Salta, a city founded in 1582 with a unique blend of Spanish and Indigenous culture and home to one of the highest trains in the world.

Fountain on the way into the city

Arriving into Salta just after mid-morning we stumbled to our hostel and for the first time on our trip, Dee was able to understand the Spanish-speaking receptionist. Hooray for Spanish practice on our trip :)

Unfortunately whilst in Salta James had come down with a cold and spent much of the time trying to recover. When he did venture out of his darkened cave we came across a few unusual sights, including what appears to be becoming the norm of at least twenty or so dogs roaming the streets, as well as the Barny Gomez Resto-Bar. Taking inspiration from the Simpson’s, the bar stood out like a sore thumb against the more traditional Spanish Colonial style buildings.

Barny Gomez!

We spent much of our time around the popular Nueve de Julio Plaza, lined with some very impressive colonial buildings, dating back to the 18th-20th centuries. The Cabildo, previously the town hall, the Musuem of Contemporary Art, The Cathedral and the Museum of High Mountain Archaeology which houses three mummified Inca children are just a few of the sights around the square. Between these buildings the square is lined with cafes and bars, filled with every cake and type of sandwich you could possibly think of. In the middle of the square stands the statue of General Jose de Arenales - a governor of Salta. The plaza provided excellent people watching opportunities, the more Spanish - gaucho style lifestyle was completely different to the European like cities we’d encountered so far.

The cabildo

Given the large Gaucho influence, the traditional food in Salta was different to what we’d seen before as well. Of course there was barbecue, which we avoided this time around, opting for a taste of traditional soups, and some of the Italian influenced food instead. Slow-cooked goat and tripe stews were on the menu and definitely made the trip to the more expensive Dona Salta restaurant worthwhile. This apparently is home-style Argentinian cooking at it’s best, served with lashings of bread, salsa and of course wine. On another of the days, Dee came across a place who’d only just opened and ordered the Menu Del Dia for $7aud and could barely finish it, homemade vegetable soup, Italian meatballs and of course more bread. Bread seems to be the staple beginning of each meal; here, you don’t just get one piece either, it’s usually a full basket with oils, flavoured mayonnaise or spicy tomato salsa.

Dee's tripe stew

Our waiter

The further north we’ve moved the more bread there is, and the notable presence of family in the management of the restaurants has provided a homely feeling when you arrive. We were also pleasantly surprised with our hostel in Salta and their quality of coffee, waking up in the cold is not always pleasant but being greeted with a hot cappuccino in the mornings had definitely made it much easier! James was very excited by the prospect of something resembling a real coffee. The food in Salta definitely did not disappoint, the abundance of wine also made our visit rather enjoyable.

Hostel coffee with steamed milk!

Salta is home to a teleferico (a cable car); this is something else that appears to be a common occurrence in South America. Every city that has a hill seems to have a teleferico. This particular one took us up to the San Bernado Hill, where we able to see Salta’s version of Christo Redemptor, no clouds hiding Jesus today! The view from the top was quite amazing; Salta is much bigger than either of us had thought. We walked around the gardens that held a waterfall and a random silver shop having a rather large sale (not something we expected to see at the top of a hill!) The cable car starts in Plaza Del Lago, a large park with a lake, gumtrees paddleboats and the standard knick-knack markets and food stalls around it. During our visit we had attempted to catch the “Train to the Clouds” which would take us for a journey on one of the worlds highest train tracks. Our luck with trains wasn’t helping, the train was booked until the start of October – it wasn’t meant to be.

Cable car

Garden at the top

Our stay in Salta definitely wasn’t long enough to see everything this beautiful city had to offer. We did manage to grab our picture in front of the parliament, fighting past a bunch of school children, and tried amazing food and wine… This is definitely somewhere we’d love to come back to Struggling with the bank situation again (because they close at 1:30pm everyday) we got everything packed and made our way back to the bus station for the 6:00am bus… next stop: San Pedro De Atacama.

Go see all the photos from Salta

Bienvenido to Córdoba, the second-largest city in Argentina, smack bang in the middle of the country with 1.3 million people.

