Wednesday, March 31, 2010

El Bolson

I took a weekend trip to El Bolson, the hippie cousin of Bariloche. It's only two hours from Bariloche by bus and is the organic eater's paradise. There's a huge market most days that offers homemade EVERYTHING. My friend and I got homemade empanadas, a fresh vegetable tarta, tried a few different microbrews, and bought a bunch of ripe raspberries for the bus ride home. Definitely a successful trip.
El Bolson is a farm-based village and specializes in everything casero. Even the kioskos will have eggplant milanesa sandwiches made with homemade bread and tomatoes from the garden around back. They have multitudes of microbreweries with as many flavors of beer as you can imagine. Each refugio around El Bolson also offers their own personal variety of cerveza. There are also many different jams and "dulces" made with the fresh berries from the surrounding forests and farms. My favorites are sauco, rosa mosqueta, and guinda. These spreads make great gifts!!
El Bolson is also the birthplace of Jauja, the infamous patagonian ice cream chain. I have become spoiled in regards to ice cream after living in Buenos Aires for two years, but I think Jauja might have something on all the porteno chains. They use a lot of the fresh local berries to make creative flavors you wouldn't be able to find anywhere else. I've come to know and love Jauja from their branches in Bariloche, but it was definitely worth a visit to the mothership in El Bolson.
El Cajon de Azul

I stayed the night in a refugio called El Cajon de Azul during the full moon. The refugio has an organic garden where they grow all the vegetables they cook with. They also brew their own beer on site and have a very cute and fuzzy army of kitties to guard against mice. El Cajon is almost a mix between an estancia and a refugio, situated in the middle of "gaucho-land." It's a little more geared towards comfort than most of the refugios around Bariloche (you can shower!). The refugios in El Bolson seem to be suited for the casual backpacker versus the more mountaineering-minded escapes around Bariloche. The river and the refugio get the name "azul" because of the stunningly blue water of the Rio Azul.
El Rio Azul

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