the Xmas / New Year period.

For the meantime though, keep your fingers crossed for me that I don't come across too much in the way of unpaved roads and I'll try to update my blog daily. Be forewarned however that it might not be till I get back to Bariloche before you hear from me again!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

San Carlos de Bariloche

Dragged the bike out of the hotel basement, gave it a quick once over and then headed out to do the Circuito Chico, being a 25KM secenic circuit, just out of town and something, which gave me a perfect opportunity to turn the pedals, hone my photographic skills and to generally clear my head.

During the ride, I stopped at the peak, to have a cuppa coffee (I might be riding a mountain bike but certain roadie habits can not be changed). Whilst supping my coffee, I had a great chat to a dual Argentinian / American citizen about world events, the joys of traveling and some things I should make sure to see when (if) I visit Buenos Aires. He was a really nice chap and it just helped to remind me that most people are happy, helpful and friendly people.

Getting back to my ride whilst the ride out and then back into town, got a little bit hairy from time to time given the nature of the traffic, it was nonetheless a very enjoyable and worthwhile ride.

If nothing else it was great to get out of town, cause whilst Bariloche is a very scenic / touristy town, a couple of days here is more than enough!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

San Carlos de Bariloche

With views such as this and with the sun beating down at a mild twenty degrees or so, how could one be anything but happy.

Whilst it might just be the beer talking but seriously I'm feeling so happy and relaxed right now it's not funny.

I'd forgotten what it's like to be King of your own destiny! Mine right now it would seem is to be sitting in the garden of a roadside cafe enjoying a couple of empanadas, some papas fritas and the rest of my bottle of cerveza. ENGLISH - A couple of small meat pies, chips and beer in other words.

Also on a positive note, it would appear that things are beginning to fall into place already.

  • I've despatched, some spare bike parts, a whole bundle of souvenirs and a few other odds and ends I can't or rather don't want to be lugging around with me for the next few weeks;
  • I've hired a bike rack & panniers (I so wish I'd bought mine as I'd originally intended);
  • I've come up with a few rides, ostensibly around the Bariloche area (it's so beautiful, how could I not stop and enjoy) and also one which would get me over the border and into Chile.
  • I've also found out about flying (or as a worst case scenario getting the bus) to El Calafate, Buenos Aires and Santiago so a bit more detailed / longer term plan can be devised.

Of course in saying that my plans of visiting Ushuaia, Antarctica and so on will have to wait, but it's not like Argentina is that difficult to get around, particularly if I can learn a bit of Spanish before the next time I visit.

All in all, whilst it's not the way I'd envisaged things occurring and I've still got a bitter taste in my mouth as to how things ended I'm pleased at the same time that I've now got the freedom to do what I like, when I like.

If nothing else, that means being able to slow things down a little smell the roses, enjoy the sights, sounds & food that a place has to offer without necessarily always keeping an eye on the clock.

Friday, 14 November 2014

San Carlos de Bariloche

I wish I'd bought my rear rack & panniers as I'd originally intended, because I'm surrounded by some beautiful scenery, am feeling a little better (mentally and physically) & eager to hit the open road on my beloved stead.

I'll just have to see whether I can hire a car large enough to carry all my crap, cause if so, then what I'm thinking is drive from village to another at night and spending the following day doing a bit of a ride around the area.

It shouldn't be too difficult to create a GPX route for myself and to be able to come up with an interesting itinerary.

Let's see what happens tomorrow morning and how I get on in talking to Avis who I think have an branch right here in Bariloche.