Losing 10 lbs in 10 days: The backpacker's diet

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South America » Uruguay » West » Colonia del Sacramento
January 15th 2009
Published: September 30th 2017
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Lunch at the Buquebus terminal - I had some crap ham and cheese pizza. Where the heck was the ham? There weren't any visible pieces, so maybe they simply wiped the crust with pork grease to give it some flavour.
Geo: -34.4771, -57.8386

Breakfast - they certainly serve some putrid coffee here, a cortado out of a machine. Hard little bite-sized buns, ham, cheese, butter, jam, Tang ... nothing special, but enough to get you going for the day. The hotel does a pretty bad job of keeping up with the breakfast eaters, because they are seemingly always out of something, and you end up waiting for more cheese, meat, buns, etc.

The hostel has a pretty nice sitting area with a big-screen TV - and who knew that there was now a Much Music Europe? I sat around for a bit, relaxing, watching music videos, and waiting for more cheese, meat, buns, etc. 😊

Off to an exchange office to change some money - I'm off to Uruguay today!!! I ended up waiting in line for about 20 minutes, and when I finally was helped, was told that they had no Uruguayan pesos. Hmmm ... given that they have electronic displays all over the place showing current exchange rates (including the rate for Uruguay), perhaps they could've put a note up saying that they were out ...

Back to the Waldorf Hotel to find R&D - we were supposed to visit

Iglesia Matriz.
Colonia del Sacramento today, but turned out that Ranjit was getting sicker, so they decided to take it easy today. The ferry terminal is about a 15 minute walk from the Waldorf, but after sweating in that hot exchange office for 20 minutes, and sweating for 10 minutes walking to the Waldorf with my backpack, I didn't want to sweat again - so I hopped into a taxi.

The driver drove a few unnecessary blocks to get to the terminal, so the fare was slightly higher than it should have been. Since it was only about $1 CAD more than it should have been, I didn't really care, and ended up rounding the fare up 0.40 pesos (about 15 cents CAD). The driver asked me "I owe you 0.40 pesos - do you want it back?" Hmmm ... first you pad the bill and then offer to give me a few cents back ... how generous of you! Why even ask me?

At the Buquebus terminal - there's another company that offers ferries to Uruguay, but Buquebus is the biggest, and offers the most departures. They obviously do well for themselves, because they have a brand-spanking new, private ferry

It looks much better in the photo, but I can't imagine driving on these cobblestone roads. Eventually, you'd break your suspension.

They could do a better job labeling things inside - there isn't an obvious ticket office, so I ended up wandering into their tour office. You could buy tickets there, but apparently they only sell so many and were out, so I was directed to the actual ticket window, which was hidden behind people who were lined up for the check-in window, the customer service window, etc. Argentineans seem to love their red tape, because there was a window for everything! The next boat to Colonia was full, so I had 90 minutes to kill until the next one.

I lined up for the bag check, but then realized there was no need to do so, since I could just bring my backpack on board with me. Thinking I was smart, I went straight to security, but was sent back - even though I had no luggage to check, I still had to check in. So I lined up once more ...

The whole process to get on board was a bit of a joke - first I requested my ticket, then was directed to another window to pay, where they also did a passport check, and

Colonia's got a beautiful location on the Rio del Plata.
checked me in. Well, I guess that was only a pre-check, because you still had to go to the baggage check to get officially checked-in, before the security check, and then customs. The security check was even more of a joke - the metal detector was going off like crazy, but the guards simply waved everybody through. They have quite the strict security system here, no?

I still had quite a bit of time to kill, so I sat around the terminal, writing in my journal, listening to music, and drying my towel. After getting some recommendations from Diane in La Serena, I ended up changing my Uruguay plans - originally, I was going to stay a night in Colonia, two in Montevideo, and three more around Punta del Este. But now, I'll just spend the afternoon in Colonia, the night and most of the following day in Montevideo, before heading off to Punta del Este for two nights. I won't be exploring the other beach areas around Punta del Este with this cut-back schedule.

Today officially begins the final portion of my trip - back to my beloved backpacking ways! It has been nice to be traveling in relative

There were some neat little buildings around Colonia.
luxury for the past few weeks, but honestly, I'm looking forward to returning to a simpler manner of travel. I've felt so lazy over the past few weeks ... and with all the good meat and good wine, I've put on about 5 lbs.

