Celebrating ‘1 Year on the Road’ and finally in Uruguay...

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South America » Uruguay » West » Colonia del Sacramento
October 5th 2012
Published: December 2nd 2012
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plants growing out of the car

Probably the title needs some explanation on my side. Why I wanted to visit Uruguay since like forever. It is not because we hear so much about beauty of this small country right? The reason will make you laugh for sure and I don’t expect you to understand but it is the way it is. Well, then I need to go back as far as ’90 and explain that during this time Poland and Easters Europe for that matter was bombarded with many Latin-American soap operas. As a child/teenager I was never curious about the reasons why but nevertheless the nation watched them. There was one soap opera in particular that I learnt to love and watched it probably 4-5 times (as they were repeated constantly) yet never saw the ending for some stupid reason I cannot recall.

The show was called Muneca Brava (Rebelious Angel) and the main character was played by no other but Natalia Oreiro who comes from Montevideo, Uruguay. She was a star back then, featuring in all magazines. The life they showed in that soap was so different to ours and the place looked so exotic to me that I really wanted to visit Uruguay. Of course, now I know that the soap was not shot over there but in Argentina but the desire remained with me for years. Leandro with whom we stayed in Buenos used to work with Natalia and said she was a really nice person, but it made him laugh that I even heard of her.

Here, there it is, my initial reason for visiting Uruguay. Of course later on we discovered that this place is actually stunning and not on a typical travel trail so we just jumped on the opportunity to visit it. After only 1h of highly expensive ferry ride (75$ per two) we found ourselves in Colonia del Sacramento, little UNESCO Heritage town which was one of the first settling places for Spanish Conquistadors. We opted for a HI Hostel and even bough a HI membership card that saved us like 20$ on a room and we were able to have a double instead of dorm beds. When we went for a walk the next day we could not believe how charming this place was. The historic area is very small and you can really see it all in one afternoon, but why to rush if it is so lovely. Full of little cobbled streets, colonial architecture and crumbling villas is just perfect for history freaks haha. It was Sunday and all the restaurants and cafes offered wine and cheese tasting for the passing by. We could have gotten drunk just by trying haha. We bought the combo ticket for all the museums (50UR$/2USD each) and just ventures through old walls, reconstructed rooms of first governors and some other unexpected collections. The Museo Municipal has an amazing collection of skeletons from Paleontological era including one of Glyptodont and Lestodont -fabulous. What we also found there was a genealogy tree of dogs showing where each known to us bread of dogs came from – fascinating as we have never seen one really.

We loved the Plaza Mayor and the bay as well. We had to try the nationally famous snack of chovito and it really met our expectations. It is a very filling snack of beef steak and veg sandwich that can be served in many sizes and varieties. The prices range as well from cheap 2$ ones to even 15$ in a nice restaurant. This snack was always followed by a visit to haladeria (ice cream parlor) for some Dulche de Leche experience. Uruguayans say they make the best one but for us it is really hard to tell. For sure it is very tasty;-) They also drink way more Yerba Mate than people in Buenos and you can see literary everybody walking around with their hot water carafes and mate cups. Looks lovely and reminded us of Chinese a little bit. They also walk around with their green tea thermoses all the times. We loved Colonia so much that we think it is by far the most atmospheric town we have ever been to - so far Hoi An in Vietnam was our favorite;-)

We decided to also visit Montevideo for a day to see what the capital town is about. We were not very lucky with the weather though and the stroll down the historic streets was not that pleasurable. It seems like a different sort of place though - more tense and rough and as we read less safe. We cannot really comment on that as we did not feel in any danger in the slightest. The historical part seems rather nice and is well restored. Had the weather been better we probably could have seen much more of an artistic side of Montevideo. There were a lot of street performers sitting around but were not doing anything because of rain. We wanted to visit photography museum but sadly it was closed. What we saw loads of though were photos of Natalia Oreiro on every corner advertising stuff ;-) Apparently she is a fashion designer now and it was nice to see her face again, even though she is at the age of advertising wrinkle creams … time flies I suppose.....

There and then we could have turn around and go back to Argentina but we decided to venture more and visit some fabulous beach places in Uruguay. We were even more excited as we found some great CS people to host us and tell us more about the country….Punta del Este here we come!!!

12 months on the road - update ;-)

Are we still enjoying it? Here we are after 12 very short but exciting months on the road. We have ventured through majority of Asian continent, collected stamps
old horse cartold horse cartold horse cart

they keep loads of things like that around...make the place more atmospheric
from 17 different countries and have done more than 52,000km by land, sea and air. The good news is that we still feel the urge and hunger for traveling and we love each other's company that is for sure. Changing the landscape from Asian to South American helped a lot as we were slowly going through some crisis over there. Maybe it was Indonesia itself, although we very much enjoyed this country, or it was just a general tiredness of moving around. We cannot believe how fast the time goes and that we are already 2/3 into our trip…we remember the very busy day when we left UK and it seems like just a few months ago. We have lived through so much though, have seen so many incredible places and met a bunch of fabulous people that it does not really matter how time flies. The memories and experiences of that year will stay with us forever and whenever we come back to our old blogs they already make us smile and make our mood better.

