Chile | Popping by Puerto Varas

One of the unfortunate realities of travel is that nobody has infinite time. In hastening to get to our planned destination, we were unable to stay very long in our stopover of Puerto Varas, a charming German town set quietly on the shore of Lago Llanguihue. Upon discovering this little gem of a place, we were saddened at our impending departure – I think this would be quite an idyllic place to spend a few days. The lake’s warm, sandy shore provides a stunning view of two towering volcanoes (Osorno and Calbuco) that loom over the horizon, which is dotted with colorful sailboats and fishing vessels. This is a fantastic place to people-watch in the evenings, as the whole town gathers to enjoy the setting sun in the company of family and friends while the giants gently puff their white smoke into the bright blue sky.

The clean streets, full of cheery pedestrians, are lined with delicious gelato shops and stores stuffed with knickknacks. My favorite find was Emporio Puerto Varas, which is swollen with enviable merchandise. To add to the plentiful quaintness of the place, one can eat their gelato at the lone table, which is set for two, on the sidewalk. Our hostel, Casa Margouya, is also a splendid find, with a kind proprietor and pleasant character. A popular activity for tourists here is finding the old German-style buildings, including the striking Iglesia Catolica (Catholic Church). There’s also a famous restaurant (El Gordito) that has been visited by Anthony Bourdain at some point – a fact that is hard to miss, thanks to the collection of related media displayed proudly on the walls and entrance. The food is hearty and very filling. Amusingly, you can get most menus in Spanish, English, or German. Prost!

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