Hey guys and sorry for not writing for such a long time ... but yes, we had final exams and then I travelled ;)
So I will start with a wrap up of my last weeks in Uruguay even though I am back to Germany since yesterday!
On one longer weekend in July Esteban, Johanna an me felt like "we should go somewhere to use the free days", so we called their friend Santi in Buenos Aires if we could come over for some days. Luckily he didn't have any plans himself and consequently we booked the ferry and started the trip friday afternoon.
It was a really relaxed, nice and sunny weekend with going out on saturday and driving to the family "campo" of Santi on sunday. There we spent the whole day enjoying a delicious Asado, horse riding, picking fruits and in the evening a camp fire :)
As there weren't any other seats left, we went home during the night and after a 30 min sleep at home I got ready for 3hours lecture at University - yes I was "dead" after that! :D
During my last weeks I finally got to see the inside of the former "highest tower of South America" - the Palacio Salvo. Together with Phoebe and Brittany I did the 3h guided tour and we had a great view and sunset from the top of the building!
But I did not only visit the Palacio Salvo, but also the Blanes Museum, the Japanese garden and the Botanical garden - one has to use the last days right? ;)
At the last weekend Janina, Esteban, Johanna and me went out a last time to the only real night club here in Montevideo: Lotus. And they gave golden hats, glasses and masks to the people so we kind of enjoyed a dress up party as well :D
As typical in Uruguay Johanna and me stayed till 6.15 Am and finished the night with a Mc Donald's burger!
The next day we cooked "Gramajo" with milanesas (= Schnitzel), a typical uruguayan dish and afterwards we drove to the "cerro" which is a fort from where you have a nice view over Montevideo.
Some more things which happened in the last weeks where the football competition "Copa América" where we cheered for Uruguay. Unfortunately they lost in a pretty unfair match...
Then we had our last Spanish class and I met with Maia for a tea in my favourite café "Philomène". At least I could show her as Uruguaya a new café which she didn't know before :)
As it was hard to reunite all friends for just one "good bye" dinner and party, we had a get together with all the exchange friends in my house. However, as I wanted to say good bye properly to all of my friends I had a great dinner with Enzo and Eloísa the night before I left to Rio. :)
And when I came back from my short holiday, I could enjoy another nice lunch with the last ones who were still in Montevideo: Esteban, Nicole, Matheus and Cornelia :)
Well, I am organizing all my pics right now from Rio and the Argentinian tour - once I am done with that you'll be able to read the very last blog entry of my South American adventure!
Here I am again :)
Two weeks ago we had the Feria Internacional at University where all the exchange students presented their home country, their Unis and some special food. We four German girls prepared Apple Crumble, Potatoe Salad and Obazda and it seemed as if everyone enjoyed it!
Of course we could also try other people's food like dessert from Brazil, french Crêpes, Grilled cheese made by the US students and some sweet things from Guatemala.
Once a week I always go with a group to the north of Montevideo - Casavalle - to do some social work with school kids of 8-9 years. The area they live in is one of the poorest in Montevideo and many of them have problems with their families, but the school we are going to is helping the kids to face a better future. We played a lot with the kids, presented 4 different countries to them and at the moment we are trying to finish an art project...
Maia (Uruguay), Phoebe (Great Britain) and Caro (USA) are great to "work" with and its always really sweet when all the kids run towards us when we arrive at the school :)
In my class of Cultura Uruguaya we have visited heaps of museums in the last weeks and I thought I could give you a short wrap up of all the impressions we got. The museum of football offered us to see the stadium one time without fans and in the museum of carnaval we got to see many different costumes - yes I was picked to try one... :D
As we always have fun trying out new things, Matheus and me posed for the Uruguayan experience poster... Gaucho y tango!
Of course there are a lot of museums which show colonial stuff, but I chose to show you the most interesting things - these are definitely not hundreds of pictures about the colonial war...
But one pic shows the Uruguayan national symbol together with the flag ;) And you might be interested in seeing Artigas, one of the most important personalities of Uruguayan history!
