Montevideo and Uruguay is renowned for their free range beef. In the 1500s cattle was introduced from the neighboring countries and allowed to roam freely because the land was not too attractive to settle at that moment. The cattle prospered in the wild and were soon in the millions. Now meat is one of the most important industries of Uruguay, and it is all grass fed, without both antibiotics and growth hormone. The way it should be done.
In Montevideo in the port there is a place called Mercado del Puerto. It is a hall of different restaurants offering classic barbecue, called Parilla. Most of the restaurants offer more or less the same menu, at similar prices. We sat down at the third one we walked by, mainly because the waiter caught us with a glass of complementary sparkling wine.
When we came back to have dinner here at a later date, we found out that the only meal served at Mercado del Puerto is lunch, they close at 16:00. One restaurant that was halfway inside the building was open though, so we did not have to starve.
After Cabo Polonio we rushed our way to Montevideo to meet up Linns friend Emilia who joined us for two weeks. Finding each other has gotten both cheaper and easier with apps like whatsapp and messenger, I think we used the latter to give a meeting point when we both arrived at the Montevideo Tres Cruces bus terminal.
We spent most of our time in Montevideo eating amazing cuts of beef in different restaurants. We also hung out on the beach some days. Many things are to be said about Montevideo and its beaches. We spent some days on Playa Pocitos which was in close vicinity to the apartment we found on airbnb. The beach itself is rather nice, but the water does not give a feeling of being too clean. This is mostly because you are not really swimming in the sea, but rather in the river caller “Rio de la Plata”. The river has with it some of the pollution from Buenos Aires, but mainly red sediment that makes the water look brown. It is no problem to bathe and swim in the water, but if we were ever to go to the beach in Uruguay again, Punta del Este is much more preferred.
At least the dirty water did not stop us from playing on the beach!
A usual sight in front of us in the evenings in Montevideo, a standard size of a portion of beef seems to be 400g, at least! At first we had some misunderstandings about how we wanted the meat cooked. The term “Rojo, media rojo” seemed to be the one that works best in conveying that we want it red in the middle, but still be cooked and not just flipped on the grill.
Both at the hostel in Punta del Este and in a lunch restaurant we got a recommendation to go to Cabo Polonio, about four hours from Punta del Este. Cabo Polonio is a little town with out electricity and no roads. A perfect place to relax, away from the civilization. We were a little to late because of a severe case of hangover to take the direct bus so we had to improvise the route. This ended up needing three stops (waiting time and a Jeep-tour) before we arrived just in time to realize we missed the sunset and it was all dark.
We had dinner in one of the restaurants in the village, it left us wondering why we ever left civilization, but it was a funny experience. Later in the night we took a walk to the beach and the lighthouse. We heard some sea lions but never saw them in the dark.
Tim found this little beauty right above his pillow, two decimeter from him. Jon had to do a rescue operation before everybody could sleep. By the way, I have never ever been in a room that dark.
Jon and I decided that since we missed the sunset we wanted to see the sunrise. After 4 hours of sleep we went back to the beach. It was a bit cloudy and I’m not sure it was worth it in retrospect. This picture shows the hostels backyard. Yes, it might look like a big party tent but no, it is actually some kind of building. The dark is a blessing for the looks of this hostel but the hosts are really great. We just stayed one night – had be great to explore more and maybe stay another night but Millie arrived to Montevideo the same afternoon so we were in a hurry to get back.
We decided to go to a beach town 2 hours from Montevideo for a few days since we had heard the beaches/water in Montevideo are not so nice. So after 6 hours of buses and waiting we reached Punta del Este and the beach.
A pretty beautiful evening.
The day after we went all in for a beach day. And the result? Jon got a little bit burned (again). Tim had sunblock and did fine. But over all it was a nice day.
Punta del Este is a charming beach town (read: tourist destination), a lot of the tourists are people from Buenos Aires that want a great beach. The season peaks in late December/January and the prices rise from €10 to €60/night at a good hostel (more about that later). So we just missed the peak and enjoyed the beaches. After four days we went on to the next adventure.
After spending some lazy days in Buenos Aires we met up with my younger brother Tim who is joining us for almost one month. We had hamburgers at a really nice place in Palermo called simply “Burger Joint”, great and affordable burgers. After this we set out to get to Uruguay and Colonia.
We had booked one night in Colonia mostly because thats where the boat landed and we wanted to plan a few days to explore Uruguay before going to the apartment in Montevideo we had booked on Airbnb.
It was rather easy to find the Buquebus terminal where most boats seemed to depart from, including the SeaCat one we wanted to go with because of its low price.
The price on the internet were something close to €14 when using the blue rate. After showing our passports and getting registered at the desk we were informed that since we are foreign we are not allowed to pay in pesos cash. We can pay either in pesos by card, getting a lousy rate, or we can pay in dollars, getting an even worse rate, resulting in paying more or less three times what we first anticipated. We paid in pesos, at the lousy rate, a grand total of about €25 each.
While it was not a huge amount of money, it still made us feel sad that this was not mentioned on the website and felt a bit cheated. A later search on google confirmed what we were told at the desk, it is in fact the Argentine government that has decided this. The rule the decided on is that tourist services rendered outside of Argentina, wholly or in part, must not be paid with pesos in cash by a foreigner. The lesson here is that there are strange laws in place to protect the free fall currency and that you always should do the math when offered to pay in multiple currencies.