A Travellerspoint blog

Colonia to Montevideo

sunny 30 °C
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Saturday 26th January - We awoke early this morning to the sound of parrots. There were these lovely green parrots eating the figs.
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We went up to breakfast and there was a lovely surprise awaiting Shane. For those that followed the blog last year you will be familiar with Shane’s obsession to his cups of tea. For those new to our blog Shane found a special brand of tea last time we were in South America. Here is a photo of the brand of tea.
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We had couple of hours to spare this morning so we had another wander around the old town. The streets have lovely street signs. They are all blue and white porcelain.
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We then relaxed again watching the hummingbirds and we actually saw one motionless which was really good. The length of its beak was amazing.
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We then went to the bus station for our two and a half hour bus journey to Montivideo. It was 176km from Colonia to Montevideo. It was a nice comfy bus and seemed to take no time at all.
We arrived at our hotel right down by the water front. It was a lovely hotel called My Suites. Very modern and certainly not what we were expecting. Having said that we did not know what to expect. The accomodation in Uruguay was all arranged by a travel company I found on the internet called Enchanting South America. The hotel has a wine bar and we were invited for complementary wine testing this evening.
By 3.15 we hadn’t eaten since breakfast so headed off to find a meal. We found this nice little place around the corner from our hotel where we could sit outside. Once again I forgot to take the phrase book so we had no idea what we were ordering, we could pick out various words but not put a whole meal together and there was no one there who spoke english. There was something on the menu that had the word Canadian in it so we thought why not. This is what we got. It was massive. It had steak, fries, bacon, egg with a salad of potatoes, carrots and peas. In amongst it was pineapple and olives. Quite an unusual combination really but it sure was nice and we were so hungry.
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Sunday 27th January - Today we had to pack in as much sightseeing as we could as we only have today left in Uruguay. So we first headed off to see the sights of Montevideo. This is the largest city, capital and chief port of Uruguay. The settlement was established in 1726. It was under brief British rule in 1807 and was involved in the first major naval battle in the Second World War: the Battle of the River Plate. It is also the place where the Montevideo convention was signed in 1933 by nineteen nations of the Americas.
Our first stop was Independence Plaza. There were a few things to see in the plaza. In the middle of the plaza is the Mausoleum of José Artigas, Uruguay's greatest hero, the aboveground portion is a 17metre, 30-ton statue of the country's independence hero. Below street level an honor guard keeps 24-hour vigil over Artigas' remains.
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At the west end of the Plaza is the Puerta de la Ciudadela, a stone gateway that is one of the only remnants of the colonial citadel demolished in 1833.
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On the east side of the Plaza the 26-story structure with the crazy beehive hairdo is Palacio Salvo, the continent's tallest building when it opened in 1927.
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We then went on to the Palacio Legislativo where the Uruguayan parliament meet. The building was inaugurated on August 25th, 1925 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. The building was declared a National Historic Monument in 1975.
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We also visited a couple of sculptured monuments to celebrate the original means of transport in Uruguay. One of these was called La Carreta.
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I cannot remember the name of the other.
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The last thing we did was go down to the waterfront that they call the Rambla. This is an avenue that goes along the coastline of Rio de la Plata. The rio (river) is the estuary formed by the confluence of the Uruguay River and the Parana River on the border between Argentina and Uruguay. It is a funnel-shaped indentation on the southeastern coastline of South America, about 290 kilometres long. It is 85km wide at Montevideo. When you look out you would think it was the ocean, except it is brown. It is hard to get used to. We stopped at Plaza de la Armada to see Montivideo in the distance.
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We then decided to take a trip to Punta del Este. This is about 120km away from Montevideo. It is located on the eastern split of land separating the Atlantic Ocean and the Rio de la Plata. It is known as a scenic resort area with miles of beautiful beaches and luxury hotels. I thought it was a cross between the Gold Coast and Monte Carlo. There are certainly a lot of rich people here in Uruguay. As we did not have much time we decided to hire someone to take us there. We were waiting at reception in our hotel when I was watching an older gentleman trying to park his car. He was having quite a bit of difficulty. Anyway it happened that this was our driver. He was a lovely gentlemen names Juan Carlos. He even spoke pretty good English which was a real bonus. He had a vacation house in Punta del Este so knew the place well. He asked that one of us sit in the front as his English was not that good. Shane gave that job to me, and now I know why. I had my eyes closed for some of the trip as he tended to drive across two lanes. Mind you he was not the only one.
On the way to Punta del Este we visited Piriapolis, this is an important summer resort. We drove up to the top of hill to see the view.
Remember this is still on the river.
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We continued on and just outside of Punta del Este at Punta Ballena is Casa Pueblo. It is an amazing villa built by Carlos Páez Vilaró entirely without right angles. It was quite Mediterranean looking. We were not allowed in but we asked the price of staying there and they let us in to make further enquiries. Only $280US a night.
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We then headed in to Punta del Este where we visited Punta del Este's most famous landmark which is the monster-sized hand emerging from the sands of Playa Brava. La Mano en la Arena, sculpted in iron and cement by Chilean artist Mario Irarrazabal in 1982, won first prize in a monumental art contest that year and has been a Punta fixture ever since.
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Juan took us through a posh part of town called Beverly Hills. We couldn’t believe they called it that. Anyway there was only one house on each block. The remaining part of the block was all gardens. We were also told that in Punta del Esta the homes don’t have street numbers the owners name their property which makes it difficult for the post man.
We headed out of Punta del Esta to drive over the wave bridge. It was just like being on a roller coaster and Juan drove pretty quickly over it.
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We headed back through Punta del Esta to see the Atlantic side of the town. The water is rougher on this side as it is on the ocean.
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After a long day we headed back to Montevideo. On the way be stopped at another sea side town called Atlantida. Juan bought us a coffee and he had a rest. We finally arrived back in Montevideo at 8pm. We had spent 12 hours today looking around Montevideo and its surrounds.

