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Published: September 27th 2006
So, another overnight 17hr bus journey and another country...Uruguay, the capital Montevideo to be exact. We landed mid-morning and arranged some accommodation via the tourist office in the Tres Cruces bus station which, should you ever land there, is a pretty cool bus terminal with its own shopping centre upstairs. The only bad thing is that it's a few km walk from the centre of town and thus needs a cab / bus to reach it.
We were only going to be here a few days, and this was Saturday, the day the Mercado Central is supposed to be at its best, so we wandered along there to check it out. Not in perhaps the best part of this generally shabby town, near the docks, the market was buzzing that Saturday afternoon with locals & tourists alike chomping their way through some of the best grilled meat South America has to offer.
We settled down to do the same at one very nice looking parilla stand in this old covered market, which reminded me a little of Leadenhall Market in London, if much busier. The meat was fantastic...we managed to get through some chorizo (spicy sausage), morcilla (black pudding sausage) and delicious lomo (steak), not to mention a carafe or two of red wine, before we got chatting to an odd couple of guys speaking German and drinking beer. One of the guys in particular was an Englishman who'd skipped out on life in Europe, married a Uruguayan and settled in to doing nothing very much other than drinking beer, it seemed. At least he bought us one.
The rest of the day is something of a blur...we both remember getting back to the hotel around 7pm having stumbled through the backstreets of the city from the market, but nothing else until we awoke with very sore heads the next morning.
The next day we got to see a bit more of the city, just wandering around taking in the various chic old buildings which give away some idea of what this place was like in its heyday - as many of the books put it, it's like a run-down Buenos Aires.
We managed to squeeze in a visit to the Gaucho Museum in town, which celebrates the fabled Uruguayan horsemen and their culture. This was actually very interesting, if small, on the third floor of a gorgeous old bank building.
Before our bus to Salto the next day, we visited a cafe near the hotel called Manchester where we'd had breakfast the day before. Our breakfast that day would go down as perhaps the most calorific meal I'd ever attempted to get through. We had the Dulce Completo or something like that, and were presented with a veritable mountain of cakes, buns, medialunas, jams, toasties (jamon y queso of course) and more. We had a good go at getting through it all, and both felt like we needed to puke afterwards, but it was nice!
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