We were all set to go to Bariloche, the Patagonia resort town in the andes, when this happened:

The erruption of the volcano Calbucco for the first time in 42 years covered Bariloche and the surrounding areas with about an inch of ash two days before we were planning to arrive.  A new plan was required and so we quickly shifted gears and planned a get away across the Rio Platte to neighboring Uruguay.

Given the uncertainty around air travel due to the volcanic ash, we took the two hour boat ride on the Buquebus across the river to Motivideo.  The boat was a great experience, very easy and mellow ride.   We got to see the sun rise over the river

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We then drove from the Urguayan capital of Montivideo to the amazing town of Jose Ignacio.  We spent the first three days at the Estancia Vik, a gorgeous estancia about 10km from the beach town.

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The estancia is simply amazing.   Each room is decorated with the art of a local artists and they were truly unique.  Staff was very thoughtful and accommodating.  Also, it was just fun to live among the animals.  There were cows and horses grazing right outside our door and the kids enjoyed running around and chasing them as well as the Ńandú.  The horse back riding was great as was the kayaking along the river. Despite two utterly botched fishing attempts we generally had a great time.

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We then moved to the Playa Vik.  As beautiful as the Estancia Vik property was, Playa Vik was even more spectacular.  Perched right up on the beach, this hotel is itself a work of art.  Simply amazing design.  It also features a number of beautiful works of art both in the main building and the rooms.

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There were, however, a few small setbacks.  First was the weather.  While we got a few nice days at Estancia Vik, by the time we made it to the Playa, the weather had changed to pretty chilly.  We had some fun climbing around on the rocks on the beach, but a beach town in the cold isn’t optimal.  The second (related) problem is that the season had ended.  As a result everything in the small town of Jose Ignacio was closed.  No little shops, no places to get ice cream, no boats to rent etc..This was also true in Punta Del Este, the major beach resort town about 30km away.  Although there were a few open places, it certainly lacked a vitality of a beach town.  We had to resort to a few local spots for lunch,  but  fortunately managed to avoid Mr. Chivito. Had we been escaping our normally busy lives, a week in isolation might have been a welcome change of pace, but given our relatively quiet existence, it was a bit too quiet.

Bearing the cold
Bearing the cold

We were, however, fortunate to go to one amazing restaurant in town called La Huella.  One of the coolest spots we’ve ever seen.  Right on the beach, super chic but modern and understated.  We are looking forward to our return visit.

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So while it wasn’t the perfect vacation, we are certainly glad that the volcano erupted before we arrived in town and we managed to get to know a new place.

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