Posted by shaneandnicola 03:42 Archived in Uruguay Comments (0)

Colonia del Sacramento

semi-overcast 22 °C
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This morning we were up at 6am to go to the port to catch the Buquebus catamaran ferry across to Uruguay. We arrived at the ferry terminal nice and early to avoid the rush. This was particularly useful seeing we had no idea what we were doing. There was already a queue which we joined but I was not sure we were in the right queue. I went to ask one of the fellows at another counter and next thing we were booked in and avoided having to queue. (I will have to try that again next time). We then headed up to immigration to depart Argentina. We were once again photographed and finger printed. We then moved onto another gentleman who we found out after was the Uruguay immigration. So we had been stamped into Uruguay even before we left on the ferry. This trip took an hour on the “rapido” ferry. It was quite windy and this made the journey a bit rough. We also lost an hour due to the time change. We had arrived in a little place called Colonia del Sacramento.
Colonia del Sacramento is in the Rio de la Plata region of Uruguay. It is filled with old colonial buildings and cobbled streets, and is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Colonia del Sacramento was founded in 1680 by the Portuguese. It was sandwiched in between the Portuguese colony of Brazil and the Spanish Vice Royalty of the River Plate (later Argentina, Uruguay and Southern Brazil). Its strategic position and use as a smuggling port meant that its sovereignty was hotly contested and the city changed hands several times between Spain and Portugal. The main attraction of Colonia is its historic centre.
We only had this afternoon to look around as we head off tomorrow to Montivideo. What a fantastic little place. The best part was that it was much cooler and there was no humidity. You have to be careful where you walk as the cobble stones are so uneven. We went and visited the lighthouse and climbed to the top to get a bird’s eye view of Colonia.
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We wandered the streets and could not believe all of the old cars here. They would be worth a mint restored in Oz but here they have been planted with flowers and bushes. It also appears to be home to the old VWs. They are driving around everywhere.
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As the historical part of town can be easily walked that is what we did. But we had to laugh at the amount of tourists that visited budget rent a car where they hire out golf buggy’s to drive around town.
We are staying in a lovely hotel called the Posada Plaza Mayor with a nice courtyard.
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We have been sitting out the front of our room watching the humming birds in the hibiscus. It is pretty hard to get a photo as they hover round continually.
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While we were sitting there another bird that we had not seen before landed on the fountain.
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We had lunch in an outdoor restaurant where they were playing live Latin music where we looked out onto the main square, it was really relaxing.

