As some of you may know, Will (my boyfriend) and I are now over a week into our adventures. If you have me on Facebook, you’ll most likely have been bombarded by a lot of my photos already- sorry! As well as taking a whole load of photos to document our travels, I have decided to write a weekly(ish) blog entry summarising what we have done each day so far. (I will also be keeping a ‘visual diary’ or ‘art journal’– click here to view).
So, for those of you that are interested, here’s what we have been up to this past week:
Travelling to Uruguay
Travelling, Travelling, Travelling. We left Birmingham airport on Monday evening to fly to Paris, then on to Buenos Aires, then finally to Montevideo. We slept a lot so the flights seemed to go quite fast.
Being smart packers we decided to wear our heaviest items (Boots, hoodies, and big coats) rather than pack them into the cases, which seemed a good decision when in England…
However, upon arriving, we were hit with 30-degree heat, and it soon became apparent that having to manoeuvre our suitcases, backpacks and bags in and out of airports, taxis, and hotels while wearing so many layers wasn’t the best idea we’ve ever had!
Eventually, we reached Hotel Splendido, and after lugging our cases up the final few flights of stairs, our red and sweaty faces were greeted with a lovely sight; our room. It was art-deco style with a very high ceiling, a great view of Teatro Solis from our sunny balcony, and best of all: a nice cool fan.
We were so exhausted that we didn’t want to do much with Tuesday evening except sleep, but we managed to muster up enough energy to start our visit to Uruguay the right way; by gobbling up a MASSIVE Chivito!
(Chivito Canadiense= steak, ham, pancetta, fried egg, cheese, tomato, lettuce, pepper, salad, and a mountain of chips!)
We got up bright and early on Wednesday to make the most of the city, I knew that we had other plans for the rest of out days in Uruguay so I had to try and fit in showing Will all of the highlights in one day, which meant a lot of walking!
In just one day we managed to fit in seeing: Ciudad Vieja, Plaza Independencia, A panoramic view of the city from the Mirador Panoramico de Montevideo, a little tour of where I lived last semester in Tres Cruces including my route to university, a tour of the Universidad de Montevideo, Parque Batlle, a yummy lunch at Hoy te Quiero, Playa de los Pocitos, and Parque Rodó!
After this long day it’s no wonder our feet were aching because I used Google maps to work out that we had walked 22km in total! That’s more than a half marathon! But it was definitely worth it to be able to show the places I have been to Will and to relive the memories of my experiences with him. It was also a good opportunity to impart my knowledge of the city, I surprised myself by how well I knew the way to each place and how many interesting facts I could share.
The Indígena Nature Reserve
One of the highlights of my semester in Uruguay was definitely doing volunteer work at the Indígena nature reserve in Balneario Solís. I just had to make sure that we had a day trip to the reserve as part of our visit!
And our day did not disappoint, we saw capybaras, nandues, nutrias, and cute little deers, plus so many amazing birds, butterflies and dragonflies! We spent the day like intrepid explorers following little signposts through the forest and discovering new things, including a little ladder leading us to treehouse lookout in the top of the canopy. After such a great day, we took the long way back to the bus stop so that we could spend some time on Solís beach and paddle in the sea, the weather was great and it was just perfect!
On the way back through the city we noticed that the bus took a different route and that the main road was closed as if for some sort of ceremony, so we got off and in my amazing Spanish I asked a lady what was going on, she told us that the Carnaval parade was going on there tonight, so that evening we went to take a look!
It was such a surreal experience, the street was so busy that you could hardly move, we watched strange floats go past with cheesy music acts, dancers in feathers and drummers, and we witnessed people in the weirdest of costumes. I wish I could show you the photos but I’ll have to wait until I get my disposable camera developed. (It wasn’t the sort of place to risk taking my digital camera!)
A day-trip to Piriapolis
On Friday we got up bright and early to have our usual breakfast of croissants, coffee, tea and the nicest orange juice ever, then we were off to Piriapolis!