Arriving Saturday morning off the seven-hour overnight bus with little sleep we ventured to the hostel, who, thankfully were more than willing to let us check in at 9am. Loading up with a little coffee and fresh bread for breakfast we ventured out to have a look around the city. We wandered through the pedestrian mall, past a few of the Basilicas and the main Cathedral and onto a pizza place where we had lunch. Córdoba was founded in 1573 and is home to the oldest university in Argentina, which, was founded in 1613 by the Jesuit community. Córdoba has a lot of history hidden within it, including the Jesuit block, which is a UNESCO world heritage listed site, Plaza San Martin and multiple Cathedrals.

Fountain in the park

Convento Santo Domingo

Lunch at the "Scottish" pub

We spent much of the day finding a few of the key points on our map and investigating the historic buildings. Given how old some of the buildings are, the architecture and conservation of them is pretty impressive. In the evening we wandered through to the arty area of Córdoba, stumbling across street markets with the standard set of knick-knacks, and an upstairs restaurant to view the sunset from. It was pretty cold outside so we bypassed the sunset for some warmth and took the option of involuntarily having a saxophonist play for us, being accosted by the Hare Krishnas, as well as Dee accidentally ordering a non-alcoholic beer (which was the same price as the alcoholic beer WTF mate?). With Dee quickly managing to rectify the beer situation, we felt that it was appropriate to counteract the lack of healthy options chosen so far with salad, and a delicious banana smoothie for James. The salads were less than desirable: a little lettuce, two pineapple rings from a can, glacé cherries, dried shredded packet cheese and “chicken” (which mysteriously hadn’t appeared in the salad)… The way it was written on the menu sounded much nicer than the finished product, but hey, food is food and we needed to eat.


More markets

Sundays are pretty quiet in South America with most places being closed at least until lunchtime, if not all day. We spent the morning taking a proper look around the city and really taking in the history and age of some of the buildings. We stopped by parliament for a photo along the way; it was a surprisingly architecturally insignificant building compared to some of the others in the area. Córdoba is home to many universities and a lot of governmental agencies, as well as being home to the bank of Argentina. Most of these buildings are stone, with the occasional rendering; it was astounding to realise that some of the places we’d visited were more than 400 years old! In saying that, we did come across the Cordobian Civic Centre, which was completely different in structure to everything we’d seen so far; we spotted it from the main street in town, it really stuck out like a sore thumb!

Stone alley



Unusually-shaped building

Lunch was going to be one of the local specialities of Córdoba, a Lomito – a big burger with a lot of flavour and toppings. The place we’d chosen, Betos, had the best reviews we could find and was less than 200m from our hostel. Discovering that they didn’t start serving Lomitos until fairly late on Sundays we decided to hit up the Asado instead. This place was by far the best barbecue we’ve had on our trip, it was one of the few places that asked how we wanted our lamb ribs cooked, gave five star service, and were more than willing to accommodate any request. Not the cheapest of restaurants for us to visit but definitely worth every cent!

Barbecue ribs!

For the evening, it was James’ turn to organise date night. The restaurant found wasn’t open and we struggled to find somewhere affordable with light meals. Stumbling across what we though was a bar with food, we discovered a hidden gem of a restaurant! James found a pasta with spicy sausage (spicy food doesn’t really seem to exist in Argentina) which, was a pleasant surprise, and Dee managed to find a delicious prawn and avocado salad. Winning at dinner!

Dee's salad

James' spicy pasta

Breakfast at our hostel, Babilonia, was pretty good. Many of the hostels have had a mixture of stale bread, a sickenly sweet type of “jam” (i.e. coloured sugar), and dulce de leche – caramelised condensed milk. The further we’ve travelled the poorer the taste in coffee as well; we’ve started heading into instant coffee territory! Suffering a few first world problems we were pleasantly surprised to have freshly baked bread, crepes and really awesome coffee in unlimited supply at our hostel. Stumbling out of bed to fresh coffee we decided it was time to organise our bus tickets to head to Salta, our hostel could organise these for us, less organisation on our part and more time to do the fun stuff!

We’d started getting a little tired of each other’s company, nearly eight weeks since leaving Brisbane and avoiding arguments was starting to take it’s toll. Spending a little time apart in the morning, wandering through the city and taking in a few more of the sites we met up for a very exciting lunch at the hostel. Dee managed to scrape together a few bits and pieces of random foods, including carrots, biscuits, pate, leftover breakfast bread, and what we later discovered was ham flavoured cream cheese. The afternoon was spent writing, chatting and cooking in the hostel. We met a few Canadian ladies who we compared travel stories with, along with chatting to the staff and Dee trying mate tea for the first time.

