Uruguay....or as the kids call it \

Buenos Aires Travel Blog

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Sealions at Puerta Madryn

Our last stop in Argentina before heading up to Uruguay was in Puerta Madryn.  It was a nice enough coastal town but the highlights of the city tour were the aluminium factory and the cement flooring factory - say no more.  Once you got out of town though, there was the chance to view penguins or sealions.  We opted for the sealions and weren't disappointed at all.  There were tonnes of them and they were as chatty as the Americans onboard.  Only these guys sounded like a pack of cows, and I have a video to prove it.  James had on his AC/DC t-shirt which, once again, proved to be a hit with the locals.  The tour guide asking me all sorts of questions about Bon Scott which I know I should've known.  Next time I will not only wear an AC/DC t-shirt on holiday but I will research so that I'm prepared.

Then it was off to Uruguay.  Punta Del Este is like the Gold Coast only Uruguayan.  Hope that translates.  It is on a beautiful coastline with amazing surf (only there are too many rocks to actually surf) and its very touristy.  Also, there are loads of beautiful people here and guys, they are all topless beaches so head over.  A lot of Argentineans holiday here and its quite touristy.  Although cheaper than Chile (which is the most expensive country in Sth America), its still not as cheap as we'd like.  We managed a little market shopping and then the kids, Billy and Kev from NZ and I all headed into town for pizza.  We still haven't mastered our spanish enough to order well but we ate what we were given, drank cervesa and all in all it was a great day.

With Damian and Jacqui enjoying cervesa y papas fritas.
  I think we were all relieved to be thawing out and to see the sun again.

Next day it was Montevideo.  Not sure weather it was just because it was Easter Saturday or not but this place was far from exciting or entertaining.  The main strip of shops gave us more opportunity to spend pesos but it was really like getting around a big city that was half asleep.  There were some fantastic antique markets that we stumbled across in a plaza though.  They had amazing things like a copy of the Uruguayan Herald Sun equivalent from the day JFK was shot.  Or some incredible miniature coke bottles and all sorts of antiquey stuff.  I stumbled across a music shop selling Nouvelle Vague cd's and the whole series of the Bossa n Stones cd's.

My fav barman, Noel from Jamaica. Respect, mon.
  Bought a copy of Bossa n Marley - cant wait to listen to it....cant even imagine what it sounds like.  These are imports back home that are way expensive so to grab them for US $10 each, you'll know why I bought 4 of the series. 

This was our last night on the cruise.  It was sad to say goodbye to so many friends.  Although we all agreed that 14 nights really is too long on a cruise ship, it was also long enough that the friendships you made really stuck.  I will miss Kev from NZ, your optimism in life will stay with me.  Damian and Jacqui from Belfast, you are great craic - Damian I dont understand half of what your saying but nor do I with Billy anyway :)  It was exchanging emails and addresses and really a touch sad but we were glad to be getting out of our wardrobe cabin (it was tiny!) and onto land again.

Punta Del Esta coastline.

Buenos Aires welcomed us with open arms.  WOW, I love this city!  The weather is superb.  Low 30's everyday.  I was absolutely paranoid about travelling here with the kids and so relieved when Billy said he'd join us.  Pick pocketing here is an art.  We have seen it happen in the street.  Taxi drivers are dodgy and all in all, I find myself almost clinging to the kids to make sure they are safe.  I think that it is just travelling with the kids and being told so many horror stories beforehand that has me worried though.  All in all, on my own, I would feel as safe as I would in any other major city in the world.  On my guard probably as much as I would be in NY or London or Rome.   The shopping isn't as grand as I'd hoped it would be but the city sights and the local people are amazing.

A long way from home is Punta del Esta
 

Today we did a city tour of the South.  This took us out to La Boca (translates to The Mouth because it is where the river ends).  It is what you picture in your head when you think of Buenos Aires.  Full of colour and music and passion.  Each building is painted a different colour, the old Italian migrants who settled here used the left over paint off of ships to paint their houses so there is a rainbow of colour everywhere you look.  Tango is danced in the street but be prepared to pay 15 peso if you photograph it.  This really is the touristy part of town and where you have to really watch your wallet and belongings.

