Thursday, January 19, 2017

Montevideo's Port Market

It's only a 15 minute walk through the old city to the port area.   And they have conveniently converted two streets to pedestrian walk-ways which makes the jaunt much more fun. As you might have noticed, I'm not a huge fan of where we're staying but I have to admit it is centrally located among some cool sites.  For example, here is the interior of a church that's located just down the block and at the top of one of the pedestrian walk-ways.

I was joking with Patrice that there is so much graffiti and so many of the buildings look dirty and run-down that they must sell more paint in spray cans that they do in large 3 or 4 liter cans. (There's no such thing as a gallon here)

But our destination today is the Mercado del Puerte, the Port Market. 
 It was built, like so many other things around here, at the turn of the century.
 It's famous architecturally for its open spaces and ornamental iron-work.

It's hard to get picture of the Mercado itself because it's surrounded by so many other buildings.
But here's a shot at one side of it.
  The building in back is totally unrelated.

 It houses the Customs authority for the port.


But here's what looks like inside:
Somebody described this place as Disneyland for carnivores. And that somes it up pretty well.  Instead of lots of individual stalls selling various wares the entire building is separated into about a dozen different restaurants.
 Each restaurant has a grill like this.  In Argentina and Uruguay these are called parillas. 
The wood fire roaring in the back (on the right) does not cook the meat. Its' only job is to create hot embers. As the embers drop, they are somehow raked under the grill on the left. That's where they put the steaks and other meats. Before they put the steaks on the grill, they use their own special formula salt rub. But they don't just apply or gently dab the rub on the steaks, they massage it into the meat. And by the way, any meat done past medium-rare is ruined in their book.
I had a lomo de Brochette which is beef tenderloin on a skewer with onions and red peppers. Each piece was the size of half a petite filet back home.  Needless to say I could not eat the whole thing.

As you can probably tell, my cold is  getting better every day. My primary mission now is to make sure Patrice doesn't get as sick as I did.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

On the Mend

After spending the morning at the British Hospital I found that I did not have strep and plan to just get over this virus and it's associated sinus infection. We brought some Cipro anti-biotic with us and I will take that if I don't make any progress on the sinus infection and cough by tomorrow.  I am determined to be in good shape for the high elevations in Peru.
Yesterday I rallied long enough to do a little sightseeing. Here are some pictures of the Teatro Solis which is just a few blocks from here. Unlike most buildings, it is not covered with graffiti. 
Here are a couple shots from the inside:
 Inside the theatre Inside the hall of Presidents
 This is the gate from the old section of Montevideo to the "new" section.  That's kind of ironic because it all looks pretty old to me.

On the way to pick up our laundry we saw this interesting store. Patrice would not let me go inside to see what they actually sell!

Good night all.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Montevideo, We Have a Problem

This is our first day in Montevideo and I have to say that Montevideo and I really got off on the wrong foot.
Let's start off with the question of balance. This blog is supposed to be a scrapbook for us to remember the good times we had on our trip. But it's also important to chronicle the mistakes we made to improve your future trips and ours. Let me also say that Patrice did a great job planning this trip and most of our current circumstances could not be forseen.

OK. So yesterday I woke up with a bad sore throat. We got some help from our B&B host to reserve our seats on the 4:30p express bus to Montevideo. We were seated next to a fussy baby who really cried and fussed for the entire 2 hour trip. 
When we got to Montevideo we caught a cab to Sarandi Guesthouse.
When we arrived at the address, we almost didn't get out of the cab.
  Here's what we saw. The place and the neighborhood looked that bad.    The lesson here is to look at Google's Street View of a place before booking. Here's what's mysterious about Sarandi "Guesthouse". It does not appear in Googles Streetview at all.
Our hostess Karen meets us at the front door and takes us up to the third floor in a 75 year old elevator. As we walk through the kitchen she explains that they don't serve breakfast anymore because "their guests don't have time for that and there are lots places to get breakfast in the street".
Now technically their name doesn't say B&B, but the whole setup is so B&B-like that it would be easy to assume breakfast was included.
Lastly as we lay down for a siesta (because many restaurants don't even OPEN until 8p) we hear the sound of a bus turning the corner right under our bedroom window and revving up its diesel to accelerate. Montevideo does not have a subway, only busses. And we hear this sound about 15 times an hour from 6a~11:59p.
My sore throat has not abated and I now have a bad cough. Planning to to go to the British Hospital for some targeted anti biotics first thing in the morning.

OK, that's enough negative stuff. We'll plan to return to fun times in the morning.

