Monday 25th February
Walking through the fish market in the morning in Valdivia by the river, we got to see groups of sea lions of all different sizes posing on floating docks as they waited for bits of leftover fish to be dropped in to the water. Later we worked, went food shopping and cooked.
In the evening, we hung out in the hostel garden for a bit, before going out with Max, a Chilean and Kilian, a German, to the bar at the top of the highest building in Valdivia. It wasn't quite as fancy as I was anticipating, but the views and the company were nice.
Tuesday 26th February
After accompanying Kilian to the bus station to buy his bus ticket to leave, we all three caught a bus along the coast out of town to a small port from where we boarded a tiny boat and were sped across the channel that leads out to the Pacific to Isla Mancera, a tiny island with ruins of a colonial fort. We wandered around the fort, spotting birds and people with identical shoes to me, then walked the circuit around the island, which took about 30 minutes. Before catching the boat back to the mainland, we of course had to stop for kuchen.
Back in town, Kilian packed up his things and caught the bus to Puerto Varas, then Zab and I left the hostel where we'd been staying and went over to our couchsurfing host, Ana's place. We hung out with her on the balcony overlooking the river, me translating between her and Zab (it didn't occur to me that she might not speak English, despite her profile being entirely in Spanish), who are both natural talkers. In the evening, we went out to a restaurant while Ana met up with some friends.
Wednesday 27th February
A rather frustrating day. Zab tried to do some work phone calls that failed, leaving him in a slightly despondent mood. We managed to go out for ice cream in the afternoon, and visited the small contemporary art gallery on the other side of the river that we'd walked past a few times. In the evening, Zab and I cooked for Ana and another couchsurfing friend, and we ate and chatted in a mixture of English and Spanish sitting on the floor in candle light.
Thursday 28th February
We got up and said goodbye to Ana, then walked in the morning mist to the bus terminal to catch our bus across the Argentina boarder to Bariloche. The first couple of hours of scenery reminded me a lot of southern England, with rolling hills and fields of cows, but once we came closer to the boarder, it became a much more dramatic, volcanic, forested landscape. On arrival in Bariloche, we walked to our guesthouse, were welcomed by and had a lovely chat with the owners then headed out to get some first impressions of the town and food.
Friday 1st March
The forecast was for rain, so we stayed in and worked.
Saturday 2nd March
More work in the morning, though it wasn't raining. For lunch, we ate a huge and cheesy pizza then visited the supermarket for supplies for the next day. Later, we had cake, naturally then came back to our hotel and read before bed.
Sunday 3rd March
After breakfast, we took the bus out of town along the lake and rented bikes to do a 16km route called the circuito chico. We passed through pine forest, huge grey mountains and crystal blue waters; the scenery and the weather were gorgeous. For lunch, we stopped at an almost tropical looking beach on the coast of Lake Nahual Huapi and ate empanadas that we had brought from town.
Before returning to town, we took the chairlift up Cerro Campanario for the amazing views over the lake, its islands and the surrounding countryside. Zab said it was one of the best viewpoints of the kind he had ever visited. Of course, we enjoyed the views along with some well-earned cake. We agreed that it was perhaps one of our most memorable days of the trip so far!