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Colonia del Sacramento and Montevideo, Uruguay

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

Upon arrival in Colonia, Uru I noticed two things very quickly. 1st, it was freezing. 2nd the historic centre by the harbour (the reason anyone goes here) was small, very small. I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the old cobbled streets, tried to stay warm and found some lunch. It’s picturesque, but not much in the way of actual sites.

waterfront in the old town

the historic town

I woke up the next morning to even colder weather, still sunny though, and caught the bus to Montevideo, the capital and by far the largest city in Uruguay. The bus was nice, probably the nicest I’ve been on the trip so far and it still didn’t look as nice as the pictures of the Argentinean buses I’ve seen. I managed to sleep for a fair bit of the 2 1/2 journey. After finding my hostel in the old city centre I was starving and found lunch quickly, in the form or a chivito, which is a steak sandwich loaded with toppings, a national dish here, and the steak rivals the Argentinean stuff. Very good.

old town

looking into the old town from plaza independencia

Next day in Uruguay was still cold, and sunny. I went down to the indoor market, which has a few shops in it, but is mostly parillas, and since it’s inside the place smells great. You watch them cook the steak on the massive grill right in front of you, just as good as the Argentinean steaks I’d had, however a bit more expensive, like most things here. The chimichurri sauce with it was excellent.

old town

my steak cooking

I spent 2 nights in Montevideo, wandered around the old city and some of the newer areas. The ramblas that surround the old town are probably happening in the summer but deserted now. The city is more run down than Buenos Aires, though there’s still quite a lot of cool architecture. It’s also much quieter, especially at night. A pleasant place but nothing much happening really, this was made worse by the fact that the hostel I was staying at was full of strange people, the type who start talking to you and you can’t seem to make them stop no matter what you try. I haven’t met that many off the wall people in one place anywhere before.

old town

I decided to head back to Buenos Aires and from there inland towards the mountains instead of heading up the coast in Uruguay since it’s really cold and the main attraction there is the beaches. I’ve been on plenty of beaches in great weather on the trip so far, no point in visiting them in the winter.

Buenos Aires; Palermo, swine flu and on to Uruguay

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

I changed hostels for the weekend, moving out of the centre and into Palermo to be close to the happening stuff at night.  Unfortunately the hostel I moved to, while a fine hostel, was not a good one for meeting people at.  That partially ruined moving over there, also places are being closed and stuff canceled due to swine flu. :insertangerhere:  Places that would normally be very busy (or so I was told) were almost empty.
I made the most of it by going to parillas and the local casa de empanadas, my favourites there being the dulce carne and the verduras con salsa blanca.  Found a bar with lots of Argentinean micro brewed beers, and all the ones I tried were good! I also spent a lot of time figuring out where I want to go the next couple weeks and beyond.  I was going to take the ferry to Colonia, Uruguay on Monday but I woke up to a thunderstorm so I postponed that a day and did some more planning.  Found a great Argentinean restaurant (non parilla for a change) for dinner, with various local specialties.  The stew, wine and flan con dulce de leche were are excellent and great value.  When I ordered the latter I expected a piece of flan with a drizzle of dulce or something, what I got, was a piece of flan, and a lump of dulce almost as big as the flan, but hey, my mother always told me to eat all the food on the plate…

Tuesday the weather had improved so I caught the ferry to Uruguay.  Cut it a bit close on departure since the bus took longer than expected (at 30c fares though it shouldn’t be that surprising), had to run the last bit up to the terminal and rush through immigration and check in.  The ferry left exactly on time, was very nice, complete with a restaurant and duty free shop.  Even though the trip was only 1 hour.