Acquaintance with the country.
I just came back from my trip to Uruguay where I spent a week traveling and attending the ACM2017 conference with my husband.
What I know about Uruguay before my trip was nothing because it’s not a popular destination for tourists from Kazakhstan or Russia. We know a lot about Argentina and Brazil because of the series and carnival, Iguazu falls and beauty of Patagonia and Amazonia but nothing about Montevideo and fantastic beaches in Uruguay.
What was surprising is that I needed a visa to this country and the processing time was 20-30 days! Thanks to the embassy, they did their best to proceed my visa application within a week.
There are 2 official languages: Spanish and Portuguese, if you go to the east you will also hear Portuñol, a mix of both. The further you are from the city center the less chance to find someone speaking English. Be prepared!
Tax-free for foreigners
Interesting fact about the country and its progress: it is the only country I have been to which implemented automatic tax-free for foreign credit/debit cards. Most of the restaurants, rental car services will give you a discount in the amount of VAT at checkout if you pay via Visa, Mastercard, plus, you always can do tax-free for purchased items. So, you can consider that the food will be cheaper for you by about 20% than if you pay cash.
How to get there?
Since Buenos Aires is just within 2.5 hours by ferry we decided to explore BAires first.
Roundtrip flight ticket cost us 1067$. There are no direct flights from Los Angeles to Buenos Aires, neither Montevideo, so the short (1.5 hours) stopover took place in Houston and the following flight takes about 9.5 hours.
From Buenos Aires to Montevideo we took a ferry in the evening. There are 3 main companies but the most convenient service and inadequately high prices were provided by Buquebus. Direct 2.5 hours ferry ticket cost us 80$ per person and we booked in advance. Same day price rises to 120$. On the way back I paid 40$ for the bus+ferry option of ColoniaExpress company to get from Montevideo to Buenos Aires. It is fine if you have plenty of time, the ferry was late for 2 hours so the whole trip took about 8-8.5 hours. Terrible!
Rambla (riverside road) near our hotel.
How to get around the city and country.
Exchange rate 1 USD=27-29 Pesos
Dollars are accepted everywhere at a rate 27pesos per USD.
From the Port of Montevideo, we took a taxi. It cost us 10$ to get to the area called Punta Carretas, where our hotel was located. If you are a group of 3 people it is easier to travel by taxi. They always have taximeters so the fare will be pretty much the same.
Uber also works at least in Montevideo. Price is the same as for official taxi.
The bus service in Montevideo is pretty convenient if you want to go to the beach from the old town or even to another city like Colonia. Bus fare within a city is a bit more than 1$. To get to the old town (Ciudad Vieja) it took about 40 minutes.
City Center of Montevideo
To travel within a country will need to check the official web page of the main bus terminal Tres Cruces
Please, note, there is NO direct buses to Iguazu Falls from any city in Uruguay. Plan your trip accordingly.
Since the market is small renting a car might be expensive starting from 50$ per car a day not including insurance and gasoline which is expensive in Uruguay.
We have checked a couple of services such as Hertz, Mariño Sport, Autonomia (minimum rent for 3 days but it is the cheapest option- 42$ per day) apart from aggregators. Weekends are really busy so you need to book a car in advance. We did not have a clear plan and we tried to book a car same day on Friday, only one car was found at Mariño Sport but they dropped it off at our location and we could drop it off at the port at no fee.
Gasoline is expensive and would cost you 45 pesos per liter or 1.7$/liter. Before 22.00 you cannot pay for gasoline via credit or debit cards, only cash.
Cafe and restaurants
Always check your check! 3 or 4 times our bill included an ice-cream, wine or something else we did not order. In most of the restaurants, you will have a fee per person just for the place 40-80 pesos/person. Tips are usually not included and are very welcome.
Cuisine in Uruguay mostly consists of steaks, sausages and fish. The closer you are to the eastern shore the better fish you have.
Entrails (kidneys and throat of a cow) and sausages.
During the time of a conference, we were living in the Hotel Regency Golf Urbano.
After the conference, we were using Airbnb. It was a good experience, our hosts were trying to give us useful tips from the perspective of locals. Comparing to other countries, Airbnb in Uruguay is quite expensive and not as popular as it could be.
Yes, basic information that you need is described above and more detailed information is in my next post. See you there.
If you like what you read, please, follow me and share posts with your friends! Many hugs and rays of lovE!