I've got a skinny frame, so gaining weight isn't a necessarily a big deal, but the problem is that it always accumulates around my stomach and my butt! Generally, I lose about 5 lbs when I travel, and if I return home like this, it's technically as if I've gained 10 lbs. I have 10 days left - can I lose those 10 lbs in such a short period of time? We shall see if the backpacker diet works!

I ended up chatting with a Swiss girl on the ferry (named Priska, I think), who had just passed the bar exam, and was traveling around South America for 2.5 months, as a treat to herself. She's nearing the end of her trip, like me 😞

Hearing her talk about where she had been on this trip really makes me want to return to Chile and Argentina. The large distances make it impossible to see much

The faro (lighthouse).
with only 4-5 weeks, especially when you can't stray too far from the major cities, as was the case with this trip.

Colonia - hot! I dragged myself over to the bus station, looking for a place to drop off my backpack. Only the café inside of the station offered any, and they charged $5 CAD!!! Relatively speaking, it's incredibly expensive - even in Europe, you can usually store luggage for a few hours, for only a couple of Euros. I guess that's what you can do when you get so many day trippers here, and you're the only luggage storage place in town. Off to sightsee - it's a lazy, photogenic place. Truthfully, it's a little boring in terms of sights, but it's probably a good place to stay and do absolutely nothing, if you're looking for that kind of holiday.

Back to the bus station - I was absolutely starving by the time I grabbed lunch at the café, just shy of 16:00. It was supposed to be a fast-food type of joint, but my food took a good 35 minutes to come out. I had to cram it down fairly quickly, as my bus was schedule to

The ruins of the Convento de San Francisco.
depart about 20 minutes after my food finally arrived.

While waiting for the bus, I read up a bit on Uruguayan history - some of the first settlers here were from the Canary Islands, and some of the country folk in Uruguay are still referred to as Canarios. Hopefully this bodes well, if Uruguayan women are of Spanish descent 😊

It was an uncomfortable ride on the bus as it had a powerful A/C system, which kept the front side of me cold, but my back was still hot and soaked with sweat. I napped for a bit, and we were soon in Montevideo. Taxis are pretty cheap here, so I took one to the hostel. They have an odd system - I thought the meter displayed the price in pesos, but it turns out that they take the number displayed, and compare it to a chart to get the price. It's not a scam, just a roundabout way of doing things, in my opinion.

The Palermo Art Hostel - I HATE places that lie about their facilities. It's clearly advertised as having A/C, but they've only got a fan in the room. From the website description, it sounds like

Taken just at the end of Plaza Mayor - Colonia is almost as photogenic as a Spanish senorita!
a cool, funky, artsy place, but it was pretty average. The dorms are crowded, and there's no real art vibe to speak of. The staff is excellent, however - very friendly, and they are very helpful with sightseeing tips, and with anything else you might need. Perhaps I should've asked them where all the female Spanish tourists hang out?

The staff suggested I head down to La Rambla, as it's a good place to stroll in the evenings. It's an oceanfront boulevard that wraps around the entire old town, which sits on a bit of a peninsula. It was around 20:00 when I got down there and surprisingly, it was cool and breezy - less than 28 deg C ... wow! I walked along La Rambla for a bit, then headed inland over to Park Rodo, through the neighbourhood of Pocitos, and back to the ocean.

Montevideo doesn't have a great reputation as a tourist destination, but so far I am liking it. Pretty much the entire east side of Montevideo, where I am tonight, is ignored in my guidebook. This area has a neat vibe, including a street with a great selection of ethnic fast-food joints - Armenian,

Just seconds before, this nice couple asked me to take a picture for them. I should've asked them to send me a copy, because the wife was a hottie!
Chinese, kebabs, pizza, and a few others. I wondered if I actually like Montevideo, or if I just like the fact that it is so breezy and cool. It's a nice and much-needed respite from the heat of BA!

The staff at the hostel recommended a café called Expreso Pocitos, a place that has been in business for around 75 years. I was told "You MUST eat a big chivito!" A chivito is a Uruguayan sandwich that is filled to the bursting point with meats, cheese, and veggies.

