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San Carlos de Bariloche
Old 08-01-2009, 09:03 AM   #1
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San Carlos de Bariloche

One of our favorite places is San Carlos de Bariloche, in Argentina's Patagonia region. It was settled by Swiss, German, and Italian immigrants and maintains a strong European character. It is a delightful place, high in the Andes and just full of cafes, chocolate shops, and tea rooms. The main square can make you wonder if you have been magically teleported to Switzerland: alpine architecture, and a view of snow-capped mountains across an impressive lake.

In the middle of the square stands a statue of a man on horseback. It is shocking to see that the statue is covered with graffiti in this otherwise neat-as-a-pin city. It turns out that the statue is of Julio A. Roca, the general who ended Argentina's "frontier problem" in 1877 with a campaign to "extinguish, subdue or expel" the local indians.

The graffiti defacing Roca's statue are the protests of the descendants of those same Indians, decrying the campaign and accusing Roca of genocide. I suppose that allowing the graffiti to remain is the city's way of keeping a lid on a still-volatile political situation, a tacit acknowledgement of the injustice of Roca's campaign. So the the statue stands as a monument to historical fact, simultaneously proud and shameful.

The name Bariloche is a distortion of the Tehuelche word Vuriloche, meaning "people from the other side". "Che" is their word for people, and the origin of Ernesto Guevera's famous nickname.


Bariloche is a ski resort, crowded and expensive in the summer as well as the winter, but November and December is off-season. It is their spring and the weather is beautiful and rates are lower. We rented a perfectly serviceable apartment there in 2006 for $500/month and had a great time. The bus system is good, and taxis (remis) are inexpensive. No rental car needed.

You can easily fly to Bariloche from Buenos Aires, but it is cheaper and very reasonable to take the luxurious overnight bus instead.

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Old 08-06-2009, 07:43 AM   #2
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I visited Bariloche in October 1998 and agree with everything you said. I was on a tour of South American and we approached the town from the lake; we had been on the "cruise across the Andes" which involves hopping across the narrow "bottom" of the continent in boats, hovercraft and buses, starting from Puerto Montt in Chile. Just beautiful! After Bariloche, we flew to Buenos Aires on Aerolineas Argentinas (which airline I would NOT recommend!!). Anyhow, Bariloche is beautiful, including the gondola up the mountain. Our visit coincided with a summit between then President Bill Clinton and his Argentinian counterpart, then President Carlos Menem, at a golf resort on the lake. The airport was full of USAF planes and the place was crawling with Secret Service guys who stood out like sore thumbs in their Washington DC business suits and honking big cellphones!

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Old 08-06-2009, 07:52 AM   #3
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Yep, the Cruce de Lagos ought to be on everybody's life-list.

Cruce de Lagos - Lake Crossing to and from Chile and Argentina

We have had good luck with LAN for air travel in Argentina.
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