Mate tea, or yerba, or cimarrón has been defined by law as the “national infusion”, it is a green leaf of some description, steeped in hot water then drank through a metal straw with holes that is traditionally made from silver. The cup the tea is made in is called a gourd; whilst in Argentina we’ve found many of these made from materials ranging from fake animal feet to wood, lined with ceramic or silver. The tea is highly caffeinated and fairly potent, one try was enough for Dee, though most of the locals we’ve seen carry around a flask of hot water, a gourd, the spoon and a full packet of mate. Dinner was a quiet one for the evening, packing a good soup full of veggies and heading in for an early night, checkout from our hostel was looming and we needed to fill in a large chunk of the following day.

Following another breakfast of fresh bread and hot coffee on Tuesday, we packed our bags and left them at the hostel while we ventured out to Sarmiento Park. The park is home to the local zoo and a lot of small blocks of land dedicated to founders from other countries. We walked up the giant staircase to overlook the city and took in the beautiful view whilst watching the hustle and bustle of the city below us. The park itself is quite large and has many of the museums, art galleries and notable landmarks of Córdoba encompassed within it, including toilets for Dee (again, nothing different to the usual). We came across a few unusual structure in the park walk including the cultural centre with a big stick, and what appeared to be a skate bowl that wasn’t allowed to be walked, skated or run on. Appreciating the greenery we hung around for a little while and watched the world pass by, then headed back to a Scottish restaurant for Argentinian beer (From Salta) with a little food to settle the stomachs before heading to the bus for the afternoon.

View from the park on the hill

Random rings. Why not?

Weird celebration tower

We got massively ripped off in the late night taxi from the hostel to the bus station, neither of us realising the price was multiplied by 10 until the next day, but being tourists it was inevitably going to happen at some point again. We settled into the second of our front-seat double decker bus experiences; this included wine, a half decent snack, Bailey’s and a pretty awesome sleep on our way into Salta.

Meal on the bus

Ready for the night bus

Go see all the photos from Córdoba

Buenos Aires: The birth place of Tango, the place where soccer is a religion and home to the widest street in the world!

Saturday afternoon we arrived off the boat from Colonia Del Sacramento and as we’ve done in each place we’ve arrived to, we decided we should organise our transportation out to Cordoba. We’d thought that a train would be our best option, it was a longer trip than the bus, but much cheaper and there was an option for a private cabin. We started the walk to the train station as we weren’t able to book tickets online, not realising it was nearly 3km, hinting at rain and carrying 20kg packs each, only to find out that the train had already been booked out three months in advance. We’d also managed to arrive into Argentina without Argentinian pesos… money exchange doesn’t seem to be at the forefront of our plans when travelling around. After wandering for a total of an hour and a half to sort out the train and find an ATM we were finally on our way to “The Art Factory Hostel”.

Warmly welcomed by reception and the Activities Manager, Danny Boy, we were keen to start exploring Buenos Aires. A quick unpack in our giant room, we popped upstairs to the outside bar to chill out and settle in and plan our coming days in Buenos Aires, then headed to another amazing barbecue place for dinner.

Local beer. ¿Porque no?

Sunday morning in Buenos Aires greeted us with our best hostel breakfast yet – it included hot scrambled eggs! Words cannot explain how much we loved having eggs for breakfast again, the only other time in South America we have had that is when we cooked them ourselves.

Like a few other places, BA has a “free” walking tour, and since we were going to be here for a while, doing it early sounded like a good idea since we could find out where to go for the rest of our days. We headed off early to make sure we got there in time for the start, and after walking for 20 minutes, James realised he had chosen “Teatro Colonial” in the map route not “Teatro Colón” so we were going the wrong way. A brisk 30-minute walk later to the correct meeting point, and we just got there in time.

