Archive for the ‘Uruguay’ Category

Colonia del Sacramento   4 comments

Apologies for the long delay in continuing our travel blog – but daily life has well and truly taken over after our return to Europe…

Now, as sort of a Christmas present, I have promised Johannes to try and finish our report by the end of this year and thus here is the next instalment – the result of our efforts to include Uruguay in our South American journey.


 Monday 24th November 2014

Today we finally travel to Uruguay. The ferry doesn’t leave until 9 o’clock and so we can still enjoy our desayuno promoción (breakfast offer) at the confitería ‘My House’, where the waiter already greets us as regulars. Our heavy luggage we’ve left with our lovely hostess at the Hotel Maipú, and with our daypacks only we leisurely stroll to the port. Unfortunately, the weather forecast is not the best for our excursion – typical, the whole week looks fine apart from the day we have chosen for our mini-cruise…

One day, when we’re rich and famous, we’ll take a more classy boat…


… but for now, one of the Buquebus vessels will do


Bang on time and out of the puerto we sail


The impending rain doesn’t really bother us; we’ve been very lucky with the weather on this trip and won’t start complaining now.


Skyline Buenos Aires – click on the photo for the full-size panaroma

Ok, we won’t then…


For the outbound journey we have chosen the slow ferry that takes three hours to get a feeling of proper travel to a different country.


Finally – Uruguay, ho!


First impression – very nice!


All immigration and customs formalities have already been taken care of on the Argentinean side of the river, so we can walk straight into Uruguay.


¡Usted está aquí! – You are here.

The tourist information office is near the old train station


Mind you, we may have to wait a while for the connecting train…


The ferry is certainly a safer bet nowadays


Pretty quickly we find a nice B&B close to the Barrio histórico (historic district) that accepts credit cards, as we are still contemplating how much Uruguayan cash we actually need.


It’s raining on and off – as you can see in the photos…

On the Plaza de Armas


Basílica del Santísimo Sacramento


Uruguayan Magnolia Tree


On the Plaza Mayor


Portón de Campo – the old City Gate


Well fortified and defended…


… there was a lot to protect



El Faro – the fully functional old lighthouse


Here you get beer colder than the heart of your ‘ex’…


On Calle San Pedro



Paseo San Gabriel


We do like a good map!


Calle de las Flores





Vintage cars are quite a common sight in Colonia


Nicely recycled windmill


The Marina


Calle Rivadavia



All this sightseeing makes us hungry but we still haven’t obtained any local currency that we could spend. Uruguay values the Argentine peso much less than Argentina’s own government, since the official value is hugely inflated. So we would get only half of our money’s worth if we wanted to exchange Argentine pesos for Uruguayan ones – gives us a middle rate of UYU 2.80 per AR$ 1.00 instead of the UYU 1.40 you see below!


On the other hand, the locals appreciate the US$, and in one shop I get a new decal of Uruguay for my bike that is priced at UYU 30 for US$1! That’s not a bad exchange rate, and so we pay for water and snacks with the few US$ notes we have still left and even get some Uruguayan coins back.

After a long-ish survey of the local gastronomy we find that 1) you pay for the fact that Colonia is a very popular tourist destination, 2) you pay for the location (dependent on your distance to the river), and 3) not every business accepts credit cards. We are slightly reluctant to let anyone fleece us in the culinary prime spots, and so we settle for a sort of posh fast food restaurant…

And then, finally, after dinner the rain has stopped…

And we follow the recommendation of the South America Handbook to enjoy the sunset over the Río de la Plata…

Buenas Noches, everyone…

Posted 22 December 2015 by Pumpy in Argentina, The 2014 Rucksack Trip, Uruguay

From Uruguay to Argentina   3 comments

The following morning the nice landlady at the Hostal Canela served breakfast in my room – did I mention my fabulous room? 😉 – with fresh media lunas (croissants), café con leche and zumo de naranja natural (freshly pressed orange juice) – hmm!

Breakfast in bed...

