Monday 22 February 2010

Puerto Varas

To Navimag, or not to Navimag?

That was the question that kept us awake at night while we were in Castro. The Navimag ferry is ridiculously overpriced and the reviews it gets online are mixed to say the least. But sailing to the Southern tip of Patagonia, past glaciers and between islands... looking at satellite photos of the region (on Google Maps) sealed the deal for me. We have to go, and the budget will just have to recover later.

On the way from Castro to Puerto Varas we stopped in Puerto Montt and bought our tickets. We're going on a boat!

So, with Navimag always on my mind, I hadn't really given Puerto Varas much thought. For me it was a place to hang out while we waited for our boat to leave, maybe we could go rafting or something, maybe catch up on our digital blogging and photo-publishing chores.

And we have done that; this post brings our blog fully up to date, and all our best photos are online. Rafting turned out to bee too expensive for a too-tame and too-short experience, but to my surprise, Puerto Varas and surroundings have been lots of fun.

The town itself is cute, our B&B (Hospedaje Ellenhaus) is cheap, central and really cosy. We've had excellent food served by a cheerfully weird waitress, made friends with local canines, and gone on day trips by bus to nearby towns; Puerto Montt and Frutillas.

Puerto Montt was the typical mix of charming and ugly you expect from a busy port; the Angelmó harbour is gorgeous and full of markets and crafts and smiling holidaymakers, the downtown area sports the ugliest mall I have seen and a central square we either couldn't find or was so insignificant we didn't notice it. Just outside the center are cosy little residential areas with pretty houses. It was fun to walk around, but we were both glad we stayed in Puerto Varas instead.

Frutillas for us was just two streets and a pretty beach, pretty guesthouses and happy tourists; we skipped the commercial part of Frutillas, 2km up the hill. We had a picnic on the beach, taking in the view of the lake and the amazing volcano Osorno, sitting under a tree to avoid the blazing sun. Then we visited the fascinating Museo Histórico Colonial Alemán, learned all about German colonization of the region and discovered that Ewelina's goal in life is to live in a German colonial mansion.

Back in Puerto Varas, we have fetched our clean laundry, had an amazing veggieburger at the cute Hollyfood across the street, published our lives to the Internet and now are pondering what sort of food and drinks to take with us on the boat tomorrow. Life is good.

We're going on a boat!

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