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Posts Tagged ‘Montevideo’

I didn’t know much about Uruguay before coming on this trip, it was just a bonus on the tour itinerary. It wasn’t easy to find a guidebook on Uruguay. Lonely planet doesn’t have a guide book for Uruguay, it is included in their Argentina guidebook and Tripadvisor doesn’t even have a city guide for Montevideo on its mobile app.

Map of Uruguay

Map of Uruguay

Montevideo is the capital of Uruguay which is situated between Brazil and Argentina so the culture is loosely similar, e.g. good beef, crazy amounts of mate tea consumed (people here carry their mate cups like most here carry their mobile phones, walking on the street, sitting in the park, driving a car, just about everywhere they sip their mate through metal straws), passion for soccer.

Montevideo has suffered though some tough economic times and has been described as “elegantly shabby”, the city retains remnants of its wonderful colonial architecture, all mixed in with a growing collection of art galleries, stylish cafes and shops.

Port Market

Port Market

Port Market Grill

Port Market Grill

The Port Market is located in the old city (Ciudad Vieja) and was previously a train station which now houses grill bars which makes it a good stop for lunch.

Ciudad Vieja, the old city is the most charming part of Montevideo. Plaza Independencia is the main square

Plaza Independencia

Plaza Independencia

Plaza Independencia

Plaza Independencia

It has beautiful colonial buildings but many of the buildings are boarded up and abandoned now.  Also, you have to ALWAYS watch your step on the pavement as there is dog poo all over this city, even on pavements here in the old city.

Pretty building boarded up

Pretty building boarded up

Shop in ciudad vieja

Fruit & veg shop in ciudad vieja

Bookshop

Charming bookshop

We left the old city to explore other parts of the city including:

Palacio Legislativo

Palacio Legislativo

The tallest building in the city is Antel Tower, they allow visitors to visit one of the top floors for a panoramic view of the city for free!

View of the port from Antel Tower

View of the port from Antel Tower

This city has definitely seen better days, it has remnants of a beautiful past but currently in disrepair or economic difficulty. An example is this beautiful old central train station which is now in disrepair, boarded up and a lot of homeless people live beside it.

Old Central Train Station

Old Central Train Station

The main beach isn’t much to write home about. This picture makes it look better than it was, there are no cafes or nice shops here. Just apartment blocks that look like low cost flats or council housing line the beachfront.

Beach on Rambla Republic Del Peru

Beach on Rambla Republic Del Peru

Trucks of market vendors near Punta Carretas

Trucks

Trucks

How the other half live

Rubbish collection

Rubbish collection by horse

I wasn’t terribly impressed with Montevideo. Maybe it was just our experience there, maybe it’s an unfair comparison since the last capital we were at was Rio de Janeiro. It just seemed very dreary, unclean (lots and lots of dog poo), not really safe (just an impression) and some parts were falling apart. It just doesn’t seem to have the flair or energy of Rio or Buenos Aires.

The only thing worth noting is the mixed grill at a restaurant in Centro near our hotel called El Fogon. We ordered the mix grill which came with beef ribs, beef steak, sausages, pamplona (grilled stuffed meat) and offal (not a fan of offal). We also ordered a side of fries and a salad with a glass of local wine tannat which was quite delicious. We also had a choice of desserts, my favourite was the flan (a creme caramel type dessert) and a small glass of a local bubbly called Castelar (if I remember correctly) and a cup of excellent coffee on the house. To top that all of, it was cheap and very friendly service even though the waiter didn’t speak english. So good we went there 2 days in a row.

El Fogon mixed grill

El Fogon mixed grill

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Woot woot! We have booked our flight tickets to go to South America.

World map

World map

We had some frequent flyer points expiring and needed to book our tickets. Redeeming air miles meant our destination and dates were somewhat predetermined by flights to certain destinations that were available before expiration date, we decided on Rio de Janeiro!

South America Map

South America Map

Flight tickets booked, now what? Since it was our first trip to South America and because Rio in particular has quite a bad reputation for crime, our lack of Portuguese and language skills and frankly, it was just nice to sign up for a tour which would sort out all the details of the trip. We picked a tour that covered the 3 main places we wanted to see:

  • Rio de Janeiro
  • Buenos Aires
  • Iguazu Falls

So we settled on the following itinerary that spans Brazil, Argentina & Uruguay:

Tour route

Tour route

  1. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  2. Ilha Grande, Brazil
  3. Paraty, Brazil
  4. Iguazu Falls, Brazil & Argentina
  5. Estancia (a gaucho ranch) near Fray Bentos, Uruguay
  6. Montevideo, Uruguay
  7. Colonia, Uruguay
  8. Buenos Aires, Argentina

It covered all the places we wanted to see and a few bonus destinations plus fits exactly into the dates of the flight tickets we had booked.

Let the adventure begin!

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