Category: Travel Adventures

Argentina Day 9: Hiking to Tacul Beach

We awoke this morning, finished watching “Cars” and picked a hiking trail for the day. Tacul Beach, 1.5 hours and rated medium, seemed like a great fit.

Scenic views from the trail to Tacul Beach

The website billed the terrain as “flat,” so given our success two days ago in reaching Sendero de los Arrayanes, we set forth with our CitiMini stroller in tow.

It wasn’t long before the terrain turned bumpy with rocks and roots crisscrossing the trail. We decided the only way to continue forward was to leave the stroller behind and for Amir to carry #1Toddler on his shoulders.

Considering and dreading the trek back, we almost turned around before reaching the beach. That surely would have been a mistake.

Crystal clear water at Tacul Beach

As soon as we arrived, #1Toddler scooped up a handful of pebbles and shouted “Splash! Splash! Splash!” I’m not sure what it is about throwing rocks into water, but she could do it for hours.

Rock throwing champion

We lucked out with the weather. No rain today and 60 degrees. The cools temps didn’t stop some young Argentinian women from bikini sunbathing though. Sorry, no photos.

We made it!

We spent about an hour at the beach, resting, throwing rocks, getting our toes wet and polishing off some leftover chocolate from Chocolatería Rama yesterday. It was hard to leave, but we knew we had a rough trek back and didn’t want to have to rush.

The for the trek back, Amir carried her on his shoulders until we caught back up with our stroller. We just gave ourselves permission to stop and rest as often as needed which made the return trip pretty tolerable.

Cleopatra took a nap in her stroller

All the rest stops along the way made for a great opportunity to snap a last few photos.

We reached the car starving and desperate to find a baño for me. I’d spotted a small café on one of our many drives through town. We decided to give it a try.

Chaido Tea Room & Café

The place reminded me of a young grandmas house. Eclectic decor, small, intimate and laced with detail.

We found a table near the window and quickly made some menu selections.

We ordered the waffles with creme, two sandwiches and two fresh fruit juice blends.

Prosciutto, Brie, tomato and arugula on multigrain bread
Café con Nutella (Coffee with Nutella)

#1Toddler not having had much of a nap was restless, so we had to pay up and skip dessert.

Admiring the decor at Chiado
Do the outdoor seating if you can

Tonight we have to pack up for our flight to stop #3 on this Argentinian adventure, Iguazú Falls. On the border between Argentina and Brazil, Iguazú Falls are the largest waterfalls in the world, despite Victoria and Niagara Falls sometimes trying to steal the title. The weather should be sunny in the low 90s, and our hotel has a pool. I’m ready.

-Steph

Argentina Day 8: Rain, rain go away

Another day of rain for us, but that’s ok because we deliberately placed scenic Bariloche in the middle of our three-stop adventure, a time to slow down and relax.

The window clings I bought as an airplane activity double as rainy day fun as well

Dry erase markers and window clings plus an oversized window created a giant canvas for practicing the alphabet.

The rain let up some, so we set out for a walk through Cerro Leones, ancient volcanic caves complete with 8000 year old drawings from civilizations long ago lost.

Unfortunately when we got there, we didn’t realize they offer only guided tours, and they leave at 11am and 3pm. It was 3:40. Sandra, the hostess, was very helpful. She offered to schedule us for tomorrow and even volunteered a hiking carrier for #1Toddler should we want to use it. We decided to take her info and decide later on if we’ll try again.

Strawberry and banana ice cream at Chocolatería Rama

Not to be defeated, we left Cerro Leones and found a delicious Chocolatería & Heladería close to a park with a playground. Some people are easy to please.

Parque Eziquiel

After the park and ice cream, we of course needed to eat more. We decided upon Punta Panorámico which was recommended by our AirBnB host Otto.

Tostada de jamón y queso (grilled ham and cheese)
Trout with parmesan panko crust and herb cream potatoes
Chocolate Chico (small hot chocolate)

Of course Punto Panorámico had amazing views, even in the wet weather.