I thanked her very much, promised I would recommend the place to everyone I know (done!) and everyone I would meet on the road, and set off towards Argentina. But no, I couldn’t leave this lovely country without a Uruguay sticker for my moto! So I stopped at the next filling station in Salto. The guys were really friendly, offered me a sticker of their fuel company but unfortunately they couldn’t help me further. But the shopping mall three blocks further down the road would certainly sell the object of desire.

When I pulled into the car park, I was immediately approached by a security guard – of course, I had done a U-turn and was going into the wrong direction of a one-way system… No, the reason he approached me was to point out that it would be much safer for me to park in the underground garage. Muchas gracias, officer, and off I went into the underworld. Again, the security guard there came over straight away, reassured me that he and his colleagues would have a close eye on my DRZ and then he accompanied me through the whole shopping centre on the hunt for a Uruguay sticker. Unfortunately no tienda was stocking such a thing. I tried the motorcycle shop across the street, another filling station, the supermercado but nothing. My security friend was really sorry and sent me into the city centre. We parted shaking hands:  suerte y buen viaje – good luck and a safe trip.

Great, I wasn’t even aware that I had missed the actual centre of Salto the evening before. So a brief sight-seeing tour was on the menu.

Salto Centro

I stopped at the Oficina del Turismo, the most obvious place you’d think, but they didn’t have any stickers – a kiosco would probably be a better bet. So I looked for a space for my bike – over here, Señora, and three young man busied themselves lifting and moving lots of motorcycles that were already stacked in a tight row by the side of the road. But, oh wonder, soon there was space for my fully loaded DRZ. One of them, Nelson, offered to accompany me on my quest and together we roamed the shops of Salto. Well, I should have come during the World Cup, then I would have been spoilt for choice but now? Lo siento, no hay – sorry, we don’t have it.

Then, I had almost given up hope, we found a little and pretty unlikely shop that sold stickers of Uruguay – hooray! Nelson was obviously proud of his success and back at the bike I gave him one of my London pens as a thank you. You know, the ones where a tourist walks over the Tower Bridge when you move it. Nelson was really pleased and again, we shook hands like old friends.

Nelson and his friends in Salto

Then it was off to the Salto Grande Reservoir and the dam that connects Uruguay and Argentina.

Reservoir Salto Grande Dam between Uruguay and Argentina

The officials at the border didn’t seem to know what they were supposed to do with me and the temporary import of a motorcycle but after half an hour I was on my way again – not without asking this driver if I could take a picture of his peculiar truck.

At the border to Argentina

Back on the Ruta 14 the ride was pretty uneventful. The countryside was still flat, the corrupt police at kilometre 341 (who even have a dedicated thread in the South America Forum on Horizons Unlimited) had taken a day off and waved me through and so I turned to the Ruta 129 towards Monte Caseros searching for more excitement. The road was straight as well but now I could feel a strong side wind, which made the riding a bit more ‘interesting’. Shortly before I reached the town I noticed a pista branching off to the north (my ultimate direction).

In Monte Caseros the tarmac disappeared and I ended up in front of some military barracks – probably not the best point to stop and look at the map. As I couldn’t park the loaded bike safely without risking to fall over, I didn’t consult the map then, otherwise I would have known that I should have searched for the Ruta 47 towards Paso de los Libres… But so I turned to the gravel road that I had spotted earlier, the Ruta 25.

Ruta 25 between Monte Caseros and Ruta 14

There I had my excitement – ruts, gravel, sand and corrugations… But the countryside was nice and everyone greeted each other when meeting on the road, which I liked very much.

Nice views by the side of the road though...