The guide didn't explain why the music stands were there

There were two tours at the same time, one in English and one in Spanish – one guide talked for about a minute in Spanish, and then said in English “if you didn’t understand those instructions, then follow me”. The walking tour was okay, showing us a few of the sights and old buildings on the north side of the inner city, but wasn’t as great as we expected – especially at the end when his “suggested tip amount” was 150 pesos ($15 AUD) per person. There was one cool story he told while at one of the mansions: the son in one of the richest and more aristocratic families in Argentina started dating a woman who was very wealthy but from a common family, and his mother did not approve and blocked their marriage. The mother was very religious and had donated a church to the city, which she could see from their mansion; so as an act of spite, the women who could not marry her son built a huge residence, then the tallest in south America, in between, so the mother could no longer see her church, and had to walk around the woman’s house every day she wanted to go to it. We saw quite a few of the popular buildings in BA and learnt a little about the history, but mostly heard stories of random families and didn’t get much of an opportunity to stop and take photos of the buildings. Our tour ended at one of the biggest Fig Trees that either of us had ever seen! It was massive, trying to get a photo underneath tree for a little perspective was difficult; thankfully, we could trust another of the tourists from our group who hadn’t already left to take a photo for us.

Statue in a park

A tree, a herb, who knows!

Trying to find somewhere for lunch, we ended up at a small artisanal shop that sold pretty much every salsa, oil, bread, salami and random jam that you could find in South America. We both had a try of the Cape Horn beers, and shared a steak sandwich that was pretty delicious. On our way back to the hostel, via a park, a cool looking door, and a “club” called ‘Club Shampoo’, neither of us could decide if we were still hungry or not. We stopped in at a café at the back of the Cabildo (colonial town council building) where a band was practicing, and then went off to do some march/event. While there we had a few beers and some peanuts, including a very nice scotch ale from a craft brewery called Antares.

Practicing behind the Cabildo


We spent the last part of the afternoon wandering through the local street markets with people selling mostly arts and crafts/knick knacks. We stopped for a quick bathroom break and our first proper taste of Argentinian wine at a Tango bar, catching the last bit of a Tango show, then headed back to the hostel briefly to organise ourselves some warmer clothes for the evening. We couldn’t decide what to have for dinner that night, but searching online we found that Antares had a craft beer bar only two blocks from our hostel! We toddled off there where we had several different pints of very tasty beer, and a share plate. By the end of all of this it may have been well and truly into the early hours of Monday morning, it was definitely time to stumble home to the hostel and get some sleep!

Monday morning it was time to go off and get the next of our photos of parliamentary buildings to keep up Tristan’s challenge. There was a bit of spotty rain, but we managed to avoid getting too wet. We crossed the world’s largest street, Avenida 9 de Julio, which is a massive sixteen lanes wide. Like most of South America, crossing the street here is like playing Russian Roulette, indicators are rarely used, many intersections don’t have pedestrian lights, and many drivers don’t seem to pay any kind of attention to traffic lights anyway. The difference in architecture in Buenos Aires compared to the other places in South America was rather substantial. Many of the buildings are influenced by European architecture, but not from a singular region. Quite regularly, there would be a French inspired building situated directly next door to an Italian styled building, next to a Spanish inspired building. The footpath lighting through the parks are all gold with many of them being home to the mud-nests of small birds.

Argentinean congress

Giant steak

We stopped in for lunch at a café and opted for the “Menu Del Dia” (Menu of the Day), which ended up being much more food than either of us had expected for an excellent price of $10aud each – receiving a shared plate of breads, a bowl of vegetable soup each, a steak for James and the fish dish for Dee, plus an option of flan or coffee for dessert – we chose coffee. Although the outside temperature wasn’t freezing, the wind certainly had a decent chill on it. The cold was starting to get to Dee more so than James, but both of us, with runny noses from the wind, cold feet and generally starting to feel a little miserable, decided that we should go back to the hostel and catch up with a few of the other travellers, our hostel had quite the party scene happening, we were more than happy to be involved!

On Tuesday we headed back to Plaza de Mayo, where we stopped to take a look at the main cathedral in BA, which was pretty huge. We discovered that contained within it was the mausoleum of San Martin, who was the main leader in the liberation of the southern part of the continent from the Spanish empire. This area was guarded, and, as we left the changing of the guard occurred. They walk from the Cathedral down to the Casa Rosada, the residence of the president of Argentina, at the other end of Avenida 25 de Mayo. Unfortunately, the tours only operate on Saturday and Sunday, so we didn’t get to see inside. We were accosted by a volunteer for some group, who told us about various tourist attractions and places that we mostly already knew about, and then (as usual) were asked for some money for his “free” service, ostensibly going to whatever charity he was a volunteer for.

Casa Rosada - the presidents residence

Mausoleum of San Martin

That afternoon we headed back to the Cabildo for a proper look inside, since it was now open to look around (for free!). There was a lot of interesting information about how decisions were made in the old colonial era town, and how parts of the building had been town down over the years to allow the construction and then widening of the Avenida 25 de Mayo that it sits in the middle of.

