With the desire to get another stamp in the passport, and to kill some time before we got the rental car in Chile (without waiting around in Buenos Aires), we decided to only visit the two most popular cities in Uruguay. The first of the two was the town of Colonia del Sacramento, a happy retreat from the big bustling Buenos Aires. The second was the capital, Montevideo, which ended up being less exciting than we hoped, but more on that later.
Lets start from the beginning. Continuing from the previous post, our first ferry ride was a success! Kind of like a bus ride on water, equipped with ugly carpet seats and screaming children. A very smooth ride through the Rio de la Plata brought us right into the humble town. We were greeted with cobblestone streets and a charming atmosphere.
Our first destination, like always, was the tourist center to get the lowdown on the surrounding area. It was a big beautiful modern building which immediately got us excited. They basically handed us a map and pointed out simple information. Not sure if it’s the language barrier, but many tourist centers that we visit are very minimal in providing information. It’s better to have a stash of questions to ask them because unless you ask, they don’t tell.
Our accommodations here were at a hostel. A little skeptical at first given our past experience with hostels, but lodging is limited in small towns. This hostel was only a short walk from the tourist information center which is refreshing after our initial trek when arriving to Buenos Aires. It ended up being a semi hippie feel, but with an awesome atmosphere and staff. We had the correct room and the door actually locked! Which is a success in our book! It had a delicious small breakfast with the best fig jam I have ever had and a small rooftop terrace where we got to enjoy the stars. We spent the day unpacking, relaxing, and the Uriah bear taking a nap… per usual. In the late afternoon, we walked to the pier to watch a beautiful sunset and returned to the hostel to make some dinner.
The next morning we woke up and explored the quiet town.
We even got to explore our artistic sides.
Not particularly super exciting, but as this seems to be mostly a weekend getaway for Buenos Aireians, we were there during the week so it was nice and quiet, I’m not complaining. Sometimes it’s necessary to be able to relax and do nothing. I can give you a summary of the town in a few short sentences. Cobblestone streets lined with small handcrafted shops and restaurants. There is a museum that talks about the history of the town and then a couple of piers with some sailboats. And there you have it ladies and gentleman.
We did get to enjoy the beach though.
A bit of a walk from the historical district we were staying in, but well worth it. Beaches here aren’t the same as they are back home. We realized that we are spoiled being from Florida because you have beautiful clean beaches everywhere. But the ones we have come across so far, are more like a local hangout and it just so happens to have sand and water. One of the days we ended up hanging out on the beach and doing absolutely nothing the whole day. Which happily reminded us of being back home.
The best part about this town was… the ice cream. Yes you read correctly, the ice cream. The ice cream so far is a little different than what we’re used to. Most of the flavors are fruity and slightly icy opposed to chocolaty and creamy back home. We got an arrangement of flavors ranging from melon to lemon cream. The nice lady at the counter let us try basically every flavor they had, ranging from the tropically fruity flavors to the odd fish ones…
Uriah with his un-sweet tooth, even enjoyed it. But if you know him, it was probably heightened by the BOGO deal we got. And if you know me, I am Ice Cream’s number one fan so for me to say it was good than IT WAS GOOD. The second best part about this town, was a delicious cheap greasy burger we got at a small food stand. Before you judge Americans, just know that all because we are traveling abroad doesn’t mean it’s a 5 course fiesta every night. Being able to travel for an extended period of time means you have to budget. If you want GOOD food you usually have to pay GOOD for it. They do have street vendors, but most of them we’re still a little weary to try. We have said numerous times on the trip that we have eaten more hamburgers and fries then we had in our past 3 years back home. For some reason people here in South America love their American burgers and fries. This place we came across when trying to find a sit down restaurant for dinner. Uriah has this anxiety when going out to eat. Where we don’t want to spend the money but we need to go and get food, so we walk around to five different restaurants 3 different times evaluating the menu and prices. So after doing the restaurant shuffle, we decided to get some cheap food at this small stand. It ended up being so good that we ate there twice during our short stay.
On to the next town! We arrived by a 3 hour bus ride into Montevideo at probably one of the best and worse weekends. The best being that they had the last night of their month long Carnival celebration on the day we arrived. Not as big and colorful as the Rio party, but still vibrant with having more of an African influence. Unfortunately for Uriah, the skimpy costumes were minimal and unfortunately for me the drunk screaming men were plentiful. The exotic costumes, upbeat dancers, and live bands were more than enough to make the parade worth seeing. That being said, I also want to add my props to those woman for wearing high heels and shaking their bom bom for endless hours. Not an easy task, my friends.
The worst weekend was because it was a holiday making a lot of the top sites to see closed. We still walked around town to get a feel for the city and see the outside of all the buildings, which is still interesting with all the European influenced architecture.
We even got to be famous and be in the background of a soap commercial they were filming in the streets, Hi mom!
The best part of the city was the Solís Theatre and just so happen to be the one I was looking forward to the most.
This huge theater was absolutely beautiful. One of those that when you walk in you start to instantly picture women in poofy dresses holding fans… or maybe that’s just me…
We arrived and saw some tour groups forming. We thought we were the coolest kids in town because we ended up sneaking into one of the Portuguese tour groups that let us view the whole theater inside and out. Nodding our heads occasionally like we knew what the hell they were saying. We ended up finding out later that these were free tour groups that they did every couple of hours and even had one with an English speaking guide. They seemed to do a very good job of explaining the history of the theater, from what I could interpret in my mad Portuguese skills. Arriving back to our air Airbnb apartment, we got a good night’s rest to wake up the next morning and head back by bus to Colonia to our ferry ride, returning back to Buenos Aires. Yes, that is all. Nothing too exciting from Uruguay given our short stay here and it being on a holiday.
On a another note, let’s talk about currency for a second. Traveling through countries with different currencies and ever fluctuating exchange rates can be challenging. Especially for us not knowing how long exactly we want to stay, and not sure how much cash we need. If you go to an ATM and take out too much, then you’re left with currency that when you go to exchange it, the rate isn’t the best, and for safety reasons we don’t want to have a fat wad of cash in our pockets. On the other hand, you don’t want to be stuck in a situation where you need cash but an ATM isn’t available. In Uruguay, most ATM’s give an option to withdraw U.S. dollars. This was perfect for us because the US$ is the best money to have extra of, but for the safety concern mentioned above, didn’t start out with enough reserves. With Patagonia being our next adventure, and hearing about the limited number of ATM’s, we thought this was the perfect opportunity to stock up.
Happy travels from U and B!