Monday, December 19, 2011

Villa General Belgrano

The campground is situated on the main road into town. Owned by Rolf and Bettina, Camping La Florida is nestled amongst pines and firs and has electricity hookup for the RV. They keep a myriad of goats, sheep, horses and dogs on the property so we decided to keep Winston on his long tether in camp and take him for walks in the surrounding countryside. One of the Germans we met at Arapey Michael is here and he said we had just missed another couple. After taking a couple of days to settle in at the camp ground, we were ready to explore the town. Named after Manuel Belgrano, a famous general and the creator of the Argentinean flag, Villa General Belgrano or VGB is located in the Calamuchita Valley. Founded in 1930 by two German prospectors interested in agriculture, the Alpine-like area continued to attract German and Swiss immigrants through the 30’s. In 1940, when German seamen sank their battle ship off the coast of Montevideo, some of the surviving sailors arrived and continued to build in the Bavarian style. Now the village is known for its typical Alpine architecture with red roofed, wood framed and exposed beams homes. Restaurants offer traditional German delicacies including goulash and spatzle, fondue, sausages, sauerkraut and apple strudel. There is a profusion of pastry and gourmet chocolate shops as well as microbreweries offering hand crafted German style pilsners and dark beers. In fact Oktoberfest here is considered the third most important site after Munich, Germany and Blumenau, Brazil. The village survives on a steady stream of tourists and you can’t miss the souvenir stores with their windows filled with beer steins in various sizes. Kitschy but charming and we enjoyed it. In true Bavarian tradition we ate dinner at a nearby restaurant specializing in fondue. Served with a variety of breads and sausages it was delicious. There were photographs on the wall showing the restaurant in winter (July and August), with a lot of snow on the ground. As we walked back to the campgrounds, the sky was clear and filled with stars and the surrounding hills were studded with lights from houses and small hotels, many now decorated for Christmas. We contemplated briefly that snow would be fun but spring days are nice too.

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