Painting of the Cabildo

At this point we needed a break, to try to recover from travel and let everything we had seen soak in, so we spent the day mostly around the hostel relaxing, and catching up on tasks. That night the hostel had a free (pay a tip) tango lesson, before the option of heading out to a milonga to dance with the locals. Unfortunately Dee has two left feet, and James three, so it didn’t go so well. The steps weren’t too hard (although Dee missed the first part of the women’s introduction), but dealing with other people going different directions, and the furniture made it quite difficult that. James thought he was doing okay with two partners, before the change to a third who actually knew what they were doing and made him realise how bad he was. Dee, on the other hand, managed to hit everything and everyone within her path… This experience has led us to believe that neither of us should ever attempt dancing, ever, ever, again.

Thursday morning we decided to head to another of the suburbs of BA called Palermo. This suburb seemed like a fairly rich area, the notable absence of dog poo on the streets was the first indicator! We caught the subway for a grand total of $0.50aud and walked toward the main square and park, thinking it would be a large market type area. There was a children’s playground, and a couple of cute little cafes selling local beers; of course, we needed to try some. Palermo is the largest neighbourhood in BA and is divided into three areas: Palermo Hollywood, Palermo Soho and Palermo Viejo, each area encompassing different styles of living - fashionable, old school and arty. We spent much of the day taking in the scenery of Palermo, the lifestyle, the exorbitantly priced cafes and the cleanliness of the streets. Palermo is a beautiful area but nothing spectacular to write home about. We made our way back into the main part of BA, checking out the shopping strip along the way, then to the hostel for a bit of a chill.


Beers in Palermo

The following morning we felt it was time to head down toward Puerto Madero, a local district occupying a large amount of the Rio de le Plata. Originally the area was built because the original port, Puerto La Boca was too shallow and large ships weren’t able to moor in the port, instead having to ferry passengers and goods into the port. Porto Madero was completed in 1887; however due to the construction and use of larger cargo ships, the port became obsolete just ten years later. The port was neglected for many years with successive applications for development rejected; the area eventually becoming rundown and one of the city’s most degraded areas. In the early 90’s investment led to the port being completely regenerated with the assistance of renowned architects. The area has since become one of the city’s trendiest suburbs, with high-rise buildings, preserved bridges and cranes, a never-ending strip of cafes, restaurants and bars, as well as the Puente de la Mujer (the Women’s bridge). Being a beautiful sunny day, we decided to pull up a stool at one of the cafes by the shore and do a little Spanish practice. Dee still has trouble remembering what words are left and right (nothing different to the usual) and what inside and outside are… Best not to make too many comments on her directional skills ;).

Women's bridge

Giant crane

We wandered our way back toward San Telmo and came across a union protest, both of us were very confused as to what was happening; it looked very much like a political protest but there were people setting up barbecues and snack stalls, with a lot of people singing and banging drums. It was all very peaceful but massive political banners – everything that was happening seemed to be conflicting with each other. We tried to stay out of the way of what was happening but the event seemed to be taking up our entire suburb… we moved ourselves out of the way and found safety in what was supposed to be an amazing steak restaurant. The grill looked amazing but we seemed to have ordered ourselves braised steaks instead of barbecue steaks, although the meal was good it wasn’t barbecue :(. We spent the afternoon organising ourselves back at the hostel and chatting with Danny Boy about our adventures in BA before heading to the bus station for another overnight bus to Cordoba.

Buenos Aires was an interesting city to visit, there was a lot more European influence in the city than we’d expected, especially in comparison to what we’ve seen in South America so far. The contrast of buildings and the different areas in the city was quite surprising… Now to see if this influence is carried through the rest of Argentina!

Go see all the photos from Buenos Aires

Despite being the department capital, Colonia only has around twenty-seven thousand people, so it is a sleepy colonial town.

When you go from Montevideo to Buenos Aires (BA), you can catch a four-hour direct ferry, but it is cheaper and just as quick to catch a bus to Colonia and a one-hour ferry across the Rio de la Plata (at that point 50km wide and originally mistaken for a sea). Since we were coming here anyway, we thought we might as well stay two nights and have a look around. The town is also popular for day trips from Buenos Aires for tourists, and weekend trips for BA locals.