Furthermore we went to see the only "castle" here in Montevideo. It is hidden between normal houses, so one cannot see what is behind the small entrance door. Actually, visiting this castle by an alchimist was pretty interesting because it had a very crazy and special architecture. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pics...but I got one before I saw the sign.
Last Tuesday I went to the palacio Santos with my class of "Protocol". My professor is actually working as the director of Protocol in the Ministry of foreign affairs (=Palacio Santos) and he invited us to do one class at his work place. It was really cool to have a class in the former dining room at a huge wooden table with red wooden chairs around! Later we got a little tour through the ministry and we got to see his office - the blue salon with chandelier and valuable pictures and furniture!
Last week we also did a real uruguayan asado at maia's place :) Oh I think we never felt that full after that dinner! We started with chips and some crackers while preparing the grill. Once the first chorizos were ready we already were half full, but then came the real asado - 5 huge pieces of meat! Unfortunately the potatoes and sweet potatoes took much more time than we thought so we kinda ate everything separated.
Finally, as dessert we had apple crumble AND strawberry tiramisu - yes, we rolled home...
And of course we went to another football game... the Uruguay national team against Guatemala. Well, it wasn't the most exciting match I've ever seen, but it was nice and we cheered for Uruguay. Happy and tired we went home after winning 5:1 :)
Almost running we went to Janina's place afer having reached the bus terminal after our Patagonia Trip. After droppeing our staff we took a taxi right to the football stadium nearby - Centenario. We were only 15 min late and did not miss anything!
Esteban and Carolyn were already there and dressed in black and yellow - the colours of Penarol. Here in Uruguay football is the most important sport and if the best and most popular clubs play (Penarol and Nacional), the streets are empty!
The weather was fantastic and this game of Nacional against Penarol was my very first experience in a football stadium. Talking about the level of the teams I think that Europe is a little ahead, but still, it was interesting and I enjoyed the great atmosphere :)
The match ended 1:1, so that we did not expect any problems between the fans of the two most popular teams here in Uruguay! The security actions and precautions are very high at a Superclásico - everywhere police, mounted police, fences and some military; just in case...
And now I am finally gonna write about some stereotypes and typical stuff here in Uruguay.
First thing is... MATE (the cup) - the special tea (Yerba) which you drink out of wooden cups or, especially here, out of the scooped top of the plant "Mate". It is NOT allowed to stir the yerba with the "spoon" (bombilla) and if somebody offers you mate, you drink the whole cup until there is no more hot water in it. As this drink is VERY important to a lot of Uruguayans, it is allowed almost everywhere, but not in public institutions offices, because it takes time to prepare and drink it :D
Mate is so important that there are hot water machines in University and public buildings and if you need to be empty-stomached for going to the doctor, only mate and water are allowed. For making the transport of Mate, Yerba and Thermos flask more easy, there exist these very nice Mate bags (Matera) - very popular!
Secondly - the majority of Uruguayans has a toothbrush with them at school, Uni or work, because it is very common to brush your theeth after every meal! So this is the time, when in the girl's bathroom at Uni I find myself in a crowd of toothbrushing and giggling girls :D
Third typical thing is the school uniform of public schools. The children of primary school and preschool wear a white coat over their normal clothes to protect these from dirt and the exhaust emissions in the city. Furthermore they all have a blue bow to make them look neat and tidy :) It is a really nice picture when many schoolkids walk through the streets - a white crowd!
Next we have the Asado - a huge BBQ where the Uruguayos put everything on. Different kinds of sausages and many parts of the cow .... there are several types of Asado and some need to stay 2 hours or more on the BBQ to be done! The best thing is that the poeple here do not need anything else when they have meat - no veggies, no salad, but in some cases at least bread. For 10 people 7kg meat are normal! :D
In contrary to the meat Uruguayos love sweet stuff. They have everything: Bizochos, tortas fritas, facturas, alfajorez etc. And everything goes with dulce de leche!
