Pictures of Uruguay are up! Check them out here!
I decided that it would be a good idea to put some travel tips on Uruguay, such as good buses to take, restaurants to check out, places to go, things to see… I have realized more than ever that many guide books are outdated or have missing information. Therefore, I thought I would tell you exactly what I did and give a little ‘review,’ so for those that stumble upon this website that are going to Uruguay can use this information while they travel! This is also useful for those who want to travel cheaply. I stayed at a cheap hostel, never took a taxi, and managed to make my way around Uruguay pretty comfortably.
Without further ado, Click here for Travel Tips on Uruguay
Filed under: Uruguay
You are a hidden gem in this world, and I have had some of the most fantastic three days of my life with you. I have never felt so in love with everything while walking your streets.
I will miss you. I will miss your merchants and markets. I will miss your sweet and kind people, who have gone above and beyond the past few days to make me feel so welcome. I will miss the kind old lady and her husband who are artists and gave me a montevideo magnet wrapped in a music sheet. I will miss the mercado puerto, by far the best part of Uruguay, where yesterday I dined on red wine, paella, and flan with dulce de leche and whipped cream, spending almost every penny I have… and so worth it. I will miss your amazingly cheap, delicious, and varied empanadas. I will miss lying in a bedroom with white sheets in your main city, lazily drawing love notes and imagining what my wedding will look like. I will miss your antique buildings, your artwork sprawled all over the streets, your ocean breeze, your chorizo (which is the best I have ever tasted anywhere), and all of your oriental stores. I will miss feeling utterly relaxed but inspired, tranquil yet thirsty for experience, creative, spendthrift, and daring in your world. I have made friends and relationships with many, many people in the places I´ve traveled to- but I have never been in a relationship WITH the place that I have traveled to. I feel as if you have become a close friend, a lover, a passionate union that I will forever look back on with much fondness. I dearly hope we can meet again someday.
And another large piece of me lays behind again in this place,
Filed under: Uruguay
Whatever I had said previously about Uruguay being a strange country was entirely wrong. I LOVE IT HERE!!!!!!!!!
This is one of my favorite countries I´ve been to. I feel as if I´ve stumbled upon a pearl that very few take the time to know about. Montevideo takes on an entirely different character during the day. It is bohemia heaven before all of the wanna-be bohemians come and rip it apart, driving up prices horrendously, creating ripoffs and fakes, and making Montevideo more contrived. It is Buenos Aires, Casco Antiguo in Panama, Paris, Prague, before they became hot little tourist spots.
In the morning I wandered out into the day to discover Montevideo. The center of town that I´m in is surrounded on 3 sides by the ocean’ 5 blocks to my left, 5 blocks to my right, and 10 blocks down. The main road, 18 de Julio, stretches down from Tres Cruces (the bus terminal) to the shore, which gives a good 30 or so blocks of exploring.
Past Plaza Independence is the old part of the city, where I spent my morning. I walked outside to be greeted by street merchants hawking antique wares- rings, cameras from the 70´s, gramaphones from the 20´s, typewriters, aged books. I wandered down to find myself in a vegetable market, which only led to more street merchants. Ancient buildings, magnificently and volumously sculptured from around the 1920´s, were now painted a bright pastel color and housed canvases upon canvases of contemporary art for as little as 10 dollars. I wandered into an ´oriental´ shop to find a jaw-droppingly stunning enourmous cabinet with detailed Tibetan buddhist paintings- 200 dollars. Hoping to get a taste for seafood, I found what looked like to a large warehouse that had now been converted into small little restaurants, with elegant little tables and elaborately dressed waiters, surrounded by spitfires twice the size of me full to the brim with roasted steak, chicken, red peppers, potatoes, and seafood galore. Right nearby was a small empanada shop with about 50 different kinds of empanadas- I opted for a capresse one, and a calamari one. Two dollars for both.
In the afternoon, I decided to go to Colonia Del Sacramento, a small town known for its ancient buildings right on the sea. After a two hour bus ride, I spent the afternoon walking around in awe at this gorgeous village, which looked exactly like Tuscany, Italy, except right on the ocean- little art stores, shops, and restaurants spilled out everywhere, and I spent the better part of the afternoon reading inside a grand art cafe.
I absolutely love it here. I feel as if I am the luckiest person in the world to have all of these amazing travel experiences. Today I had planned to go to Punta del Este, a beach town about 2 hours away from Montevideo, but I decided that I love Montevideo so much that I´m going to stay and suck up as much of the life here as I can. I feel so, so lucky to be here. I never want to leave.
Filed under: Uruguay
Writing from one of those hostel computers where the ´delete´ button doesnt work very well and the keyboard is in Spanish. Excuse the grammatical errors.