We arrived in Colonia del Sacramento early in the afternoon, with the bus trip from Montevideo going all as it should (hooray for timeliness and no breakdowns!). It was only a few blocks to our hostel, in the middle of the historic part of town - yet more cobblestone streets. When we arrived, the hostel couldn’t find any details of our booking (despite booking directly on their website, not via third-party as we usually do). The guy at the counter tried his best with his limited English and our limited Spanish, but the girl (who we think spoke fluent English) was no help. After a while, they took us to a room on the side of some construction - having seen other rooms, they are obviously doing renovations and ours was a pre-renovation room that they aren’t supposed to put anyone in.

Overlooking the river

Cobblestone street

With out bags dropped off, we decided to go for a walk around the town, and happened to go past the tourist information centre - a map with details on it! It was a quick walk to the interesting parts of the historic city, and quite a small area so it didn’t take long to see the expected collection of historic building, touristy shops, and restaurants/bars. Walking past the Yacht Club, there was a chalkboard advertising a litre of tangerine gin and tonic for 290 pesos ($12 AUD), and who could say no to that? We settled ourselves in for to watch the locals do some fishing and watch the boats come in and out of the harbour. It was bliss! Since the town is so small, there isn’t a lot to do apart from continue to eat and drink, so we did just that. A drink here, and lunch there, a drink elsewhere, and we ended up at El Drugstore - a restaurant that presumably was a pharmacy at some point in the past. Buying a few 1.5 litre sangrias, we lost track of how much we had spent and when we went to pay we realised that we were 100 pesos short in cash, and they didn’t accept cards ☹ James went for a brisk walk around the town, trying to find an ATM at one of the banks that was both accessible at night (not all are) and worked with foreign cards. About 20 minutes later we had some cash to pay the restaurant! We decided at this point it might have been time to head back to the hostel for some sleep.

Overlooking the river

Path to the yacht club

Friday morning at the hostel was interesting: the shower had no curtain (presumably removed due to renovations), there was a slug in there, and the drainage was a small hole at the bottom of the wall. Going out for some breakfast didn’t improve the situation, with a lot of mosquitos and midgee flies, barely warm coffee and stale bread. This has not been the norm for our stays in hostels so far; it was quite disappointing, as this particular chain of hostels is well known in South America for good accommodation and excellent breakfasts.

Escaping the hostel, we headed down to the ferry terminal to book our tickets for the next day. Choosing the 9:45am crossing we knew it would mean another early morning pack, but the alternative was late afternoon - since it was an international trip (Uruguay to Argentina) we’d need to be there an hour before departure. We had a little trouble navigating to the ferry terminal as it is also the main Naval Port; there were armed guards at the gates, a very new looking building (somewhat unusual in all of the transit places we’d been so far) and we weren’t sure whether it was an area we were supposed to be in or not. We were directed in and then found that we were in the correct place, and could buy our tickets to Buenos Aires.

Us in front of the brown river

A tree-lined avenue

We wandered our way back through the historic section again, this time taking a few more photos of the beautiful scenery, including the odd dog or five. South America has a large number of stray dogs hanging around, watching where one walks is always advisable here. Heading toward the water, taking in the sunshine and cloudless day, we picked another barbecue place for lunch, with a few more drinks ensuing. It was going to be a fairly long walk to get to any interesting places in the non-historic part of town, or a few kilometres along the beach, so we gave that a miss - the scenery isn’t much different the further around you go. We took in the sites around the area and spent much of our afternoon chatting about what we’d enjoyed on the trip so far. The afternoon was spent sitting on the fence near the water, watching the stunning sunset and taking in the blissful view with a wine or two and some picada (a small share plate of meats, cheeses, breads and other comestibles).

Multi-storey restaurant

A fish in a car, in front of the aquarium. Who knows why

Getting up early for the morning pack (along with another dismal shower and breakfast), we walked the couple of blocks to the ferry terminal. Swapping our reservation paper for tickets was simple, and we headed into the migration hall. As we approached the queue, the attendant opened the barrier for a second line for the person in front of us, and said something we didn’t understand in Spanish, so we followed. We weren’t sure if we were in a line for people with something special, since we’d jumped in front of the 60 people in line, but we think it was just a second normal line. The immigration desk is very well organised there, you give your ticket and passports to the Uruguayan immigration officer, who then hands them to the Argentinean officer sitting next to them - both Uruguay exit and Argentina entry all done in about two minutes!