We’re settling in early for a movie night with all three of us in one bed. “Cars” in Spanish is the plan. Tomorrow calls for sunshine and more beautiful walks.

-Steph

Argentina Day 7: Rainbows, Rain & Chocolate

Yesterday I went to sleep feeling as if I were sleeping under the stars, and this morning I awoke to a welcoming rainbow just outside our window overlooking the lake.

Good morning my sweet rainbow

If you read our travel blogs regularly, you might recall that a year and a half ago we were in Rome, Italy. We had just lost our second baby at just shy of 13 weeks. It was especially cruel as we’d gone through IVF to conceive #1Toddler, and this was what the infertility world calls a “spontaneous pregnancy.”

Unfortunately she wasn’t healthy, and wasn’t meant to come home with us. Losing her was gut-wrenching and felt cruel. Why be given such a gift only to have it taken from you? While in Rome, we honored her by releasing pink roses into the River Tiber with The Vatican in the distance.

But this morning I awoke here in Bariloche, Argentina, 20 weeks pregnant and feeling the kicks of our little boy, also the product of science and persistence. A baby born after a loss is known as a rainbow baby. A loss can never be replaced, but it feels so good to be adding to our family. Thank you Argentina for the nod to our rainbow.

Today delivered rain and temperatures in the high 50s just as forecast. We stayed in bed and in pajamas drinking coffee and indulging in a little screen time for all.

We rallied around 1:30pm and headed to Bariloche Center to pick up our professional photo from the ski lift yesterday and start our chocolate hopping.

Sometimes that touristy photo is worth it

Stop #1 on the chocolate tour – Rapanui Chocolate. Founded in 1948 by an Italian fleeing the ravages of war, Rapanui is one of the oldest chocolate factories and stores in Bariloche.

Vanilla waffle with strawberries, bananas, vanilla ice cream and chocolate

Not only can you purchase chocolate pieces like bonbons, Rapanui also offers sit down service featuring waffles, crepes, gelato and coffee.

TeamLouka enjoys Rapanui waffles

We snagged a seat with a view of the indoor ice skating rink located within the store.

People kept crashing into our window which #1Toddler found hysterical

After Rapanui we headed to Mamuschka to buy some presents for some unnamed people back home. Most of the chocolate shops offer free samples while you wait in line, so be vigilant.

Bombones at Mamuschka

After completing our purchases at Mamuschka, we crossed the street and entered La Reina Chocolate to get some take home treats for dessert tonight.

Marbled chocolate at Reina Chocolate
“Chocolate heart pwease”
Bon bons and jellies at Reina Chocolate

After our chocolate tour, we stopped by KPlay arcade to unwind and hopefully snag a stuffed animal for #1Toddler.

KPlay at Bariloche Center

KPlay features a giant sized claw machine, Peppa Pig riding game, numerous racing games and skeeball.

Selection of games at KPlay

After our afternoon of chocolate and games, we stopped by the grocery store for a few essentials and headed back to the house to make pizza and light the fireplace. Sometimes it’s good to slow down a bit.

-Steph

Argentina Day 6: Cerro Campanario Ski Lift, Sendero de los Arrayanes and Patagonia Cervecería

Last night I fell asleep under the stars with the help of our panoramic bedroom windows. The weather forecast promised to be gorgeous today and did not disappoint.

The ascent at Cerro Campanario

Small children can safely sit on an adult lap

First stop, riding the chair lift at Cerro Campanario, the mountain directly across from our AirBnB.

The chair lift takes you up to a mountain top cafe and overlook. The lift is a typical ski lift – slow and accommodating for nearly everyone. Small children, elderly folks with canes, we saw a mix. Tickets are just 500 peso ($9) per person, and children under 5 are free.

The café at the top has indoor and outdoor seating

Ice cream any time, any place

The cafe at the peak offers both food and drinks. We opted for beef, chicken and cheese empanadas with café con leche and fresh fruit juice. There’s also pizza and a generous selection of pastries and desserts.

