7.30am – arrived at Salta airport to check in for our Dinar flight that should be leaving at 8.55am. There’s no-one here except security. Fortunately Angelica from the car hire company dropped us off and she came in and acted as translator.
Both our fears were fulfilled. The guy at the hotel had confirmed the changes to the Buenos Aires to Bariloche flights and the tickets have Aerolineas amends to them. The flight from Salta to Buenos Aires simply had “OK” written on the wallet. There is no Dinar flight at 8.55 on sunday. It seems the earliest flight is around 10.00(ish) but we’re not sure. This should get us to BA in time for our connection to Bariloche, just! We should have checked the flights ourselves rather than relying on our pigeon Spanish! It’s now 8.25 and we’re sat outside the coffee shop (shut) and check in desks (deserted) waiting to see what our options are. The main challenge will be to keep Stef calm. He’s kicking into five star executive club business man mode, which will work here less than in the UK. If the flights don’t connect, we’ll have to stay overnight in Buenos Aires or see if there’s a later flight to Bariloche. At least we’re not the only ones sat at the airport waiting!
10.45 and we’re off! We’re on a Dinar flight to Buenos Aires that should land just as our connection takes off. It has cost us $32 to change the flight and more sign language, pigeon Spanish and very friendly lady on the check-in desk. There’s a 14.10 flight to Bariloche so we’re hoping to get seats on that. We’ve just got to rearrange the car hire and hope the Posada del Sol reception haven’t cancelled our reservation at Mascardi rather than extending it.
We’re back at Jorge Newberry and are on the 14.15 to Bariloche and nasty thoughts towards the Posada del Sol are diminishing and we have a definite spring in our step. The car hire has been changed too so we just hope the hotel is ok.
Having had a reasonable in-flight service on Dinar (cheese & prosciutto rolls, cheese & crackers, mini cake), Aerolineas turned up trumps with jamon y queso sandwiches, cut horizontally not diagonally! At least the drinks trolley came round twice.
Bariloche airport is even smaller than Salta. We’re heading towards Biggin Hill size. The view on the way has been amazing. Vast open spaces with the odd trail leading through it. It seems as if there is no agriculture, industry or anyone living in most of it. Argentina is huge but you have to wonder how much of the land is inhabitable. The view of the airport is stunning. It’s on the plain at the foothills of the Patagonian mountain range and all you can see around you are mountains. We picked up the hire car (new Corsa, 1200km on the clock) and headed off to find our hotel. We both instantly had a good feeling about Bariloche and know we’ll enjoy our stay.
Heading out of Bariloche to Mascardi we went through the poorer side of town. They say there is a big Germanic influence here and you can see this even in the shanty town. Swiss-style shacks line the road. We drove along the Nahuel Huapi lake, the main lake at Bariloche, and on past lake Mascardi. 36km out of Bariloche you turn right onto an unpaved road and our hotel was 800m down.
It’s so quiet. There’s a small hamlet of four or five houses and our hotel. The views of lake Mascardi are stunning. The hotel itself is small and has been here for years, run within the same family. We introduced ourselves to the garden with dos cervezas served in steins that had been in the freezer. They were so cold they froze the beer. I think we’re the only guests here. The other cars belonged to people who had come for afternoon tea. I also don’t think they’re used to people drinking beer in the garden. They were more surprised when we moved round the corner to watch the sunset and sat on a bench with no table!
We unpacked and went for dinner (served at 9.00 only). There’s also a Spanish couple and an old lady on her own. We plumped for the house dish of the day figuring it might be a bit rude not to. Vichyssoise soup (tasted of pea & leek) followed by smoked trout ravioli with queso sauce. This looked like a cross between oysters and snot and was not appetising to look at. It didn’t taste much better either.
Tired we headed off to bed. We’ve got a spacious room with a really comfy bed and fantastic views across the lake. It’s so peaceful and beautiful here. A million miles away from the hustle and bustle of London.