Visiting Montevideo, Uruguay

After our Buenos Aires holiday we decided we wanted to visit Uruguay. It has a reputation as being more Argentinian than Argentina. That means more tango, more gauchos, and a lot more mate. Mate is a bitter herb drink (quite similar to green tea) drunk from a special cup, shared among friends and no one leaves home without it. Here’s a photo of me drinking it to illustrate!
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Uruguay did indeed live up to to this idea. We could be identified on the bus in Montevideo, not by our massive backpacks, but by our lack of mate and flask.

Montevideo may just be the quietest capital city I’ve visited, including Bratislava! That’s in part to the time of year we visited, people often come for the beaches but being July here we are in winter, and partly the time of the week. It is very traditional, and weekends are family time, especially Sunday. The streets are deserted and not much at all is open. We arrived on a Friday; it was a quiet weekend. Luckily this meant we could watch Andy Murray at Wimbledon without feeling too guilty at not exploring the city.

Also fortunately there were several people in our hostel who had made the same mistake and there it was good; social and unusually weighted toward French speakers. It also rained everyday and was pretty darn cold.

That being said it was relaxing, charming and I could see where it gets its reputation as the most liveable city in South America.

To get there and back from BA we used Buquebus, a ferry to Colonial and then bus to Montevideo. Prices reasonable but much cheaper if you book a few days in advance. To get the cheapest one we had to leave BA at 9, which meant getting to the terminal at 7 to clear immigration per our tickets. This was completely unnecessary; we could have rocked up half an hour earlier and been fine but never mind. We then arrived in Montevideo at 3 ish. There is a quick ferry, but it is a lot pricier.

We stayed in 5 senses hostel, a bit mosquito ridden and I’m fairly certain they have a gas leak, but charming, friendly, vintagey and they do your laundry for free. Awesome.

A part of the reason for going to Montevideo was to move towards Iguazu Falls (in a roundabout way), the massive waterfalls on the border of Brazil and Argentina. We were planning on moving across Uruguay, towards Salto and crossing to Concordia in Argentina, and up from there. Just before we booked it we found out that a large part of iguazu park is closed due to flooding. So now we will visit a lot later, probably when we are in Brazil.

A quick rethink and we decided to head instead to Rosario, known as Argentina’s second city, to hunker down for a few weeks and take Spanish classes. More on that to follow!

First week in Buenos Aires

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Hola!

So our first week in Buenos Aires was quite uneventful, a nice soothing way to start our trip. We had decided that it was best for us to treat the first week like a holiday. That way we wouldn’t suddenly freak out that we had left our flat and our jobs, and had nothing at all to do with our lives.

This had benefits, we just wandered around all of Buenos Aires different neighbourhoods, testing our Spanish and eating and drinking. It is a great city – life goes on until much later, so cafes are open until one and the evening meal doesn’t start until nine at the earliest.

The only downside to the plan was how expensive Buenos Aires is- it isn’t obscene, but things are comparable to London. In particular it was hard to get cheap drinks, except wine. I know, I know, why complain! And we realised how much work we have to do to get our Spanish up to scratch.

So apart from eating and drinking, we went to a couple of museums, MALBA and MACBA (latin american and contemporary art respectively), visited the street markets in San Telmo, went to the cinema (cheap here, about £5) saw the obelisk on the huge Avenue 9 due Julio (there are about 12 lanes of traffic) and visited Evita in Recoleta cemetery.

Less noteworthy- Egg smashed his face on some glass peering at goodlooking cake, we tripped on many, many of the holes in BA’s pavement (but did not fall over), we ran out of clean underwear before we had located a washing machine, we enjoyed our new bank accounts genuinely not charging us for transactions abroad, I set up a food blog (glutenfreetravelblog.WordPress.com), egg cut his hair and we sat in the sun on the grass.