Another funny thing is that the poeple here do sports on the green part which separates two traffic lanes. They bring material to organize their exercises and the traffic right beside them doesn´t bother them at all!
Talking about traffic in general I sometimes feel like I am in Cuba - some cars are so old that it is a miracle that they still drive!
Not only the cars are old, but the buses as well. And in some ways it feels like a backshift in time when you enter a bus and there is not only the bus driver, but also another person who is especially working in that bus to do the sale of tickets. I think this existed in Germany maybe in the 60s... however, it is funny!
Well, there are probably more "typical" things to tell but I will end it here and continue with my "extremely interesting" spanish homework :P
Hello again! :)
After some stressful weeks and the midterm exams I now have more time to continue this blog.
The week ago Janina and I went to Argentina because we need to leave the country Uruguay after 90 days. Our destination was Puerto Madryn, a city in Patagonia in the South of Buenos Aires. We knew before that it would be a very long journey to get there, but after having visited that place I can say that it definitely was worth it 27 hours in bus each way!
We started the trip last Wednesday, 13th May, in the morning at 6.25AM. First two hours in bus to Colonia del Sacramento, then another 1,5h in ferry and finally the last bit - 19h in bus from Buenos Aires to Puerto Madryn. The bus was really comfy and we were happy that exactly the one speaker next to us worked properly so that we could watch some movies.
At 12Am in the night the bus driver woke us up and told us that at the station there is dinner waiting for us - great, we had 10 min left! Never mind, it was pretty good for a bistro and the last hours in bus we slept until our first sunrise in Patagonia.
Once in Puerto Madryn, we took a taxi to our hostel. As in this season there are almost no tourists we only shared a room with another German girl. We already did not expect great tourism in that season, but there was literally nothing! After the first disappointment we were lucky that the hostel owner knew a friend who drove us to our first wish destination: Punta Ninfas
We arrived there in the early afternoon and climbed down the cliff to see the sea elefants from closeby. Although these were only the young ones (1-2 years old), they were pretty big and we had a lot of fun watching them and their funny way of moving :D
Up at the cliffs again, we took some last pics and almost climbed back into the car, when Janina saw two "things" in the water. We were so lucky, because these animals were actually an Orca couple and they passed at 3 meters from the coast line! As I never saw Orcas before, this was a special moment for me :) Really beautiful animals - but extremely dangerous.
Happy we drove back and passed some more sheep and Guanacos, animals which are very similar to Lamas. That evening we only went out for some Pizza and then we fell tired into out beds.
The next day we got up at 5.15Am to catch the bus to Puerto Piramides, a small village at the Peninsula Valdés. We arrived there in the morning after having paid the very high entrance fee of this natural reserve...
Well, as the friend of a study friend of us was already waiting for us, we had a chat with him and a tea in the only station there. He organized a driver for us to see the Peninsula, but as we arrived that early our driver was still sleeping :D
At 10Am we finally started the trip and drove directly to the north of the Peninsula - Punta Norte. There we enjoyed the nice view, the colours of the sea and sky and some sea lions which were playing in the water. Before arriving to our next destination we got successfully stuck in the mud - after our driver crossed the warning sign (DON'T PASS)... typical...
Yeah great, we alone on the road, nobody else nearby and a wheel totally stuck in the mud.
Luckily, after some time passed another guide with whom we continued the ride to the next stop and after an hour our guide came as well - no idea how he got his car out of the mud! At the peninsula you are not allowed to go down to the sea lions and elefants, so we watched them from the top and enjoyed the landscape. One guide spotted two Franca Austral wales in the sea, however, they were really far away, so it was more guessing where they are then knowing it. After our lunch we stopped once more to see another kind of cliffs at the "Caleta Valdés".
After that we headed back to Puerto Piramides, but passed the two Salinas (salt lakes). Impressive what colours salt and water can produce! Shortly before reaching the village, we stopped once more at another sea lion colony and also with the hope to see more wales more closeby - but no wales!