Posted by shaneandnicola 12:00 Archived in Uruguay Comments (0)

Tigre and San Isidro

sunny 36 °C
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We decided to head 30km north of Buenos Aires today to visit Tigre and San Isidro.
Tigre lies on the Parana Delta. The town sits on an island created by several streams and rivers and was founded in 1820. The area derives its name from the “tigres” or jaguars that were hunted there. It is now an area where the people from Buenos Aires come on weekends to get away. We did a little boat trip around the delta and although it was quite nice and relaxing it wasn’t what we expected, it was a bit disappointing.
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We then went to San Isidro to have a bit of a look around there. The centre of San Isidro is an historic area with cobbled streets. At its heart is Plaza Mitre and the neo-gothic San Isidro cathedral.
It was quite a pretty little town.
Back to Buenos Aires for our final night. We have really enjoyed our stay in BA. It is a lovely city with lots of trees and parks just like Adelaide. It has been quite humid though.
Tomorrow we are off to Uruguay.

Posted by shaneandnicola 10:26 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Buenos Aires

Around the city

semi-overcast 32 °C
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We had a big day today. We went out and saw the sights of Buenos Aires. We took the hop on hop off bus. We headed out of the hotel at 8am and got back at 4.30pm and we can say that we certainly saw a lot.
Some of the places we visited were:
Casa Rosada - This is known as the Pink House and is home to Argentina’s presidential offices. Construction began in 1862 and the building was painted pink shortly after.
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The Metropolitan Cathedral – This was again a very impressive building. There is a mausoleum inside which is the final resting place of the Liberator General José de San Martín, Argentina’s independence leader, and an eternal flame burns outside in his honor.
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The Floralis Generica - This is a gargantuan solar-powered flower sculpture and at dawn its enormous metallic petals open to the sun and at dusk the flower delicately closes for the night.
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The National Congress – This was an impressive building. It is colossal and is topped with a green dome. It was modeled on the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, and was completed in 1906.
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Torre de Los Ingleses - Big Ben in Buenos Aires. This 76m clock tower, located just across Plaza San Martín, was donated by the city’s British community in 1910. Decades later, it was a bomb target during the 1982 Falklands War.
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Caminito – This is part of La Boca. It’s most famous street is lined with brightly painted houses and local artists selling their work.
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Monument to the soldiers fallen in Malvinas (Falkland Islands) - This cenotaph is a memorial to the fallen soldiers during the Malvinas war. The cenotaph was inaugurated in 1990 and is composed by 25 granite plaques that have the inscription of the 649 soldiers’s names that fell during the war.
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We also walked across to the Puerto Madero area via Puente de la Mujer - Puerto Madero is femme-friendly: all the streets in the neighborhood are named after famous ladies, and the striking Puente de la Mujer (Bridge of the Woman) is the barrio’s signature monument. Unveiled in 2001 it represents a couple dancing the tango. The bridge also swings open to allow boats to pass through.
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Posted by shaneandnicola 01:45 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Buenos Aires

Recoleta

sunny 33 °C
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I had planned a spare day for today just in case we were severely jet lagged. But we were not as bad as expected. We decided to take a walk into the Recoleta and Retiro areas as that was only 10 blocks away from where we were staying. The Recoleta area is famous for the cemetery. The monks of the Order of the Recoletos arrived in this area in the early eighteenth century. The cemetery is built around their convent and a church, Our Lady of Pilar built in 1732. Our_Lady_o..ar_Basilica.jpg
The order was disbanded in 1822, and the garden of the convent was converted into the first public cemetery in Buenos Aires. Set in 14 acres the cemetery contains 4691 vaults, all above ground, of which 94 have been declared National Historical Monuments. The cemetery contains many elaborate marble mausoleums decorated with statues. The entire cemetery is laid out in sections like city blocks, with wide tree-lined main walkways branching into sidewalks filled with mausoleums. There are several famous people buried there but the mausoleum everyone goes to visit is for Eva Peron (Evita).
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Posted by shaneandnicola 13:40 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

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