We enjoyed family company for the last 4 days of our time in Uruguay before heading over to Chile.
Arriving at Santiago international airport from Montevideo, Uruguay we had a big last few days planned before returning home. Having a last minute itinerary change before leaving Sydney - we were originally mean’t to stay a week and a half in Santiago. It’s honestly a shame we didn’t. Calling a big city like Sydney home i’m always comforted by similarly large cities, the big buildings and discovering new things about them. Santiago has a rich history and the city centre is built with both current and classical architecture. I love Europe, the building design and story behind the buildings is what I love most. Santiago reminded me of that. The history of some of the government buildings in particular tell a story of hard times in Chilean history.
Landing at 10:30pm we lost a day. Having people we knew that lived in Santiago mean’t our first 2-3 were spent visiting them and as it was there national holiday so most places were closed anyway. This trip as whole had both rewarding and hard times. Not speaking the language well & therefore understanding the bare minimum mean’t I was an outsider for a majority of the time. I was looking forward to getting to explore the city and feeling included in what I was participating in. I love discovering new places, and on our last full day we were able to visit a majority of tourist sights and walk about the city. South America is fairly different to Australia, specifically in the way we view safety. It isn’t recommended even by locals to walk around alone at night, walk with a camera or have your bag resting behind you. Having a strong interest in photography mean’t I struggled a bit to enjoy what I like to do when travelling.
Santiago is full of life, colour, and things to see and do. I am glad we were able to sight see and explore for the full day we did because it reminded why I love travelling. I did struggle a fair bit this trip as we were fairly restricted to what we could and couldn’t do, where we could go and how we do things. That last day allowed me to remember how travelling is mean’t to be.
With respect to visiting Santiago. I would recommend a tour or a tour guide perhaps and staying in well populated tourist areas. Being a tourist and not speaking the language you will stand out and draw too much attention if you’re not careful. We were lucky enough to have a local show us around and tell us the history that surrounds the city and why it is like it is today.
The whole city itself is huge, there are people everywhere in the city centre. We were lucky enough to get a last minute Airbnb located in the city. With everything we needed for a quick stay located 2-3 blocks from the main street it was the perfect way to explore the city and still have enough peace and quiet from the busy city. I was fairly surprised how expensive everything was in comparison to Uruguay. We were paying almost the same amount of money for meals, activities and groceries as would in Sydney. Depending on where the money you're exchanging from, the dollar is fairly competitive with Sydney pricing. Uber in the city is available and fairly cheap. The drivers are friendly and some speak very basic english. We used Uber about 4-6 times while there and had no problems.
It’s hard to think looking back how quickly this trip went. I won’t lie between the sleep deprivation and the food culture I was ready to come home in the first week but managed to pull it together to finish 3 weeks in these beautiful countries. Both hosting different adventures, it was a nice mix of the two. We are now on our way home and I’m excited to get back into my routine and my everyday life. I have lately been wanting to start settling down into my home city and enjoying why I call Sydney home.
It’s less than 2 months almost until i’m off again for another month. This year has been an amazing year, full of some really low lows but also reminding me how lucky I am to have the life that I do. I was able to travel to 6 countries this year, meet friends I would call for life and finally was able to accept that living and settling down in Australia is ok and it’s going to be where I want to be for a long time.
Today we were lucky enough to be taken to a lake house for the next couple of days. Located on the Uruguay River - river that separates Argentina and Uruguay. It is such a cute little house with a small swimming pool that over looks the massive river. It has been so nice to chill today and finally write all my posts from the last week. Traveling is hard work, a lot of people often think it's like being on a holiday. We have been going non stop for the past 11 days with the exception of a couple of half days to catch up on sleep and to drive to our destinations.
We just enjoyed my favourite meal to date being here. It was filled with lots of vegetables, some avocado (which I was craving so bad) and perfect views. I even got to add some seasoning to my vegies! BEST DAY EVER...
We are now enjoying the sunset over the river and i'm sure will sleep very well tonight. It was a perfect chilled day and something both me and my mum both needed!
It still baffles me being able to travel into another country simply by driving. Living in Australia that concept is literally impossible. Today we ventured into Argentina. About an hour and a half drive north west of Salto, we arrived in Concordia around 10:30am. I would have to admit this is probably the closest we are going to get to home. The tourist town was busy with people everywhere, had shops open as far as the eye could see and gave you more then 3 choices of restaurant.
As soon as we started driving through the civilised areas of Concordia it had a sense of passion and pride. There was the flag in most streets, all the houses were either never renovated or fairly well kept. The houses were all busting with colour and personality.
