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Beach life

Many had warned us about how Bariloche was in high season - too many tourists, everything full of cars, the city literally explodes – so we kept our expectations in a medium level. We got ready to ride the picturesque route of 80 km from Villa Angostura to Bariloche. After Chile was out of our plan, we decided to spend the next two weeks mainly on the enchanting beaches of Argentina instead. We started checking the many south beaches that are by the different lakes around Bariloche. Since it was high season, it was really hard to find accommodation this days, but at the same time there was a lot of cancellations due to corona, and somehow we benefited from those cancellations because we could always find a place to stay. The days in Bariloche were mainly for planning and organizing in the morning, before we went to one of the beaches in the afternoon to chill, drink mate and take a siesta. On the very first day we went to Bahia Serena - 12 km outside the city, to one of the most popular beaches in the region. Friday afternoon was of course busy here as expected, but it was nowhere near as crowded as expected. So we got ourselves a nice spot and let the day end comfortably with a beer. When the sun left, we escaped to our shelter. Our place was located only two blocks from the lake and had such a great garden that you actually didn't have to leave it to enjoy nature and lots of peace and quiet. Special were certainly the two peacocks, which obviously appreciated the landscaped garden as well, and looked very comfy greeting us every time we opened the front door. The next day we tested out a beach bar within walking distance that offered delicious vermouth drinks, a liquor wine typical of the country, and great views of the huge Nahuel Huapi Lake, despite the strong wind in the afternoon. During weekend we tested the small Cerveceria around the corner which served delicious burgers and home-brewed beer. So, between working and sunbathing the weekend flew by and during the week we moved 15 kilometers further away from town to the secluded neighborhood of Villa Campanario, on the San Pedro peninsula. Here we stayed in a wooden hut with a large garden right on the lake – the owner gave us some valuable tips to explore the area, it was useful because we were not familiar with this area. The very quiet and remote San Pedro Peninsula has several public beaches, so we kept discovering them sometimes on foot, sometimes at some minute drive. One of them has a super view of Bariloche, its sunny until after 8pm and a very shallow entrance to the water - ideal for families with children and for a refreshing dip in the cool water. On the other side of the island another one has some place between stones and you can lay down to listen to the sound of the small waves, enjoying the view of the mountains. At the end of the week we discovered a hidden beach below a row of houses directly on the lake, in front of which several sailing boats were anchored - a great spot for a lunch in the sun. It was great to have a productive yet relaxing time in the south before leaving the mountains that were around us for so long. It was time to move towards the Atlantic coast - Adios Bariloche, until next time!

We drove 650 kilometres across the country on the Ruta 23. The first part of the journey was on a gravel road, and some parts were very rough. After a third of the way over hill and dale, we were happy to be back on asphalt road. Even when the Gaucha is prepared for almost any terrain, it is most relaxing to drive on asphalt. We roared towards the evening sun, until we saw the Atlantic Ocean after almost 10 hours of driving. On the outward journey we had already spent the night at the small camping site Oasis and we decided to stop at the same place. With the last sun of the day we rolled in at a quite full campground this time, and got one of the last places. Quickly we pitched the tent and we tried for the first time our new camping gas stove, which we bought for Chile, so we could cook a hot dinner. We were very tired do it didn’t take us too long to fall asleep. The next morning we went to the beach early with the Gaucha and after a short walk over the dunes we had breakfast on the deserted beach. The reason why no one but us was there in the morning soon became clear: it was low tide and the water was several hundred meters out. We forgot to check the tide this time, and when we realised the highest point would be at 4 pm (now it was around 10) we hoped that the water would hurry. We drink mate tea, homemade bread from the campsite with jam and some fruits. After a long walk on the beach, the water came closer by the minute and shortly after noon the time had come and we could finally jump on it, hello Atlantic – what a pleasure! It was around 30 degrees in the sun! We spent the rest of the day on the beach until the sun finally set and we retired to the campsite, showered and prepared a rice dish. Unfortunately, the second night wasn't quite as relaxing as the first; at 2 am new campers came and set their tents on each side of ours, and they were chatting as if it was 5 pm. As soon as they went to sleep, one of them snored so hard that Marina could not sleep. After a walk under the stars to escape from the sound, Chris offered her earplugs, which after allowed her to sleep, past 3 am. The next morning we continued for 500 km the Atlantic coast north to Pehuen-Co. We had already stopped at the campsite Bosque Encantado too on the outward journey and now looked like a good option again. The truth is that our internet was so bad that we could not check the places in advance, so we decided to stay on the familiar. This place was now clearly fuller, but we got hold of a nice place in the forest and made it this time to the sunset on the beach. High up from the dunes we had a super view of the fabulous natural spectacle; the sun setting on the sea. When later also the stars glittered in the sky this was completely perfect. We cooked a vegetable risotto, before we went into a quiet night in the tent. We felt like asado, so we bought all we needed and after enjoying the beach we started the ceremony. As darkness fell, we lit the fire and cooked some meat, and vegetables at the grill. Around us, everyone was making something on the grill, it was a very familiar look for us now.

