We arrived in Bariloche to meet up with Jason’s mom Christine and her husband Paul, who flew down to visit for a week. Bariloche is a pretty mountain town famous for its scenery, alpine architecture, and chocolate. Architect and designer Alejandro Bustillo built the landmark Llao Llao hotel, which embodies the stone and wood alpine design that is so common in Bariloche. The town was founded by Germans and Austrians in 1895, which helps to explain the alpine architecture and famous chocolates.
Many of the buildings in Bariloche have a distinct style, using stone and timber (from the cordillera cypress) to make alpine style buildings. The workmanship on these buildings is detailed, creative and reflects the use of locally available granite and timber. The center of town is surrounded by these sturdy alpine buildings, and gives Bariloche the nickname ‘little Switzerland’.
We took a trip to Llao Llao to catch a boat across Lake Nahuel Huapi to visit the Arrayanes National Park. Although the original Llao Llao hotel built by Bustillo burnt down soon after it was completed, it was rebuilt and is now a high class hotel and resort in a super nice location in the mountains. The guard at the front door kept us from looking at the interior, so we had to settle for a short hike around the area of the hotel before our boat trip, because it is for really rich and high class people.
From Llao Llao we took a boat across Lake Nahuel Huapi to the Arrayanes National Park. Arrayanes are like madrones in that they shed their bark, and have smooth, twisting trunks. The park has dense groves of Arrayanes trees, which are interesting to walk through and grow in twisting clumps. In a side note, we have confirmed that the area is saturated with scotch broom. We have even seen scotch broom that has grown into small trees.
After our trip across the lake, we returned to town to sample the chocolates. And then sample them some more, between feasting on gnocchi and ice cream (separately, of course). The ice cream here is really good.
In addition to the chocolate and architecture which came with the strong ties to Germany, Bariloche is also infamous for being a hideout for Nazi war criminals. In 1995, the Israeli Mossad (spy service) caught the former high ranking SS official Erich Preibke, who had been living here for years. A book by Abel Bast (Bariloche Nazi) is available in stores here and documents various Nazi connections and those who relocated to Bariloche after WWII, and even claims that Hilter didn’t die but is secretly living here. The “Nazi-hunter” Efraim Zuroff and the Simon Wiesenthal Center continue to search for Nazi war criminals in the area.
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