Monthly Archive: November 2014


We just got back from Antarctica (!!!!) but have a bit of a backlog of posts to do before we get those pictures up, so we’ll try to catch up quickly!

We were in Bariloche for a few days at the end of October.  Although I liked the actual town of San Martín better, Bariloche had more hikes and parks to visit and a great bus system that could get you just about anywhere without a car.  The drive from San Martín to Bariloche was great! The bus drove through an area known as the 7 Lakes (you can guess why) and the views were incredible.

Road to Bariloche Road to Bariloche 2

We hadn’t had any weather problems on our trip so far but our luck ran out in Bariloche. We had both been excited about lots of hiking and going on a bike ride through the Llao Llao National Park, but the rain, snow and high winds had other plans for us. The first full day there we headed out to try to rent some bikes but as soon as we got to the shop, there was a downpour. So we headed up to a nearby lookout that was supposed to have some great views, but the rain and cloud cover just made for a wet hike.

Stormy Views Stormy Views 2

As soon as we got back into town though, the weather turned around. We checked out the views from the lake that Bariloche sits on and then went to the downtown area. Bariloche is famous for chocolate and has at least a dozen chocolate shops downtown – almost all of which give you free samples for going in. When we had arrived in town the night before, we visited pretty much every shop and we picked our favorite to go back to for some cake.

On the lake Bariloche Street Bariloche Cake!

The next day we woke up to snow, so we headed out to a little village about an hour from town called Colonia Suiza. The village was a bust with virtually nothing to keep us busy until the next bus came 4 hours later, but we found a nice lake and Brandon made some dog friends.

Colonia Suiza Lake Dog Friends

We decided that for our last full day, we were going to go for a longer hike, rain or shine. We bundled up and set off and got to the lookout point just as a storm was rolling in (you can see it off to the left in the pictures). We hiked the rest of the day with alternating snow, hail and sun but we were happy that we finally got a good view!



View from Hotel Cerro Llao Llao Bariloche-PANO

We rewarded ourselves for sticking out the weather with a trip to a local brewery for dinner.


Before catching the bus on our final day, the weather finally cooperated, so we stretched our legs with a walk around the lake before boarding a bus across the country to Puerto Madryn on the Atlantic coast.

Last day in Bariloche

San Martín de los Andes

When we started looking for buses to get from Pucon, Chile to Bariloche, Argentina, we quickly came to the conclusion that there was no direct way to do it and we would have a several hour layover any way we went.  Since we don’t really like hanging around bus stations for 4 to 5 hours with all our stuff, we decided to break up the trip and spend a few days in one of the spots we’d have to change buses anyway.  We settled on San Martín.

San Martín de los Andes is an adorable little town.  Even though we’ve now seen several towns modeled like a European alpine village, this one was my favorite.  We only stayed here for two nights but I would go back in a heartbeat.  The scenery was beautiful and there were several hikes that we did right from town – always a plus if you don’t have to drive or bus to be able to hike.  Here are a few pictures from our visit.

Overlooking the town

Lake overlook

Brandon!Erin at LakeBeachMain StreetSan Martin Plaza



Pucon – Summiting an Active Volcano

After Santiago, we headed to Pucon, which is approximately 11 hours south of Santiago by bus. It’s a pleasant little town located in Chile’s lake district, and was the start of the Patagonia leg of our trip. The main attraction of the town is to trek to the summit of Villarrica, a snow-capped active (and one of Chile’s most active) volcano which can be seen from pretty much everywhere in town with smoke coming out of the top.

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We did the trek on our second day in town. We were equipped with a bunch of snow gear from the operator we went through, which included ice axe, crampons, helmet, boots, gloves, pants, jacket, and a sled…
[Sadly, I forgot our camera for this hike in the rush to leave their office, so we had to rely on one of the guides’ 3 megapixel smartphone camera to prove that we in fact did make it to the top. Enjoy the grainy photos.]
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We were quite lucky in that the weather obliged for our hike, since the hike is a no-go when there is any inclimate weather. Given the agreeable conditions, we didn’t necessarily need our cramp-ons. We relied heavily on the ice axe to brace ourselves as we were zig-zagging up the snowy/icy volcano. It was fairly steep in certain spots, so it required a bit of focus on each step to ensure we didn’t find ourselves sliding off of the side of the volcano.


We were able to get to the summit in approximately 5 hours, which featured an imposing smoldering crater at the top. We hung out at the top for a little while to take in the expansive views of the area and to fuel up for our exciting next leg of the trip: sledding down. I have to say, this was the most fun I’ve ever had on a descent. It tooks us roughly 30-40 minutes to sled down what took us 5 hours to hike up. There were a lot of little sledding lanes to go down.

