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Trip Start Dec 26, 2005
Trip End Jan 25, 2009

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Flag of Uruguay  ,
Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I have been pleasantly impressed with my first couple of days in Uruguay. I think I may have come across a hidden gem... in many ways I like Montevideo more than Buenos Aires. MV is clean, compact, has a small population of 1.5 million, has plenty of sights and the restaurants are first class and well priced. Spending a year in South America is becoming increasingly attractive as this trip round the continent has given me an excellent overview of places I would want to re-visit (Lima, Iquitos, Northern Peru, Amazon in Peru, Cuzco, Bolivia, Buenos Aires and... now Uruguay). Yesterday, the group (minus the 3 19 year old Norwegian girls) did a city tour. The city is very diverse, with a significant gap between rich and poor but with an impressive history and attractive sights. We visited an old railway station that has been turned into markets and restaurants, the slums of the city as well as Pacitos... the most elite suburb. We also visited the sight of the first FIFA World Cup in 1930. The thing I love about this city is the soccer... it is absolutely everywhere with all ages playing in the streets, parks etc... one of the impressions I had of South America before I came. The drive along the coastline instantly took me back to Surferīs Paradise in Queensland with towering apartment blocks lined along an impressive beach. If I returned here, this is where Iīd want to stay.

Iīm really enjoying the company of the two 25 year old girls from Dublin, Ireland and the leader is starting to grow on me. But, the girl from New Zealand is starting to do my head in... goes to show how wrong first impressions can be. She is a īmiss know it allī with significant issues regarding men, babies, weddings etc. and itīs totally turned me off her. She claims to know everything about Australia, including the Education System, despite having never worked in Australia, let alone a school! I have no idea how she will go in South America given that she complains about everything... yesterday, it was people bumping into her on the bus! Sheīs 31 and goes on about how much she has wanted babies for 6 years... but she doesnīt have a partner! These tours sure do attract some weirdos... look at Bryan in China. But to be fair, they also attract some fantastic people, some of which have turned out to be great friends of mine.

The two Irish girls lived in Northbridge, Perth for 6 months this year as part of their journey RTW. Theyīve been on the road for 11 months and go back in just under a month. Like me, their minds have returned to the concept of home and the thought of returning to a normal life and work. I am totally mixed about returning home... in some ways, I donīt want this journey to end, but at the same time, I look forward to returning home to the comforts of home etc. But my mind has already gone to planning for the next trip. So many people have warned me about the culture shock associated with re-entry. Therefore, Thailand in July is definitely on the cards. Canīt wait to get back to my favourite holiday destination in the world and meet up with the locals I met there.

I think Peru has some competition for being the best food Iīve had on my journey RTW... the food here in Uruguay is simply superb. Last night I had stuffed chicken with a mushroom sauce and potatoes, along with wine (more like a fruit punch), coffee and dessert for the princely sum of $US12. The locals seem a very friendly and down to earth here than that of their neighbours in Argentina. I have been taken aback by how interested they are in foreigners. And the markets are cheap as... I had brunch this morning for the princely sum of 60c (25c for two bananas and 35c for two peaches). The food is extremely cheap in this part of the world, as is the public transportation.
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