In Puerto Piramides we thanked our driver and drove back with the other guide - on the back seats of a Land Rover... Suddenly, one of our fellow passengers shouted out loud "WALE", so we stopped immediately and she was right. Next to the beach we just passed were two wales, a mum and her one year old baby :) Obviously, we were very lucky again, took heaps of pics and enjoyed another special moment with one of the biggest creatures of the sea!
Back in Puerto Madryn we found a "dollar exchange" and actually got more than we expected :) Changing dollars on the black market is almost normal at present times... We ended the day with the rest of our pizza of yesterday and a movie.
Saturday, we had a lie in and breakfast and after having packed our staff we waited a while at the bus terminal before starting our journey back to Montevideo. This bus company was even better than the last one, we watched 2 movies, ate 4 times in 18 hours and before going to bed they organized a bingo play with all passengers :D
And I was lucky again, because I got all 15 numbers first and won a bottle of Chardonnay wine from Mendoza!
After having slept a while, we got up, saw another sunrise and received breakfast. Shortly after we arrived in Retiro, Buenos Aires and met two friends for a coffee. Our ferry back to Uruguay left at 12Pm, but as we got the news that the start of the football game changed from 6Pm to 4Pm we startes to get a little stressed...
However, the change from ferry to the bus which drove us to Montevideo went well and we arrived punctually at 3.30 Pm in Montevideo.
Alright, let's talk about our second Road trip! As you can see we had wonderful weather and temperatures around 28-30 degrees, which is a little unusual for the beginning of April (~ autumn) :)
Day 1 - Thursday, April 4th:
Esteban our "driver" and tourguide, Johanna, Carolyn, Janina and I started the trip in the morning and drove all the way to Treinta y Tres, but we did one short stop at a street market to see what the people are selling... Basically everything!
Our first hotel was really cute and we enjoyed our snacks, fruit salad and pancakes which we brought for lunch. Later in the afternoon we originally planned on doing the hike at the Quebradas de los Cuervos, but as the sun was almost gone, we decided on doing a shorter walk that day and the Quebradas the next day. So we drove to the National Reserve and walked to a very small waterfall with lagoon. We got a first impression of the nature and countryside of Uruguay - well, for me it was not that new, because I once crossed the country before...
For dinner we went to a typical Uruguayan Parilla restaurant and ordered Chivito :) The nice thing is that the further you are away from the city the cheaper is food and everything, so we went right away to an ice cream store after dinner! One has to enjoy the holidays...
Day 2 - Friday:
This morning after breakfast and checking out, we drove to the Quebradas de los Cuervos and started the hike by walking 2 km gravelroad to the start of the walk. Apparently, we were almost the only people doing that, because there was another parking directly at the start of the hike :D
The walkway started with a small path through bushes, crossed then a creek, continued on a range of hills and then we had to climb down some rocks before reaching the "nice place" with a small river in between two hills. There we relaxed for about an hour and cleaned everything which we had packed in our bag, because the sunscreen leaked...
After that break we continued with the last bit of the hike - all uphill and climbing over sharp rocks. Arriving at the panorama platform, we all were looking forward to water and some shadow, but of course we had to walk back the 2km in the blazing sun...
Totally overheated we stayed a time in the shadow, filled up the water bottles and then drove to Minas, our next destination. In Minas we stayed one night in a hostel, but we went out for dinner, because no one was motivated enough to cook. So this day we had Pizza for dinner in the only restaurant of Minas. This city really doesn't offer a lot, but we found a really good ice cream shop, so the rest was not that important ;) We finished the day with a Pilsen, one of the three most popular brands for beer.
Day 3 - Saturday:
That day we drove to "Cerro Arequita" after breakfast and checkout. This Cerro is a big rock which you can climb up once you crossed the river with a hand-operated raft :D Felt like being in Amazonas or something similar!
