Trip Start Mar 02, 2009
Trip End Jun 03, 2009

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Flag of Uruguay  ,
Monday, May 11, 2009

So weīve been in Montevideo since Friday. Our main goal for our Uruguay excursion was to find some Tannat and Uruguyan wine.  In Colonia we could get no information anywhere but we knew that the wineries were mostly located north of Montevideo.  So on Friday we took the bus here in search of Tannat.  When we arrived we went to two seperate tourist information centres (where no one spoke english,...very convienent for tourists) At both centres no one knew anything to tell us and one didnīt even know that Uruguay had a wine industry.  We debated for a few minutes to give up and just head of the coast to beach country but decided.. Weīre here.. might as well spend a night. 

Once we dropped all of our junk off at the hostel we went for one of our walks to just  check out the sea and the city.  I dragged Rob into a craft shop as I always do and kept him occupied by pointing out they have some wine.  The wine looked pretty simple but we went out on a limb and asked the woman working in the store if she knew anythign about it.  "No habla inglese".. however the owner of the store, Doris, showed up momentarily and speaks English. 

Dorris = A 52 year old German woman who is weathered as all hell, smokes Marlboro Reds, and drinks a lot of cheap beer.  She has a dog named Lily and constantly talks about the sex habits of dogs. (the word sex, not mating, used on purpose)

She said she doesnt know much about wine but there is a wine store up the street.  As we walk to the door so she can point out the wine store her friend, Duncan, happens to be walking by. 

Duncan = A older British fellow who has been living in Uruguay for the last 9 years.  Works in exports for the Uruguayan wine industry and personally knows every winemaker and winery in the country. *CHA CHING*

Duncan takes the time to show us a few of the wine shops around the market and gives us a few tips.  Then he invites us back to Dorrisī to drink a few bottles of the wine from the shop.  We learn that in order to go to wineries we need to rent a car.  Unfortunatly in order to rent a car you need to be 23 in Uruguay.  IĻm 22, and Robīs license expired last week.  QUE FRIEDEMAN;

Friedeman = A 45 year old man from Berlin who looks not a day younger than 70.  He hasnīt shaved since he was 15 and has a beard down to his chest.  He also has long scragely hair but is balding. Uniform: Tight black t-shirt, leather pants, button up jean shirt, chuck taylors. He is the only person able to fix a church organ in all of Uruguay, heīs a builder, and god knows what else. Everyone calls him Bin Laden and if I met him in Canada I would either a) not speak to him or b) give him my spare change.

So.. As weīre sitting drinking our 3rd bottle of vino Fre strolls by and decides to join us.  Duncan fills him in on the fact that weīre winemakers from Canada and we want to rent a car but Iīm not old enough excetera.  No Problem.  Frie knows the girl Gabriela who owns Rally RentaCar.  He calls her.. done and done.  We end up sitting around with Duncan, Frie, and Dorris drinking wine and beer for the rest of the evening.  We decide to stay in Montevideo for the weekend and check out the Puerto Mercado. (Port Market).

On Saturday we got up and went to the Puerto Mercado.  La Mercado is a old fishing warehouse that has been converted into about 30 different Parilla restaurants. Parilla = cooked over an open flame right in from of your face.  Uruguay is just as famous for itīs beef as Argentina.  The difference is that it is illegal to use any sort of hormones in Uruguay, everything is all organic, the cuts of meat are bigger, and cheaper.  We had an amazing lunch for I had an petit entrecot (small sirloin = 15 ounces) for about 9 dollars.  After lunch we met up with Duncan and Frie and starting drinking some beer while watching the soccer game.  After 3 or 4 litres of beers (and not having to pay for reasons unknown; not that someone paid for us, no one paid for anything and the bar tender hugged you goodbye?) we migrated to the next bar in the market.  At this point the market was closed and all the metal gates were up and we just hung around drinking "black beer" (stout) and yapping away.  After about 3 or 4 more litres and again not paying we crossed the street back over to Dorrisī shop.  Again we drank 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 beers and again... no money in sight.  After we helped Dorris close the shop and walked a few blocks to an extremely sketchy bar on the port.  Again we walked in, everyone in sight knew Frie, we drank a pile of beers, and left without paying.  then we piled 8 people and a dog into Dorrisī car and made way for a new bar.  We got to La Ronda.  We arrived everyone knew Frie, we drank beers, got plates and plates of food, and again left without paying.  This continued for a few more bars. It was a crazy night and the whole time Rob and I couldnīt figure out, nor really wanted to know, why everyone knows Frie and we he doesnt seem to have to pay for ANYTHING ever.

Yesterday we woek up, switched from our crappy hostel into a nice hotel called Speldido.  Splendido is this old colonial style hotel where our bedroom is a 10ftx10ft room with a bed and 45foot ceilings.  Not really in proportion but awesome nonetheless.  I got little attacked by mosquitos Saturday night so Sunday we just walked through the market scratching waiting for our friend Richard to arrive. How is it possible that Iīve been constantly covered in Mosquito bites and Rob has got a collective FIVE bites over the entire trip?

Richard =  A 22 year old guy from Austin, Texas.  Huge smile, tons of fun.  We met him in Bariloche and he came to meet up with us for a few days. 

Once we found Richard we headed back down to the Market to get some grub and to find Frie so that we could introduce him.  You will never believe Frie and truly understand what a character he is unless you see him in person.  Not to our suprise Frie was sitting at his favorite dirty pub, drinking black beer, wearing the same leather pants chuck taylor uniform from the three days prior.  We decided to have A beer with him and ended up having 4 or 5 and then goign to Dorrisī for more. 

Iīm not too sure how one night in Montevideo has turned into four.  Itīs not a beautiful city, itīs not a cheap city, but the people are weird and nice and I kind of love it.

Today, Rob, Richard, this Danish couple we met, and I rented a car and headed towards Canelones to finally try the wine that we came to Uruguay for.  First we went to a winery called Bouza.  It is a very small production winery that makes mostly Tannat, but also Tempranillo, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Albariņo.  We had a great tour and tasting that came with cheese and cured meats.  (delish).  Then we found out the tour and tasting cost $440 pesos ($22CAN) each.. YIKES.  Oh well.. i guess it was worth it and we bought a great bottle of wine to bring home.

After Bouze we went to a winery called Stagnari. It was a lot less formal and a hell of a good time.  We sat around with the winemaker Laura for 4 hours around a little coffee table drinking all the wine she had to offer.  She even gave us a huge basket of emphandas.  When we finished we all bought a bottle of the 2006 Primma Donna Merlot.  When we asked her how much for the tasting she said nothign and REFUSED to take the tip we left her.  (We left it anyway).  Even though the wine wasnīt as impressive as Bouza it was still very good and I would go there 1000 times over.  It was really a great experience. 

Tomorrow we plan on leaving Montevideo.  Originally we were going to head up the east coast of Uruguay and hit some little beach towns but it rained today and I think our luck with the good weather has ran out.  Usually this time of year its rainy and the temp is around 15C but itsībeen over 25 the whole time.  Today it dropped to 12. (boo)  So our plans for tomorrow are up in the air as always.  Weīre debating if we should go and check out the coast, or just book it back to Argentina and check out Salta and the North.  We have 3 weeks left as of today and it would be a shame to waste it couped up in a dorm room watching it rain on what would be a beautiful beach.  A short flight to Rio de Janiero has sounded tempting though...
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oandm on

Cast of characters
That sounds hilarious! ( the beers without paying). You found your cash cow, follow him! I love your description of these people, I can almost see them.

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