Have we changed? Not as much as we thought we would. Maybe a bit in terms of appreciation for what we have got. When you spent so much time watching nations of people living in poverty or very basic way you suddenly get a different perspective. It makes us launch when people say that them or their country is poor or going through a crisis etc when they still are able to enjoy nice travels and comfortable life. We came to the point when we changed our way of traveling as well. Not that we got lazy or anything but we just take things very slowly now. We choose a few places we really want to see and leave when we feel like it. No advance planning is happening anymore. There is no point as it did not seem to work for us in the past. We even decided that we wouldn’t see all the countries planned for South America if that means rushing. We can always come back;-) Tomek has been continuing to lose weight and reached a whopping 20kg loss which made him slimmest I have ever seen him (we have known each other for 10 years). It must be due to the hot Asian climate and massive change of diet. I did not happen to lose much weight but lost half of my hair volume instead. It happens in hot climate and too much exposure to salty water apparently. One of those negative impacts of travels, I suppose ;-) They will grow back and if you ask me it was still worth it;-)

Difficulty and safety of travels. Everything felt like such a big deal before we left. All those questions we had to other travelers: is the money we have enough?, Can we see all those countries in 18 months? Can we stay on budget? Dangerous places on the way etc, etc. I remember someone telling us on forum that it only matters before you leave – then it is just the journey and yourselves. I could not agree more. You budget is low - you make it work; your time is limited - you make choices; You run out of money - you find work …. once you are on the road, you find a way;-) Asia proved to be very safe for us and to be honest it is just a matter of common sense. If you don’t leave things lying around or carry too much money with you when drunk in the middle of the night there is not much that can happen to you. If you hear some tips from others i.e. luggage’s being stolen from you on the way Bangkok- Koh Tao or cleaners stealing from rooms in Vietnam and Thailand - just don’t take that bus service and don’t leave stuff in your room. Majority of people we met who had had anything stolen admitted to us that it was really their irresponsible behaviors that lead to it. The only thing we lost was our cell-phone in Java as we left it in the bag when climbing KawahIjen. We did not even notice until we were in Lombok hahah The driver must have taken it as we did not lock our back – we felt so comfy in Asia at this point that we let our guards down. See, it was our own fault ;-)

Highs and Lows? We still cannot decide on our favorite places although we managed to make a list of top 5 places in general. In no particular order it would be Siberia (surprise, surprise, for outstanding and unexpected beauty), Philippine Islands (for the beach time and colour of water - except for Boracay, of course), Sulawesi
cheers for the last yearcheers for the last yearcheers for the last year

with bottle of a nice Argentinian wine;-)
(for authentic look and best island hoping time we have had so far),Burma (overall for authenticity) and Yuanyang Rice Terraces in China (for the best views so far). Equally we could have made a list of least liked 5 places. In no particular order again it would be Boracay (spoiled), Bali&Lombok&Gilis (overrated), big cities in China (just concrete and lack of authenticity), Sabah in Borneo (people’s attitude was just so disappointing) and Kalimantan (waste of time except for Derawan Island of course). There was no place we really hated in 100%!s(MISSING)o the least favorite list is just by default of many extraordinary places being better and nicer than others;-)

And finally the costs. We receive a lot of emails thanking us for including info on prices and costs in our blogs – we are very pleased that people find it useful ;-) We travel on a low budget as we try to survive for 50$ only a day and we pretty much make it all the time. Within a year we have spent 33GBP/54$ a day including all the flights (not the one Sydney-Buenos as it is a part of RTW) and some extra expenses. The one thing we would suggest people should budget for are some miscellaneous costs like laptop or camera repairs, expensive parcels sent home, insurance excess of a medical bill etc. Believe it or not but we spent around 10%!o(MISSING)f all the money paying for those little extras … scary!!!

Additional photos below
Photos: 36, Displayed: 30


3rd December 2012

Lovely Colonia
Hola Beate + Tomek, we always enjoy your blogs but this one was very special for us. We celebrated the start of the year 2009 on our RTW in Colonia exactly in the cute little restaurant you made a picture of. It was fabulous. Just 4 tables, great people, an amazing host and yummy food! Thanks for the picture! ...and is it so very true what you say about difficulties while travelling.... ;-) Have a great time in South America (which we love) and safe travels! Nina + Mark
31st December 2012

Hello Nina+Mark
wow, beginning of such a big trip in Colonia...that must have put you in a fabulous mood for travels. It must be one of the most atmospheric places we have ever visited;-) your RTW looks fantastic, when I am back home I will catch up on reading;-) thanks for your comment, Beata
3rd December 2012
collection of doors in Colonia

I loooove this picture!
9th December 2012
collection of doors in Colonia

thanks guys!
very appreciated!!! B
4th December 2012

Great travels
I love your story about the Uruguayan soap opera. I've met many Europeans who learned some Spanish from those soaps. I also love that you couldn't just choose one fave place, but listed five--pretty good. Colonia is one of my fave places--glad you liked it. I was in Uruguay at about this time a couple of years ago. Be careful about the hordes that will invade the beaches at Christmas!--hope you make it out by then!
31st December 2012

Hi Tara
thanks for your comment;-) We thought it would be funny for most to read about the soap opera star;-) It is pure truth nevertheless hahaha Unfortunately our blog is delayed by about 2 months (no time to update it often as well as scarce internet connection put us behind) so we were already far away from Uruguay during Xmas. In the Amazon Basin to be precise - just loving it here!!! cheers, B&T
4th December 2012

Happy one year anniversary!
I'm pleased to hear that you are still happy traveling...and especially enjoying each others company. Thanks for the summary so far.
9th December 2012

Thank you;-)
really appreciate your comment;-) B&T
8th March 2013

Dave has a friend in Uruguay
He's always wanted to go visit. Love the story about why you wanted to go to Uruguay. It does seem exotic. Your advice to have a miscellaneous budget is very important. On this most recent RTW those expenses were much higher than our first RTW.

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