After 25 kilometres I joined the Ruta 14 again and decided to stay in Paso de los Libres that night. As it would become a habit, I did a little sight-seeing tour of the town for orientation purposes and for finding a hotel. I asked a nice lady with her tiny daughter on a quad at the traffic lights and she pointed me to the Hotel Alejandro. Mmm, this looks pretty expensive – and so it was: 180 Argentinean Pesos, which is roughly 30 GBP. Are there any cheaper hotels around? Yes, Hotel Imperial it is then; only 80 Pesos (13.30 GBP) and aparcamiento seguro – safe parking as well. I have to admit that I rode to the locked car park without helmet and on the wrong side of the road (well, the place was on the left!) and of course, at that particular moment in time a police car came the other way. Fortunately, they didn’t even bother to give me a reproachful look…

After turning into a civilised human being, i.e. showered and changed, I went looking for an internet café in order to upload photos, write an email to my one and only Possu and catch up with my blog, where I was still in Buenos Aires. Just before midnight I left the place, realised that I had forgotten to eat dinner, that the streets were deserted and that I had lost my sense of direction. Funnily enough I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all in this friendly town. On a corner I saw two men standing who I asked for my hotel. They were very helpful and pointed me into the right direction. Tired and hungry I arrived at the Hotel Imperial, hoping that next morning’s breakfast would be plentiful…

Posted 10 September 2010 by Pumpy in Argentina, Uruguay

New Berlin, Pistas & the Río Uruguay   4 comments

The next morning at the Parador Playa Ubici I was greeted by this view:

Puente Internacional over the Río Uruguay

The Pulp Mill on the river looked a lot less romantic than last night…


Pulp Mill

… and the dead fish lining the shore were a rather sobering sight. Officially the fish mortality was caused by the freezing cold earlier that week, so the land lady told me, but in reality it’s down to the sewage of the factories further up the Río Negro.

Dead fish lining the shore

I had breakfast in the sun on the terrace.

Breakfast in the sun

The cat kept me company

Now on the bike, I went for a sight-seeing tour through Fray Bentos to find out where and how far I had walked the night before and to appreciate the home town of the Liebig Extract of Meat Company, founded by the German organic chemist Baron Justus von Liebig in the 19th century, in daylight.

Main Square in Fray Bentos

The former manufactory of the Liebig Extract of Meat Company, shut down in 1979.

The Liebig Extract of Meat manufactory

Then it was back to the Ruta 3 heading north. Leopoldo had mentioned the village of Nuevo Berlin the previous day and I couldn’t resist to make a detour to this new edition of my hometown by the Río Uruguay.

New edition of my home town

The city map looks slightly different...

... and so does the 'Kurfürstendamm'

I didn’t fancy to retrace my tracks and therefore took a camino leading roughly towards Paysandú, my next destination. The first attempt ended in a cul-de-sac, but as there was only a horse to ask for directions, I just tried another trail. It was bumpy, rutted and sandy but lead me to a tarmac road which joined the Ruta 3 again after a while – voilà!


To be perfectly honest – and I’d like to apologise to my Uruguayan readers – the Ruta 3 was not particularly exciting and when I spotted a sign to a ‘Parque Histórico’, I happily went on a little excursion to the Meseta de Artigas.


To the Meseta de Artigas

The road was lovely

Lined by orange groves

Supposedly it's winter over here...

I was even treated to a little dirt trail when I entered the historical park.


Trail to the Meseta

... where I had a fantastic view over the Río Uruguay

The bust of General José Gervasio Artigas after whom the site is named.


The bust of General José Gervasio Artigas

Río Uruguay still life with DRZ


I was not the only one enjoying the vistas...


A last look north...

… then I returned to the Ruta 3 again. The GPS showed a campsite near the Reservoir Salto Grande and so I rode past the Termas del Daymán and the beautiful town of Salto until I arrived at the lakeside. Only then it dawned on me that the indicated campsite was actually on the Argentinean side of the reservoir (I have downloaded the map software from an Argentinean GPS forum). But I still wanted to stay a night in Uruguay. So I followed the camping signs further north. Nada – nothing. It was getting dark and I still had not found a place for the night.

Finally I pulled up at the Horacio Quiroga Spa Termal Hotel. Oh, the signs stand for day-camping only and the nearest campsite would be at the Termas del Daymán, 30 kilometres south… Mmm, that’s where I just passed through an hour ago and I personally hate to go back. How much is a single room in your hotel? 139? US Dollars? Thanks very much – back to the Termas it is then.

