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Saturday, December 7, 2013

A trip to Uruguay - Day 2 - Montevideo !!!

We had covered almost all places of Colonia (which I wanted) and then started for Montevideo. You can either rent a car from Colonia to go to Montevideo or can choose another option Bus. Bus service in Uruguay is really good. I found the best option of Cot bus service (around UYU 300 pesos from Colonia to Montevideo). Frequency of Cot bus service (from Colonia to Montevideo) is in every hour. Buses are really comfortable and also free wifi throughout the way adds another plus point.

Bus Service – You can check for the schedule of bus service here :
COT bus            -
TURIL bus         -

A Little about Montevideo –
Montevideo is the capital of Uruguay but not a very large city like Buenos Aires. it boasts a very efficient public transportation system so getting around is not difficult at all. If you are not bashful about your Spanish, feel free to ask people which bus route you need to take to get to your destination. It is be the most effective and cheap option because cab is really costly over there. Alternatively if you know some Spanish there are two websites similar to Google Maps that are useful: Cómo ir andMontevideoBus.

It is useful to know that if you choose to ride a bus, upon boarding you will pay either the driver or the assistant who sits on the right-hand side of the bus (door-side) a few seats from the entrance. There is a small device that will dispense your receipt, make sure you hold on to it for the duration of your ride as sometimes company supervisors board buses checking for these receipts (making sure no one is riding unauthorized). If you are unsure where to get off you can always ask the driver or assistant to let you know when your stop is coming up and they'll be happy to oblige. Just try to remain visible so they can tell you (though if the bus gets full and you've moved to the back they'll yell out the street name). It is also important to note that you do not need to have the exact fare as the driver or the assistant carry change.

How to Start –
Like in Colonia, you will find tourism office in Montevideo bus stand as well. They provide you all the information you need and also map (which covers every inch and place). This service is free of cost and people are of very welcoming nature. And from here you can start for the places you want to visit. I booked a cab directly to my hostel (El Viajero Ciudad Vieja Hostel). It was around 5kms (somewhere in downtown) from the bus terminal and cost me 170UYU pesos. Frankly speaking, I didn't like that hostel at all. That was the worst hostel I have stayed till date. The rooms were not in good condition and the location (downtown) added a negative point into it. The streets around were hostel were totally empty and scary in the night.

Attraction Points :
Montevideo is not a large city, and most of the sites can be seen in about a day as they are clustered together. Most of the places are museums. I have listed the few of places, you can find more on google.

  • Ciudad Vieja — Montevideo's Old TownEnter through the portal called Puerta de la Ciudadela at one end of Plaza de Independencia.
  • Plaza de Independecia — The square at the end of 18 de Julio Ave., with the latter being the main commercial artery of the city.
  • Palacio Salvo — Next to Plaza Independencia. Once South America's highest building, the Palacio Salvo still dominates Montevideo's skyline. You can take an elevator to the top at no cost for an excellent view of the city.
  • National History Museum — Spread between five old historic houses, holds important bits of the country's history.No entrance fee.
  • El Día del Patrimonio, — On the last Saturday of September (or beginning of October), all the museums and historical places of interest around the Plaza de Independencia open for free to the public. There is also a large "Murga," or a traditional South American parade in which all the Uruguayan political parties take part.
  • Barrio Reus - a small neighbourhood with charming coulorful houses.
  • Palacio Legislativo - national parliament, the first one in South America and an iconic symbol of Uruguay´s long lasting democracy.
  • Palacio Taranco - seat of the Museum of Decorative Art.
  • Mercado del Puerto - this is a covered market full of restaurants and some shops selling handicrafts. The main market is open every day during lunch hours. The restaurants around the exterior offer both indoor and outdoor seating, and they remain open for dinner.
  • Cathedral
  • Old Sepharadi Synagogue
  • Teatro Solis
  • Penarol - not only the name of the world famous football team but also an old well preserved railway district among the oldest in South America.
  • Museo Blanes - museum of early Uruguayan art from the 19th to early 20th Centuries
  • Tiles Museum (Museo del Azulejo) - exhibiting around 3000 tiles
  • National Museum of Anthropology and National History
  • Central Cemetery - a historic cemetery with sculptures
  • Punta Carretas - a shopping centre located in a former prison
  • World Trade Centre
  • Parque Rodo - Montevideo's main park with numerous amusement facilities
  • Castillo Soneira
  • Pittamiglio Castle, Rambla Gandhi 633, Interesting Castle. Must pay for a 45-mins tour to enter. Better to call and check the opening hrs.  

To EAT :
·         El Inmigrante (address – across the streets of Colonia y Rio Negro) – Run by two ladies, and open for 24 hours (this is what she told us), they work on shift basis which change in every 8 hours. It is like the mini subway where you can customize your sandwich with whatever stuff you want. They have a wide variety of items like chicken/ham/beef, tomato/sweetcorn/capsicum/onion, sausages (spicy) etc. It is the best option I could find in Montevideo and its quite cheap too.
·         La Taqueria, (Jose Marti 3373), La Taqueria, situated just a few steps from Pocitos beach, offers excellent Mexican food at very reasonable prices. Run by two friends, this is a great place to eat and drink in Montevideo among the locals. Service is excellent and English spoken as well. Try the Taco del Diablo and the mojitos!
·         Fainá — It's a mixture of corn flour and milk, which is baked in the pizza oven. Quality is variable among pizzerías, most delicious is the thin or de orilla ("from the edge") part which is crunchier!

Money Exchange :
 Like Colonia, money exchange is not a problem in Montevideo. Almost all currencies are welcome at official rate except ARS (which I know). For instance, when I visited (Nov 2013), official rate was 3.6UYU/ARS but we got deal as 1.9UYU/ARS. Few of the restaurants accept ARS too but exchange rate can vary. But still I would recommend you to get some money convert to UYU at bus stand.

Pics : You can visit my facebook album to check for few of the pictures I clicked at this link.

Please check for the Next post for details on Punta del Este activities.

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