Bariloche is great city for walking. To me, that means that most destinations are within striking distance and also that I find it pleasant when traveling by foot. By pleasant I mean that I enjoy strolling since there are pretty things for me to look at, be it people, geography, or architecture. Bariloche has all three. The city is oriented along the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi which looks stunning in all conditions. When it is sunny, the whitecaps sparkle against the deepest blue water I’ve ever seen, and when it is grey and clouds, the lake takes on a spooky, menacing look.
The city has it’s main plaza and central business district down by the lake, and in the morning there are unexpected smells from the bakeries which are like free samples. When I am walking Lou to daycare, I have head up into the residential neighborhoods. There I see that some of these are gritty and in need a little TLC. However even these less desirable areas of Bariloche have million dollar views of the lake.
Currently everything seems to be in bloom. Some of the houses I think would look more natural in Switzerland or Bavaria have wonderful tidy front yards with green grass and flowers blooming everywhere.
Like I said, just about everything is in walking distance: Lou’s daycare, the Spanish school, and the grocery stores.
One has to pay careful attention to the obstacles especially when walking downhill. There are either steeply sloped sidewalks that suddenly morph into stairs or simply end and become a weedy gravelly path. A note on sidewalks: it seems like the owner of the house or business are responsible for the construction and maintenance of the sidewalk. Some places have nice pavement with colored cement and river stone, other have nothing, except the dirt and garbage which have accumulated.
Crossing the streets here: very different. I have to make eye contact with the driver, and then put myself slightly into harms way before they stop and wave me on. It’s not exactly a stand off, but if I simply waited for someone to stop, I’d be waiting on the curb for a long time! I don’t mean to say that they are rude or aggressive, on the contrary they actually seem to be very aware of pedestrians and are quite considerate. What I mean is that there is some collaboration here and Im still learning the rules. But everyone seems to pay close attention, and they need it too, since so far I’ve only seen 2 or 3 stop lights and no stop signs. Basically all the intersections are uncontrolled, but I’ve yet to seen an accident or even a close call. I asked a cab driver what the rules were, that is, whom yields to whom and he explained it like this: There is an unspoken pact between drivers here that as one approaches an intersection, the car coming from the right has the right of way, unless of course, there is a steep hill involved. In that case, that rule goes out the window and the vehicle approaching while going up hill has right of way, unless they are from Chile or a pedestrian happens to be crossing. Very straight forward!
Thus,I’m reluctant to rent a car, since I’ll either cause a crash, run down some poor pedestrian, or get deported to Chile.
On average, I’m walking 5+ miles a day, which I’m ashamed to say is more than I walk in a week back home. With the hills and all, it’s a great built in form of exercise that I look forward to every day.
Below are some pictures I snapped while out about strolling in Bariloche. The one with the map is one days journey through the city. Pete