Trip Start Dec 02, 2007
Trip End Sep 01, 2008

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Flag of Uruguay  ,
Saturday, December 22, 2007

Arriving in Montevideo was a joy after six days in the chaos of Rio, where taxi drivers drive you round in blocks as they have no idea where they are going and as I found out, but only once we were safely on Uruguayan soil, a friend of ours had been mugged at gunpoint not once but twice. Oh, and after a turbulent flight during which the girl sitting next to us was watching the first few episodes of Lost on her laptop. I kid you not... It also has to be said that travelling is much easier and more enjoyable when one can speak a little of the language - Brazilian Portuguese was a bit of a struggle but Piet's 11 year old Spanish GCSE grade B is proving more useful than expected!

Montevideo is a small, laid back city. Consequently there is not much to do except for enjoy the cafe culture, people watch and look around the flea markets. One big [by Uruguayan standards] tourist attraction is the Mausoleo Artigas, an underground mausoleum where the remains of Jose Artigas are guarded round the clock It was, as promised by the Lonely Planet, somewhat eerie . Standing looking at the soldiers who guard Artigas's body round the clock, I did wonder whether there is a CCTV camera at the top of the stairs so, that as ourists descend from the Plaza Independencia the soldiers can jump up from their game of scrabble and give the appearance that they have been standing to attention for hours.

Montevideo's other big draw is the Mercado del Puerto. The port market is not dissimilar to Borough market in style, but as opposed to an array of different cuisines meat is the name of the game. Starving and keen to try a bit of everything, we ordered a barbecue 'completo', eyeing up the different cuts of steak chicken breasts and various sausages on the huge open
grill in front of us. We were presented with a huge bowl with delicious steak and chicken on the top. Imagine our delight when we lifted these to reveal grilled brain, intestine, liver and a long, thin tube of meat that we'd rather not think about what it could be! It was time to move on, down the coast to Punta del Diablo.
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