The historic lighthouse

Rooftop terrace of a pub

After waiting a while in the stark departure area, we boarded the ferry to cross the very brown-coloured Rio de la Plata, and go on to Buenos Aires. The boat had a fairly large selection of food, wine, duty free and rather comfortable seats, much better than we were expecting! Bring on Buenos Aires!

Go see all the photos from Colonia del Sacramento

Montevideo: pronounced Mont-e-vi-day-o, not monty-video. The capital of Uruguay and a really arty city, filled with antiques and barbecues.

After recovering from the huge amount of food we’d eaten in the past few days, we’d caught the night bus and arrived into Montevideo at 8:00am Sunday morning. The bus terminal, we didn’t realise at the time, was at the bottom of a fairly large shopping centre. We settled ourselves into one of the cafes for some coffee and some chill time before getting ourselves back into Spanish-speaking mode, and out of Portuguese mode.

We decided for this part of the trip we would book into an AirBnB studio apartment instead of a hostel; the hostels in Montevideo were surprisingly expensive and most were not available for the entire length of our stay. Thankfully our host was happy to have us arrive in a little early than the check-in time, both of us were fairly worn out, and the weather wasn’t doing us many favours. Coming from Porto Alegre where it was relatively warm and 25 degrees, Montevideo was a little bit of a shock to the system – it was 16 degrees, windy and rainy.

After setting ourselves up and looking at what there was to do around, we decided that an asado place was the go for lunch. Asado is the Uruguayan version of barbecue, amazingly delicious and filling. The “we need to cut down on the amount of food we’re having” conversation didn’t last long at this place. We were treated with breads, wine, cross-cut ribs and steak, as well as grilled vegetables and the option for dessert (which we sensibly did not have). The food was amazing! Following our mammoth meal, we decided to attempt groceries to stock the apartment for the next few days, and then relax and catch up on writing, travel plans and all the fun serious stuff. Including a litre and a half bottle of wine for $4aud, it needed to be filtered through plastic cups to get rid of the sediment (but anywho?). Dinner was made up of the leftover veggies, blitzed up into a dip, leftover bread, meat and a glass of wine; this was date night Montevideo style.

Asado grill

Chinchullin and Morcilla

Montevideo is quite a large city with 1.3 million people, it is the capital of Uruguay, and as we were quickly discovering, the capital of meat. We were staying in a very convenient location, close to the shipping docks and close to the main part of the city, as well as the Mercado del Puerto (the Port Markets). We had assumed that the markets would have fruit, vegetables and crafts, with a few little street stalls for a quick bite to eat for lunch. We headed to Mercado del Puerto Monday and realised that we had actually been there for lunch the day before, and there were not really any craft stalls etc. it is really just a big hall of restaurants barbecuing meat. My goodness did it smell amazing! So instead of spending the morning looking at things as we’d first thought, we spent lunch at another of the asado places, Dee trying morcilla (black pudding sausages) for the first time, and both of us enjoying a taste of the many asaduras available.

After lunch we went for a walk around to see what else was in our area. The suburb we stayed in has a lot of antique-style shops, and many artists’ galleries, as well as an array of random knick-knack shops. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t holding up its end of the deal for us, the afternoon was getting quite windy and cold, with the occasional spit of rain. Both a little exhausted from the events of the last few weeks and lacking sleep, we decided to head back to the apartment and do a little more wine research, and research about Montevideo.

Tuesday morning greeted us with icy Antarctic winds and showers, but nothing was holding us back today! Armed with jumpers, our hiking boots and rain jackets we ventured outside to find the state and national parliaments. Conveniently, the state parliament was right around the corner from us, we did take a moment of two to find it as the streets in Montevideo aren’t particularly well signed, and the buildings are all very similar in construction. Interestingly enough, TripAdvisor recommends the parliaments and the residence of the president in quite a few of the cities as a notable place to visit. We hadn’t realised when travelling around, that the mayors and president get their own residence, which contain all of their offices as well; these buildings have generally been quite large and quite old with ornate details. We happened to stumble across the president’s residence on way into the Montevideo CBD; although this one, unlike the other ones we’d come across, was a very modern building and didn’t really fit in with the other buildings in the area.