Panoramic view from atop Cerro Campanario

Mama and baby girl

Your ticket thankfully includes the ride back down as well. We were sad for the journey to end, but the trip down was even more impressive than the way up.

Descent view at Cerro Campanario

After Cerro Campanario, we knew #1Toddler would be looking to nap. She almost fell asleep on the chair lift down. We set out for Sendero de los Arrayanes, a park with flat trails that’s low aerobic demand and stroller friendly. Most everything is within a 5-10 mile radius in Bariloche, so it didn’t take long to find.

You can take your pick of walking sticks at the start of the trail. The entire trail is roughly 1.5 miles. It’s fairly flat with a good mix of inclines and declines in each direction.

About half way down the trail there’s an offshoot that allows you to explore el Bosque de los Arrayanes (Forrest of the Chilean Myrtles). These trees require a specific habitat and soil and are extremely fragile. They’re known for their unique twisted branches, narrow trunks with irregular white spots, and cinnamon-colored bark that peels off as the tree grows. Many are over 300 years old.

El Bosque de los Arrayanes

El Bosque de los Arrayanes

At the end of the trail there’s a rocky beach with flat water and lapping waves. #1Toddler must have thrown 100+ rocks into the lake.

“Splash!”

“Look mama a green one!”

Finding the perfect rock

After Sendero de los Arrayanes we were of course hungry again. Prior to the trip, Amir scopes out the local breweries (there are a ton) and decided Patagonia Cervecería was a must.

Patagonia Belgian Red

You can’t get more “locally grown” than these hops

The menu was exactly what we wanted – charcuterie, burgers, a few salads. #1Toddler and I split the “Las Brisas” board, while Amir enjoyed a burger.

Las Brisas board

Patagonia Cervecería is doing right what Richmond just can’t seem to figure out. The atmosphere is incredible. Bariloche had amazing views of the water, and everywhere you turn you get to experience them. Back home, we have the beautiful James River, but nay a single brewery (maybe Legend) capitalizing on that perfect view.

Casual seating and a walk-up bar

Restaurant seating with full service

Casual outdoor seating at Patagonia Cervecería

Today was amazing. And I’m stuffed. Tomorrow’s forecast calls for 60 degrees and rain, so looks like we’ll be doing some indoor chocolate factory hopping. Oh darn.

-Steph

Argentina Day 5: Traveling to Bariloche in Patagonia

We woke up this morning mostly packed and ready for our 10am checkout and 12:40pm flight from Buenos Aires to San Carlos de Bariloche, or Bariloche for short.

Located in the Patagonia Region, it’s a haven for outdoor enthusiasts of all seasons. The mountains lend to exceptional skiing in the winter, and as we are here in the summer, we’ve seen an endless flow of backpackers and hikers. A good 1/3 of the bags on the belt at the airport were hiking backpacks.

View from our AirBnB in BA, you can see protestors marching towards the square

We arrived at the domestic terminal of Buenos Aires airport to a checkin line that looked to be at least two hours long. And we hadn’t gotten that memo. We wrapped our way around to find the end of the line, and just as we were losing hope of catching our flight, an airline attendant saw us and directed us over to a special checkin. I’m still not sure if it was because we had a stroller with a toddler, or because I’m pregnant, or maybe both, but there are perks to traveling as a family in other countries.

I’ve said it before when we were in Greece, but the US seems to make traveling with small children as painful as possible. Every other country in the world does just the opposite. It’s so refreshing yet frustrating.

#1Toddler checking out the view from AirBnB #2

By the time we landed, rented a car and drove into town, we were starving. We needed to check in to our AirBnB first though. We settled in, and I unpacked a bit. We had just decided to go out for a late lunch when someone wanted to take a nap. Amir went for groceries instead, and while he was gone, someone got a second wind and never ended up sleeping after all.

Master bedroom

Guest room

We made pasta sauce from scratch with fresh local sausage and vegetables and settled in for a quiet dinner at home. We listened to Graceland by Paul Simon as we admired the view and made plans for an exciting day tomorrow.

-Steph