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Outside of the volcano hike, we just hung out in town and explored the general area. There is a lake with a beach in town which was pretty nice.

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And we lucked out with our accommodation, we ended up getting a little cabin all to ourselves that came equipped with a television. We may or may not have watched a bit of HBO on our lazy post-hike day.


A week in Santiago

After Mendoza we headed across the Andes to Santiago, Chile.  All the Andes border crossings are so scenic!

Mendoza-Santiago Border

After more than a month of only spending a few nights in each city we visited, we decided to do a full week in Santiago and rented a room in an apartment.  It was so nice to unpack a bit and get into a little routine.  Our routine for the whole week was: sleep in, work out (there was a gym in the building!), late breakfast, wander around, snack, more wandering, drinks/dinner, bed.  It was awesome!  The only big to do on our visit was to stock up on trekking clothes.  When we left the U.S. we weren’t planning on doing any multi day treks so we needed to do a little shopping before we got to Patagonia (the region, not the store).  Luckily we found a few blocks of second hand stores and got a ton of stuff – including boots and waterproof pants for both of us – for under $100.


Second hand shopping

I visited Santiago in 2007 and for some reason I didn’t have a super favorable impression of the city – but I loved it this time around!  We had a lot of fun exploring different neighborhoods and parks and we really liked the city.  Well, except for the smog.Park in the city center Chilean Flag Santiago street

Ped Street

Tallest Building DSCN3652 santiago PANO

As soon as we arrived in Santiago, everyone we talked to asked us if we had tried a terremoto. So we set out to try one. And by try, I mean order a 1.5 liter pitcher of it.   Although white wine, pineapple sorbet and fernet seemed like a strange combination, it was one of those dangerous drinks that went down waaaay to quickly.


We put some serious mileage on our Fitbits in Santiago – we walked almost everywhere for the first few days. Then we decided to try out the Santiago metro and didn’t look back. It was great to use public transportation again (well public transportation that didn’t involve half sitting on a Bolivan man in the backseat of a taxi truffi). The Santiago metro was so fast and clean and smooth! The El in Chicago jerks every which way, but you didn’t even need to hold onto anything to keep your balance on the metro in Santiago.


We took a bus out to Valparaiso and Viña del Mar one day. We did a walking tour of Valparaiso and saw the highlights – colorful houses on hills and lots of cool graffiti. Then we took a little metro (Chile for the win with another great metro system!) to Viña del Mar to check it out. Viña del Mar seemed like a great resort town – if only it would have been just a little bit warmer, we would have hung out at the beach longer.

Valparaiso Steps B&E Valparaiso Vina del Mar

On our last full day in Santiago, we took the metro to the end of one of the lines and then jumped in a cab for a quick ride out to Concha y Toro Winery. Concha y Toro is the largest wine producer in Latin America and has a beautiful winery just outside the city. However, we decided to skip the hour and a half tour and just do the best part of a winery visit – tastings. We hunkered down at a table in the restaurant patio for lunch and then ordered two wine flights and then a few more glasses.  After all the wine we had in Mendoza and then this trip, I think we are well on our way to becoming South American wine experts 🙂

Concha y Toro Somm



Mendoza – Wine and Mountains

We were pretty excited to head to Mendoza after leaving Cordoba. Mendoza is the 4th largest city in Argentina and is in probably the most popular wine region of South America. In addition to being a popular wine region, Mendoza is also quite close to the highest mountain peak of South America, named Aconcagua, which is the highest non-Himilayan peak in the world. So Wine + Mountains were our main objectives in the Mendoza area and we were able to check out both in our 4 night stay in the area.

It was on our second day in Mendoza that we took a day trip out into the mountain range that contained Aconcagua, and it was absolutely gorgeous. Below are a smattering of photos of the mountains that do not really do justice to what it looks like in person.

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On our fourth day we went out to the Maipu region (small town outside of Mendoza where a lot of wineries are) to do a bike tour of some of wineries in the area. We rode our bikes to 3 wineries that day. A couple of which had distribution to the United States (and one which we have had before, from ‘Trapiche’). While the region is famously known for its Malbecs, our favorite wine of the day was a Torrontes.

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Outside of mountains and wineries, Mendoza is a charming little city on its own, so we spent the rest of our time exploring the area (and drinking the free wine provided by our hostel 🙂 )

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