We left Florianopolis for a long bus trip to Montevideo the capital of Uruguay. We had to change at Porto Alegre. The bus journeys are not as bad as they sound. The first part was in daylight through some lovely countryside. The bus is comfortable and we had good seats with no one in front of us.
We arrived at Porto Alegre bus station at 6pm and had a 4 hour wait but a beer and some food and the time was soon gone. We climbed aboard the new bus at 10pm. We had booked two of the front upstairs seats. It was eyes down and we were soon pushing out the zzzzzzzz's.
We woke up around 8am and the hostess brought around tea and coffee. We then wiled away a couple of hours before arriving in Montevideo. What did I know about Uruguay? Well Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez are Uruguayan and their pictures are everywhere. Oh and some bloke called Rattin in the 66 world cup who did a waist high tackle and refused to leave the pitch. So not much !
Our hostel couldn't be better placed. It's right on Independence plaza almost next door to the Radisson. It was once a three storey colonial house. Our room is big with high ceilings, shuttered French doors and a balcony looking over the square. However as with all hostel rooms it's not all perfect. The shower is a dribble. A hot dribble but still a dribble.
Still no moaning there is a city to explore. First afternoon we got our bearings. Day two and it was raining so it was macs on. We explored the markets and walked around most of the city. It's flat and not all that big. In the evening we ate and then went to a bar to see a singer/guitarist playing tango music. Wow, this guy could really play. We had front row seats and I was in awe.
Oh before I forget. When I got off the bus I drew cash from the ATM. Being a good boy I had phoned my banks etc before I left to inform them of our travel plans. This afternoon I had tried to get some cash from a Santander ATM.....computer says No. Twice in fact. Then I get a text from my useless bank saying contact us urgently someone is using your cash card in Uruguay. I wonder who that might be !!
Eventually I get through and the woman says Oh sorry we've only put Brazil down and nowhere else. Anyway she updates the system and says it will be ok now......you know what's coming don't you?
Next day I try the ATM.....computer says No. Agghhhhhhhhhh. The fraud line won't answer.....good move as I am not a happy bunny. I phoned the lost/stolen line and the lady apologised and said I'm afraid they listed all the countries but didn't remove the block. Anyway she knew what to do and now it's working again. Add Santander staff to the 'up against the wall' list.
This morning we walked along the seafront had coffee and chocolate cake and went to the Carnival museum. This evening we went to an all you can eat buffet which was very nice.
Ok observations about Montevideo. It's a city so there's lots of noise. Every street corner has at least 6 armed police on it...not sure why. Bank cash deliveries are done by teams with pump action shotguns. I went into the supermarket and I had to take off my hat and Jill had to put her bag in a locker. It's not very trusting.
Having said that it's very relaxed. It's also a whole lot cheaper than Brazil.
The local drink is Mate. It's like tea. All you see is people with small cups which are like coconut shells. This is filled with chopped leaves and mixed with hot water and sucked through a metal straw come strainer. They all carry a flask of hot water to keep it topped up.
In amongst the traffic are lots of horse and carts with guys collecting cans and plastic. Oh and a meeting of the International development bank is taking place and some people are not happy.
Next we are off to Colonia del Sacramento.