Day 2 - Uruguay
|Monday, December 29: We rose early for our full day of sightseeing. What little view we had from our room included the helpful Itau building with the time and temperature. Here's the temperature; you'll have to take our word for it that it was 5:30 AM.
|Packed and ready to go, we headed downstairs for the delicious Panamericano breakfast buffet.
|Down the Argentine streets (in this case, Av. Cordoba), ...
|... past more beautiful architecture, ...
|... to the Buquebus ferry terminal at Puerto Madero. It was an easy 25-minute walk from our hotel to the port.
|We had purchased our ferry tickets in advance (hint: use the English version of the website to learn your way around, but use the Spanish version to actually buy your tickets, because the English version doesn't work), so we just had to wait in line to check in. Buquebus goes to Colonia or Montevideo, Uruguay, and we were bound for Colonia.
|We bought first class tickets and went through the VIP waiting room where we were among the first people on the ferry. In our rush to get these front row window seats, we didn't really notice whether or not we were actually in the first class section. We're still not sure.
|The picture above is hopelessly overexposed because it was a bright, sunny day out, and we had large picture windows in front of us to enjoy it.
|Leaving port, we passed this lighthouse with a funky globe made up of flat planed glass fitted together.
|You can spot Tom's head in the front on the left in this photo.
|Here's why we aren't sure about the first class/tourist class issue. The good folks downstairs have similar seating but no windows, which isn't much of an issue because there isn't really any scenery to see while crossing the wide delta of river/sea. However, there were people who appeared from a magical staircase that led to someplace upstairs when we were departíng.
|Perhaps the upper row of windows is first class? Or crew only? If you're using this website to decide which class to buy, don't despair. There's more to tell you on the return trip.
|After an hour-long ferry trip, we were in Uruguay, where we were welcomed with this sign. Look closely and you'll spot our traveling friend, Orchy.
|When leaving the ferry terminal, there are no signs to direct you to the main area to visit, so we turned left and headed toward the scenic lighthouse.
|This turned out to be the correct way to go. We walked four or five blocks down the frontage street. A perfectly good alternate method is to walk along the park adjacent to the shore.
|This rental car ad pictures the giant hand statue we first saw on "Amazing Race" many years ago. It's located outside of Montevideo and we couldn't get there with our limited time in Argentina, so we settled for Colonia, which turned out to be a great decision.
|So, we walked to the end of the street and hit what appeared to be a dead-end at the stone walls but there was a small path to the right around the last building at the end of the street that led to this magnificent entrance.
|This is the old town portion of Colonia. There were signs around in Spanish, so that's about all we can tell you.
|More charming streets, ...
|... and more, ...
|... and still more.
|The foliage was amazing. The water here is from a large river mouth joining with the ocean, but we're not sure how much is ocean and how much is river. We suspect it is still freshwater for the most part, because we saw many trees and shrubs growing in the water.
|We continued to walk through town, searching for a restaurant that would accept credit cards or foreign currency. We were unable to obtain Uruguayan currency at the Buenos Aires airport because we used the currency exchange inside security instead of outside security. We also didn't see any ATMs in town or a currency exchange at the ferry terminal in Uruguay.
|The smile on Tom's face tells you that we finally found Mercosur, a restaurant that announced that it accepted foreign currency right in front. No awkward asking involved, which was good because we were finding that very few people speak English in Argentina and Uruguay.
|We invoked the Bundlings Helsinki Rule: Always take advantage of the opportunity to drink a local beer when in an outdoor café. We received Patricia beers that went well with Tom's steak sandwich and Debbie's raw jamón (1/16 inch thick) and Uruguayan cheese (1/2 inch thick) sandwich.
|Let us show you an amazing Uruguayan innovation: the beer divot. Here is Debbie comfortably holding her beer without any fear of slippage.
|What's the secret? This handy divot in the beer's side. Someone, please introduce this to the U.S. beer market.
|Dessert was flan (con leche, which meant a giant pile of caramel on top) and this thing: Chajá. Billed as a typical Uruguayan dessert, the best way to describe it is thick frosting mixed with pie crust. Bundlings pals know that Debbie likes cake while Tom likes frosting, and Debbie likes pie filling while Tom likes pie crust, so this was the vilest dessert Debbie could imagine but Tom declared it to be delicious.
|So this is where they keep the old vintage cars.
|Orchy popped out of the backpack again to pose with these Uruguayan motorcycles.
|We made our way back through the old town area, past the charming old lighthouse, ...
|... past the adorable old cannon, ...
|... and past the unused rail station, which was on the park pathway between the frontage road and the water.
|Back on the ferry, we were on a different model boat this time, and first class was very clearly first class.
|It was nearly empty and we were served champagne as we entered.
|We treated ourselves to dos gaseosas too.
|Arriving in Buenos Aires, we didn't spot any Maersk containers, but we did see the smokestack of a Maersk ship just beyond the containers.
|Rather than walk back directly to our hotel, we took a stroll along the waterfront toward the container port. We passed military barracks and buildings, and several entrances but were denied a glimpse of the elusive Maersk ship, ...
|... until we reached the main entrance. You'll have to look very carefully to see the Maersk smokestack but it is there. Oh, yes, it's there.
|Heading back toward the city center from the port, we passed through this crowded rail station.
|Here's a clock tower in the middle of a park. We're here to state the obvious for you. The park is the Plaza Fuerza Aera Argentina.
|Another view of the plaza.
|Here's Tom on the stairs at Plaza Libertador General San Martín.
|This is the view looking back from where we came. Clock tower: check. Port: check. Maersk smokestack: check.
|The park has huge trees and lots of quiet areas to relax.
|There's also a huge tree similar to the large banyan tree in Maui, but it is called an ombú.
|From here, we were able to get back to the Panamericano by following pedestrian shopping streets, which were much busier on a Monday than they were the day before.
|More pretty Argentine architecture.
|A Peruvian pan flute band -- right here in Buenos Aires.
|Back at the hotel, we noticed this sign off to the side for our Hurtigruten cruise. Good thing we did, because there were no messages or information waiting for us, and the tour agents in the room were shocked that we hadn't checked in yet and weren't with a group. Lack of information or misinformation was the single biggest problem we had with Hurtigruten -- it was doled out on a strictly need-to-know basis or it was just plain wrong on the website, so it was very difficult to plan in advance. We received no advance information on tours and learned almost too late that there was a late afternoon deadline for booking the next day's Tierra del Fuego tour, but we managed to get them to extend the deadline for us.
|We headed back out for dinner and photographed the Obelisk again. It's pretty eye-catching.
|Dinner was another steak for Tom and ribs for Debbie; once again, very reasonably priced.
|We had a very early morning the next day, so we called it a night shortly after touring the beautiful spa on the top floor of the hotel. Here's the gorgeous pool area ...
|... and here is the amazing view looking down from the outside patio of the pool.
|Yes, we were there.
|Here's a view looking down at at the famous Teatro Colón, ...
... and another view looking down the avenue, complete with an Abbott sign.
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy