For the sake of having a capital

Trip Start Feb 03, 2013
Trip End Dec 13, 2013

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Live MVD Hostel

Flag of Uruguay  ,
Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Hello again!

They're like buses aren't they! So, let's continue where we left off. Like I mentioned in the last post, we traveled to Colonia, which we loved, and then made our way to the capital of Uruguay, Montevideo.

13th Mar - Today we took the 3hr bus to Montevideo. We were pleasantly surprised when the bus had free WiFi on board and spent the journey fighting against travel sickness to check Facebook and e-mails. When we arrived in Montevideo we noticed a stark contrast to Colonia del Sacramento, where we had felt relaxed and safe. Montevideo seemed to have dodgy looking people on every street, but we made it to the hostel with no troubles and found that we had an entire 12 bed dorm to ourselves.... well, us and the hostel cat, a young and playful cat who leapt across the top bunks and hid under Kirsty's bed a lot. We spent the evening mainly walking between our hostel and the El Viajero hostel to try and claim a free night we had earnt in their Paraguay hostel, but the whole process was a shambles as they needed our passports and then couldn't contact the other hostel to confirm we'd stayed. Nonetheless, we booked in for 2 nights time in the hope we'd get it sorted.

14th Mar - Today we decided to take a walk down the nice waterfront road in Montevideo, which was called 'Rambla' and then the street name changed depending on which stretch you were on. After a short while we came across some train tracks heading out to the sea and after speculating what they were for we found that it was a holocaust monument for the large Jewish community in that area. We walked on and took a lie down on the grass for nearly an hour until we heard the distinct sound of a helicopter that sounded very low. All of a sudden, six helicopters, flying extremely low, came over us in close formation. Afterwards, we popped down to the nearby beach so that I could write a birthday message to both my Dad and my Aunty Marjorie (different people, not one very confused family member) in the sand. After this we walked some more until we came across our intended destination, which was a "picturesque" harbour. It wasn't as good as we'd hoped and began to suspect that Montevideo was trying to be something it wasn't. We carried on walking (8km by now) and grabbed some Empanadas for lunch from a nearby square. After our lunch we turned around and walked the same route back and were both hurting and aching by the time we got back to the hostel and had walked around 17km/11miles! That evening we watched a football game on TV (Nacional vs. Boca Juniors) and I was gutted to find out it was in Montevideo and that we could have gone!

15th Mar - Today was fairly low key as all we had planned was to change hostels to the El Viajero hostel. We walked the 17 back-breaking blocks with our bags. On arrival we had another nightmare trying to organise our "free night" as they wanted to charge us way too much for our second (paid) night and we came to the conclusion that nothing in this life is free. We were confused as was listing the rate as much cheaper so in the end we cancelled our second night and we booked a night through Hostelworld. We were getting our free night whether they liked it or not! That afternoon we popped out and took a quick walking tour of the sights near the hostel, which mainly consisted of squares and old buildings along with a market where we stopped for lunch. I ordered a Chivito, which is the national dish of Uruguay and is basically a heart attack sandwich of egg, bacon, ham, steak and salad, but mine came not in this form but a plate full of the above along with chips and a potato salad. I was stuffed! That evening we sat in the hostel chatting with a guy called Alex, who we had met in Colonia. He was travelling alone and told us it was his birthday tomorrow so Kirsty being very cute decided to make him a birthday card before bed so that he'd have something to open on his birthday.

16th Mar - Today we finished off the remainder of the walking tour and came across a large square with a monument in the middle of General Artigas. We noticed that there were steps leading down either side of the monument so made our way down and were greeted to an underground marble lined tomb of the General with soldiers still guarding his ashes. We then walked through the city to the site of an indoor market, but it turned out to just be restaurants. Disappointed, we carried on and picked up some more Empanadas for lunch (we like Empanadas!) and walked north-east to the tallest building in Uruguay. This monster, which stands at a whopping 37 floors tall (sense the sarcasm?) looks a lot like the Spinnaker tower in Portsmouth. We were very unimpressed as most of the tall buildings in Buenos Aires seemed bigger. We walked up to see if we could go up but it seemed more like offices and had a lone security guard sat at a desk. We then walked to Palacio Legislativo, which is where the Uruguayan parliament meet and is a grand palace stood on its own in a clear square. After this we walked back to our hostel and chilled out for the evening before having to get up early the next day to head back to Buenos Aires.

So, that's it for Uruguay. Overall, we liked the country and were glad we went, but we felt that the capital was a bit of a let down and wished we'd gone to Punta del Este instead and enjoyed the beaches. Montevideo is OK, but like I said, I got the feeling that it's trying to be something it's not. Kirsty will fill you in next about our one night back in Buenos Aires and our flight and stay down in El Calafate in the Argentine Patagonia.

Chao for now!

G xxxx
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