The hike did not take too long, but nevertheless we enjoyed the good weather at the top for almost an hour. On the way back we passed one really typical small supermarket and continued then to our last stop of that trip - Villa Serrana. There, we did not spend a lot of time at our extremely small cabin, but drove right away to the restaurant which Esteban recommended to us. How good that I was pretty hungry that day, because the Schnitzel was enormous! But still, I was able to squeeze in a dessert, the food was just too good at that place :)
And the view from the terrace as well. Unfortunately, a storm and rain came up, but for dessert we could sit outside and enjoy the sun again.
After the big lunch/ dinner we walked past the few Hippie stalls and headed to the park which was close to the lake or river. Then it was time to prepare the bed for Johanna who had to sleep on a lounger covered with some blankets and cushions :D
As we all were pretty tired this evening, we only sat a little while outside the cabin before goint to bed.
Day 4 - Easter Sunday:
Happy late Easter :)
This sunday we drove right away to the park Salto del Penitente where people can enjoy several avtivities like Flying fox, horse riding, or Mountain biking besides having a look at the small waterfall and lagoon. Our breakfast was really short and basic - yoghourt and cereals out of a cup!
We went first to the panorama platform and then down to the lagoon. As I like climbing rocks, I searched my way around the lagoon and see everything from another perspective... After laying a while next to the lagoon, we walked to two other stops to take pictures and then booked our 30 min. horse riding. As there were many people we had to wait for an hour - best opportunity to open our brought easter eggs. Before the trip we drew lots to see who buys an easter egg for who. I got mine from Esteban and it was an Oreo egg :)
Then it was time for my third horse ride in Uruguay - probably the most relaxed one. All horses knew the 30 min walk by heart, so they trotted one behind each other while we looked at the surrounding landscape.
That ride was also the very last activity of our Roadtrip until driving home via Minas. There we stopped once more for ice cream and for buying "Alfajorez de Minas" - the typical delicacy of that town. On the way back to Montevideo we got a little stuck in the holiday traffic jam, but this way we could enjoy the sunset over Montevideo.
Here are the last impressions - have fun ;)
Hey I hope you all had/ have nice Ester holidays?
Well, here we had holidays before the easter weekend and monday Uni started again...
The first weekend of the holidays I went together with Janina and Carolyn to the Hippie-Surfer village Cabo Polonio which is situated in one of the very few national reserves here in Uruguay. That's why we had to hop on a an old big jeep, originally used in second WW. An experience I tell you! :D 20 minutes drive over the dunes on that truck and I was sitting on the upper seats - a very shaky ride!
Once arrived in the village, we found our hostel "Viejo lobo" (Old seal) right away. We were greeted by a bunch of Hippie people, one playing guitar and 2 smoking wheat and another 2 chilling in the hammocks outside. Yeah, that is exactly the peaceful and lazy atmosphere here!
Cabo Polonio is known for not having access to electricity nor to running water, but of course there is a little of solar power and rain tons to catch rainwater. In the hostel it was kind of luxury to have 1h access to wifi every day between 10 - 11Pm :)
As we wanted to enjoy the good weather, we went to the beach where we almost got blown away by the strong wind. However, we walked a long way to the dunes, which are kind of unique in Uruguay. After taking pictures we walked back, but this time past the funny small houses and past the oldest supermarket of the village. In that shop you can buy almost everything, but you have to wait to be served and then order what you want to buy. We tried the homemade vegetable cheese bread - really yummy!
Before going back to the hostel, we examined the few Hippie stalls and restaurants in the "centre". Everyone found a souvenir - for me, as always, it was a bracelet ;)
For dinner we went to a typical Pizza/ Chivito restaurant and ate a lot - the dessert "Flan con dulce de leche" was delicious. To give you an example of the importance of dulce de leche here (has more or less the same status as Nutella in Germany and we would call it Caramel cream):
As the nights start late here, we played cards in the hostel and got to know some of the other travellers from the Netherlands, Norway, France and England. To see everything of Cabo, we went all together to the only bar here and ordered Caipirinha. We had live music consisitng of the typical cumbia sounds (drums and vocals). After a certain time it gets really annoying, because it is ALWAYS the same rythm! So that was the point then when we went to bed...
