One of my goals for 2012 was to visit South America. It was one continent that I had never seen but always wanted to. I made it to London twice last year, so I thought that one trip to South America couldn’t be too hard to pull off. Right?
It just so happened that a friend of my boyfriend was living in Buenos Aires and he had his heart set on visiting him. So we made plans to go.
We decided to go for two weeks. A very long time in normal work world, but if you’re going to fly for 14 hours to get somewhere, you want to make it worth it. We also didn’t want to spend all our time in one city so we planned to visit several cities in Uruguay in addition to visiting Buenos Aires in Argentina.
We flew to Buenos Aires and Bryce met us at the airport. We spent the first four nights with him at his apartment outside of BA and he had cleared his schedule so that he could show us around the city. He had learned so much about Argentina and its history, that it was quite an educational tour.
Here is one of the parks in BA that we saw when Bryce was touring us:
We visited several markets and ate empanadas and pizza and saw statues. One of my favorite things we saw was this fancy old cemetery. Here are Trevor and Bryce in the cemetery:
Another highlight was the modern art museum. I think we were all really impressed with the collection there (and the price of admission, which was less than $2.) There was a room in the museum with walls decorated with charcoal. It wasn’t exactly an exhibit, but it was the only part of the museum where you could take pictures, so I did:
We also had time for some Buenos Aires nightlife. Some of Bryce’s friends were going to see a band play. It started at 1:00am (the time customs in Argentina reminded me a lot of Spain). So since the metro, or Subte as they call it, was closed and we didn’t want to wait forever for a bus, we walked.
When we got there, we were unsure whether it was a house party or a show. It seemed like a really big house, but they were selling drinks. At any rate, we had a good time:
The fourth day we were there was a holiday, which allowed Bryce to not have to work. We took a day trip to an island called Tres Bocas. It was a nice nature break from the big city.
Trevor and me in Tres Bocas:
That was our last day with Bryce and the next day we took a ferry up to Montevideo in Uruguay. Still a big city, still a bit European, but it felt smaller and more relaxed than Buenos Aires. We were able to get tickets to go see the orchestra our first night there. We went because it was cheap (about $7) and because the theater was supposed to be quite old and beautiful.
It was great! And that night they had this amazing pianist from Charleston, SC who was only 17! It was quite a fun outing.
We spent one other night and day in Montevideo. We basically walked around a lot (it was COLD! A cold front moved in and I had to wear two coats. Did I mention it’s winter in South America?) We walked along the coast for a long time. We saw another museum. We ate food and drank drinks.
Then we hopped on a bus and headed up the coast to this beach town for rich people called Punta del Este. In the summer it would have been super expensive and packed, but since it was freezing, it wasn’t. Here is a famous landmark there…it’s a hand reaching out of the sand:
That’s Trevor by the thumb. Here is a closer look with one of two stray dogs that followed us around. I don’t know why they chose us, but they literally followed us from the beach, across two streets back to the bus station until we got in a cab. There were lots of stray dogs in both Argentina and Uruguay. It was not something I was used to seeing a lot of. It made me miss my own dog, and wonder about his life before I found him. Anyway:
We stayed in an amazing hotel in Punta del Este. It was designed by an artist and was right on the water. Beautiful.
It was a bit isolated because it was far outside of the city. And the taxis there were not cheap, it was about $25 each way into the city. So pretty much we were stuck there for the night.
So we ate a big lunch in the hotel’s restaurant:
As you can see, it was pretty packed. Our lunch was pretty expensive, but delicious. Then we rested, visited the building’s museum about the artist, walked around a bit to see what we could see, and decided to go back to the restaurant for a quick snack since they closed at 8 and didn’t serve dinner.
All we wanted were croissants, but our waiter informed us they were out. He offered us toast, but instead I asked just for a sandwich with cheese and tomato. Trevor thought it sounded good and asked for one as well. The waiter double checked that we wanted two sandwiches and we said yes.
When he brought them out, they were huge. We could have shared one, as we weren’t hungry, only snacking as a preventative measure since we were stuck there. But we ate what we could. Then we got the bill and discovered our “snack” cost us about $50. Live and learn.
On the upside, here are some of the views from our room:
Another favorite part, was our room number. There wasn’t one. It was a drawing:
We liked to joke about ordering room service and having to explain that we were in room number “fish and hooks”.
Anyway, after one night in luxury we were ready for something a bit more low-key. So we hopped on another bus and headed further up the coast to Punta del Diablo. This was an extremely tiny town, which felt even tinier due to the fact that it was the off-season.
We stayed in this really great hostel that had two buildings: one right on the coast and one a couple blocks in. The main operation in winter was out of the non-coast building, but Trevor and I were staying in the one on the water (we were the only ones staying there!). It was quite a social environment: we sat and talked to the Americans working there, to a guy from Brazil, a girl from Australia and another girl from Germany. There was only one restaurant open in the entire town and the hours were a bit sketchy. So we cooked the first night and bought dinner at the hostel the second. When the cook at the hostel found out we were vegetarians, he whipped up an amazing carrot/butternut squash soup that was a bit spicy and came with a fried egg on top! We were happy because vegetables had been in short supply in the land of steak, pasta, pizza and empanadas.
Some pictures from Punta del Diablo:
At first we were only going to stay in Punta del Diablo one night, but we liked it a lot there and also there was a horseback riding adventure we really wanted to go on, but wasn’t until late in the day on our second day. So we stayed another night and caught a super early bus the next day to go back to Montevideo and then catch a second bus to go further south to a town called Colonia. I would say it was worth it to get up super early and ride a lot of buses all at once for the horseback riding:
I love horses and horseback riding but hate when the trail rides are all boring and slow. This definitely was not the case here. Trevor and I were the only ones in the group, our guide was super nice, and we stopped halfway through the ride to drink wine and have a snack.
There was no trail: we just rode up the beach and then into a national park. It felt very laid back and fun. We never had to sign any waiver saying we wouldn’t sue if we got hurt. Which was refreshing, but seriously after drinking the wine we started trotting and cantering a bunch and I almost fell off a few times. I hung in there, though, and only ended up with some sore legs.
So after our bus rides, we ended up in Colonia in the mid-afternoon. It was a historic, small town with cobblestone streets and old buildings. It was nice.
Here’s Trevor on the Calle de Los Suspiros (the street of sighs) looking at a cheese menu. We had lunch at a highly recommended place that served fancy cheese and wine. We had so much cheese for lunch. It was good, but very cheesy. The wine was amazing.
After lunch, we hopped on another ferry and went back to Buenos Aires. We spent two more days and nights there in a bed and breakfast. We had dinner with Bryce again and spent some time getting lost since we didn’t have him as a tour guide during the day. Buenos Aires is a huge city!
Overall, it was a great trip. I’m glad to have visited at least a couple countries in South America, but I definitely want to see more of it when I can.