It was Uruguay or Iguazu falls – everyone was telling me iguazu but to be honest, I couldn’t afford the flights and I’d totally run out of steam to get two nearly 24 hour bus rides in 3 days. I know as a traveller you are not meant to admit that, as you are backpacking,you are adventurous and everything goes. Maybe it’s my age but I’d definitely run out of steam in 4 months for long buses. So long story short I decided on Uruguay. Had my pic taken at the statue in Buenos Aires though (that counts right)!
So we caught a ferry, only taking an hour 15 mins, so really easy. First to Colonia for two nights and then two nights in Montevideo. It’s so easy to leave Argentina and enter Uruguay; so easy in fact they stamped the wrong ticket and two Caryn’s entered the country, a Natalie but not a Harriet ha. It’s that easy! Lots of people go over for day trips and Uruguay seems to be the most laid back country ever!
Arriving in Colonia, we made our way to our hostel. It was pretty, not as old and colonial as I expected but nice nevertheless. We looked around for somewhere to eat and ended up ordering a meat platter which seemed to be on offer everywhere. They are for two so we figured knowing the portion sizes in Argentina we’d be fine for 3. And we were! It probably could have fed 5!
That evening we chilled, had some beers and played cards, with the intention of getting up and exploring the next day.
So the next day we found the ‘old town’ which really is old, very colonial and full of Argentinian tourists who obviously come over for lunch in the historic old town. It was really pretty with bright flowering plants climbing all over the old stone houses. I felt like I was in Italy, or somewhere in Spain. I was transported and momentarily forgot where I was.
On our wanderings we happened across a free museum. Anything free definitely worth a shot. It was the museum of humor ( literal Spanish to English translation) and it was not what any of us expected.
The first room was full of very odd art (exhibit A) and in the next room – cirque to soleil on a big screen. So obviously we sat and watched it – for two whole hours! Haha It was so weird as Tally had literally only talked to me about it the other day and told me to watch the film of it on Netflix. I vowed too and then two days later! Boom there it was on a projector in the museum of humor. Little did we know what was waiting upstairs for us – the dressing up box! Uruguayans are really fun!
It was an unexpected 3 hours of my life, laughing with new friends and something I will most definitely not ever forget! Followed by an evening of cheese and wine, some might say the perfect day! Haha
The next day we boarded a bus to Montevideo. Turns out it’s a lot cheaper to head back to Colonia to get the ferry FYI than getting it from Montevideo. The journey is easy and only takes 2.5 hours. It’s interesting too as you get to drive through some of the countryside. I thought to myself when driving, there are a lot of cows and farmland. I later found out for every one person, there are 3.8 cows in Uruguay, hence me thinking there’s a lot of cows and hence also the huge platters of meat sold at every restaurant.
Uruguay didn’t feel like a South American country, it felt different. Very liberal, open and European. Somehow ahead of its neighbours even though it only has 3 million people.
Arriving at Montevideo we decided to walk down to the beach, it felt like a mini Miami ( not that I’ve ever been to Miami). It was perfect and we all fell asleep on the beach, with the city behind us. I would say bustling but it isn’t. It’s one of the quietest capital cities I’ve ever been too.
On our last day in Uruguay, and my last day with the girls ( I was heading back to Buenos Aires then New Zealand and they were heading up to Rio) we decided to the walking tour – because we hadn’t done enough of them! Not only that but we decided to walk along the sea front to the main square where it was meeting. It took us over and hour and was such a nice walk, it did mean however having chosen to walk back also that we walked miiiiiles again that day! Definitely the best way to see a city though.
The guy that took our tour was hilarious, so frank and honest about the country he lived in and the Uruguayan people. He also made lots of jokes about cows and them taking over which I imagine was very strange to listen too if English isn’t your first language!! I think Uruguay is the most liberal place I’ve ever been too. He put that down to 60% of people not being religious ( he said atheist) and the other 40% ‘pretending’ – his words not mine! He said that people just don’t really care enough, everyone is laid back. You can buy weed in your local pharmacy – I imagine that’s part of the reason people are so laid back! Also lots of things are free that wouldn’t be elsewhere and it’s crazy cheap to go to the theatre to the opera to encourage young people to follow the arts. I only had a couple of days here so barely got a feel for the place but I know I’d like to go back one day.
On my bus back to colonia the next day, a rather flustered, rather large gentleman sat down in the seat next to me, well he pretty much sat on my lap whilst fumbling with all his bags trying to get into his seat. I felt awful as my first instinct was, why is it always me! Why do I always sit next to the strange ones. But you know what, I should NOT have judged a book by its cover. The gentleman was Colombian, spoke fluent English as well as German and French and we chatted the entire way back to Colonia and actually he was one of the most interesting characters I’ve met on my entire trip. Moral of that story! Don’t be quick to judge people because you never know what you might learn from them. What’s funny is I didn’t realise his wife and daughter were behind us and afterwards when I got off, in broken English she said ‘ I am so very sorry for my husband’ hahaha
I only had 4 days in Uruguay but I would encourage people to go there. It’s tiny and never on people’s lists but if you have time, pop across on your way to Brazil or just from Buenos Aires like I did. You won’t be disappointed, it’s a rarity.
My last two days in Buenos Aires I didn’t really do a lot to be honest. The second day I did meet up with Bec and Dave, an Aussie couple I’d met in Bolivia. It was raining really hard but I took them to the Sunday market at San Telmo anyway because I thought they should experience it. It wasn’t quite the same but still cool nevertheless. Plus we ended up having a coffee at Cafe Tortini, a coffeehouse that has been open since 1858 and was a copy of a Parisian coffeehouse which was beautiful inside. It’s touristy and usually has big queues but I would recommend it.
The rest of the time I hung out in my fancy hotel I’m ashamed to say on my last day in Latin America. But it was just so swish and even though I felt like a fraud it was the perfect little bit of luxury I needed before the next step…. BA to Auckland!
Back to New Zealand I go!