We arrived in Montevideo around 7
. After our Buenos Aires fiasco with the bus tickets we decided to book our ticket out to Rosario then to make sure we wouldn’t be stuck another few days. Next step: the hostel. We tried Art Hostel which was great. The owner was super friendly and had a 6 bed dorm available, with 1 Brazilian guy in with us.
When though we had slept in the bus, it wasn’t quite a bed and we were still quite tired but we only had 1 day & night in Montevideo and thought we should make the most of it. The hostel had 2 bikes so Dob and Russ decided to go on a little ride to the beach. Romz, Trev and me were happy just to wander in town.
The owner had told us of a few good spot to check out, first of which was this building you could go up to get a panoramic view of the city. So off we went. It was still quite early but already super-hot. Montevideo is a much nicer city the Buenos Aires in my opinion. The streets are cleaner and better kept. There are trees all along the street and the traffic is much less chaotic. We went up to the top of the tower and got a great view of the city and Rio de la plata. We went to find some lunch and eat it in Fabini with a statue of Gauchos. We continued down towards the port and the old town and stopped at Plaza Independencia, Montevideo’s largest plaza
. In the middle of the plaza is a big marble statue of Jose Gervasio Artigas. I think he is the character who did the most towards gaining the independence of Uruguay or something like that. He is buried right under the statue. On one side of the plaza, there’s Palacio Salvo and on the other the entrance to Sarandi pedestrian street with lots of market stands, … One of the stands had these pots/cups people seemed to be sipping from all time. We´d been wondering what exactly we were missing out on so I got chatting to the lady and she explained the was like their local tea/herb called: Mate. They fill the cup with it and add a bit of hot water to it then sip it through a kind of metal straw. I thought it would fit perfectly in my marrocan tea seat so I bought myself one along with the metal ¨bombilla¨. Very happy with my purchase. We continued down through some plazas towards the port. There we went through the old meat market now converted in a bit open space with loads of barbecue meat stands. Right next to that was the Carnival museum. That was great fun seeing the costumes, learning about its origins in Uruguay, which apparently is more about drums and more theatrical. Good for ideas for Rio carnival.
We just wondered back to the hostel after that. We meet our roommate Julio Brazilian student doing a master in History. Super friendly and up for coming out with us that night. We found this Parilla (grill) restaurant a few blocks down with a big fire pit with loads of juicy meat already being grill. And one more delicious steak!!! Half way through the meal a group of men with their face painted started playing instruments and singing, a typical kind of local folklore. Dobbs and me have been keen to try out the South American deserts so as usual we ordered a flan. I have to say Flan and rosemary is definitely not for me or Dobbo !! End of night in a few bars, Ole !!
Next day up early on our way to Punta del Diablo. Nothing booked. We got the 4h bus to Punta del Diablo.
The first journey went by quite fast. We each had a plastic tray with sweet and savory snack. We had the first of many "Jamon y Queso" sandwich. We quickly tested the semi cama seat. Not bad!!! The back reclines quite far and you can pull down another padded piece to put your legs. I was happy with it. We even had a bus host who came to give us drinks only coca cola or coffee for some reason. You would have thought they'd want us to sleep. As usual within minutes I dozed off. We arrived at the boarder about 1ish. A border patrol woman came on to check everybody’s ID and she took our foreign passports away. She wasn’t the kind women you would want to mess with. Then we all had to get off for baggage search. It all took about 40 mins before we were allowed into Uruguay. I guess we were running a little late because when it came to swap driver, they didn’t even take the time to stop. Instead they just exchanged places while still running!!!