Having arrived at Independencia (Spanish for Independence Square) we had a small look around before getting ourselves back undercover, out of the little bit of rain. After a little reading we’ve found out that the guy on the horse in the middle is the Artigas Mausoluem – a tribute to the Uruguayan here Jose Artigas – it appears that he strongly opposed monarchism and ultimately led Uruguay to independence. The statue was built in the 1930’s and Artigas’s remains are in an underground room below the statue. The square itself was designed in the 1830s and originally inspired by a square in Paris; it was however redesigned 30 years later. There are many interesting buildings around Plaza Independencia, including Solis Theatre and the Palacio Salvo (the one on the corner with the really tall peak on one side). It was finished in 1928 and the corner is 95m tall, the original specifications of the building meant that the corner needed to look like a lighthouse on top of it, and that it was to be used as a hotel. The hotel part never came through and the building has been used for private residences and offices since.

Moving on from Independencia we walked along the main stretch of Montevideo, most of the streets in Spanish speaking South America seemed to be named after famous people or dates of significance. This particular avenue was called 18 de Julio (18th of July), and held much of the shopping precinct of Montevideo. Having gotten rather cold from hanging outside for a while we stopped for a quick coffee, then headed to Palacio Legislativo. The building had started being built in 1904 and was inaugurated in 1925 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of independence. There was an accident at the intersection of the parliament, making it a little difficult to get closer for a photo. We’ve noticed crossing roads in South America is like playing Russian Roulette, lane markings don’t mean anything and neither do lights – you really are taking your life in your own hands crossing the street. The rain had started getting heavier at this point, and the wind stronger; it was time to head back into some form of warmth and dryness! We caught the bus back close to our hostel and decided that a fairly late lunch was in order. We’d both heard about how good the chivitos (steak sandwiches) were in Uruguay and felt that this was the best decision for the day… we ended up back at the Mercado del Puerto. We shared a chivito, and some more barbecued meat, this asado place wasn’t as nice as others we’d been to; however, the chivito was pretty good… anything with steak bacon and cheese is always going to be good! What little was left of the afternoon was spent back at the apartment; Montevideo has been the first place we’ve been able to start properly processing what we’ve seen and done so far. Our rapid movements over the past few weeks has taken its toll on us, we’ve enjoyed every second; however, the realisation that this is life for the next eleven months has really started to sink in. Both of us had gotten to the point that we were so overload with information (and food) that we’d stopped taking our surroundings in. We were expecting this to happen at some point in our trip, a day or two of taking it easy will fix it!

Staying nice and close to the shipping port had its ups and downs, we were close to the water and got to see some pretty massive ships; we also got to hear a few of the massive ships leave in the middle of the night, and some random people yelling things in the morning because they’d had too of who knows what. Lacking sleep and trying to avoid the cold, but needing to book bus tickets, we fought with the local bus transport numbering system to make our way to the giant bus terminal. Eventually getting to the bust station, we found the ticket office we needed, and managed to get our tickets in Spanish successfully! Winning! It’d been quite cold in Montevideo and it was time to sort out this situation for Dee, having regretted not bringing jeans in the first place, James was dragged into the shops to find something warmer before we needed to head to Buenos Aires. Finding a pair of jeans, and now slightly warmer, we walked the couple of kilometres to find the Mercado de Agricultura (Agricultural markets). We had a small look around and found ‘Choperia Mastra’, a local outlet for a Uruguayan microbrewery. Enjoying a number of artisanal brews and a number of bowls of peanuts, we felt that more barbecue food was in order. James managed to successfully food coma himself, a change to the usual! We left close to 5 hours after arriving at the markets and headed toward home, checking out a few shops along the way. We were lining ourselves up for a 10am checkout in the morning to head to the bus station for another bus we felt it was probably time to head home and get ourselves rested and ready for the following day.

Beer taps

More meat

Thursday morning we got ourselves together enough for the bus to Colonia del Sacramento, a sleepy town on the North of Uruguay close to the boat trip across to Argentina. We checked out, made our way to the bus station by Uber, which casually just put the wrong pick up address in for us. Wonderful when you’ve got no data and an international phone number ☺ We found our car (I think probably the smallest possible car that Uber would allow!), and headed to the bus station with a very friendly driver, who helped fight off a guy hassling us to give him money when hopping in the car. Arriving at the bus station with a little bit of time to spare, it was time for a decent coffee and a little planning for the days to come.

Go see all the photos from Montevideo