December 17, 2005 GMT

The first 500 km were the worst. The second 500 km were also the worst. And then I slightly lost my enthusiasm... This is probably how Marvin the paranoid android would describe the long ride from BA to Bariloche.

Cordasco Motohaus had finally finished the tyre and chain replacement on Monday (as promised), including a (free) thourough cleansing of the bike - and they even had removed the rests of the transport stickers from the windscreen and polished it. The bike looked gorgeous, standing on the workshop's assembly rack. She remained that clean only for a few km, then the scott oiler and the short rainfall made her look again like a man's bike ;-))

I got the bike back on Monday afternoon and it seemed I had to spend the night from Monday to Tuesday in a different hotel, since the Marbella's reservation told me that a prolongation was impossible since it was fully booked. However Daniel, the great helpful and friendly reception guy, magically found a room for me. So I did not have to move my hundreds of heavy boxes and bags to a different hotel.

With Daniel's instructions I easily found my way out of BA, heading towards Bahia Blanca at the Atlantic coast. The plan was - as the weather would allow it, I would stay at the beach there for some days and then join the traveller meeting in Viedma. Petrus decided differently and the weather was rather worsening - so the next day I headed directly towards Bariloche. In Bahia Blanca I had a drink with Adriano who's mother is Italian and who had spent a few months working in Italia. Adriano really startled me when he told me that he would not like to work in Italy since the peope there (Ancona) are working too hard and too much. Well this does not really conform with the German view of Italy ;-))

The roads south of BA are mainly straightforward and any slight bending of the road (which may occur every few hundred km) is advertised like a hairpin curve. So just not to fall asleep I kept telling me stories I didn't know yet (ok, old joke) and even started to sing a couple of songs of DIE AERZTE, since these are the only songs I know by heart (apart from the first strophes of HOCH AUF DEM GELBEN WAGEN, which I refused to sing. Finally out of pure boredom I even started to hail truck drivers going in the opposite direction by turning up the headlights. Up to now I had got used to being hailed by every mabe 5th truck on the road, becoming more frequent the further you get south. In Germany only bikers hail each other, you don't ever hail a truck. Now I did and got almost a 100% response. The drivers seemed really glad to be hailed (and woken up?) by a martian like me and apart from responding with their lights, happily waved at me when passing by.

Finally I reached the Andean foothills at Zapala and headed southwards through a landscape that got steadily more impressive: The snow capped vulcano Lanin with the beautiful lake and forests around and then the 7 lakes road from Junin through San Martin and Villa la Angostura to Bariloche. Bariloche itself is one of the most touristy places in Argentina, but in December it is still bearable.

My host recommended me the "Aerosilla Cerro Campanario", which is a chair lift up to a small hill, situated some 15 km west of Bariloche. This lift isn't indicated in my guidebook but the view from above is absolutely gorgeous. My host claimed it's one of the world's most beautiful views and I think he hasn't been exaggerating: Chains of snow capped peaks in the background of a landscape of blue lakes and lagoons and numerous green islands. Just incredible. Again: Forget photographs, go and see it yourself. However the most important feature of Bariloche was the lavanderia (Laundry) just around the corner, since I had run out of underpants... ;-)

My way from Bahía Blanca at the Atlantic Coast to Bariloche at the foot of the Andes is an example of perfect project preparation and strict implementation: First I wanted to do the trip in one day. Then Adriano told me that it's 1200 km and I decided to go to Neuque first (500km) and then to Bariloche. Then, when having lunch in Junin de los Andes and leafing through the guidebook while waiting for the lunch to be served, I realized that I probably had to visit the parque Lanin and see the volcano of the same name. I quickly checked at the (very helpful) tourist info for the best place to go and then returned some five km to take the 100 km gravel road through the park. When passing through Junin the 2nd time I realized that it was already time to look for a place to spend the night and stayed at the Hotel Milla Piuké, which was one of the best Hotels with the best value of the entire trip. So finally instead of one it took me three days to get to Bariloche - but I saw some great places. I am here to enjoy and that's what I did.

Posted by Winne Lichtblau at December 17, 2005 07:08 PM GMT

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