Argentina to Uruguay
We arrived on a night bus from Mendoza and went straight from the bus station to the buquebus ferry terminal in a taxi.
We did not book our tickets before hand. It looked like one would be leaving at around 11am and if we arrived around 9:30am we thought we would have enough time. Once we got there we were told, along with about 10 other people before us, that there were no more tourist class seats available. We would have to buy first class tickets if we wanted to go on that particular ferry. We could have waited, but spending the next 5 hours waiting around a ferry terminal with all our luggage didn’t really appeal, so we sucked if up and bought the first class. There are different categories of ferries and different classes within the ferries as well as various destinations. You can go to the website http://www.buquebus.com/
You can even buy your tickets online, but I’m not sure exactly how it works since I didn’t do it. First class is nice, but not worth the extra money. We arrived in Colonia and there was a bus waiting at the ferry station to take us straight to Montevideo. The whole trip including bus and ferry lasted a little over 3 hours.
The immigration process was the easiest of any we have passed through yet.
A note about Uruguay: Many people visit this country as a short side trip from BA. I think a 1 week trip would be about perfect to see the highlights (Colonia, Montevideo and the beach). This country doesn’t have the main attractions that some other places have. The one thing is definitely has going for it are the people. They were the nicest, friendliest and most helpful people that I met out of the 6 Latin American countries we visited.
The buquebus dropped us off at the central bus station. We took a taxi from there to our hotel in downtown ($3). Taxi’s have a different system there. The number on the meter is not the amount you pay. The number corresponds to an amount on a chart that the driver carries with him. I am always suspicious when things are different than I expected, but it is legit.
Price - $18 for a double with a bath. No breakfast
Cleanliness â€“ okay. A little on the shabby side.
Comfort â€“ Mattress was okay, but the pillow was very thin. I did find a second one in the cupboard. that helped. It did not have a lot of street noise, but the hallways echoed and the couches on each floor were right in front of our room. People were sitting and talking loudly on them at 12-4am one night
Character â€“ We found out about this place through lonely planet. I quote, â€œgorgeous (if slightly over the top) furniture…â€ I would not call this place gorgeous. It is in an old building and a lot of the furniture reflects the right time period, but it is run down and hasn’t been taken care of the way it should. It has the old fashioned character though. If you turn on a light switch, music will come on through speakers into your room.
Amenities â€“ some rooms have cable, but not all. There is a phone that calls down to the front desk â€“ sometimes it works. They will wake you up in the morning if you ask. Luggage storage.
Recommended? - It all just seemed a little dark and dreary to me. It was fine for sleeping, but I didn’t really want to be there too much otherwise. I met someone who was staying at the Red Hostel she really liked it there. http://www.redhostel.com/
I looked into working as an ESL teacher here as well. There were opportunities to teach business English to managers etc. in companies. Language schools for high schools and children also exist, but they run more on the school schedule of March â€“ December. The pay was nice, especially compared to Mendoza, but Uruguay was more expensive in general. Rent was about $500 for a furnished 1 bedroom apartment in the central areas. Eating out cost more like $10 per person instead of $5 like we found in Argentina. The transportation system involved buses that would work, but would take time to figure out. Especially because the teachers have to go to the various offices, so there is a lot of moving around necessary to get from one job to the next. We decided not to stay here, but I think it was my favorite capital city of all the countries we visited if I was going to live in one (Not for vacationing). But, I prefer things to be a little smaller for living.
We moved on to Punte Del Este for a nice side trip to the beach.
The bus ticket cost about $3.50 and took 2 hours. The drive was beautiful. We were smitten before we even got there.
I’m not a huge fan of sky rises on the beach, but the area around the peninsula was really nice and green and much more peaceful. It was kind of neat to have both kinds of worlds available so close together.
I think it has its own website too, but that one has most of the important details including other hotels.
Price - $30 for a double with a private bath and descent breakfast (during October. It goes way up in January and a little higher in the Spring) We checked out 3 other prices and that was the cheapest descent hotel we could find during our brief search.
Cleanliness â€“ Very clean and tidy
Comfort â€“ Nice bed, good shower, the shades on the windows that come down to keep out the sun and the noise. The room was not large, but it had closets to put your suitcases in to give more space.
Character â€“ Perfect for a more budget hotel in the area. It wasn’t fancy, but it was pleasant. The colors matched and everything tended to be in beach colors, blue, white and beige. The tiles in the bathroom had images of shells on them.
Amenities â€“ breakfast with a sea view, luggage storage, cable, but the TV picture was a little green tinted in our room. Near the main attractions like the giant hand, the bus station and the main strip of restaurants etc. We got a weak wireless connection, but we think it was coming from another building. No Internet.
Recommended? - The manager was extremely friendly and helpful. I thought it was a great place. $30 was a little more than what we had been paying, but the price vs. what you got thing seemed to be on target.
There is a hostel that sounds nice in the area, but they didn’t answer their phone when we tried to call from the bus station.
We looked into renting a car. Dollar was the cheapest at $32, but they didn’t have any economy cars left. $38-42 was about normal per day. You can rent the moto scooters for about $28 a day or $6 per hour. You need your drivers license from your home country. Passports aren’t good enough. Sometimes people say it is cheaper to hire a taxi for the day, so I asked just out of curiosity. The driver told me it would be about $100 for 5 hours. So, I guess not. Also, taxis in general tended to be a little expensive here.
Punte del Este to Colonia
We took a bus back to Montevideo en route to Colonia (Not normally necessary, but we had left one of our suitcases there, so we needed to get it back). Then caught a bus an hour later to Colonia. In total about 4 Â½ hours driving and $7.50
We arrived pretty late (around 8pm) without a reservation. We tried to go to a couple of places recommended in on a website about Colonia (www.guiacolonia.com.uy). It provided online booking, but no telephone #’s. I was trying to make a booking that afternoon right before we got on the bus, so the whole email thing wasn’t going to work for us, but we basically went around being told full, full, full. So, apparently, make a booking in advance here. Someone told us about a hostel nearby, so we finally were able to find a place, but it wasn’t the best nights sleep I’ve gotten.
We stayed at Posada Casa Los Pinas
There is nothing particularly special or bad about the hotel itself until 7am. The building next door is under construction. It sounds like they have a shared wall that they started hammering and banging on so freaking early in the morning. No amount of earplugs or pillows over my head helped. The building didn’t look close to being done, so I warn everyone to stay FAR AWAY for at least 6 months (May 07).
I went to the tourist information office and they had a brochure with hotels AND their phone #’s
She recommended the following
Posada San Gabriel 052 23283
Posada Del Angel 052 24602
Posada De La Armonia 052 28645
Hospedaje El Espanol 052 30759
I don’t know much about them, but you can go to the website to get more info and then call them if you are interested.
We ate at 2 amazing places while we were there.
Viego Barrio was good Italian, but the real highlight was the waiter. He was a crazy fun guy who kept changing from one crazy hat to another. We asked about mate because so many people were drinking it, but no one sells it in the little cafes or whatever. So, he went and got his own cup and then gave us a little mate making and drinking demonstration then he let us try it.
Parrillada El Porton had great pork. Everything that came off the grill was so succulent and tender, but the pork was phenomenal.
Colonia - Buenos Aires
We left that night around 7pm to head back to Argentina on Buquebus. This time we went on the 3 hour ferry (around $22) in order to save money. It wasn’t too bad. The ferry is so comfortable and you can get up and walk around and everything, so it is worth it if you are on a budget. Not if you are on a time crunch.