Uruguay… oh, Uruguay, what a strange experience. Before coming to Latin America, I hadn´t thought too much about Uruguay as a country. I imagined it as one of those South American countries out of ´Romancing the Stone´- Jungly, with destroyed buses lying abandoned in ravines, with soldiers head to toe in gear…
Once I actually got to South America, especially Paraguay, my impression of Uruguay immediately changed. I read books and notes about how Uruguay used to be one of the wealthiest countries in Latin America before their economy kind of fell apart for awhile. Reading ´Lonely Planet South America on a Shoestring´told me that Montevideo, the main city, was this beautiful metropolitan area with artists and music and tango, with gorgeous beaches everywhere and seafood galore… Ohhh how my mouth watered while reading this, especially since I had been in Paraguay for a month, a landlocked country with no possible dreams of ever relaxing near a body of water while feasting on mussels, crab, shrimp, or maybe even lobster if I dared to dream it was cheap enough. All Uruguay seemed to be about was amazing music and art, the ocean, seafood, and horsebackriding. I imagined Montevideo as this gorgeous metropolis. It was like a wonderful dream….
…that was easily shattered as soon as I arrived into the city. My first impression was that this place was like Paraguay with a coastline. Plenty of rural areas to go around, a strange mix of flair followed by buildings in sore need of a good scrubbing, and once again, complete desertion. I arrived into Montevideo´s downtown to find it so devoid of people I was shocked. The sun was setting and it was quite beautiful, but there was almost no one outside to enjoy it. I didn´t quite understand what was going on, and where the people were. I walked down one of the main roads that so reminded me of Taksim Square in Turkey, watching hawkers packing up their wares as the few people that were actually out hurried by, as if there was this perfect storm coming and everyone was running for cover.
This is suc h a strange but interesting place, and I don´t know quite what to think about it so far. It feels a little bit like all of the bad parts of Panama City and the good parts of Paris mixed together, without any people in it. It is both beautiful but ugly, charming but devoid of flavor, interesting but lacking any actual spice. Looking outside at the antique buidings that lead down to the oceanfront makes my heart want to burst with sheer pleasure, but lurking behind it is SUCH a strong feeling of utter depression as to how dismal this place seems, that I just end up wildly confused.
Last night I tried to find a place called ´Kazbah´which was recommended by the Lonely Planet. It was supposedly this restaurant that had all kinds of mediterranean food, with also a bar that people apparentely liked to frequent to. This seemed like the perfect setting for me to go out to dinner, because I immediately imagined falafel, hookah, and hopefully at least a few traelers like me who had consulted the Lonely Planet that I could meet with. However, I searched all around the area to finally come to the conclusion that it must have been closed. This was the first time I had actually been let down by the Lonely Planet guide while I was in country. I know that their ´sleeping´guides are almost always out of date- just check out hostel world in any country you´re in versus their book and you´ll see that there are newer and better places that have popped up everywhere. But I had never been let down on a restaurant before. Sadness.
Instead, I went out to a place called ´Don Peperone,´which turned out to be QUITE a nice restaurant, even though I spent 5 dollars for a meal. I arrived at around 8 PM, which is usually a late dinner for me. The place was pretty deserted. I proceeded to hang out for about 2 hours, reading and enjoying a burrito (don´t judge. There was no seafood on the menu). The longer I waited around, the more people showed up, until finally when I asked for the bill at 10:30 PM, the place was SWARMING with people. Dinner at 10:30?? Maybe this is why Uruguay looked so deserted… maybe everyone naps until 9 or 10 PM and then only at late night does the life actually start.
Maybe it´s too soon to assume much about Montevideo. I DID arrive just as the sun was setting. Today is Friday. I have all day to explore Montevideo and the town center, the ocean, the markets, and of course, the seafood. Let´s see what happens today.
I am currently in the stages of planning an epic month-long trip throughout South America. This week is Uruguay. On November 14th I start my adventure with 10 days in Argentina (Buenos Aires, TBD), and then continue onto Chile, Peru (Lima, and the 4 day Inca Trail Trek to Macchu Picchu), and Ecuador.
Originally I had plans to go to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, where I was planning on spending a good chunk of my budget. However, I learned that a trip to the Galapagos Islands is just too much money. In order to be able to actually walk on the islands (which is what makes the trip worthwhile), you would need to be on a boat of less than 15 people- which means that it would cost somewhere around $1500 for ONLY a four day trip. On top of that, they charge an extra 50% fee if you’re going alone. On top of THAT, then you need to pay for your plane ticket. With all of the charges, spending about 700 dollars a day is not ANYWHERE NEAR within my budget range. Though sad, I hope that one day when I am no longer a student, I can return to Ecuador and go to the Galapagos Islands.
This frees up some money that I have to play around with. So as of 15 minutes ago, I AM OFFICIALLY GOING TO EASTER ISLAND IN CHILE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!