A brief excursion to Uruguay ! and the best parilla in the world !

Montevideo Travel Blog

 › entry 23 of 31 › view all entries
Okey dokey so the plan was simple, we checked out of the wonderful hotel Carly (well, to be honest its a bit run down, but that balcony.. sigh) and jumped the metro and then the normal train to the suburb of Tigre just outside BA. Its a great place, really quite swanky with a lovely river running through the centre and nice parks etc. We were there because we had planned to get into Uruguay via the scenic route. The usual way from BA to Uruguay was just to jump a ferry from BA centre and arrive in Montevideo in 3 hrs flat, but noooooo not us, we decided to do it the scenic way, and so far it was pretty good..
But... as they say.. "the best laid plans of mice...." We got to the international boat place where the boat would leave for a town in Uruguay called Carmelo, sounded sweet ( arrggh Pun alert !) and were promptly, but politely told by the very nice lady that the boat was full ! and there was only one per day !! ARRGGHH CALAMITY !! We asked to be put on the "reserves list" in case someone didnt show and went off to ponder our predicament.
Well, we thought it would not be too bad to stay an extra night in this lovely suburb, so we set off loking for Hostels. to be honest,  H did this alone, I sat on my fat arse and looked after the bags ! After a fruitless search we realised this was such a nice area due to the massive amount of money everyone had , including those that wanted to stay in hostels ! they were all WELL out of our price range !! So by now a mild panic had set in.. "what can we do??" do we go back into BA and back to Hotel Carly and write the whole day off ?? No my frinds , we had more fortitude than that, and by hanging around with hangdog expression the nice lady finally let us on the boat to "you are gay" !!! RESULT !!
The Boat was a catamoran, and we didnt have window seats ( we came close but them uruguayans are swift buggers!!) and we saw some of the bayou and some shipyards etc, which were really interesting.. if only from a distance !
We eventually arrived in Carmelo at about 8pm, well after dark and into a plague of mosquitos !!We had checked the book and camping was possible, but at the ferry terminal there was NOTHING AND NOBODY to ask, and as the book had no map, we were clueless. Eventualy we found a corner shop and the nice lady told us the camping was about 20 blocks out of town and over the river etc etc and as we were only here for one night it made no sese whatsoever to try to find it! So we found a hotel, got the cheapest room they had and set off into the town centre. The word "Town" in this case is a bit strong... Carmelo consisted of a couple of strets running up to a square with not a lot on them. But we found one open place that had pizza and both red and green tabasco sauce ( winner !) so we saited our hunger before having an early night in hicksville Uruguay !
The next day we did find the tourist office, who helped us to ge the only bus out of town to our next stop, Colonia !! VIVA COLONIA !!. We tried to buy some postcards of carmelo to remind us of its sights ( the river bridge, a lame dog etc..) but they were not so great so we gave up !. Before we got the bus we had more fun with the cashpoint machines, none of which would give us cash, so we had to change some of the back up dollars for the first time ( but it was hardly an emergency), and made friends with a new dog in the park ( this happens a lot it seems) before heading off to the lovely resort town of Colonia !
The countryside of "youaregay" looked a lot like the UK, and you can see why the beef barons moved here from good ole Blighty. And I learned that Frey Bentos ( as in the pies) is HERE in "youaregay", how interesting I thought !!

Anyhoo, we arrived in Colonia, straight into the tourist office to find the right bus to Camping municipal , that should have been just outside of town. (Ahh camping, we have lugged the tent around for so long its good to use it again..) Only to be told it was closed !! OVER , DONE !! EEEP  So , again, we split, this time H with the bags and I ran all over town to get us a place to stay, which I did , and it was ace !
We then explored the colonial town, climbed the lighthouse etc. I got a bit dispondent when i realised most of the colonial architecture (ie the big gate on all the postcards) was almost 100% reconstructed (cheeky buggers) but it was all in a really nice place. At sunset we sat in a cafe, realised it would cost that same as the hostel room for a beer , and so ran up to the supermarket and sat on the quay quaffing cheap beer and watching the sunset.. ahh how romantic :-) topped it all off with a homemade curry.. winner .. again !! My life rocks !!

Next day we set off to the Capital, Montevideo, but before we did , we had some time to kill so went to the museums of Colonia, they are hilarious, you can do all 5 in less than an hour as each is just one or two rooms !! Brilliant !!

We arrived in montevideo no worries and found a hostel with the strangest hostess ever. She looked incredibly stern, with piercing eyes and a sour mouth, but after she finished speaking to us ( and she was always really helpful) she ended it ended with a beaming smile for about 2 seconds, then back to the scowl ! It was very dsconcerting, especially as I dont think I ever saw her blink, but we decided she was nice, if perhaps a super killing robot machine from the future !

To be honest we were not too impressed with Montevideo on first view. You could see it had some nice architecture, but it was dusk and a bit rainy so it all looked Grey and Drab. We walked through some very dodgy areas to the sefront to miss sunset ( do´h) and after an unsucessful search for food ( which did include a beer at an irish bar, that tasted shyte) we retired hoping tomorrow would bring us a more joyful view of the town.. WHICH IT DID.... IN SPADES !!
H had been in touch with Nat and Chris ( from BA, Patagonia etc) who were also in town staying with some locals they had met at macchu picchu ( lucky blighters , they had the run of a posh flat in the posh bit of town and local hosts, They even had a call out Barbeque !! CALL OUT BBQ !! how good is that !!... but I digress) . They were late for our lunchtime appointment ( as it was apparently tricky to extradite themselves from the comfy sofa!) so H & I went down to the markets where we had heard the food was pretty good.. WHAT AN UNDERSTATEMENT THAT WAS.
The markets were set up with 20 or so Parillas ( like a big ass BBQ) and we sat at one, on bar stools, watching them do their stuff. The Grill must have been at least 3m by 2m with a big ass wood fire underneath it, and you had a big list of meats that you just ordered as and when you wanted them. Everything from the greatest steaks to Liver, tripe, intestines , you name it. So we had some ribs, sausage, and H had the small steak.. crikey this was a BBqued Joint of the most excellent beef that would more than feed a family of four back home.. it was BLISS !! After we had finished , the "chef" took us behind the counter for a photo op which was brillaint, H holding a stack of ribs bigger than her !! and with full tums we waddled off to meet Nat and Chris.
Of course by this time we were late, but we met them no worries and had a few beers sharing our stories of Uruguay and what we had done since BA. We said goodbye that evening after ice creams (to aid digestion) and came back to the hostel ( via an odd modern art museum ( H again!!) to lie down and massage our now distended but very happy bellies!

On the morrow we were planning to head back to Argentina ,via the comedy named town of COLON on our way to the Famous Igazu waterfalls.... but for now all I can say is " Well done YOUAREGAY, you were an unintentioanl stopover that turned out to be one of the nicest suprises of the trip so far !!"
More next time kiddies. Love and hugs...
M&H xxx

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photo by: aliciaaa