Wrapping up my journeys in South America â€” following Peru and Chile â€” my sister and I elected to drive across the border from Puerto Varas, Chile, into the Patagonia region of Argentina. Renting a car provides a freedom when traveling that going by public transportation and by foot does not. We were free to take any road we wanted, to wander and explore. Plus, the roads were well maintained and most people seemed to obey the traffic laws (at least as much as they do in the U.S.), so driving around Patagonia was fairly easy.
We drove past lakes and up into the mountains, where we quickly went through the border checkpoints (since it was the slow, winter season). In between each set of checkpoints is the actual border, welcoming drivers into Argentina on one side and into Chile on the other.
When I saw “we drove,” I should really clarify and say that my sister was the one to do the driving â€” and she hates driving. I would have been happy to drive, butÂ since the car we rented was a manual transmission and I don’t know how to drive manual, she was stuck with it. She didn’t complain though, because it was some beautiful driving.
My sister and I went to Patagonia mostly to see the town of Bariloche and to drive the Seven Lakes Road, which is known for it’s stunning views. It did not disappoint, as there were abundantÂ places to stop and admire the beauty of PatagoniaÂ â€”Â pull overs andÂ hikes and lookout points â€” so many views of so many lakes and mountains it was almost overwhelming in its grandeur.
One of the small towns we stopped in along the way was Villa La Angostura, which featured a number of artsy shops and restaurants. The town had a rather German feel to it. For example, one of the cafes, Cucu Schulz,Â served waffles, black forrest cake, and other treats. And there was also a distinctly Christmas vibe, with wood statues of Santa Claus featured in various areas on the main street.
AngosturaÂ is where we decided to try some Argentinian steaks. We each ordered the “small” sized steaks â€” and we each received the largest steaks we had ever seen in our lives. After eating half of the steak, my belly was full â€” and yet, it looked like I hadn’t touched my steak at all. I felt a strange obligation at that moment: I had to keep eating, had to at least eat enough of the steak so that it “looked” eaten â€” all entirely a matter of perspective, because I had eaten more than enough, but couldn’t bring myself to stop. Fortunately, the steaks were both delicious, well seasoned and perfectly cooked.
San Carlos de Bariloche
We spent the shortest amount of time in Argentina â€” just barely dipping our toes into the country before having to leave again in order to return home. But for how short a time we were there, it was easy to fall in love with what we saw of Argentina.
Altogether my sister and I had a phenomenal trip to South America, though it was such a small portion of such a large and culturally diverse continent. I hope I have opportunities to wander about in South America some more in the future.