Part 3. Montevideo and Punta del Este, Uruguay

$1 = 28 UYU

BUruguay 19Originally we wanted to go from Sao Paulo to Montevideo. We found out that the only buses from Brazil going into Uruguay were from Porto Alegre. We found 2 Bus lines that ran from Porto Alegre into Uruguay. One was EGA and the other one was TTL. We took TTL for R$ 205 and left at 8:30pm. TTL had a nice waiting room with comfortable chairs, WiFi and heater at the terminal. The bus was also very nice and clean. When we checked-in at the counter they took our passports and did the immigration papers for us. That way we didn’t need to wake up at 5am to do it ourselves. They also served dinner and breakfast on the bus. When we arrived at Tres Cruces Terminal around 8am we storaged our backpacks for 12 hours which cost us $U 118. Then we bought tickets to Punta del Este. COT and COPSA are 2 local companies that do this trip for the same price. We took COT for $U 498 round trip. It takes around 2 and a half hours to get there. The terminal in Punta del Este was very small and they didn’t offer many services.

Punta del Este is a very popular destination during the summer but during the winter is completely deserted. In a way it was nice to get out of the crowded cities. Even though half of the stores and restaurants were closed. To my surprise many stores and restaurants said that they didn’t accept credit cards and only cash. We started with The Hand of Punta del Este at Playa Brava. Then we walked down Avenida Gorlero which is the main Avenue where you can find most of the restaurants, bars, cafes, shopping centers, souvenir stores, etc. There was also a handcraft market at the plaza, the beautiful harbor and the light house.

We took the bus back at 3:30pm and then headed towards our Hostel. We stayed at El Viajero Downtown for around $U 1500 the night. We booked it on hotels and got a double room with private bathroom. Our room was on the first floor, literally right next to the lobby and our window was facing the street. So it got pretty noisy at night. Otherwise the room was nice and warm. We had dinner at El Fogon which was just a couple of blocks behind the hostel. We had the 5 Meats set for 2 (Asado, Matambre, Cerdo, Colita de Quadril and Entrecot) for $U 850. It was insane! Can’t believe they consider this a plate for 2. After eating all that meat we had heartburn in the middle of the night. And we definitely didn’t feel like eating any more meat for a while.

BUruguay 22

The next day we left out backpacks in the lobby and took a taxi from the Hostel to the Promenade which cost us $U 119. Taxis in Uruguay start at $U 0 and there is a chart with the prices according to how many km you have gone so you don’t have to worry about not knowing how much is it going to cost.

We went to Mercado del Puerto located int he Old Town next to the Promenade. This area is the traditional and picturesque part of the city but it is not recommended to go at night since there are many beggars and drug addicts around. Inside the market there were mainly asado stands. Then we walked down Sarandi Street. There were several handcrafts stores and stands up until Plaza Constitucion. If you continue straight you will reach Puerta de la Ciudadela until Plaza Independencia.

After heading back to the hostel to pick up our bags we took the bus in front of Plaza Ingeniero towards the Bus Station which was the last stop and cost $U 17. The fastest way to go from Montevideo to Buenos Aires is by Buquebus which is a ferry. We first had to go on a bus that departed from Tres Cruces Terminal at 1pm towards Colonia. The ride took 2 hours and we did our immigration papers at the Port in Colonia before boarding the ferry. Colonia is also famous for the Barrio Historico depicting Portuguese old architecture. Many tourists vising Buenos Aires also come to Colonia for a day trip. The ferry took about an hour to reach Puerto Madero in Buenos Aires. The Ferry was quite small but there was a duty free shop inside. The bus + ferry cost AR$ 669.

Food in Uruguay is pretty similar to Argentina. They like to eat Asado, pastas and drink Mate. This country entered the Guinness record book by having the biggest Asado in the world. No kidding, they love their Asado! Chivito is a popular kind of sandwich/burger. A slice of beef, cheese, tomatoes, bacon, fried egg and ham.

Compared to other South American countries; Uruguay is one of the most highly educated, with the most equal distribution of wealth and least amount of corruption. Nevertheless you won’t find many modern buildings in the city. Even in the capital city, the environment had a very gaucho country side feeling. Another thing that caught my attention was the fact that their president is known for being so humble that he still lives in his house in the country side, drives his old car and in general lives his life like any other person in Uruguay. Montevideo might not be a popular destination as many other capitals in South America but Punta del Este is definitively the hub of the rich and famous from mainly Argentina and Paraguay. I heard that prizes in Montevideo were higher than in Buenos Aires but in Punta del Este are for sure the double from Montevideo. Furthermore many have said that Uruguay has become the new Amsterdam since its the first country in South America to legalize marijuana. However the legal consumption of marijuana will only apply to Uruguayan citizens which means that it is still illegal for tourists to buy/sell/consume it. Safe Travels.

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