Next morning - same game: breakfast on the beach in stunning weather and before it got too hot, we set off in the direction of the northern Atlantic coast. Only 350 km along the coast were on the program so we arrived in the afternoon in Arenas Verdes – here we were not before so it was a place to discover. The small town is north from the town Necochea in the province of Buenos Aires. Here we felt a change, the beach was more crowded, but not too much, and there was a bar, a restaurant and several small cabanas on the beach; that meant a bit more hustle and bustle than on the lonely beaches before. For us, however, this was a welcome change and we quickly tried the beach bar for ourselves, we used the Wifi to call home, drinking a lemonade and hiding from the midday sun, fancy! The waves were bigger here, so we let ourselves be completely carried away by them several times. In the evening we had a leftover asado and once again enjoyed the summer night to the fullest before a change in the weather was announced for the next day. During the day it was a bit cloudy, and when darker and darker clouds appeared in the afternoon, we decided to start packing. Together with many other families, we left the beach and dismantled our tent in wise foresight. We prepared the Gaucha for the night and the next travel day. As it turned out a short time later, this was the right decision - it poured with rain shortly after we finished! Since the Gaucha was already fully loaded and offered little space to linger, we looked for a dry place and waited until the only restaurant in the vicinity opened its doors at 8:30 pm. The restaurant turned out being very cute and warm, and the food was delicious! Empanadas, homemade pasta and a divine flan with dulce de leche for dessert at Grandma Guillermina's place was perfect when the world seemed like sleeping outside. The rain continued throughout the night and we were glad to count on our Gaucha - even if we found little sleep because of the continuous rain that was pelting down. The next morning the campground was literally washed out - some campers had retreated during the night or in the early morning due to the heavy rainfall and the paths had turned into rivers. Armed with hot mate tea, we rolled out of the yard at about 10 a.m. and had another 350 km ahead of us on our last stretch along the coast. In Argentina's largest coastal city, Mar de Plata, we stopped for lunch - but that's all we felt like doing in this tourist stronghold. Here, hotels lined up all along the beach, and at lunchtime, the tourist masses crowded the streets. Two hours later we reached Mar de Ajo, a small, cozy beach town where Marina's parents spent a week's vacation. We planned to visit them as a surprise, but then it was so obvious since we were so close that we ended up telling them. Nevertheless, the reunion joy was of course huge and Marina's mom Marta conjured a delicious dinner on the table to celebrate the day. The next day we had a birthday celebration - Marina's dad Ricardo was 62 years old and we spent the whole day together. Unfortunately, the weather remained cloudy, so the walk on the beach in the morning was quickly over. The birthday man cooked an asado, and had a relaxing day just as he likes. After a siesta, we went to the beach this time with better weather, but still with a sweater and windbreaker - but at least we managed to take some photos with the four of us! In the evening we strolled through the small center of Mar de Ajo and had fish for a change. The sun showed up early in the morning on our departure day, so we decided to spend the morning on the beach. Now, finally, the well-known churros vendors who Marina talked about so much, showed up. Churros with dulce de leche is the most popular snack on the Argentine coast, either that or corn with butter and salt. Soon it was time to say goodbye to the Atlantic coast. The last days felt like they flew away. We got ready and and we set course to Buenos Aires. Another 350 kilometers on Sunday at noon over the Ruta 2 towards the Argentine capital were our plan and with every kilometre closer to the metropolis we became aware of how far away from the big city life we had been in the past months.


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