Uruguay

Trip Start Sep 11, 2008
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Trip End Jun 05, 2009


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Where I stayed
Hotel Colonial

Flag of Uruguay  ,
Monday, May 18, 2009

 From Buenos Aires we took the urban train to Tigre, a suburb an hour north. There we found the ferry to Uruguay didnīt leave for another 5 hours. We sat by the beautiful river which could easily have been somewhere like Henley along the Thames or possibly Holland, it looked so unlike the Argentina I had imagined. We went to the Naval museum there which wasnīt on a boat like the other one in the city centre, but much bigger and with more weapons which I liked. Also loads of model ships and quite a few bits off the Belgrano which I hadnīt realised the Brits torpedoed in an agreed safe zone during the Falklands War. No wonder they are pissed at us, we didnīt even fight fair.
The catamaran over to Carmelo in Uruguay went through the islands of the delta of the Rio Parana and then across the Rio de la Plata formed by various large rivers. We arrived after dark and stayed at the first hotel we found. Next morning we went for a walk and saw some wildlife in a reserve from outside the fence as it was shut. We tried to get the bus before lunch but found it left at 7am and 3.30pm so had to kill a few hours in a pretty but boring town. Eventually we made it to Fray Bentos, again after dark, stayed at the Hotel Colonial a good 10 block walk uphill from the bus station. We noticed that everyone in Uruguay drinks mate all of the time, in the streets, in shops, on motorbikes, everywhere. The Argentinians tend to drink it in the morning and around tea time, if they are on a day out somewhere theyīll take a thermos and constantly refill the mate with hot water. The Uruguayans do this every time they leave the house regardless.
The only reason we went to Fray Bentos was so Lucy could get a pie. The famous food of students and pensioners the pie-in-a-tin originates from this very backwater of Uruguay. You can imagine how disappointed she was when we found they donīt serve pies anywhere in town, and even more so when we found out they had selfishly stopped production there 35 years before we were able to visit. Then we read in the Lonely Planet that the Museum of the Industrial Revolution, the ony tourist activity was closed on Sunday, the following day. In the morning we had checked what time the buses go to Argentina in the bus station and the Lonely Planet, so we went for a walk for a walk to the Barrio Ingles anyway. The area is a small self-sufficient town built for the workers of the beef extraction plant in the mid 1800s and was pretty cool. When we got to the old factory, now the museum, we found it open, and not only open but free to celebrate 150 years of making dodgy tinned beef products! The lady on reception said donīt be stupid, why would we close Sundays, itīs our busiest day! The plant was built with German and British money and their products such as corned beef and OXO were used by both sides in the wars. The museum was good but I never found out how they condensed 36kg of beef into 1kg of Ļbeef extract,Ļor what the hell goes into corned beef! Or why it looks like cat food. Back in town we went to catch our bus to find that the bridge to Argentina closed 3 years ago, over a year before the Lonely Planet was published. They did manage to write correctly about the rock garden and the piano in the huge empty bus station but not that the buses donīt run to Argentina any more. At this point the Lonely Planet was almost thrown at the piano and rock garden, but we decided to hang onto it as toilet paper is a valuable commodity when backpacking. We have spent the last 9 months looking for post offices, bars, restaurants and hotels which locals have informed us closed 15 years ago, were never there, or are in another town.
Instead we had to wait 3 1/2 hours for a bus north to Paysandu a couple of hours to the north and have a crack at the simple task of getting a mile or so across the river to Argentina tomorrow. Paysandu was, like the other towns, completely average, not nice and not nasty. Again we arrived after dark and found a random hotel which was OK, grabbed some fast food and beer and spoke to some of the thousands of crazy kids sitting getting drunk in the square and riding around on noisy mopeds. Unlike British kids they were all well-behaved, drunk but not wasted and around 11 they all started packing up and going home. Next morning we finally got a bus to Argentina!
Uruguay was not very exciting but certainly not dull. It was worth visiting, even if it was a pain in the arse getting round on the two buses a day, and even more of a pain in the arse to leave again. The land is flat and grassy, lots of cows and really nice people. I wouldnīt advise travelling to South America specifically to visit Uruguay though. This is probably all you need to know about it.
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Comments

Piero on

ha ha!! you are funny!!! i really enjoyed to read it, nice! : D your "trip" in Uruguay its like if you do a trip to the Uk and go to visit Tring and then go to Wantage and that's it!! no sense!!!! ha ha!! i been in beautiful places when i went to Uruguay!! more southern in a very old city, also the capital was lovely and then the east coast line it was full of nice and picturesque beaches/towns; pitty you were not well informed before go!!! it would made it really worthy; thanks for sharing your trips!!! i really enjoy your adventures!!! cheers!!!

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