No… that’s not a drug reference, it’s about how our plan to get on the Navimag ferry from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales got a hadoken to the gonards.
One of the things that we keep telling ourselves is that the best part about travelling the way we do is that we get to change our plans as and when we want to. We are not exactly bounded by any time frame, we can afford to take things slow and we are free to go wherever our whims take us.
But honestly, that’s something that I tell Jo sometimes so that when I want to change our plans to spend a day in lazing and reading… I don’t get a swift punch to MY balls.
It actually kinda sucked to have to spend three days in dreary Puerto Montt to find out that we have to switch plans totally.
We still wanted to head down south to Fin del Mundo (Ushuaia, Argentina), and since we had a bit of time on our hands, we decided to not take a flight, and instead take the more scenic (cheapo) overland route through Argentina. Our first order of business was to head back North to Puerto Varas to catch a connecting bus on to the Argentinian ski resort town of San Carlos de Bariloche.
Maybe it’s because of the three days that we just spent in Puerto Montt, but I swear, I think I fell almost instantly in love with Puerto Varas.
In place of the topsy turvy, unplanned sprawl of Puerto Montt, the main drag of Puerto Varas comprises of six very neat and… “compressed” streets of very quaint houses. The air feels fresher, things flow along in a more orderly manner and the people definitely seemed just that little bit friendlier.
Normally, I don’t like to resort to stereotype, but I would like to just take this opportunity to (very casually) mention… Puerto Varas is comprised mainly of second/third generation descendants of German immigrants.
And that’s all I have to say about that….
But one of the best part about Puerto Varas has probably got to be the food. After 3 days of Curantos and stale burgers, we were kinda spoilt by the quality of food served in the numerous cafes and gourmet restaurants available in Puerto Varas. (think piping hot schnitzels, creamy pasta, freshly caught seafood from Lago Llanquihue and exquisite German cakes/pastries).
Since we’d saved a fair bit by not going on a cruise/plane, we decided we could console ourselves by splurging on good food in the next few cities we were visiting. In the case of Puerto Varas, we pampered ourselves with the local specialty – the freshly caught Anguila (eel).
We pampered ourselves A LOT.
Even with all the good food in the area, special mention must go to La Gringa, a quaint little cafe that is a good 15 minute walk away from the main part of Puerto Varas.
It’s a rather pleasant walk around the lake, and at the end of the walk, we arrived at a house that looked like it came straight out of Hansel and Gretel… sans evil witch inside. In fact, the only similarity the cafe’s friendly American owner, Naomi (and hence La GRINGA) has with an evil witch is the wicked broth she has brewing in her cauldron.
As far as I know, most of the dishes are created from scratch out of organic ingredients purchased daily from the local farmers.This included the bread used for the delicious sandwiches and the juice for the Soda Italiano.
And the best part is that they offer an affordable (US$10) Menu del Dia that includes a soup, a main dish and a drink.
Sitting in La Gringa, looking over the gorgeous lake with an aromatic mug of coffee in our hands and a fresh-out-of-the-oven brownie on the plate in front of us, I can’t help but feel that the best part about travelling the way we do is that we get to change our plans as and when we want to.
Sometimes, from the most unpleasant of situations, life throws up the best surprises… and brownies.