Waking up in a nice, comfy bed, we had breakfast looking out to the garden. We bid our farewells to the nice lady, who were playing with her visiting grandchildren happily in the garden, nice. Needing a bit more pesos, we asked her about where to exchange money in town, so she made a few calls, and exchanged it herself! Ha ha… nice grandma is also illegal foreign exchange player.
What she did mention to us….is that today was Semana Santa, or Holy Week, in which all of Argentina has about a week of vacation! Looking quickly online, there were still a few hotels available but we weren’t sure which city we’d arrive to in the evening, so we didn’t book anything…not a good decision!
We skipped lunch but headed over to the bar and ordered a platter for 2, which included some finger foods and two beers. What we actually got was a table full of meats, cheeses, bread and olives enough for probably 4 people on an empty stomach? Crazy! We sat there surfing the net, nursing our beers and planning our trip and writing our extremely outdated blog.
At 3:15pm, we sprung into action, heading to the nearby establishment that we came here to enjoy…. Naim Maggie. Trevelin was a town originated with a large Welsh settlement in the 1800s, and this is one of the reasons most people come to this border town. The store is still operated by Grandma Maggie’s children/grandchildren, and with her recipes. We entered as soon as the sign swung to “Abierto”, and the whole place had 3 tables including us. When the next group of people came in, they were told to come back at 5:30pm! Wow, lucky us! The tea came with several pieces of buttered toasts and two salty (!?!) scones….. with the lack of variety and the strange salty scones, we drank our tea in bitter disappointment. That was, until the massive platter of sweets showed up…. it didn’t take long before Alan devoured his share of food while Jiajia nibbled on a bit of each. We wrapped up whatever we couldn’t finish, and was totally satisfied with the meal that wasn’t dehydrated or steak.
Back on the road….and this time it was an actual road and not a dirt track! Our destination for the evening was Bariloche and its surrounding cities which are aptly named the Lake District for the abundance of beautiful scenery and lakes around it. Problem was, the roads were slowly increasing in traffic as we passed El Bolson. Originally we planned on staying here for the night but it didn’t look very pretty and even driving 10min into an endless street lined with shops, honking cars and street lights, we turned around and went back onto the highway.
Arriving into Bariloche was even more of a disappointment, as it was jammed pack with cars on both sides of the street, and people weaving in and out of traffic! This must be the true impact of Holy Week!!! We drove around, reading infinite signs of “No Hay Lugar” (No Occupancy) posted outside EVERY hotel office. We are talking…EVERY where, starting about 20km out of Bariloche there were small hotels that had the sign, and also everywhere within town as well. The hotel with an opening we checked back in Trevelin was fully booked, and we were seriously contemplating sleeping in the car for the night. It was 11pm, but with no other alternatives we drove another hour out to the next town, a smaller town which we thought may have availability. Passing through some winding roads in pitch darkness, we could feel the scenery being pretty if only there was any sun….
We drove into Villa Angostura, and the town centre was really crowded despite being midnight. The holiday spirit definitely is alive and well, and the town resembles quite a bit like mountain-resort town of Banff, Alberta. We drove around the town trying to find a place to stay, but with our guidebook managed to locate a nice little campsite outside of town… THAT STILL HAD SPACE!!!! Even though we checked in at 1am, there was still someone there at the camp office. Crazy! We pitched our tent, showered (great facilities in the campsite!), cooked up a pasta meal and were off to bed. From drnking beers at a cool bar to delicious Welsh tea to camping, what a crazy day!