( Also known as 'Little Germany' !!!)
23.12.2008 - 25.12.2008 25 °C
Tuesday 23rd to Thursday 25th December
Umm , not sure what to say about Puerto Varas ; we arrived here early evening on 23rd December. Stayed at Hotel Wilder, on the outskirts of the town. Pleasant and the biggest room Joe and I have had - but very very German.
Had a reasonable meal in a fish restaurant in town which was mobbed ( Im saying reasonable cause it was almost entirely Fish on the menu, and as most folk know Im not a big fish fan). I also found it strange that they served starters and main courses at the same time, so those not having starters got their main courses same time we had our starters whilst we had a very lengthy wait after finishing before getting our main courses. So much so that Id almost lost my appetite. That might have been the dodgey local beer I had though - definitely not a nice brand !!
We started Christmas Eve off with a tour of the local 'hotspots' ; Marcello had arranged for a local driver to take us around and about and she brought her little grandaughter along for the trip. Morning started very poorly ; I didnt even get out of the van when we stopped to see Llama ( sick of seeing them after Peru and Bolivia), and the waterfalls we visited at Petrohue were absolutely nothing in comparision to Iguazu. It also got invaded by a coachload of Americans just after we arrived - very bad timing. By mid afternoon I was kind of wondering why we were in this area and why on earth we were staying here for Christmas ; thankfully the area redeemed itself substantially when we visited Volcan Osorno - an extinct Volcano, and completely snow capped at the top. Unfortunately although it was cloudy to start with we had some lunch then got the two chairlifts up as far as we could go before hiking up a bit further to get the coolest Christmas Eve photos Ive ever had taken - standing on the snow/ice at the foot of the Volcano. We actually climbed up a little higher than we should have and got whistled at by one of the guide/ranger type people. I will forever chuckle at Kirsty braving the way up in her flip flops - her feet mustve been like ice !!!
Really good views as well ; although it did reinforce the feeling I already had that Puerto Varas and the area surrounding it could easily be somewhere in a Swiss ski resort as oppose to Chile.
Marcello arranged for us to go to a Christmas buffet at the Mediterraneo Restaurant in town ( the buffet was anything but Mediteranean LOL) and we had a brilliant night, especially as Joe had managed to find the last remaining 4 Santa hats in the whole of Puerto Varas ( I reckon they were maybe the only 4 hats to be honest as no-one else had them on !!!).
Our drunken evening ended up in a lively bar called Bar O' Meter where we drank Mojitos and god knows what else til the early early hours. Lots of silly drunken photos of us dancing to 80's Chilean and Argentinian pop music - kind of reminded me of Eurovision actually, only not as tuneful, if thats at all possible !! The place got incredibly busy around 2am and turned into a bit of a sweat box ( my Santa Hat was soaking with sweat by this stage - dont think Ive ever been so wet in a bar/club). The night ended on a less than cheerful note when punches were exchanged between an off duty Chilean policeman and one of our group ( who shall of course remain nameless - he's the one with the black eye in all the photos LOL !!) so we made a sharp exit around 5am. I was ready to go by then anyway so no real hardship for me to leave then.
I made a few drunken phone calls on the Hotel reception phone on the way back - apologies now to my mum and dad and to everyone I spoke to at work LOL !!! At least I was thinking about you. And in the end my two calls cost me £42 so be grateful !!!!!
Christmas day was really just a 'Sleep off the night before' day - after a bit of dissecting of the previous nights events first. We had some Pizza and ate it down on the lake front along with all the locals before getting ready for our flight to Santiago at 5pm .
So overall, I wouldnt really rate Puerto Varas that highly - but the Volcano was an amazing way to spend Christmas Eve and the drunken night out rates as my best so far on this trip. I also met some really interesting people - the GAP guys were in town again with their guide Anne ( they were a very mixed group from a variety of backgrounds but seemed like good fun, and appear to be totally following our route).Before all hell broke loose with the punches, I was also talking to some really nice Chileans who all loved Scotland and were very knowledgable about Edinburgh. I certainly couldnt fault the people in Puerto Varas, but just felt like it couldve been almost anywhere.
It could easily have been removed form the itinerary and replaced by extra nights in some of the more interesting places Ive felt we've been rushed in - although I guess its probably strategicaly well positioned for breaking the journey between Argentina and Chile.