houghWe went to Uruguay during our Argentina-Uruguay-Brazil-Argentina trip in December 2015. We started in Montevideo and then went to spend the New year at the beach to La Pedrera.
We got to Montevideo by boat from Buenos Aires. From the port in BA to MV it’s some 2 more hours by bus, which is included in the boat ticket price.
We have a friend there and we were staying in his place so I can’t tell you about the hostels/hotels. What I can tell you though, is that Montevideo is probably the most boring capital city I’ve ever been to. We arrived there in the evening and it seemed just dead, especially comparing to the buzz of Buenos Aires. It didn’t change at night. It seemed more peaceful than my grandparents’ one thousand-inhabitants village in Czech. So close to Argentina’s capital, yet so different. It makes you think that ‘once I retire, this is where I’m gonna move.’ It’s a developed country, you have everything you need there, it’s not dangerous… Well, not the best option for young people looking for fun and excitement. There is nothing particularly interesting in the city center, although it is nice. Same for the promenade by the beach, the Montevideo sign always surrounded by people taking pictures is not very impressive either. If you’re planning to go there, I think one day is perfectly sufficient.
And if you’re planning to go there during Christmas time, and eventually planning to move further to the beaches, watch out. On the 31st of December this peaceful oasis changed into an absolute madness! We went to a supermarket just to buy some beers before hitting the road to the beach, but we had to leave after 30 seconds, because it was just so packed, the lines were from one side of the supermarket to the other and it felt like in a club on a Friday night. I think I’ve seen a lot when it comes to South America, supermarkets and people, but this was a whole different level. It was even impressive, I’d say. There were maybe more people than actual goods there. And there was a long line outside for a taxi, too.
But eventually we made it to the bus station and got on our bus to La Pedrera. Yahoo.
La Pedrera is one of the many beach areas on the Uruguayan coast of the Atlantic ocean, from which the most famous one is Punta del Este, very popular among many latino celebrities. La Pedrera is not that prominent, it is a kinda hippie village filled with young people only. As an European, used to the Greek, Italian and Croatian beaches, I was quite surprised. Firstly, the village itself is really small and there’s not much to say about it-there’s nothing outstanding, architecture, culture, nature or food-wise. It’s just a normal Uruguayan village. Its surrounded by many vacation houses, cottages and youth hostels. The beach is sand, clean, but again nothing special. Don’t expect the European promenade-beach style, the restaurants and the village itself are situated further away. There is a main street in the village, where you find all the restaurants and nightlife. It’s buzzing at night and it has a really cool vibe. It’s somewhat hippie, with lot of Uruguayan 60s-like dressed youngsters, sipping their matés, omnipresent weed smell and street sellers and artists. When I say night, I mean 11 pm and later. You are in South America, you start living after 10 pm and not earlier! The food is pretty much the same as in Argentina, churrasco (beef steak sandwich), meat, meat, meat, pizza and sometimes seafood (try the mussels omelette!). The ocean is cold and there are big waves since most of the time its really windy.
Anyway, we had a good time there and after couple of chilled-out days, drinking beer, sipping maté and eating a lot of barbecue meat we left and continued up north to Brazil.
Going from La Pedrera to El Chuy
Our destination was a town called Chuy, on the Brazil-Uruguay border. It was some 5-6 hours far from La Pedrera and we had to change the bus twice. We traveled with different companies that we all found on internet. I do recommend to book your tickets in advance, the bus was packed and especially at this time of the year (around New year = South American summer) I really don’t think you could get the tickets at the bus station.
El Chuy represents a sudden change; it has a different, (I suppose) Brazilian vibe. Funny thing about this quite ugly border town is that there is the main street which divides it between the two countries. Once you cross it, you are in Brazil and vice versa. Things got interesting once we crossed, the streets suddenly became deserted, with an occasional street dog or some suspiciously looking guy. I have to admit I didn’t feel very comfortable, but I guess I just needed to get used to this- yes, Brazil is different to Uruguay or Argentina. The bus station was also something very different. It looked more like some abandoned, smelly, ugly restrooms from 1950s. We already learnt there how things in Brazil are-nobody speaks Spanish nor English. And yes, Portuguese is similar to Spanish, but on paper only, once the Brazilians start their Brazilian Portuguese flow, you don’t understand anything. Or at least we didn’t. If you don’t speak Portuguese (like us), use your hands, legs, face, whatever; it’s actually fun and eventually you get to the point. The Brazilians were always willing to use their legs, hands and face to communicate too, so everything went smoothly. From there we went to Porto Allegre in southern Brazil and the journey took about 12-13 hours.
More about Brazil in my other posts!
Check our vlog from the Uruguay-Brazil trip here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLt4DHJ0s1A4g1TX8hpic6cQN4IdtTZlrP