Unfortunately, the next day started with a lot of clouds and much colder temperatures. So we just did our planned walk to the lighthouse and isle of seals - we just saw two :P
We just reached the hostel when it started raining, so we spent the rest of that morning playing cards in the hostel and walking once to the supermarket.
At 2pm we took the truck back to the bus terminal and we were more than thankful to get rid of the 24/7 marihuana smell...
But I must say, that I recommend to everyone a visit to Cabo Polonio - it is another world. Very calm, friendly people who respect and protect nature and live a simple life, and beautiful landscape. At night we were able to see the "nocti lucas" - phosphorescent waves!
Here are some impressions of alternative Cabo:
The tuesday during the holidays I went with Anna to the Park Prado where the "Volksfest" Criolla del Prado takes place during the whole week. We got to see many different stalls with handmade crafts, wine from different Estancias or riding equipment. As always there was a great variety of foods offered, but we "only" tried Tortas Fritas and Churros con dulce de leche, some wines and once Grappamiel.
Criolla del Prado is known for the Rodeo, but we only had a look through the fence, because I am not a supporter of that kind of "Sport". However, I now have seen it once, which is enough...
In several halls vocal and dance performances took place, but as it was mostly cumbia or folklore, we did not stay long.
Soo, here I am again!
The Uni system is more like in High school - every day homework, participation and a lot of group projects to do besides classes... But now I have 9 days holidays during the "Semana Santa"!
Today's blog entry will be about our Roadtrip we did two weeks ago: Janina, Esteban, Matheus, Egidio and me! 4 Nations on tour :)
We started the trip with our extremely nice rental car, a VW Jetta 2014, from Montevideo and our first stop was Atlántida, a small village at the coast. It's "famous" in Uruguay for its building in form of an eagle's head. We went inside this small building, took pictures and enjoyed a few minutes at the beach.
Then we continued the trip with loud music, extremely good weather to Piriápolis. On the way we stopped at an "old" castle and briefly visited the small exhibition. Before climbing up the hill "Pan de Ázucar" in Piriápolis, we made a picnic, because all of brought something to share :) With new energy we started the 1h climb - and it really is a climb over rocks and roots - until we reached the top with the stone cross. We enjoyed the great view until Punta del Este, made heaps of pics with all the 4 nation's flags and climbed up the cross. Up there, we almost got blown away...
Climbing down the hill was much easier and we were lucky to see some coatis which were looking for food. For dinner we went to the Rambla in Piriápolis where we sat down in a beach restaurant and had a good sunset - meal :)
Before continuing the trip, we drove up the other hill to take pictures from the town and the beach during sunset. We finally reached our hostel in La Barra (~ Punta del Este) at around 10Pm and were happy to meet Nicole and Leah there, who also came to visit the Color Festival that night. As the Uruguay parties start extremely late, we still had time for a shower and almost 2 hours of Pingpong!
At the Color Festival we met many other exchange students and had a great night - good music, great people and many colors! In the morning we watched the sunrise and got to see us by daylight - colorshock! :D
At around 7.30Am we were back at the hostel, took a shower and got to sleep at least 2,5h before breakfast...
Once everyone had packed his belongings, we said bye to Nicole and Leah and drove off to the small village José Ignacio. Really nice beach with lighthouse and a "ferry" which brings you to a part where no cars drive and where you have endless beachfront :)
In the afternoon we passed another time Punta del Este, but only to take some pictures of the "Dedos" - a sculpture which shows 5 fingers coming out of the sand at the beach. Well, Punta del Este is in summer high season THE holiday resort for rich people, but really, it is not that special. Many glassfront houses, the beaches, festivals and expensive restaurants.
After Punta del Este our next stop was Punta Ballena where we got to see the Casa Pueblo :) Beatiful place, especially on such a sunny day! Now it was time to go back to Montevideo, but this idea had a lot of people, because the roads were packed... never mind, with music and great company you never get bored!
