Guys, I’m having difficulties starting this piece. It’s all in the title. What am I going to say, repeat it? Ugh. Fine. This is a post full of photos from Uruguay. Happy?
I had the opportunity to visit the two most well-known touristic points of Uruguay in late April (and I am well aware of how well I am keeping up with my posts). While I was still at home, I remember looking at the map and dreaming of the extensive travelling I would be able to do around the neighbouring countries during my five-month stay here. Piece of cake, right? Wrong! It’s one thing to know that the map of South America should not be taken lightly the same way as the map of Europe should be, and another to fully understand that. The bus journey from my humble dwellings of Novo Hamburgo to the capital of Uruguay, Montevideo, took 16 hours. 16! Not much exploring that was left of me after that.
Uruguay (pronounced as u-ru-gw-ai to those snickering in the back row) surprised me with its small size and sense of security. Here I am getting used to looking over my shoulder and eyeing every car that slows down next to me with suspicion, but Montevideo seemed to lack that feeling. Even though it has the look of a much bigger metropolis, it’s home to only 1.5 million people – about half of the population of the whole country. It’s almost as if I could sense the quality of life improve as soon as I crossed the border. Still, one thing reminded me of my temporary home in Brazil: Uber drivers still speed like crazy.
Punta del Este
Punta del Este is known for its beach houses, whose residents had mostly escaped the approaching winter in late April. The two most famous points are certainly the giant God’s (?) hand reaching through beach sand like that of a zombie’s in an old Romero flick, and the Ballena museum that looks pretty cool but which I, to be honest, couldn’t be bothered to enter as the views from outside of the museum grabbed my attention more.
Ah, cold, cold Montevideo. After months of enjoying the Brazilian summer, the +15 temperature of the seaside capital felt freezing (while now, getting accustomed to the South Brazilian winter, I laugh from under my three shirts and two blankets), but the sun was out on a spotless sky and thankfully continued to stalk us throughout our day-and-a-half expedition. Our first stop was Palacio Municipal with its free rooftop viewing platform. The lobby was teeming with people preparing for an upcoming city marathon. I, having survived the last 16 hours on basically crisps and sweets, slunk between the stalls a little bit guiltily.
After the viewing platform, our tired gang of Brazilians and intercambistas found a spot for lunch. I don’t think I have ever been as happy in my life as that moment when that tiny pizza was put in front of me. After that we took a stroll though the main street towards the old town in a feeble search for postcards (put Uruguay on the list as a country with a selcetion of postcards that look like they were made by a third-grader who got their hands on WordArt for the first time).
An important addition to any half-rushed city tour is to have a local guide. We found ours with Lorna, a friend of one in our group. I took a quick liking to the girl after she brought us to a lowly-lit hipster bar in the suburbs – don’t ask me for it’s name for I couldn’t tell you, but what I know is that they had some damn good dark beer. Missed you, baby!
Day 2 started out cold and by, in a polite Finnish manner, silently judging the person taking too long in the common shower. The hostel we stayed at, El Viajeiro, had wifi that sometimes worked and one of the best hostel breakfasts I have ever had. With a full and happy belly it was easy to head out to the city to check out some more sights, continue the ongoing search for decent postcards and ultimately the search for the disappeared Mexican (who, happily, was found almost two hours later).
The day ended like a perfect date in an American teen flick – with ice creams and a fabulous sunset.
On Sunday we waved goodbye to the city as our whirlwind tour came to an end. On our way to the tax-free shopping paradises, the bus had enough time to indulge everyone’s desire to have that super unique city name selfie in their holiday album. Below yours truly, posing at the moment but only thinking of the packets of alfajores she had stuffed her backpack with but later during the 16 hours back found herself hoping she had wasted a few more pesos on those delicious, delicious desserts.
Hope you’ve enjoyed your virtual journey through Uruguay! Have you ever visited or is the country still in your radar? If you’d like to check out my other photo diaries, here are Portugal and Edinburgh.