Archive | Uruguay RSS feed for this section

The Uruguay Roundup

6 May

The Statistics

Number of days spent in country –  15

Cities/towns visited –  Colonia, Montevideo, Punta del Diablo

Number of different lodgings – 3 plus a couchsurf

Local bus journeys – 8

Combi/collective/taxi  journeys – 0

Boat rides – 2

Bike rentals – 1

Days of rain – 1

Budget

Total US dollar amount spent – 1,228.50

Average cost per day, per person – 43.88

Average lodging cost per night – 38.40

Most expensive lodging – Hostel del Diablo – $41/night for a private room with bathroom and a patio looking out to the sea.

Least expensive lodging – Willy Fog Hostel and El Viajero  in Montevideo were both $13 per person for a dorm room, including breakfast

Average food/drink cost per day (per person) – $20.15  We ate out for pretty much every meal, and drank a healthy amount of beer and wine.  Lunches we generally had empanadas on the beach, but we went to basic restaurants most nights for dinner.  We could easily have spent a lot more on food and drink, but we chose mid-range restaurants with only a few exceptions.

Best:

Best. Empanadas. Ever.

* Empanadas – Kiosco Alba at the end of the ‘pier’ where there are trinket vendors.  These go down as the best empanadas we had in all of South America.  They are made fresh to order and are STUFFED with fresh fish, or ham and cheese.  They are fried, yet they aren’t greasy.  They are incredible, and there was always a wait, but it was well worth it.

Mmmmm…grilled meat….

*Parilla meal – Huge slabs of grilled meats are typical in Uruguay, especially in Mercado del Puerto.  It’s incredible just to walk around and marvel at all the grills going at the same time, and you have more than a dozen choices for lunch.  We ate at La Chacra with our couchsurf host, and had some of the best steak we’d had on the trip thus far.  A tad pricey, but well worth it.

We took a break from biking to take photos with the massive Montevideo sign

* Bike ride along La Rambla – Do yourself a favor and rent a bike at Bicicletta Sur on Aquilas Lanza and Durazno.  For a dollar an hour you can spend all day cruising up and down the coastline, stopping for ice cream, empanadas, and whatever else catches your fancy along the way (like the giant Montevideo sign above…).  There is a well maintained path for both pedestrians and bikes.

Playa Grande in Punta del Diablo

* Playa Grande in Punta del Diablo – It’s already a super chilled out beach town, but we hear it can get pretty crowded during high season.  To get away from the masses, head over to Playa Grande, just a few minutes walk up the coast.  You’ll find an expansive beach that you’ll have nearly all to yourself since most people don’t want to make the trek over the sand dunes.  If you walk all the way out to the end of the beach you’ll be at the beginning of a nature preserve where you can marvel at the foliage and maybe even spot some sea turtles.

Worst

* El Viajero Hostel in Montevideo.  It was clean, well located, and had a good breakfast but all of those things can’t make up for terrible layout and a bad staff.  The room we had didn’t have a window, which made it swelteringly hot in the night.  In addition, the rooms all faced the open courtyard where people hung out until all hours of the night – the noise was deafening.  The staff was indifferent at best, downright obnoxious at worst.  We left after only one night.

Photo Friday – Fishy Business in Punta del Diabolo, Uruguay

27 Apr

Fresh fish, salted and drying in the sun.

After our trip to Antarctica back in February, we felt the need to thaw out a bit, and we decided there was no better place than the small beach town of Punta del Diabolo in Uruguay.  We spent ten fantastic days lazing around, and eating fish empanadas every chance we could get.  There are four separate beaches in the area around Punta del Diabolo, one of which is known for the fish shacks that run along its edge.  As such, there are a few days a week where you can see, and smell, the most recent catch out salting in the sun.

Moving Box Bet – Argentina AND Uruguay!

7 Mar

If you are unfamiliar with our Moving Box Bet series, check out Justin’s first challenge from Peru, and his second challenge from Chile.

It took a long time for us to find a suitable food challenge for Justin in Argentina.  This mostly has to do with the fact that just about everything we’ve come across here is delicious!  Argentina has a lovely mix of Spanish and Italian heritage, and as a result you get some great pasta, pastries, and meat.  All of these we love, so you can see the dilemma.

In Argentina, people eat a lot of meat.  A lot.  Parillas (place that cook meat on a grill) are a dime-a-dozen, it’s an Atkins diet dream come true.

One thing we discovered in our quest to get better at reading menus is that people here eat every part of the cow.  Seriously.  Every part.

This diagram is missing a few key elements...

It is not uncommon to find sweetbreads or other organ meats on the menu.  Lonely Planet even lists ‘ubre’ (udder) in the food glossary, which mean you must be able to find that in at least a few establishments.  We had resigned ourselves to the fact that we would simply have to find a place that could grill up some good thymus gland and that would suffice for Justin’s challenge, despite the fact that it’s really not all that unusual.

That was before we met our couchsurf host.

We had the pleasure of staying with a fantastic family for most of our time in Buenos Aires, and we shared the concept of the Moving Box Bet with them in the hopes that they could point us towards a reputable place for Justin to complete the challenge.  Much to my delight, our host exclaimed that there were way more unique parts of the cow that could be cooked and eaten.  Parts that she in fact knew how to cook.  Parts like the brain.

Until this point I was totally unaware that you could waltz into a butcher and just ask for a brain, but apparently you can.  Our first few attempts at locating this precious item were unsuccessful and we had resigned ourselves once again to the thymus.  On our second to last night we were heading out to dinner with some friends of our host’s daughter and we happened to pass a butcher.  We popped in and low and behold, the man had not one, but TWO brains available for us to choose from! Jackpot!

The brain was frozen, which was ideal since we were on our way to dinner and didn’t have time to run back to the apartment before we were due to meet the rest of our party.  Our host’s daughter simply had them double bag it, and she casually popped it into her purse as if it was no big thing to be carrying a frozen brain on your way to a restaurant. I was giddy over the whole situation and kept bursting into laughter at the thought of the brain just chilling in her purse during dinner.

Tragically this was the ONLY NIGHT we have ever forgotten our camera in the last 4 months.  Go figure. I could not get over our luck at finding the thing, and our sheer stupidity for not having the camera to document the moment.

The next day, true to her word, our host expertly cooked the brain (just a tip, you have to soak it in vinegar for about 15 minutes, remove some sort of filmy outer membrane, and then you can boil it) and had it ready to go for dinner that night.  There is a long history of people eating brain in different parts of the world.  In Italy they used to chop it up and use it as filling for ravioli.  You can also slice it thinly, bread it, and fry it, like Milanese.  The possibilities are endless.  For the purpose of the challenge, I requested that it remain whole, you know, so Justin could see it for exactly what it was before he ate it.

We actually shared a lovely full meal with the family that evening, and brain wasn’t the only thing on the menu.  We had decided that since we’d only be in Uruguay for a short time, and since the menu is very similar, that Justin would eat TWO things that night and one of them would count for Uruguay.   If Lonely Planet can lump them together into one guidebook, then we can lump them together into one challenge. We decided on something you can find easily at every parilla in Argentina and Uruguay – morcilla, or blood sausage, to round out the evening.  In all, I consider it a spectacular success.

%d bloggers like this: