When I think about Bariloche, the first word that comes to mind is, “beautiful.” This was our first stop in Patagonia and it definitely left a good first impression. As the largest city in the Argentine Lake District, Bariloche attracts people from all over the world who come to experience the amazing landscapes and outdoor activities that it has to offer. It is also the chocolate capital of Argentina. The sheer beauty of the city and its surroundings, more than make up for the fact that it’s quite a touristy spot.
I’ve stayed in hostels all over the world and I don’t think I’ve ever been as impressed as I was with the Penthouse Hostel in Bariloche. It won the Lonely Planet award for best hostel in Argentina the last two years in a row and for good reason. As the name suggests, the hostel is on the highest floor of the tallest building in the city. Not only is it an amazing all around hostel, but the view from every room in the city will take your breath away.
It turns out that we arrived on the right day. As we were checking in, we were informed that the hostel was celebrating its 19th birthday party that evening. It ended up being quite the night. There was a wide variety of finger food and countless bottles of wine. After singing happy birthday to the hostel and trying as many different wines as I possibly could, it was time to take the party into the city.
I ended up going out with an Irish couple and a Dutch guy that I met at the hostel and we bar hopped late into the night. We were taking turns buying rounds of beers at each bar and at the final bar it was my turn. I bought the round only to turn around to find that the Irish couple had disappeared. Apparently they got tired and left without telling us, so the Dutch guy and I were stuck with the responsibility of finishing all four beers. Usually, this wouldn’t be a problem, but the beer I ordered ended up being the darkest, most disgusting beer I’ve ever tasted. The Argentinian girls that we were hanging out with wouldn’t touch the stuff because it was so bad. After a couple hours of forcing ourselves to finish these beers that tasted like cough medicine, we finally called it a night and I made it into bed just a few hours before I was supposed to do a 27 km bike ride with Shaun the next morning.
One of the most popular activities to do here is the Circuito Chico bike ride. It’s a 27km bike ride in and around the lakes that surround Bariloche. It’s a great way to explore the area and take in some great sights. It ended up being an amazing day, but I’ll admit that when I woke up hung over, after 3 hours of sleep, I wasn’t super thrilled about the idea.
Luckily I had Shaun there to hold me accountable and we were on our way just an hour later than planned. This was the most beautiful, but also the most challenging bike ride of my life. Some of the uphill climbs seemed like they would go on forever. There were a few points that I had to dig deep to keep going. Fortunately, the stunning viewpoints at the top helped me forget all about my burning leg muscles. By the time we finished the ride I felt completely re-energized. I’ve come to learn on this trip that the best hang over cure is to get out for some fresh air and exercise.
During the bike ride I started thinking about something I heard at a seminar last year. “Obstacles are what give value to goals.” It’s so true. The fact that getting up the hills on my bike was so tough made the views from the top so much better. There’s a different feeling about reaching a viewpoint after going through pain and struggle on a bike ride or a hike compared to seeing the same view out of a car window.
It’s the same with life. Whether it’s building a multi-million dollar company, losing 20 pounds, or developing a great relationship, the same principle applies. When things are just handed to us, we typically take them for granted and don’t appreciate them. It’s the pain and struggle of overcoming obstacles that gives value to these goals. Nothing has meaning except the meaning we give it.
Jim Rohn says, “Don’t wish things were easier, wish you were better.” The problem is never that things are too hard. It’s just that we usually need to become better in order to overcome obstacles and get what we want.
Shaun and I shared a dorm room with two Argentinian girls from Mendoza (Argentina’s Wine Country), who taught us a few Argentinian traditions. One of these is drinking Mate, which is sort of like tea. Apparently, Mate ranks off the charts on the caffeine scale. I didn’t know this before I sat and drank it with the girls for a good 2 hours (Shaun told me the next morning). As a result, I spent 4-5 hours lying in bed, completely wired, before I could finally fall asleep. Lesson learned. Don’t drink so much Mate.
For our last night, we planned a steak dinner with our friend, John. We met John our first night at the hostels birthday party and Shaun and him really hit it off. They were the only non-drinkers in the hostel, so they had an immediate connection. Dinner in Argentina doesn’t start until 10pm, which is the time we showed up at the Alto De Fuego steak house.
Unfortunately, it was completely full. They told us it would be a half hour wait, which turned into an hour and a half, followed by another hour wait to get our food. It wasn’t until after midnight that our 20 oz steaks arrived at our table. Hands down, this was the best steak I’ve ever had in my life. Although eating a 20 oz steak right before going to bed probably wasn’t the best idea, the meal was worth the wait. It was a good end to our time in Bariloche.
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