Very cool city!

Trip Start Mar 11, 2010
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11
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Trip End Jul 31, 2010


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Flag of Uruguay  ,
Friday, March 12, 2010

My current number: +59891067955

After a week of near isolation, good food, rest and of course beaches, it was time to head to this Uruguay's capital which was a very nice surprise. After a short 2 hour bus ride from Punta, I headed straight to my hotel which was perfectly located in the old centre across from the recently renovated Theatro Solis. The hotel was basic but full of character, very high ceilings and original marble floors – my room small but very cute which included a balcony opening on one of the busiest streets at nights with its many bars and terraces.

Soon after, again thanks to Catherine’s connections, I met up with Lynette (a childhood friend of hers) who very kindly took me around for a tour of the city and it’s neighbourhoods by car. We went all the way to some of the nicer suburbs such as Carasco where she set up and runs a lovely tennis club, not too far from her and Catherine’s old school. On the way we passed by the yuppie neighbourhood of Pocitos, home to the famous Cakes (which serves some tasty 'Dulce de Leche’ pastries), nice trendy restaurants (including the institution ‘Pizzeria Trouville’ famous for its Muzarella’s (local pizzas)) and vibrant nightlife. To end the tour, Lynette invited me for a coffee in Hemingway’s a cosy spot along the cost with incredible views on Mveo especially when the sun sets (see photos).

Afterwards, I was lucky to be invited to a party at Lynette’s daughter’s place (Florencia) where I got to meet a bunch of locals including her son (Francisco) and friends Natalia and Virginia. As is to be expected the festivities only really took off around midnight to end in the early hours of the morning back in the centre!

The next day I had arranged to meet up with some other friends of Catherine’s, Guille and Mercedes, for a bite to eat in the Mercado del Puerto – the place to be on a Saturday afternoon. The market has an interesting history. It was actually a British railroad station which had been bought by Paraguay and thus dismantled for shipping. As it had to be transported up the Parana river, its natural stop after the lengthy Atlantic journey was Montevideo. Unfortunately for Paraguay, it came as the Triple Alliance war was raging (Argentina, Brazil and reluctant Uruguay outnumbering Paraguay 10-1), and Uruguay decide to keep it and erect it in the old town. Once the station was erected the engineers realised they had left too little space to get the rails turning radius in and it was slowly transformed into a market and later a restaurant hub.

With Mercedes & Guille we enjoyed a typical programme: first a ‘medio y medio’ (half white wine & half champagne – often served with mussel sandwiches) followed by an Asado (grilled beef of all cuts) with a nice bottle of the most revered Uruguayan Tannat. Such a feast is never complete without a digestive – this time a Cognac, but not French, Uruguayan. Yes indeed, France apparently gave the rights to Uruguay to use the Cognac appellation during the second world war in return for some favours from the small south American country! Thanks again Mechi and Guille!

Following a wander around in the old town, I indulged in a long nap before going to meet Natalia (see above) to watch the Oscar winning Argentine movie (El secreto de sus ojos) which is excellent – go see it! http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1305806/ We followed this by yet another party in a private residence in Carasco, organised by Jameson – high life they say!

On Sunday, the main even was no doubt the 1-2 victory by Ferrari in Bahrain. Too bad for Vettel who was doing so well and welcome back Schumi – still a force to be reckoned with it seems!

This said I was not about to spend the day in front of the square box and so headed to the famous flea market in Tristan de Narvaja. Here they sell everything, from food and clothes to used dentures (or so they say)!!! I also managed to catch a local street dancing session of Candombe (a bit like the Brazilian samba) – notice the video where only girls are dancing but also playing the drums!

The next morning, after a quick tour of the Palacio Legislativo (Houses of Parliament) it was time to say goodbye to Montevideo and head to Colonia (next entry).

See link below for a good overview – note most of this was covered above!

http://travel.nytimes.com/2009/10/25/travel/25hours.html
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Comments

Roger on

Thanks for taking the time to putt all this together and for sharing; I truly enjoy your blog.

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