We parked and had a walk around the main shopping strip in Concordia. Walking into every shop with only 1 hour until siesta we didn’t get very far down. Siesta was from 12-4pm, as all the shops close we headed for something to eat around 12:15pm. We did buy a few things but I knew if we stayed longer I would have added some shoes and a couple of clothing items to my luggage weight for sure. Everything here is so cheap!
Visiting a local restaurant for some lunch, I was a bit disappointed with the standard. Most of the food i’ve tasted out of our house hasn’t been comparable to food back home. Considering I’m only in a bad mood for one of two reasons (food and sleep) it is vital to have good tasting food. I tried a two sauces spaghetti and it was fairly bland and taste less, I somehow managed to throw half the pepper corns from the shaker in it by accident calling it a sign from the heavens to ride it off…
We headed home around 1:45, crossing back into Salto around 2:30pm. I went for a nap around 3:30 and didn’t wake up until 7pm… needless to say I had a hard time sleeping that night!
We are so lucky to have a big family that lives in South America. For the next 10 days or so we will be stay in a small town, Salto. Located north, near the Argentinian border the state spans about 14,163 km². Just slightly bigger than Sydney. Bear in mind their state is the size of my home town so the town centres are considerably smaller than back home. 120,000 call Salto home. The city centre is bustling with shops, a few restaurants and apartments.
Arriving late in Salto on day 4 we enjoyed a sleep in and just hung out on day 5. Then spoilt but a 3 day country escape to a Arapey Thermal Resort and Spa. Salto is home to 4 thermal establishments. The water is taken from hot springs and pumped into shallow pools. The resort had 3 thermal baths - all at different temperatures, a gym, a spa with beauty parlour. A buffet for every meal with the famous south american bbq and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. I do have to admit though most of the fruit and vegetables in Australia have a lot more variety and availability than those here.
We had family friends drive 4 hours from Brazil to visit us for lunch and enjoyed our days by the pool and a couple of trips to the gym. On Sunday (day 7) we drove home and stopped for a family bbq on a family farm with my cousins birthday. I honestly love farm life and having such a big family both here, home and in other parts of the world.
Starting early, we had a Montevideo city tour and a bus to Salto on our agenda. The city tour was so insightful and honestly breathtaking. Seeing where my mum grew up, seeing what has formed Montevideo and all the historic architecture in which for parts of it I thought I was in Europe. The buildings have character and influences based on historic European architecture. Nursing a bad headache I took in all the sights from the car as we drove through the city centre, the affluential suburbs, the poorer suburbs as well as the classic tourist attractions.
Being with a tour guide and seeing everything from the car I honestly felt quite safe. If I was to do it just myself and my mum on foot I honestly wouldn't feel comfortable. There was a major shooting and attempted robbery the night before in the city so naturally the city was on high alert and there was a strong police presence. When backpacking, I myself wouldn't travel through South America. There is a certain tone towards the safety viewed by both locals and tourists. Many locals wouldn't walk around at night alone, or walk long distances in certain suburbs. Every country has it's good and bad suburbs but its especially highlighted here.
I do like to explore on foot and get into the back streets of the cities in which I travel to. In this case, I wasn't comfortable going outside my comfort zone so we did it from a distance. We managed to see a lot in the 4 hours we had. The weather was absolutely superb and there wasn't a cloud in the sky!
At 12:30pm we boarded our bus to Salto, 6.5 hours (by car) north of MonteVideo. Still having a strong headache I managed to sleep for a majority of the trip. I was able to see the Uruguayan country side which I know i've mentioned before but every time makes me feel relaxed and calm. Arriving at 7pm we met some family and went straight off to sleep!
Today we traveled to Colonia. Located 2 hours out of Montevideo, the drive was so beautiful. I love the country, the peace, quiet and the clean air. The drive was primarily country side and small towns. We had to drive through the very poor towns of Montevideo as we left the big city. It was hard to see how little people have, how much crime occurs and how little I can do to help.
We had a quick pitstop at the worlds largest pencil, key ring and ash tray. The guy started his collection in 1955 collecting over 45,000 key rings, 22,000 pencils and over 9,000 ah trays. He had a fresh jam, bread, meat and cheese factory behind his museum. We picked up almost 1 kg of Dulce de lece (Uruguayan desert spread) some salami, cheese and bread for snacks, before hitting the road again for the last 20 - 30 kms to our final destination.
Once arriving in Colonia, I honestly feel in love. The architecture dating back to the 1800s inspired by Portuguese and Spanish influences gave a European feel to the small historic town. Stone roads, sandstone houses and antique designs, it is honestly one of my favourite type of places to explore. The old town itself isn't very big and because it's the off season there was hardly anyone there. It was so nice to have the place (almost) to ourselves.
