El Bolson, Argentina

Our time in El Bolson was just what the doctor ordered. After hitting the tourist trail pretty hard for our first few weeks of travel, we made the concerted decision to find somewhere nice to chill for a while, and El Bolson was just the ticket.

El Bolson: a city surrounded by mountains on all sides

It’s a cute little hippy town in the Argentine Lake District, surrounded by mountains on all sides, with a cute little park in the middle, and beautiful lakes, national parks and treks all nearby. There’s a cute craft market on every other day, selling stuff like wooden handicrafts, hippy clothes (think Camden in the 90s) and delicious local food. They produce 75% of the country’s hops there, so there are microbreweries selling local beers, and they also produce loads of fruits and berries there due to its particular warm microclimate, and we had the most delicious berries (and berry beers) there. And here’s the clincher – they’ve also declared themselves a ‘non nuclear zone’ and an ‘ecomunicipality’, so you can picture the kind of folk who live there. Alternative types, ageing hippies, musicians, artists, grungers doing poi in the park, etc. etc.

Berry dude sells his delicious goods

The feria artesenale: hippy craft market

In short, it was pretty easily to wile away the best part of a week there! We found a lovely hostel with a huge kitchen and sunflowers growing in the garden, and spent our days in the park or sitting by lakes in glorious sunshine, soaking in the local flavour and enjoying the free music in the park (there was always some kind of band or hip hop going on… one particularly hilarious satirical band was really lol, even in Spanish we could get some of the jokes!) and one evening, there was a hip hop open mic (think 8 Mile but in a park, and in Spanish) and this kid totally stole the show. I think he was about 9 years old. And by evening, we sat in the garden drinking fernet and cokes, sharing some errr.. comical cigarettes… with our new hostel buddies, cooking dinner together, listening to them play instruments like harmonica, guitar and ‘cass cass’ (wooden percussion ball thingies), and generally being massive hippies.

A little kid absolutely killing it at hiphop night in the park

Satirical jazz-funk-ska band

Also worth a note – we found, OFFICIALLY, the best icecream ever created. Argentine helado is generally amazing (and arguably better than Italian), but this was made with organic milk, local berries/ingredients, and was INCREDIBLE. From a local place called Juaja, we opted from a conservative quarter litre (most people were going for half or family-sized full litres) we sampled ‘dulce de leche con morros’ (DDL with blackberries), cassis (cherry) and banana (you guessed it!). I’ve never tasted any icecream that tasted so much of fruit… I could’ve lived on that stuff.

Just heavenly. This remained in my dreams and waking thoughts for some time…

So, anyway! After a week of chill times, we decided to move onwards and upwards to Bariloche, another town in the Lake District, before heading back into Chile….

Chilling at the lake of a nearby national park

Just another night of japes with our Argentine and French hostel buddies