Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sitting down to blog about Uruguay... finally.

This posting might be spattered with a bit of ADD, but alas, you'll probably understand most of it.

As mentioned earlier, I fell in love with Colonia, Uruguay. We arrived there via Buque Bus, a ferry service that takes you from BA to Colonia and/or Montevideo (capital of UR). There are two options: one hour or three hour rides. We opted for the one hour, Linkbut mostly because the others were sold out. Loving ride.

Colonia is a quiet little town that sits itself across the river to BA. And in case you didn't know, BA is not really on the ocean. It sort of is. But it doesn't feel like it, because it's not. The water is brown, sediment from the river, Rio de la Plata, hitting the Atlantic Ocean. Want to know more about Colonia, dig my previous post: here.Link
We rented a car in Colonia. From Thrifty, for just over $200 for the week. This turned out to be a super, super wise decision. Sure, there are a few buses that transport folks to most of the destinations we wanted to visit, but not all. I remember on one tank refill, the bill came to $960!!!!!!! Of course, that's UR pesos. 23 to 1 US dollar.

(P.S. I'm starting to upload pictures of Colonia... see them here: Colonia I)

Easiest way to convert UR pesos to US dollars: chop of the last digit (they almostLink never use cents). So, let's say something costs $250 UR pesos, like a bottle of Smirnoff vodka (not that I'd know...hee, heet). Whop of the 0. You get $25. Divide by two, 12.5, and now take off a little. So, in the end, that bottle costs about $11 US$. What a fun and easy way to figure out costs. Now you try: this meal for four at this nice restaurant, HOP, in Punta del Este costs $2775!!!!! About how much is that in US$?

We did eat at HOP in Punta del Este. It was yummy! It was also the first time I'd had fish since being in South America. Tuna. It was yummy. I also had some "paella", which they were cooking out in front the restaurant! Paella is very similar to seafood gumbo. Oh, and seafood gumbo is like a big vat of various sea creatures (and/or crawfish). It was very, very tasty.

(this blog is sort of intimidating because there's soooo much to write... TBC)


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Of course, I´d love to post pictures...

But at the moment, I can´t. Computers at hostels are usually quite slow.

I´ve stayed at El Viajero hostels for the last several days. They have four in Uruguay, and I´ve stayed at the one in Colonia and Manantiales, just past Punta del Este. They really are nothing compared to Kapake in Palermo, BsAs, but I guess I don´t expect much. They´re hostels. They cost around $15 a night. Plus, I´m not even at the hostel much; just sleeping and waking, drinking cups of the worst coffee ever. Worst! I really need to buy instant coffee and carry it around with me. Oh, this morning, for some reason, the water has turned cloudy, green. Yikes. Maybe I´ll use bottled water for my oatmeal instead of tap water.

Speaking of coffee. I´ve noticed this before and this thought has crossed my mind lots. Let me spill it:

The folks here (BsAs y Uruguay) really like to sit and enjoy their coffee. It´s rare to see to-go cups at the cafes. You sit down. You order your coffee. And you are served. You always get a little cookie or two, and a small glass of water (usually ¨con gas¨... I prefer ¨sin gas¨, but I survive). And you sit and sip your coffee. It´s yum. Each cup is always freshly made and it´s always espresso. Mi gusto!

We´ve picked up a new Aussie friend for a couple of days in Punta del Este and now we´re heading to Punta del Diablo. I´m pretty sure it´s the last little town before you hit Brasil.

Yesterday was spent at one of the most beautiful beaches I´ve been to: Jose Ignacio. It´s known for being the hideaway/getaway for not only wealthy Argentine familes, but celebrities (US moviestars included) as well. The only famous person I saw at the beach though was the great bassist, Matthew Golombisky. I couldn´t believe it!


Bloggin´ from hostels....

Is hard.

The connections are usually bad or down all together, or there´s a line. It´s tough. And....

I´ve been on the road, living in hostels for the last week or more. But, I´m not trying to paint a bad picture; I have been hosteling along the coast of Uruguay and it´s one of the most beautiful places I´ve ever been. In its own sweet beachy way. I love it. I have fallen in love with Uruguay. Would I have ever thought of this 10 years, 5 years, 1 year or two months ago??? No. I´m sorry that I never yearned for this place before.

I´ll update you more later.

Friday, February 6, 2009

I have absolutely fallen in love.