Once in Montevideo, we were all pretty tired, but happy and I am looking forward to the next adventures here - maybe now during my Easter Holidays :)
Welcome to Uni life in Uruguay!
Wednesday, 04.03.2015, all international students had their first welcome day at Uni. We played several games to get to know each other and the country Uruguay, made a "professional" foto shoot of the group and received our Uni T-shirts in RED - so that literally everyone knows that you are a foreigner!
Thursday we had the organizational introduction about courses, library etc.... not really interesting, but necessary to know, because the Uni system is much more like school here. We have to be present in 80% of the classes, get homework all the time and if your grades are sufficient you do not need to write the exam in July.
Friday we had the 1,5h Spanish test to see which level we need to take in the Spanish course during the semester - yippieh, I reached level B2! Quite a surprise, but one can see, that the 2 weeks intensive course was pretty helpful!
That friday evening we also had the welcome party organized by some Uruguayan students. First, we met at a bar and later we planned to go out for dancing - BUT Montevideo doesn't offer many clubs and most of them were totally full so nobody could enter anymore... So Janina, Esteban, Egidio and me ended up in an Irish Pub which was fun as well :)
As the first two weeks and introduction days still offered a lot of free time in between, I went to the Rambla, the beach in Pocitos and another time to the old town centre (ciudad vieja) and port. Of course, we also went to see the letters "Montevideo" and took some nice pics during sunset :)
Now you get also some impressions of my new home in Punta Carretas!
When we arrived in Punta del Diablo we were unable to find our small hotel, but after asking several people we finally reached it and checked in.
That night it started raining and therefore we only went to the "town centre" to have dinner.
However, the next day, sun was greeting us and after breakfast we went right away to the beach. As Mum loves to walk along beaches, we walked a lot until we found a spot to rest and have a swim in the sea.
For lunch we went to a small café at the beachfront and watched the surfers trying to catch good waves...
In the afternoon we went to the beach closer to our hotel and with dunes along the coast. All of us caught a little sunburn, but who cares - next day it will be a nice tan!
Punta del Diablo is one of the small "surfer's paradises" here in Uruguay and in the evening many artists and alternative handcrafts pop out along the main street. You can listen to chillout music and buy a variety of souvenirs.
The next day we were off to Montevideo and drove all the way along the coast past Punta del Este, Piriápolis and some nice other places.
In the afternoon we arrived in Montevideo - first impression: looks like Buenos Aires but much smaller! AND it has a 13km coastal drive, called the Rambla.
As I had to search a room for the next 6 months, we visited first one shared flat in the "barrio" Union... well, the house was ok, but the surrounding streets didn't seem extremely nice or safe in the night. The second room was in Punta Carretas - GREAT difference and really nice "barrio" to live in. I decided for that one right away, because my room has sea view, heating for winter and is only one block from the Rambla and the beach! :)
And we have a deck terrace, because the flat is in the 7th floor. I now live with Matilde, a professor for German at the Goethe Institute here. That is really helpful, because she can translate everything for me in case I do not understand a word in spanish! As her two kids study in Barcelona, she has more space than she can use alone and therefore I was able to rent a room. I can use everything and living here is a mix of shared flat and Mama/ family uruguaya :D
Sunday we walked to the centre of Montevideo and had a look at the old statues of Artigas, the Teatro Solís and the Cathedral. Later we drove to Punta Carretas Shopping to buy an uruguayan Mobile chip.
Monday, 23rd February I moved in to my new home in Punta Carretas. Here we have many bars and restuarants, the bus stop is around the corner, the shopping two blocks away and every tuesday and saturday there is a market in the park nearby - much better than I could have imagined it before!
Mum and Dad started their 3 days of "Relax" holidays in Punta Carretas and I had my first afternoon at Uni with the spanish intensive course. 4 Participants and Elvira Blanco Blanco - our professor for the next 2 weeks...