It was really getting late; against my usual behaviour (I’m German after all!) I broke the speed limit of 75 km/h and still arrived at the Termas del Daymán only after dark. No campsite was to be seen. But there – Hostal Canela said a sign, that’s where I will stay the night. The land lady was welcoming and very interested in my bike. She helped me carrying all the luggage into my room and made sure I felt at home. For the equivalent of GBP 16 I was given a whole apartment to myself. The photos are from the next morning but you get the idea how wonderful the place already appeared at night.


Hostal Canela at Termas del Daymán



My apartment

And another one - just to make you jealous...

Of course, when I walked into the centre of the village for dinner I saw the campsite and a lot more hotels but I was really happy with the place I was staying in. So if you ever find yourself in the area – Hostal Canela can be highly recommended.

The following day would take me into Argentina again.

Posted 5 September 2010 by Pumpy in Uruguay

Into Uruguay   3 comments

The Ruta 9 out of Buenos Aires was long and uneventful – but the fact that I had finally hit the road and was riding the Pan-American Highway was excitement enough. Industrial areas changed into wide flat Pampa and the traffic ebbed away kilometre by kilometre. I joined the Ruta 12 north near Zarate and crossed the Río Paraná Delta via two impressive bridges.

Autopista Mesopotamica

At Ceibas the Ruta 14 began and I stopped after having done exactly 100 miles to check the fuel consumption – due to my broken foot I didn’t get the opportunity to test ride the bike properly and have a rough idea how long a tank would last me. Just under four litres for 100 kilometres or 72 mpg fully loaded on the motorway was a result I couldn’t really complain about.

The Pampa is mainly flat...

Vintage, beautiful and still in use

The GPS indicated a shortcut to Gualeguaychú and I had a quick look at a sandy dirt road. No, I was not ready for trail riding yet and so I continued on the highway until the official Ruta 136 branched off to the east. Over the beautiful Puente Internacional Libertador General San Martín I crossed the Río Uruguay and arrived at the border between Argentina and Uruguay.

Border to Uruguay

In the background you can spot the bridge

Rarely have I experienced such an efficient border crossing – although having to pass through four different desks: pre-check and start of procedure, personal details, vehicle documents, insurance and customs plus temporary import registration – but everything was dealt with as quickly and friendly as possible. I think I needed less than 15 minutes and this included chatting about my trip, the bike and about the origin of the German names of some of the officers such as ‘Ehrhardt’ and ‘Schmidt’.

Rarely have I experienced such a pleasant border crossing

While changing money and talking to the nice chap in the tourist office (Leopoldo) about the region, I thought it would be quite appropriate for a vegetarian of 30 years to stay in Fray Bentos, the home of the Liebig Extract of Meat… 😉

Leopoldo recommended the campsite at the Parador Playa Ubici and off I went to find an idyllic little hostel directly by the river. The hostess Antonela was just about to leave when I arrived but stopped immediately, showed me the facilities and the rooms, from which I could choose, as I was the only guest this Sunday evening. Well, for the equivalent of 8.00 GBP I decided to leave tent and sleeping bag in the luggage roll.

Parador Playa Ubici in Fray Bentos

Antonela carried all my panniers upstairs and made me feel really welcome and at home. The travel guide hadn’t exaggerated in the chapter about the warmth, helpfulness and hospitality of the Uruguayan people.

After having changed into a civilized, nicely smelling human being again, I headed into town for dinner, allegedly just a short stroll away from the hostel. Well, I won’t bore you with details of my odyssey through Fray Bentos but it was at least a three-kilometre walk until I found the excellent Pizzeria ‘Los Immigrantes’ in the lively town centre. Not a big deal normally but I was still limping! When I finally returned to the Parador my ankle looked like a tennis ball. Maybe I should have splashed out and taken a taxi…

However, I found Fray Bentos a nice place with friendly and helpful people. Although I crossed a few rather un-touristy corners I never felt uncomfortable and my greeting was always returned with a smile. I was looking forward to exploring more of this promising country the following day.

Río Uruguay by night

Posted 30 August 2010 by Pumpy in Uruguay