Sunday, May 16, 2010

El Bolson, Argentina---Mountain Magic!

Mirror Lake Reflections
By Roy Heale


One of the most memorable parts of any visit to Argentina's Lake District is driving around the countryside, enjoying the Andes' mountain and lake vistas, plus visiting the small townships. Although San Carlos de Bariloche is the heart of this region, within a few hours journey there are many smaller and distinctive communities with their own unique characteristics. Any time spent traveling around this domain is rewarded with spectacular views of snow-capped mountains, crystal clear blue lakes, and villages with a definite Alpine flair.

During my recent visit to this area I was fortunate enough to have local gay travel expert Cristian Signorelli, of Bariloche Gay Travel, guiding me around the Lake District. One of our leisurely day trips was a journey south into Patagonia to the small town of El Bolson where the specialties are local crafts, home-brewed beers, and the most amazing fresh fruit juice cocktails. It's a short two-hour drive from Bariloche and the mountain roads weave through the immense “mirror reflection” Lakes Guttierrez, Mascardi, and Guillelmo alongside numerous meandering mountain streams and rivulets. With such breathtaking vistas the journey seems much shorter than the actual time lapsed.


Upon arrival in the town of El Bolson the Alpine-styled architecture and historical buildings are immediately apparent. In the heart of the town is the Plaza Pagano. It's a beautiful park with grassy banks and a large central pond surrounded by the local artisans' stalls of the world famous El Bolson Regional Fair. This open-air market brings together artisans, a farmer's market---which includes freshly picked wild fruits---musicians, painters, sculptors, writers, and all kinds of talented artists, plus a street band. This fair is a cultural gathering and an historical part of El Bolson, dating back to the early '70s. Today it retains the style and aura of that decade. It is a world-renowned artisan market and provides approximately four hundred year-round jobs, increasing to six hundred during the tourist season. Visitors journey from all over Argentina and around the world for this traditional Latin experience.

After strolling the pathways of this Fair, numerous outdoor caf├ęs and restaurants are ready and waiting to give you a real taste of El Bolson local cuisine. A variety of cheese boards with smoked salmon, trout, venison, hare, wild boar, and locally made pickles can be found on the gourmet menus. Plus local dishes such as homemade pasta with cream sauce and morels---wild mushrooms---or rolls of Patagonian lamb, a trout Roquefort, vegetable strudel, a delicious plate of endive gratin, or Sorrento stuffed with smoked trout smothered in walnut cream sauce, will tempt any discriminating palate. And of course some wonderful Argentine Malbec wines must be sampled or one of the ten varieties of locally brewed beers will refresh you on a hot summer day. The gentle pace of life in this small community becomes instantly infectious.

If you prefer an extended visit to this magical mountain community then Bariloche Gay Travel can assist you with bookings at gay-friendly hotels. They have carefully selected charming Alpine-style accommodations where a warm welcome is extended to all LGBT travelers.

Before heading back to Bariloche a short drive up the mountain dirt roads will reward you with spectacular views of the River Quemquemtreu valley and mountains. Along this short journey many colorful wild flowers and bushes flourish and you will observe the locals fruit-picking to create those wonderful fresh juice drinks back at the fairgrounds.


A day trip to El Bolson is more than just a tour around Argentina's Lake District---rather it is an Argentine cultural experience with a journey back in time to a relaxed and gentle pace of life.

For More Information Visit: http://www.barilochegaytravel.com/
For More Travel Stories By Roy Heale Visit: http://www.royheale.blogspot.com/

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