On Sunday morning we awoke to blue skies and sunshine and a hawk perched on a tree limb outside our grand window. Could this have been staged? Jane and I wandered over to the dining area in the separate building near the road and enjoyed a fine continental breakfast will all sorts of pastries, fruit, yogurt and cereal. After breakfast we returned to our main lodge and roamed about the grounds. It was quite windy but we found several places with wind barriers, and the warmth of the sun was quite pleasant. We descended the steps and path and reached the edge of the huge lake which was now churning with whitecaps due to the high winds. There were flowers everywhere, but the most prevalent were a yellow bush of moderate height that we later learned was called retama. They reminded me of forsythia but strangely had small green pods on the branches.
At this point we thought we were being picked up by Rio Monso on Sunday morning so we packed our suitcases and wandered over to the office. Much to our surprise the other couples that were supposed to join us for the trip to Rio Monso Lodge were no where to be found, so we began to suspect that something was amiss. We asked if the person at the front counter could contact Rio Manso, and he began to call and email his contacts. Meanwhile I used the Wi-Fi connection to send emails to Diana and Taylor. Apparently we created quite a storm and eventually Santiago, the driver who was in town to drop off departing guests at the airport, appeared and offered to take us to the lodge.
By now I’d heard back from Taylor and learned that we weren’t scheduled for pickup until Monday morning, so we checked with the front desk person whether we could stay at Lirolay for a second night. Fortunately there was a room available, the Lirolay suite, the nicest and most expensive room situated closest to the lake. We decided to remain in Bariloche for another night and moved to our upgraded room that contained a hot tub on a deck just outside our bed. It was unfortunate that we were forced to stay another night in this luxury.
With an extra day in Bariloche ahead of us we checked back with Matis, the nice front desk person, and he suggested things to do. For starters we decided to hire a taxi and head to a small restaurant along the lake near Cerro Campanario. Afterward we were within walking distance of the chairlift that would transport us to Cerro Campanario where we would have scenic views of the mountains and lakes around Bariloche. Matise called a taxi for us and after a 15 minute winding ride along the lake, dropped us off at Chado, the restaurant by the lake. Jane and I enjoyed light lunches and then walked a short distance back along the road to the base of the chairlift and purchased two lift tickets. A brief pleasant ride on the chair took us to the top where we circled around the path and snapped panoramic photos of the landscape.
For our return trip we decided to follow a dusty path that was visible from the chair, and as we descended we encountered numerous brave or perhaps foolish visitors making the uphill climb. At one point a young man approached in a Denver Nuggets jersey, and I stopped and told him that I was from Denver, Colorado and asked if he were a Nuggets fan? He replied in minimal English, “No Los Angeles Clippers”. Our language barrier prevented me from finding out why he was wearing a Nuggets jersey.
After reaching the base we were at a loss about how to obtain a cab for the return trip, so we returned to the restaurant and asked our waiter to call one. We decided to order a dessert to validate our return, but the cab arrived much sooner than expected and we had to gulp our tea and inhale our dessert cake in order to not make the cab driver wait.
After checking into our new room and being awestruck by our new setup, we decided to make a trip to downtown Bariloche to see what an Argentine ski town is like. Again the front desk ordered a taxi, and the driver dropped us off on Mitre street, the main artery through the business district. We spent an hour or two browsing the shops and exchanging money before enlisting the services of another cab and returning to Lirolay. Bariloche is known as the chocolate capital of Argentina and we entered a chocolate outlet store and bought a box of candy to carry back to the United States.
A restaurtant across from Lirolay Suites was recommended as one of the best in town, so we decided to make it our dining spot for Sunday night. Matise called and made reservations for us, and at the appropriate time we crossed the street and entered El Patacon parilla. There were plenty of tables and we enjoyed a fine meal before returning to our luxury suite for a fine night’s rest.