Placed on a small area of land between a large lake and a bay leading to the Pacific, Puerto Varas is a shipping and fishing community originally settled by the Germans. It is also one of the gateways into the northern most parts of Patagonia in Chile. I spent three nights here relaxing and exploring the nearby area of Fruitillar. Nights were very chilly and most houses are our hostel was heated by wood burning stoves (toasty in the evenings but briskly cold waking).Best Salmon Ever: I love eating new foods, especially if they are attached to the local culture. Often I will ask locals for recommendations where to eat or ask restaurant staff for their recommendations off the menu. Rarely do I have a disappointing meal when approaching my quest for food this way. In Puerto Varas I was directed to the El Gordito restaurant which was about the size of my former living room in Denver and was crammed with perhaps a dozen tables. I should mention, “gordito” means “fat man” in Spanish and should give the customer some idea of what they are going to eat. The food is so good that you will feel like the Sesame Street Cookie Monster and devour and inhale the food. I had the signature Gordita Salmon plate. It was absolutely the best salmon I’ve ever had!
Fruitillar is very, very small, only about four blocks long and two blocks deep and about 15 minutes north of Puerto Varas. It is a very quant and very cute little German town with a number of restaurants serving Strudel and Kuchen (cakes). It is situated on the edge of a lake where you can look across at a big volcano (which erupted in 2015). I only spent the afternoon here and didn’t stay overnight.
German Food: one of the check-box items for a visit to Fruitillar is to eat German strudel and kuchen (cake). Knowing this, I chose a nice German restaurant near the beach. Inside I met the owner and wife who spoke Spanish, English and German and asked what the best item on the menu was. I was surprised when they recommended a Peruvian chicken dish in white sauce; apparently the chef was from Peru and it was his specialty. I went with the recommendation and enjoyed a very good chicken dish and never did get the German strudel and kuchen (not really a problem for me given I had lived in Germany for several months and had food there many times).
Costs in Puerto Varas and Frutillar
I cooked my own breakfast and dinner and went out for a cheap late lunch (saving money).
Hostel: $14/night (shared dorm)
Food: $8-$12 meal for lunch or dinner (I paid $8 for the salmon dinner pictured)
Puerto Varas Shore
The view from the small town of Puerto Varas was very tranquil and relaxing, but on the cool side in March.
On the far side of the bay is a view point with a tall artwork installation of a wire form woman looking out across the waters.
Best Salmon I’ve Had
I’ve tried a lot of food around the world; this small restaurant in Puerto Varas is called the Gordito (Fat Man) and it specializes in this Salmon topped with marinated shrimp. The plate is named “El Gordito” because the person eating it can’t stop and eventually will be fat!
The last few small towns I’ve been visiting in northern Patagonia are mostly made of wood. Much of the area was settled by Germans as many businesses and street names still reflect this (I never saw in a locals speaking German).
Fruitillar seemed much more “German” than other small cities and it could definitely be seen in the archetecture here as well as restaurants serving Kuchen and Strudel.
Yet Another Big Volcano
This big volcano across the lake from Frutillar and Puerto Montt erupted in 2015.
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