It was the hottest day yet, and I am definitely not made for extreme heat, so the day was punctuated by me having to take reapply a whole lot of suncream. We had some yummy Mexican food for lunch, then took the cute little chair lift up to the top of Cerro San Antonio, once at the top we had a smoothie and enjoyed the beautiful view. We spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach, which was lovely, but we unfortunately could go into the sea because, to our surprise, it was absolutely full of little jellyfish!
Once back in Montevideo, we decided to spend the evening at a bar, where we witnessed the most awesome tropical storm! It started with great flashes of silent lightning over the sea, there was no wind, no rain, no sound, it felt so calm and quiet. Then all of a sudden, the wind started, it didn’t slowly increase, it just started blowing at a crazy speed! The palm trees were bending over, bins were blowing up the road, everyone sitting outside the bar quickly packed up and brought everything inside. Next was the rain, it started pouring down and the roads looked like rivers within minutes! There was so much wind and rain that you could feel a mist blowing in through the windows as if the storm was coming inside! I thought we would be there all night waiting for it to blow over, but, just as quickly as it appeared, it vanished! Both Will and I are a bit weird when it comes to storms, we both find them so exciting and brilliant, so we really saw that evening as a highlight.
Saturday was another day of us enjoying nature in the sunshine, we spent our time in an area of Montevideo called Prado, where we went to the most beautiful little Japanese garden, Prado’s Botanical gardens, and Prado Park, where we got super excited about a really big tree.
On Saturday evening we went to Dueto, a fancy restaurant (for us) in the old city, near our hotel. We had a yummy three course meal, including a delicious entrecot, I was really glad that we went because I wanted Will to have some great Uruguayan beef steak before we left.
Playa Ramirez beach day
We had a nice lazy day on Sunday, we had a late breakfast in the hotel and sloped off to Playa Ramírez. With highs of 36 degrees, it was definitely a great day to spend at the beach! We stayed there all afternoon and into the evening, relaxing, sunbathing, eating ice lollies, and taking it in turns to go for a dip in the sea to cool off.
Travelling to Buenos Aires
Travelling, Travelling, Travelling. Monday involved a taxi journey to the bus station, a bus from Montevideo to Colonia, a ferry from Colonia to Buenos Aires, and another taxi to our hotel, Hotel Parada.
We arrived to a dark hotel, and were informed that there had been a power cut. In true South American style, we were told that the power ‘would be back on in about an hour or two’ repeatedly for the entire night. The highlight of the evening was going to Los 36 Billares for a well deserved, delicious pizza. This was then followed by a night of sweating in our non-air-conditioned room, plus a few cold showers and trips to the water machine for some lukewarm water to try to quench our thirst. Needless to say we didn’t manage to sleep very much, it was a bit annoying but better than trying to find another hotel late at night and rolling our cases all around Buenos Aires. And, despite all the uncomfortableness, spending a night without phones and other gadgets, and by candlelight only, was quite a nice experience in the end.
Exploring Buenos Aires
Yesterday we did a whole lot of walking! In the morning we managed to walk all the way from the Argentinian National Congress, to Recoleta and spend some time in its amazing cemetery (yes, it is possible for a cemetery to be amazing!)
Our afternoon was a lot like Saturday in Prado, in that we got super excited about an even bigger, better tree, and we went to Buenos Aires’ Japanese Gardens, which were huge and really impressive!
In the evening we caught the Subte (Underground) back to our hotel, where we thankfully found that the electric was back up and running smoothly, finally!! Later we went out for a great meal at La Casona del Nonno. We went proper Argentinian-style by both having some meat grilled on the Parilla (Argentinian meat grill), and it was delicious!
La Boca and the Casa Rosada
Then we finished off our quick cultural visit to Argentina in the classiest way possible; by eating a huge Mcdonald’s. 🙂
Tomorrow we are travelling to Brazil, next stop Iguazú falls!