Uruguay- Part 2

25 February 2017- After our trip along the Uruguayan coast it was time to return to Montevideo. That night we were headed out on a tour with Christine at Uruguay Autentico to see some of the local Carnaval performances. Christine had told us that it would be a late night, so obviously we napped as soon as we checked into our hostel. She was taking us to a local tablado to watch 5 different stage groups perform. Prior to commencement of the show, we finally got to try some Matte tea. Matte is consumed by everyone in the country and we were excited to see what all the fuss was about. We first learnt about a lot of strange traditions that must be followed when drinking matte, such as everyone must drink from the same cup and once you have finished the cup it must be handed straight back to the person whoo brewed the tea. Jen didn’t particularly enjoy it and opted out after the first round. Tristan and Christine continued to drink it throughout the night.

The first performance was by a murga which is arguably the most popular category. We obviously had no idea what they were singing about but we were mesmerised by the originality and colour of the costumes and their amazing, strong voices and the way they moved on stage. Christine did an amazing job trying to fill in some blanks for us throughout the night for some of the more odd performances we saw. Although the performances were fabulous what was also amazing to watch was the crowed.  The people absolutely loved them, they had their favourite murga’s shirts on and people were trying to high five them from the crowds. It is said that more people watch these performances during carnival then watching football games. After  a very entertaining night we were in bed at 2am.

Needless to say the next morning Jen was grumpier then ever at breakfast with her 5 hours of sleep. Luckily things were looking up for her when she realised there was a cinema displaying the English movies. That night much to Tristan’s dismay they were off to see 50 Shades Darker.

To make up for our lazy day the day before we decided to do some “touristy” things. First stop Palacio Salvo, which is the most emblematic building in Montevideo. We completed a tour learning about the buildings origins which was interesting. Then we headed over to the Mercado del Puerto, a marketplace down by the docks filled with traditional steakhouse restaurants. Finally we ended up at a wine bar to taste Uruguay’s famous Tannat…. Delicious!

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Our last stop in Uruguay was Colonial Del Sacramento, a small city across the river from Buenos Aires. The historical part of the city was filled was some old-style cobbled streets and its location on the banks of the river made for some beautiful sunsets. We spent our last days in Uruguay wandering the colonial town, drinking wine and eating cheese. After a couple of days it was time to jump on the ferry and head back into Argentina!

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Uruguay- Part 1

14 February 2017- We took off on the overnight bus from Iguazu Falls headed to Concordia on the Argentinian border. At Concordia we crossed over into  Uruguay and hopped on another bus to Montevideo. This 26hour+ journey was probably not one the ideal warm-up for our first night of the trip in a hostel dorm room.

At 27 years of age we were slightly concerned that we may be getting too old for the #hostellyf although our fears were somewhat allayed when we found out that we were sharing our dorm room with an Argentinian mum and her two teenage children. However, our good feeling of not being the oldest in the hostel was quickly eroded when the Argentinian family ended up staying out later than us every night.

We tried to salvage some of our Valentine’s Day by following the Hostel’s recommendation and heading out for dinner at a nearby bar. For his first taste of Uruguayan cuisine Tristan went the adventurous route and ordered Granmojo, which turned out to be some sort of weird combination of scrambled egg and potato chips. Jen played it safe and ordered Nachos but was sadly disappointed when they came out as plain corn chips with a bit of melted cheese on the side. As we returned to our dorm we agreed that it was probably one of our more disappointing Valentine’s Days.

We were spending two days in Montevideo before heading up the Uruguayan coast stopping in at various coastal towns before returning to Montevideo for a few more nights.

Cabo Polonio

First stop on the coastal adventure was the hippy commune of Cabo Polonio. This was an isolated town which required transport in 4×4 trucks from the nearby bus terminal across the sand dunes to reach the town. The town was a ramshackle collection of huts with a few dirt roads and limited power. This meant dining by candlelight at night and some beautiful starry nights.

We had already booked a hostel and we had prepared ourselves for the most basic of accomodation. When we got there, Jen was pretty sure the hostel (shack) could fall down at any minute. The only thing more disgusting than our room was the bathroom. It was basically in a cupboard with a smelly urinal inside, no windows and hair everywhere!! Normally, Jen would take as long a shower as possible but during this stay she was out in record time. Luckily the beaches were so beautiful we didn’t have to spend too much time in the hostel! Jen had decided the only way to cope with our new accomodation was to get very tipsy every night, it eased the pain.

Punta Del Diablo

After two nights in Cabo Polonio it was time to move further up the coast to Punta Del Diablo, another hippy kind of town with a bit more infrastructure. After our short stretch of hostel living it was time to check into an AirBnB. Like the true backpacker Tristan thinks he is, after hopping off our bus, he made Jen walk up some mountains in the sweltering heat with their bags rather than paying for a taxi. Our spirits lifted when we saw the quaint little cottage in the bush we would be staying in! Then they were quickly quashed that first night when Tristan came down with the dreaded ‘man flu’. Needless to say it was going to be a painful couple of days for Jen.

The next day we explored some of the nearby beaches and the town of Punta Del Diablo. That night we followed our AirBnB Host’s recommendation to a nearby local “restaurant” which was down an unlit dirt road and turned out to be a little set-up in one of his neighbour’s backyards. Apart from the owner and a few dogs we were the only people there and were a bit apprehensive about the whole thing. Fortunately the food turned out to be amazing and we had some of the best fish tacos we had ever eaten. Like the adventurous backpackers we are we decided the food was so good that we had to come back the next night.

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La Paloma

Next stop on the Uruguayan coastal odyssey was La Paloma, a sleepy little beach town on the road back to Montevideo. Unfortunately for Tristan, despite an abundance of surfers hanging about the hostel, the beach had no waves and he had to entertain himself with some ocean swimming. Jen wasn’t to be convinced to join him even though we were told that you had a higher chance of being bitten by Luis Suarez whilst in Uruguay than a shark (Luis Suarez).

Punta Del Este

Punta Del Este was our final stop before returning to Montevideo. We had originally booked in for 2 nights at a hostel here, but given its “party” reputation we quickly changed our booking to one night at a quiet hotel instead. Lest there be any interference with our usual 9pm bedtime. This worked out well as we had a nice rooftop terrace pretty much to ourselves on which to enjoy the sunset.