We had lunch at a local cafe, it was $60 AUD for 3 of us. Thankfully much cheaper than yesterday's lunch. Although the food was incomparable it wasn't bad food. Most of the establishments open were cafes and the occasional souvenir store. Not too many 'locals' lived in the old town, they have built a small city outside the old town with busy streets, bustling with both old and young locals, and large main roads.
Arriving back around 6pm we are currently crashing in our hotel room eating left overs and going to enjoy an early night.
Waking up at 5:45am and consequently not being able to get back to sleep, I was a little tired even before we left. We had a quick bite to eat at our hotel and our driver picked us up to start the 2 hour journey to Punta Del Este. For readers who don't know the importance of Punta Del Este, is a very famous resort town. Sometimes referred to has the South Hamptons of South America, seeing over 1 million people visit in the summer months alone it is home to actors, billionaires and rich people all over the world during the peak summer seasons.
Visiting in the off peak season if you're just passing through would be my recommendation. Our driver told us that in the summer it would take 1 hour to drive a 5 minute stretch of road, it would take 45 minutes to 1 hour to find a table at any restaurant and the beaches would be swamped with tourists barely leaving room for locals. It is definitely a tourists delight. The ocean meets the lake and the whole tip of Punta Del Este is surrounded by water kilo metres long.
After driving around the town we stopped for lunch. Prices can be fairly dear. Most places in Uruguay charge for fork and knife service as well as 10% tip. A meal split between 3 of us at a close to higher range restaurant including the extra fees was $122 USD. the food was beautiful although that isn't what we had in mind. Depending on what bank card you have you can either receive a discount or be charged an extra 10% for tourists.
After a long day of sight seeing we watched the sunset at Casa del pueblo. A very famous artist who spend 25 years creating his hand made home that is now a hotel, restaurant, spa and boasts the most iconic sunset view in the world. If you ever get the chance it would be my top pick for the this trip thus far. Setting you back $10 USD its definitely worth the money.
2nd September 10:30am Santiago
Travelling overseas alone is both rewarding and boring all at the same time. After watching my downloaded netflix Sydney to Auckland, I had a 2.5 hour stop over before boarding my second flight. I nearly missed the flight, never experiencing that before I nearly lost my pants running as fast as I did to my gate. I managed to fit in a quick ab workout and wash my face as well as some admin work on my laptop during the stop over, so on the bright side it was pretty efficient.
I have about 1 hour 45 minutes before arriving in Santiago and then get a connecting flight through to Uruguay. I’m keen to see how stressed I get with this lay over being only an hour to disembark, go through customs, find my gate and board a new plane. Flying Latham Airlines, I honestly have had no complaints. I was a bit sceptical prior to leaving as I hadn’t heard about the airline before and didn’t have any prior experience flying them personally. I have a huge amount of leg room, the food and amenities were good and the in flight entertainment was enough to keep me going for 14 hours thus far.
I am just about to have some breakfast - hot pancakes before descending into Santiago. I’ve got another 4 hour flight after this. Arriving at 6pm local time in Uruguay, I can see myself crashing straight away in our hotel room. I have had about 2 hours sleep and despite the movies and the workout my eyes are heavy and I can feel myself crashing big time.
The next 4 days are packed full of exploring and keeping busy so I am excited to get some rest when I arrive ready for the next couple of days. As much as I worried about this trip I can see it shaping up to be busy but rewarding.
2nd September 4:30pm Monte Video
The quickest layer over I’ve ever experienced. Arriving in Santiago at 2pm I had to proceed through customs and find my gate to board my flight by 3pm. One lost bracelet (I later recovered it on the floor of customs), a lost boarding gate but one on time flight later i’m finally on the last leg to Monte Video. We will be spending 3-4 days exploring the city as well as surrounding towns and neighbourhoods before traveling 5 hours by car to Salto for a couple of days. This year for the 4th time in 5 years i’ll be out of Australia for my birthday. I’m excited to share it with family i’ve never met and experience culture and traditions like they do. We then travel back to Santiago for a few more days before returning. 20 days traveling with not too much money has me in a divide. I’m excited to experience life and culture in South America that i’ve heard to much about but also conflicted knowing I have so much going on at home and not being able to return with much money.
For now I’ve got about another hour of my flight before getting picked up and escorted to our hotel room where I can see myself having a long shower, ordering room service and watching netflix (hopefully netflix works *fingers crossed*)
2nd September 8pm Monte Video
We are at our hotel, ordered some food delivery and will hit the hay for a massive day tomorrow. Have a full day tour and some shopping in the evening.