How to get to Uruguay on a Bank Holiday weekend…   Leave a comment

Sunday 23rd November 2014

In the morning we are still none the wiser what to do: where do we go in Uruguay – Colonia or Montevideo? For how many days? Which ferry company shall we use? Do we just take our luggage with us to the terminal and get on the next available boat? Will there be any sailings at all on a bank holiday Sunday?

Too many decisions on an empty stomach, so let’s get something to eat first (our hotel only offers B but no B).

Hotel Maipú

We find a nice special offer in the Confitería ‘My House’ around the corner on the Avenida Córdoba…

Café con leche, three media lunas and jugo de naranja for AR$ 32 (that’s £2.40 or €3.00…)

What’s there not to like?

And the croissants are so rich that we don’t manage to eat them all – that’s lunch sorted then. Our first decision is to take it easy, spend the day in the Capital Federal, investigate our options of getting to Uruguay, and stay another night in our hotel, as the building, the service and our hostess are just great.

While I am posting, Johannes watches Formula 1…

… and after Lewis Hamilton has won the title, we head for the tourist information where we learn that the downtown offices of the ferry companies are closed on a Sunday (of course, what did we expect?) and that we have to go directly to the terminals of Buquebus, Colonia Express and Seacat to enquire times, availability and prices…

That’ll take some time, so we combine our exploration with some sight-seeing. Interesting trees they have in Buenos Aires…

Jacaranda

Ficus Elastica – Rubber Tree

Pinus Swarovskiensis

Avenida 9 de Julio

This main traffic artery has four lanes in each direction, a two-lane residential road on either site and two 2-track bus lanes in the middle. We are looking for transport taking us to the Colonia Express terminal near the district of La Boca.

Great customer and information service – and we think we’ve found the number we need!

Unfortunately, the bus that seems to go right through the district, doesn’t stop there. We have to take another line – but in any case, we’d need an electronic, rechargeable card called ‘Sube’, which is difficult to obtain on a Sunday. Mmm, let’s go to the next tourist office to find out how the mere mortal visitor can use public transport on weekends. “Absolutely no way, you can’t go to La Boca on foot or by bus, that’s far too dangerous – even the people who live in the barrio take a taxi!” informs us the young lady in the second tourist information.

Really? That’s hard to believe and we will ask our friends John and Cristina who have lived in Buenos Aires for a while for their assessment. For the time being, we should check times and prices online, is the helpful suggestion. As we don’t have WiFi at the moment, we head for the office of the nearest ferry company. The scenery on the way down isn’t the worst, that must be said.

Plaza de Mayo – the main square of the capital

Catedral Metropolitana de Buenos Aires

Inside

Museo Histórico Nacional del Cabildo y la Revolución de Mayo

And look – the Casa Rosada, the presidential palace is open to the public at weekends!

The permanent exhibition on the ground floor shows former and current leaders of Argentina and its neighbouring countries as well as paintings of important events in the history of the continent.

Should we move to Buenos Aires one day, we’d like to live in a place like this…

Here, to be precise

A maisonette in one of these towers would also be acceptable…

Finally we reach the puerto

… where you – naturally – find the ferry terminals. It’s not that easy to obtain the necessary information; there are no brochures or wall displays at Buquebus that would offer an overview of times and prices; it’s all based on demand and availability and calculated on request. So we have to queue to get any idea of our options.

The sailings are convenient but not cheap. It’s ice-cream time, anyway, so let’s find an Heladeria with WiFi and do some more research. The owners of the kiosco we finally settle in couldn’t be more accommodating; they have a bathroom, serve a nice café con leche and they don’t even mind that we eat our breakfast croissants with it. Scrolling through ever so slowly loading websites we discover that Colonia Express, the usually more economic company, adds a huge amount of additional fees and taxes at the end of the booking process and that their time-table would require us to take a taxi the next morning, another extra cost. Seacat is not that much different from Buquebus, so we go with the latter, as their deal is the most convenient and we can walk to the terminal in 15 minutes from our hotel.

Fortunately we have made notes of the earlier quote, as the price for our sailing seems to have miraculously increased in the last hour. We know that spaces are scarce on this bank holiday weekend and may have almost sold out by now but with a certain assertiveness we get the best prices in the end.

That’s one task off the list – but there’s still a blog that needs updating. Thus I head back to the hotel while Johannes goes on a tour of discovery on his own. Slightly disquieted I make him promise not to stray too far from the main roads and then he’s off towards Retiro…

Libertador General José de San Martín is never far away in Argentina

The MOT has probably run out, too

Retiro Railway Station

What you can and cannot do in an Argentinean train station

Yes, Dad, these are exactly the streets that I was worried about…

Just a few metres behind the main train and bus stations…

The size of the Retiro bus terminal is quite impressive

74 coach bays and 248 ticket counters

Some owners truly cherish their vehicles…

Torre Monumental (formerly Torre de los Ingleses – the English tower)

Downtown Buenos Aires

Finally, after several anxious hours Johannes returns to our hotel – in one piece and good spirits, thank God for that! I think I just got a little taste of what my parents must have felt when I was travelling through South America on my own – and that was for four months and not only three hours… Sorry, Dad.

For dinner we head to the food hall of the Galerías Pacífico, where we are spoilt for choice with all the different cuisines on offer. On the way there we marvel at the display of elaborate Christmas trees – and even more at their prices!

This was another great day in an absolutely amazing city, full of impressions, experiences and wonderful people; tiring but quite successful, everything is sorted now: blog and photos are up-to-date, arrangements are made, our day-packs are ready, we can leave the rest of our luggage with the lovely hostess at the Hotel Maipú, and tomorrow we will sail over the Río de la Plata to Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay!

Posted 2 January 2015 by Pumpy in Argentina, The 2014 Rucksack Trip

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