Back to the hostel, via Avenida Espana - the hostel staff suggested I stick to the main roads if walking around the city at night. Hmmm ... Avenida Espana, another sign that I must return to Spain this summer! Deep down, I hoped that Avenida Espana was named this because it was full of beautiful little brunettes, just like seemingly every street in Spain is. But in the 30-40 minutes it took me to walk back to the hostel, I didn't come across many women. However ... the funny thing was that while there weren't many, it seemed like every woman I saw was gorgeous! And interestingly, approximately three out

A late lunch at Colonia's bus station. Burger, fries, OJ. The fries were pretty good with the seasoning salt, crisp but burning hot! The burger was pretty crappy.
of five were walking their dogs. Mental note - move to Montevideo, buy a dog, and do nothing but walk the dog up and down Avenida Espana.

Apparently, it's only cool in Montevideo when you're near the ocean and get the nice breeze. If you wander even a few blocks away, it's still pretty hot, even when it's dark out. I finally arrived back at the hostel, dripping in sweat, after passing through a few dodgy-looking areas,

There were loads of Brazilian guys back at the hostel - most were teachers here for a course, with a guy named Sylvestre and one named Ignacio being the friendliest. Most of them were nice, but there was this one dumb-ass dude (hereafter referred to as DAD) - "You're from Canada? Do you live in Chinatown?" Uh ... sorry, but last I checked, there is no city in Canada named Chinatown. Oh, wait ... in Vancouver, there's an area called Richmond, which might as well be named Chinatown!

Most of the Brazilians didn't speak much English, so I stuck to Spanish while chatting with them. DAD then interrupted, asking me "How come you talk with us in Spanish? Don't you speak

The Palermo Art Hostel - my pillow was a chunk of foam. Was this supposed to be some type of artistic commentary, or were they simply just too cheap to buy a real pillow?
any English?" Uh, yeah ... there are tons of Chinese guys from Canada that speak Spanish, before English. We're very common here ... uh ... yeah ... Hereafter, DAD will be referred to as DAID - dumb-ass ignorant dude!

I popped in my earplugs, and went to bed. All of a sudden, I thought I heard someone yelling "China! China!" I figured it was DAID, and ignored him. So then he keeps yelling "China!", then grabs my ankle and starts shaking it. WTF??? In all fairness, I think he was asking me if I wanted to grab a drink with them, but it was frickin' annoying! Or perhaps, he just wanted to touch a leper Chino freak!

Additional photos below
Photos: 23, Displayed: 23



Heading down to Montevideo's La Rambla - statue of Huracio Abadie Santos. Hey ... maybe this is one of Ben's ancestors! The mystery of his origins has finally been unraveled!

Beach on La Rambla. It's a nice place to stroll, but definitely can't compare to Barcelona's La Rambla. For those that don't know - Barcelona is the epicentre of Spanish hottness. Not only will you find the most beautiful Spanish women walking there, but the most beautiful women from every other European country.

Sitting on La Rambla, drinking yerba mate and staring out at the sea - this person is living the life, aren't they?

Statue of Confucius, in the Parque Rodo. One day, Ranjit will be mentioned in the same breath as him. Domo Arigato, Mr. Gelato ... I still laugh at that ...

People say Montevideo is a crap hole, but so far I've seen some pretty nice spots, like this one.

A house of horrors - I probably could have gotten a job here, had I still had my horrific facial sunburn from Chile.

There was an arts & crafts fair near Playa Ramirez, which advertised itself as also being a gastronomic fair, but there didn't appear to be anything great to eat. But I didn't mind, because there were some Spanish-quality women walking around :)

22 degrees!!! That's practically frigid!

Dinner at Cafe Expreso - I opted for the Chivito de la Casa II - filled with beef, ham, bacon, egg, cheese, fried onions, lettuce, and tomato. My only complaint - the friggin' olives! They didn't even mention them in the menu, as they seem to be standard items that are included with everything. Had I known, I would've have asked that they throw my olives in the trash, where they belong! The chivito was messy, but delicious.

I've had this journal since that trip to the Baltic states, two summers ago. It's completely fallen apart, and I left probably 2/3 of it back home. I previously tried repairing the binding with duct tape, but it still fell apart, and only that black clip holds it together now. I've finally found a second use for that clip! The journal is finally complete, and can now be put out of its misery.

The little notebook I have been carrying to make notes during the days was also finished today - a rare double notebook retirement!

A skin tag - it was so easy to remove with the humidity here, and the cheap glue that was used. Maybe I will keep it and try to cash it in when I go to Spain this summer ...

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