The welcoming committee
  There are markets everywhere and every second stall is an artist splattering their interpretation of the Tango onto a canvas.  The bars have so much character, like something from Casablanca or Havana.  Long windows with shutters, small wooden tables and chairs and a buzz in the air that you cant find anywhere else.  This is a magical city and La Boca is part of the heartbeat of it.  It is also home to the famous football stadium - guys, help me out here as the name escapes me.  But it is home to the Boca Juniors which are the biggest team in BA.  Their sponsor (of the stadium) is Coke and their opposition has the colours red and white so when Coke wanted to put up their signage all over the stadium, the Boca Juniors said that they had to use Black and White not Red and White.
Plaza in Montevideo
  Its bizare to see such a common symbol in different colours.  Anyway, this was a major attraction for Billy who is well into his soccer. 

We saw the Government building where Eva Peron gave her speech to the people.  The building is pink in colour and there are two stories as to why.  The first (our least fav) is because the two armies that fought in BA had two colours representing them, one white and one red.  When you blend them, you'll get this colour pink.  The second though (which the kids found much more interesting) is that to help preserve the building, they used cows blood, mixed with lime to coat the outside.  This was a cheap option to help stop decay of the building.  Gross, yes.  Either way, Dont Cry For Me Argenina has been going through my head all afternoon since seeing it.

Shopping in Montevideo

We saw all of these attractions and so much more thanks to Kristoff, the Belgian bike tour guide who lead us all on mountain bikes around the city for 4 hrs.  Not only was he very easy on the eye but a brilliant guide who filled information craving tourists like us with all we needed to know.  We were the only ones on the tour and the kids did amazingly well.  By about half time, there was moaning and groaning about sore asses (that was just Billy and me though) and at the end we had to ride through the busiest streets of BA on narrow cobblestone streets with buses and taxis hurtling past as we dodged through peak hour traffic.  You felt like you had to breathe in to fit through these narrow sections but the kids did a sterling job and I was way proud.

Tomorrow we say goodbye to Billy which will be very sad.  He has been so much to us on this trip, from tour guide assistant to drinking companion, fashion consultant to disciplinarian ( of me, not the kids), dinner conversationalist to hiking inspirer, daily motivator to part time guardian, alarm clock to comic relief, swapper of meals to drinker of nasty cocktails, part time guardian to wingman to photographer to gossip collumnist to solver of love life issues and rival on the pool table.  Billy, you are more than just a friend and you know that.  Having spent just 3 days together in Goa and then 2 yrs later another 3 days together in Prague, you slotted into our holiday like one of our family who'd been around for years.

Uruguayan grafitti
  The way you warmed to both James and Lauren will stay with them for a long time.  They will you miss you greatly but not as much as me.  You are a one in a million for putting up with "he's mimicking me", "mum, mum, mum, mum, mum" and other moans and groans as we travelled around South America but I can honestly say that I couldn't have done it without you.  You made an impossible trip for me a breeze but most of all you gave me a good laugh (which I was well overdue for).  You're a special person!!  Make it to New York in October, it will be great craic and I will be out of mum-mode and willing to take you on at the bar. 

 

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Sealions at Puerta Madryn
Sealions at Puerta Madryn
With Damian and Jacqui enjoying ce…
With Damian and Jacqui enjoying c…
My fav barman, Noel from Jamaica. …
My fav barman, Noel from Jamaica.…
Punta Del Esta coastline.
Punta Del Esta coastline.
A long way from home is Punta del …
A long way from home is Punta del…
The welcoming committee
The welcoming committee
Plaza in Montevideo
Plaza in Montevideo
Shopping in Montevideo
Shopping in Montevideo
Uruguayan grafitti
Uruguayan grafitti
After a hard days sightseeing.
After a hard days sightseeing.
Last night at the schooner bar
Last night at the schooner bar
Open air bus sightseeing tour thro…
Open air bus sightseeing tour thr…
La Boca
La Boca
Street carnival in San Telmo
Street carnival in San Telmo
Riding through the park in BA
Riding through the park in BA