Ep.21 – Uruguay


Our shortest travel video yet from our time in the little known Uruguay where we strolled the cobbled streets of Colonia del Sacramento and explored the old city of Montevideo.

Hope you enjoy and put Uruguay on your South America travel destination list!

Sophie & Dave

Montevideo – Uruguay


From Colonia, we caught a 3 hour bus along the coast to Montevideo. Though it seemed like a legitimate touristy coach, all the locals kept hopping on and off as we drove along. Fortunately we had reserved seats but the aisle was full of people throughout the whole trip.

The capital, Montevideo, is sort of split in to the old city and the new city. One of the main things to do is walk the beach promenade; La Rambla. It was a lovely walk in the sunshine in what is classed as the ‘new’ area of Montevideo. It must have been considered too cold for Uruguyan’s as no one was swimming (apart from a crazy dog charging around the waves whom everyone was watching). The temperature was in the low-mid twenties with glorious sunshine yet most people were bundled up in winter coats and scarves! Probably the only time in South America so far where we’ve both stuck out as clear tourists wearing our shorts! We walked on further to the lighthouse which is on the southern most point of the city. Though nothing spectacular, it was a nice stroll and we saw a stray cat colony near the lighthouse. A lady who stopped with us said that she and others who live nearby come to drop off cat food here for them.

The rest of our time in Montevideo took us to the old city. We did a walking tour with a company called Curioso which was one of our favourite tours yet. We started in la Plaza Independencia where there’s a big statue and a mausoleum with the ashes of Jose Artigas; Uruguay’s national hero who helped to liberate them from various invaders including the Brits (who didn’t we bloody invade). There are 33 palm trees around the square representing the 33 patriots who fought for independence. Around the square, there was also the same building we saw in Buenos Aires whose architecture is inspired by the Divine Comedy with floors representing hell, ascension and heaven with a lighthouse at the top. Lastly around the square we saw the offices of parliament. The guide mentioned former president Jose Mujica who was very popular with the people and who apparently was often seen without guards and eating at restaurants and cafes round the square with ordinary people.

We carried on to La Plaza de la Constitucion, where Uruguay’s most renowned fountain sits. Apparently it was created by an Italian architect and thus some fundamental words about the constitution are spelt incorrectly with Italian rather than Spanish spellings! We also learned that Uruguay is one of the most agnostic and atheist countries, thus has very few churches. We did however go to one, cathedral metropolitana. The church had the body of one of the first presidents of Uruguay – Fructuoso Rivera (1854). Our tour guide said he was the reason why most Uruguyans have light, European skin compared to the rest of South America. Rivera apparently invited all the indigenous people to a gathering and slaughtered them all. Our guide’s comment on this was that the running joke is that Peruvians are descended from the Incas, Mexicans are descended from the Aztecs and Uruguayan’s are descended from sheep. In keeping with the liberal nature of the country, our guide explained how marijuana is legal for Uruguayan citizens; their ID cards have a chip like a credit card which enables them to go to pharmacies, insert their ID and it states how much weed they are allowed to buy. He said it is usually 40g per month and said it was so amusing for him to watch his parents all of a sudden change their perspective on drugs after they realised it was state owned and now he often goes home to see his parents having a joint together!

Though Uruguay was a country we didn’t really know much about, nor knew anyone who had ever been, we really enjoyed our time there and hope to return one day and explore a few more cities and towns, perhaps not just the ones along the coast but further inland!

Thanks for reading and join us next time as we head to Brazil!

Sophie & Dave

Colonia – Uruguay


We left Buenos Aires for Uruguay on our first ever boat border crossing. It’s only an hour trip across Rio de la Plata to Colonia in Uruguay. Buying the tickets was as straight forward as any bus tickets we’ve bought, we opted for the company Colonia express as they were offering the cheapest ticket at $648 Argentinian pesos (£28pp). The coastal city of Colonia, or rather Colonia del Sacramento, is known for its quaint cobbled streets with decorative street signs written on tiles in blue ink. The historic quarter is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Colonia was colonised by the Portuguese in 1680 and used as a smuggling cove to Buenos Aires, though ownership changed hands between Portugal and Spain throughout the years. Colonia turned out to be one of our favourite cities so far in our 8 months of travelling.

Colonia is a really popular weekend getaway, particularly for Argentinians, so we’d been warned accommodation could get booked up quickly. It wasn’t even peak season, nor a weekend, yet there was fairly limited choice. We ended up staying by the beach rather than the old city, so it was a 2km walk every time we went to and from town, but it meant we got to see the beach side of Colonia too, so no complaints.

All we really did in Colonia was wander through the narrow streets in the sunshine, watch the sunsets and eat great food.  I had the best ice cream of my life, bold statement, I know, but it was at an ice-cream shop called Bortolot, according to their shopfront, established in 1896. I had Dulche de Leche and chocolate and it was heavenly. Another day, we stumbled upon the most beautiful seaside teashop called Queriendote, with a beautiful little garden with multicoloured bunting that looked out on to the sea. Dave got a fancy tea which came with instructions and even an egg timer so you know exactly how long to brew it for. I got a dulche de leche cappuccino which makes me salivate at the thought. It was just perfect, relaxing in the sunshine with such a picturesque view.

Apart from eating, we also went up the old lighthouse for only $20 Uruguyan pesos (50p). It was actually a lot more steps than we’d anticipated so it was really windy at the top but it gave a lovely view over Colonia and the water. The lighthouse and the church are the only tall structures in the entire UNESCO site as it preserves how it was when it was first founded. Round the corner from the old draw bridge, there is the most photographed street; Calle de los Suspiros (street of sighs). Apparently this famous street has three different legends as to why it is called the street of sighs, known throughout Uruguay. For example, one of them is that a woman was waiting there for her lover, but was unexpectedly stabbed and all that was heard was a farewell sigh…

Oh and we also saw some of the nicest sunsets we’ve seen in a long while in Colonia! I think they rivalled Fiji!

Thanks for reading, join us next time as we head to the capital, Montevideo!

Sophie & Dave