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Published: March 30th 2013
27-29th March Montevideo
Well excuse me for being thick, but I don’t even know what day of the week it is much less what public holiday – but of course it’s Easter and unlike in the UK where things shut for a couple of days (if that) here they close for a week!
The first thing we noticed about this city is it really isn’t a classic tourist destination, it’s a working city and a slightly faded, grubby one. However there are lots of lovely small parks and some fabulous architecture, even if the buildings themselves are derelict and unused.
We had a good wander around the old town on our first full day and came across a post office so immediately bought a couple of stamps, we have had to search for them in other places! We then spent the next two days trying to find postcards!!
Down at the port area there was supposed to be lots of food stalls so we headed there to find a kind of vast warehouse which was filled with fancy restaurant areas all barbecuing, it looked great, however the prices were astronomical – probably due to the cruise ships,
so we ended up at a local café and had the ‘plate of the day’ instead.
Once again we walked A LOT but had a fair few breaks in the parks on the way. We visited the mausoleum of Artigas, the famous Uruguayan hero and saw quite a lot of statues of men on horses. Everywhere else we attempted to visit or go into was shut!
That night we wandered the streets looking for somewhere to eat (although it is supposed to be safe around here there is a distinct edge to the place) and ended up in this place that did a reasonably priced barbeque meal for 2. Well there was lots of meat, but god even my choppers couldn’t get through some of it and I like my meat tough! In the end it beat us and we had to leave some of the ‘steak’ or risk losing teeth and gladly left even more of the floppy horrors that were intestines!
Just outside some crazy drunk came over and started demanding something, the owner chased him off and shrugged his shoulders and said ‘Welcome to Uruguay’, so I guess this is the norm.
next day in a desperate bid to find some way to fill our time we took the Touristico Bus, the only thing that was clearly aimed at tourists and more importantly was open and running! It was really good, one of those hop on and off jobs, with a really good commentary (headphones) in English. We saw a lot of the city and a lot of things we would never have found on foot.
The different housing areas for the rich, middle and poor were interesting, with amazing and some times wacky houses in the rich area, 2 storey homes in the middle and large horrible tower blocks – built and I quote ‘in the style of English 70s housing’!! still not sure if that was still the middle or part of the poor. The poorest were in the dock area and were poor.
There was a really great, huge park with important statues in it, an amazing church in a gothic style – which the bus whizzed past before we could get a photo. The gigantic and impressive Legislative Palace, which you could take tours through but was closed today. Lots of men on horses statues and
the Football Stadium where in 1930 Uruguay won the first ever World Cup.
We got off at Punta Carretas which is the beach stop and also where the Pitamiglio Castle is that we wanted to visit. We walked along the prom and there were a fair few people out and about but not a single ice cream or postcard in sight and this prom goes on for miles!
We reached the Pitamiglio Castle famous for its labyrinth walkways, twists and turns and amazing sights and yes you guessed it……..it was closed, the story of our visit here. We ended up killing time until the next bus at a shopping arcade as it was the only thing open and had air conditioning and amazingly found the very first postcards we had seen, in a sweet shop.
The bus stopped for 30 minutes at the Port so we got off and spent a good hour walking back to the hotel. I wrote the postcards and then the hotel manageress took us up the street to a pharmacy which although barred had a small opening where you could pass things through, so in went the postcards and she put them
in the post box! Never in a million years would we have thought of looking there for one.
The two ladies running the hotel are lovely, one of them (the manageress I think) is learning English, she has only had 5 lessons so far and clearly decided to take every opportunity she could to practise on us! This mean't getting in or out of the hotel took about 15 minutes each time and bless her she kept slipping into Spanish and gabbling away to us, which meant we had to listen really carefully for the English bits or she looked really upset that we hadnt understood.....I think 3 nights here was definitely enough ha ha.
We intended just going to the takeaway chicken and chips shop for tea but on arriving there fryer had broken so no chips and the chickens looked like they had seen better days so we gave that up and actually ended up in a nice restaurant with good food and meat that gave your teeth a rest, so result after all!
29th March ’13 Montevideo to Santiago, Chile
Up early and one very long walk through the eerily quiet streets to
the bus station and we caught the bus to the airport. It took about an hour which meant we were there in plenty of time. Our bags have been checked right through to Easter Island and considering the flight there isn’t until tomorrow I’m just keeping my fingers crossed!
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