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On the hunt for Chivitos in Uruguay

UNITED KINGDOM | Sunday, 26 June 2016 | Views [434]

Arriving in Uruguay was a stark contrast from Buenos Aires considering it's only 1 hour by ferry. It's a very green place with lots of farmland and reminded me much of home, seeming like a world away from the hectic, dirty city we had just left.

The ferry terminal in Colonia was a short bus ride from the capital of Montevideo so we headed directly there knowing that we'd be spending a night in quaint Colonia on the return leg. On arriving at our accomodation we heard those words you never want to hear when travelling, "There is a problem with your booking". Not to worry, Booking.com saved the day and we trekked only 15 mins to a new hotel which was actually much nicer than the first B&B. Every cloud, they say!

First impressions of Montevideo? I felt ever so slightly less safe than in Bs Aires. Maybe it was to do with the fact we stayed in the old town, where street lighting was poor and it gets dark around 6pm so it means you have to walk home in the dark. There was a noticeable amount of poverty and many derelict buildings so I suppose that added to the feel. We stuck to the main streets as much as possible and soon found a strip of little cafes & restaurants to have a drink. It seems they love their afternoon tea in Argentina & Uruguay as at 6pm all the cafes are full of people ordering "Meriendas" - coffee and pastries or toast. We tried coffee in El Copacabana which was generously served with soda water, a shot of OJ, a skoosh of fresh cream & a wafer biscuit on a wee silver tray. It was great and not bad for under £2! In the evening we tried a wee restaurant called Jacinto - what you might say a "hipster place" but it was very cosy, candlelit and we got the full place to ourselves as it was a Wednesday night. The food was incredible and had weird combinations that just worked so well together like aubergine & pomegranate!

Our second day was spent exploring La Rambla - the walk/bike pathway along the coast. This was a great way to see the city and gave me a much better impression than the first day as we headed into the newer, modernised districts. I managed to talk Niall into hiring bikes rom Orange Bici and we spent nearly 4 hours going along the coast stopping at a lighthouse, the Montevideo sign and finally for a Patricia beer and some papas fritas (chips) before the return journey. The weather was dry, slightly chilly but just nice for this kind of activity. It was our last night so even though we were starting to get sick of eating out (this actually does happen to me after about a week!)..we settled on a cosy, family run Italian-influenced restaurant in the old town. I finally tried the Milanese dish (veal with breadcrumbs) which is popular throughout the country and it was such a massive portion but very tasty!

Our final day in Uruguay was by far my highlight. We retraced our footsteps back to Colonia del Sacramento, a small port which was discovered by the Portuguese and known as a smugglers port. It was tiny, with cobbled streets and a medieval feel to it with lots of ruins. We spend a couple of hours exploring it and looking for somewhere to eat a Chivito - the infamous Uruguayan sandwich. We got 2 from a food van and oh my God it was a heart attack in a bun. Thin beef steak, fried egg, cheese, bacon, ham, onions, lettuce and I have no idea what else was layered inside a bread roll - they serve it in a bag so you don't drip it everywhere! I think I ate about half and couldn't eat anymore so fed it to a stray dog :)

After our big feed we were taken to El Nido (the treehouse) via Airbnb for a cosy night on a farm with some friendly dogs! It was so picturesque I really could have stayed a couple more days and sat with a book or done crafts. They welcomed us with homemade bread & jam plus a banana loaf - such a nice touch which you'd never get in a hotel! It was the perfect relaxing stop after all of our city adventures and recharged our batteries for the next voyage to Iguazu Falls.

On 25th June, we travelled from Uruguay to Brazil, via Argentina by plane, ferry, bus and taxi. A bit mental but we just about made it with our tight schedule! We are now in Foz do Iguazu (Brazil) for 3 days and I'll talk more about those adventures in my next blog!

Thanks again for reading!
N x

Tags: chivito, colonia, ferry, la rambla, milanese, montevideo, south america, uruguay


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