What’s the fruitiest little town on the planet? No, it’s not Orange, and it’s certainly not Berry, it’s the Southern Chilean village of Frutillar, a picturesque spot on the shores of Lago Llanquihue. With its gorgeous Germanic architecture, tree-lined streets and sweeping views out over Volcan Osorno, this place is sweeter than a handful of dried figs and better for your health than a daily apple.
Frutillar is an easy 50 minute bus ride from nearby Puerto Varas, over lush green hills and through simple, run-down towns full of stern-faced Chileans. Once again this country has surprised me with how quickly it can change – from modern and clean one minute to backwards and grimy the next. It’s a nice trip out there, but the best was most definitely still to come.
Like many towns in Los Lagos, Frutillar was settled by Germans who were run out of their homeland by snakes or something. More than 100 years later, this influence is still evident, with Euro houses, images of frightening eagles and
swastikas biergartens all over the place. The first time a little bloke walked out of his restaurant and suggested I munch on his strudel, I almost thumped him, but was soon gobbling as much thick, juicy pastry as possible.
The weather in this part of the world can be as unpredictable as an ice addict and twice as nasty. It can be sunny and warm with bright blue skies, then dark and stormy with torrential rain, then windy and cold, all within a period of 15 minutes. It’s mental, and I was constantly dressing and undressing in a desperate attempt to keep up with the weather. Things never cleared up enough to get a great look at Volcan Osorno, but then again not being able to see volcanos is becoming a bit of a theme on this trip.
Despite being dominated by scores of well-preserved historic buildings, the most impressive structure in town is the massive Teatro del Lago (or Theatre of the Lake in non-Spanish). Built over the water from enough colourful bits of wood to make a greenie cry for a week, it’s an impressive sight and hosts performances from some of Chile’s greatest opera singers. There was nothing like that going on when I visited, but I did see a homeless man arguing with a shoe round the back, so it wasn’t a total loss.
When I found an old piano by the lake’s edge, I decided to put on a concert for the passing tourists. I haven’t played a musical instrument (other than the rusty trombone) since my early days of high school, but I must be a savant because I soon had dozens of classical music enthusists from around the world grooving in the street, and humming and clapping along to my selection of 90s advertising jingles. They seemed to particularly enjoy my 35-minute rendition of the VB theme.
Alright, so maybe my audience wasn’t dozens, it was two, and they weren’t music enthusiasts, they were flea-riddled street dogs, and they weren’t dancing, they were mainly just licking their balls and humping each other. But whatever, I’m still cool. I’m available to perform at weddings, birthdays, pet funerals, bar vitzvahs, bat bitzvahs and penis cutting ceremonies. I’m waiting for your call.