Yesterday, Margot, Noah, and I left BsAs one a ferry. But like a semi-high tech ferry; comfy, reclining seats and TVs (showing some silly circus act with trampolines and fire spinning), etc. There are two ferries that go between BsAs and Colonia, Uruguay (our first destination on this one week Uruguay costal tour). One ferry, three hour trip; another ferry, one hour trip. The three ferry is cheaper, but it was booked up. We opted for the fast ferry, rapido! I mean, it was only like $7 more expensive.

We arrived around 7:30pm. The short walk to our hostel, El Viajero, excited us a tad. After we paid for two nights (at $15 a night!!!!), dropped off our bags, we headed out for a wonderful, long sunset. Now, I was totally excited to be here. Oh my, the views!

Colonia, Uruguay is one of my most favorite places! I love it! It´s cute; adorable! Anywhere and everywhere you turn in the old section of town is worthy of a picture. (But because this computer and connection is sooooo slow and unreliable, I won´t be able to upload pictures... soon enough though.) The sunset was beautiful. It´s interesting to note that because the way Colonia is situated in this cape/bay, it´s one of the only places on the east coast of South America that you can get a sunset over the water. It was beautiful. It is beautiful. You can also see the skyline of BsAs from Colonia. The sun sets just over the skyscrapers...

And it´s pretty darn queit. I didn´t realize how much I needed the quiet after living in BsAs for a month (or more). BsAs is extremely noisy, in most places. It is a huge city afterall. But this tranquil feel, here in Colonia, immediately relaxed me. And forced me to fall in love with this little city.

Lots and lots of scooters and little motorcycles...

Let´s get some stats on Colonia del Sacramento (the full name):
Population: 21,000. Founded in 1680. We did read that Uruguay has a 98% literacy rate!!! The whole country has 3.5 million folks.

Wikipedia has a few things to say further. ¨According to Transparency International, Uruguay is the least corrupt country in Latin America (along with Chile), with its political and labor conditions being among the freest on the continent. The word, Uruguay, comes from the Guarani language, meaning ´river where the painted birds live´.¨

Gotta run for now. Thanks for reading! Check up on more interesting facts on Uruguay. It´s a pretty neato place.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Some down time and then I'm off to Uruguay.

Hi all. These past few days have been pretty relaxed. Noah (stateside friend, now in Argentina for three months) and I did lots and lots of walking. We walked through the lovely parks of Palermo and the Japanese Garden.

Lots more pictures here:
Palermo parks

And here:
Jardin Japones

I moved out of my apartment a few days ago. Thanks to Ivan and Tomas for a great month!! Those guys are good people and helped me out quite a bit.

Noah, Margot (Noah's novia and my friend from Potbelly, stateside), and I are waiting to move into our new place in a week or so. We've got a place in Villa Crespo, but if you remember, we can't move in until Feb. 12th.

We're staying at this great hostel right now. It's awesome! Referred to us by Andrea (friend from Spanish school). Kapake, check it out. Most hostels look really nice online, but in real life, kinda shabby. This is not the case for Kapake; it really is amazing.

Margot just arrived! Yayyy!

Tomorrow, to pass the time before moving into our new place, we head off for a little vacation. We're spending a week on the beaches of Uruguay. Down time. Hang time. Fun time. I think most of the hostels have computers, so I'll keep you updated. Here are a few places on our loose itinerary: Colonia, Montevideo, Punta del Este, Punta del Diablo.

Ver mapa más grande

Side note: I had a "carne muy picante" empanada yesterday. "muy picante" is supposed to mean, "really spicy." So far, it's been a lie. Hahahahaaa! Well, yesterday's carne muy picante was really spicy. Wait, not REALLY spicy, but spicy. Such pleasure from having to blow my nose from spice. First time since I left the states has this happened. Yayyyy for the little, little things in life.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Have I told you....? much this place reminds me of New Orleans? No? Well, it certainly does. The dirty, gritty feel of hot, humid culture; the un-needed sense of urgency; the sidewalks; the obsession with food; the drinking on the streets (though, you can't buy alcohol from stores after 10pm, which is odd and silly).... crazy driving would be here? Lanes? To be determined by the driver. Stop signs? Absent. And when they are here, they're ignored. Pedestrians? Be on the look out or you will die. much dog poop exists for you to step in? No, no, I have told you that. And lots. late night life starts here? (Oh, again refer to being reminded of New Orleans.) Late! Going out to dinner starts around 10:30pm. Or later. Oh, let's meet at the club. Cool, what time? Let's say 2:30am. Perfect. The place doesn't open until then anyway. Cool.

...that they speak Spanish here? They do. I knew that, right? Yeah, I knew that. Well, did I know that I didn't speak Spanish? Yeah, I knew that too. But it's coming along. Fun times.
living in Buenos Aires