Welcome to Uruguay - my home for the next few months :)
Today we took the ferry from Buenos Aires to Colonia, the oldest town in Uruguay. It only took us 50 min. to cross the Rio de la Plata and once arrived in Colonia del Sacramento we got our "pretty" rental car. It didn't fall apart in the upcoming 2 weeks, which is almost a miracle after that ROAD trip :D
First, we walked around the town centre - as the town is very small it took us 3 h to see everything. Including a lighthouse and lunch in a really nice bar/ restaurant. That afternoon we ate "Chivitos" for the very first time. This is a very typical Uruguayan dish you can buy everywhere. Basically it is a hamburger with lettuce, tomatoes, a big peace of meat, bacon and a fried egg! One says that Urugayans eat egg with everything - if they have just rice and eggs at hand - they eat egg with rice...
In the late afternoon we started our road trip to an Estancia close to Paysandú - La Estancia La Paz.
The info brochure said something about 3-4h.... we needed almost 6h I think! Not because we did not find the way, but because a part of the signposted roads are gravel roads and there is no way to drive faster than 45km/h. We passed a few small villages, heaps of cows, sheeps and horses, a lot of barren nature, some ponds and other cars. Welcome to the end of the world!!! But a nice end ;)
Once arrived at the Estancia it was twilight and we were extremely looking forward to dinner. Which was typically Urugayan - grilled sorts of meat, chorizo and with it veggies and sweet potato.
The next day we had a relaxed walk around the grounds of the Estancia, met some cows and our new friend Labrador ..................... joined us all the time. For the afternoon we planned a typical horse ride - kind of a must on an Estancia! Everything seemed to be fine, until my horse started galopping right after I got on it - perfect start - NOT!
Yep, that is how we learned that the horses here react to different signals; good that no one explained that before we started riding :D
I wasn't best friend with my horse which loved to stop for food breaks, didn't agree with my direction wishes and had problems with another horse. First the other one kicked mine, then mine turned around and kicked back. Oh man I was more than happy after 1,5h to get off that animal...
After that horror ride we decided on not riding again... instead we enjoyed the erst of the sunny day at the Pool!
The day after we packed our stuff and started the biggest part of our trip. Once half across the country to the next Estancia Los Plátanos close to Treinta y Tres. People said it will take us around 6h. Again, we bet the estimated hours and drove 10 h with only a little stop. A whole day in our greenish car at 28 degrees - pure fun. Especially, when it starts to get dark and you have no idea where the driveway to the Estancia is. Finally we found it - across a milestone - and the gate was closed. As deperate as we were we just entered anyway and arrived at 10Pm at our second Estancia.
During this long drive we passed the hometown of Carlos Gardel - Tacuarembó - and had lunch at the small museum there. Last time we thought that only few cars were on the road, but this day we passed even fewer. In the middle of the country the drivers greet each other, because you don't pass anyone for longer a time. We adapted to that habit and were greeted by some Gauchos as well :)
Nature in the centre of Uruguay is steppe; means, grasses, sand, bushes and a few trees, ponds and stones. The animals which love that kind of territory are obviously Nandus, some other birds and the cattle of the few farms. It was impressive to see that kind of country side, however, after 6 h with pretty much the same nature, no radio reception and no one else driving that route we began to feel a little lonely...
Like good hosts, Marina and Andrés - the owner of the Estancia - offered us also a horse ride the next day... Well, at the end, I agreed on a 30 min tour to see the grounds of the Estancia and its surroundings. But before, we walked to a very small "waterfall" with a bathing pond close to the Estancia and had a nice afternoon with swimming, a picnic and a lot of sun. In the late afternoon we prepared for our second riding experience in Uruguay. It was much better, maybe also because my horse was an old lady and totally relaxed :D But at least, I enjoyed horse riding this time! During the ride we got to see Nandus from close up, parrots and sheep.
I liked this Estancia a lot, because Marina and Andres had a very familiar and personal way in hosting us and because you could completely relax in that scenery!
After two nights we packed again our things and drove to Punta del Diablo... but this is another chapter ;)