The Dogs of Colonia

Leave it to Patrice to have a soft spot in her heart for street dogs.  When she heard about all the tame and occasionally mangy dogs of Colonia, and took a dozen pictures, I promised her we'd do a special blog entry just for them. 

It all started with Chicquenia, the street dog our B&B has adopted.  They think she's about 12 years old. She's as gentle as they come. But at ripe old age of 84 in dog years, she doesn't get up to greet customers. She just thumps her tail against the floor.  She's pretty smart because she's trained all the humans to kneel and pet her once she starts thumping. Yep, I fell for it too.
She really appreciates humans who are fast learners.

 Sea Dog Wise old Dog
 Personal Shopper Dog  Guard Dog waiting for a favorite human to return
None of these dogs had a collar. In all the dogs we encountered, not one seemed threatening in any way.
So... Yesterday we left Colonia to the dogs and hopped on a bus to Montevideo.  That's when our luck started to change. More on that in the next post.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

A Full Day Exploring Colonia Del Sacramento

We saw/experienced two fantastic sites today; the first is our B&B and the second is the heart of Colonia. So to minimize the text I thought I would make a separate group of pictures and comments for each one.

Our B&B was like no other B&B we have ever experienced. Just try to imagine that you're in a giant 3D collage that's a homage to the art and adventure of the mid-20th century.  Even our room was arranged like a collage.
 Here's the entrance and our host Eduardo 
 Working on this yesterday's blog entry this morning
 The courtyard outside our room, the porthole goes to our shower
  Our door is yellow & it says "follow the yellow brick road" above it
The pictures above only scratch the surface of the artwork and artistic arrangement here at La Posadita

Street Scenes from Colonia del Sacramento
Originally this was the site of a Portugese fort and the ruins of a convent. The fort and the ruins of the convent date back to the late 17th century. Most of the buildings in this area of town date back to the 1800's. 

Left is old lighthouse and ruins of the convent.  Above you'll an example of handicraft being sold on the Square
 Here's Patrice buying a souvenir pendant from a local artist Just watching the Catamaran ferry rev up its engines to hydroplane
 "Here the beer is colder than the heart of your EX" They have the odd antique car parked just for atmosphere
 This was our lunch stop Here they are making our crepes

Sailing is nice here because of the steady off shore breeze. Note the jib is still furled.. Maybe too much breeze.  You can get a nice view of the water from most streets.  To the right you can see a picture of their dock.
 Here's an old hotel we dreamt about buying and fixing up, then woke up A tiled antique map of the Platt river coast from Colonia to Montevideo 

To the left and above, street performers show off their skills for the tourists.
We look up and the sky is turning an ominous shade of gray.  So we make our way back to the B&B just as the sky opens up.

We holded up in our room until the rain let up then walked to a Tea House..
   After those crepes, this and some tea sandwiches are enough for dinner.

Argentina to Uruguay - Buenos Aires in the Rearview Mirror

We flew back to BA from Iquazu. Then we grabbed a cab as fast as we could to get us to port. We wanted to catch the high speed catamaran from BA to Colonia Del Sacramento on the other side of the bay.  It was a little too fast. It was where our luck with cabs in BA ran out. Patrice and I let the driver know the address and it seemed pretty clear at the time. There were two things in our favor. We had just spent a week in BA, so we knew our way around pretty well. We also had Google Maps up to show our location versus our destination.  Clearly, the driver was taking us for a ride!  Finally he had to stop for a light and I showed him our location versus our preferred path and he got with the program. But not before he ripped us off for 100 pesos. (OK, it's only 6 bucks but it's the principle of the thing)
In spite of our detour, we got to the boat in time and caught this to our next destination.  It was a very quick and smooth ride.  I would guess this big boat was making about 35 knots across the water.

They don't have any windows out the bow unless you're sitting in first class on the upper deck.  Here's the view out the stern as we leave BA. Anybody want to water ski?

We arrived in Colonia in late afternoon and set out to explore the town.  It's the site of an old Portuguese fort from the 17th century. Many of the walls are still standing.

We found a little restaurant for dinner..
 It may be hard to see, but this restaurant was outdoors with a gravel floor. The door was so small even Patrice had to duck to go inside.

 Here's an example of one of the walls and an old gate as our daylight was fading.. 
We love this place and we are thrilled with our B&B too.  So look for a lot of pix tomorrow from both. 


Friday, January 13, 2017

Looking Into The Devil's Throat

Today was the day to get up-close and personal with these monster falls. And as you'll see, we found a few other things along the way. Our primary mission today was to see the Devil's Throat (La Garganta del Diablo). Over 50% of the fall's water rushes through this narrow opening. It's the side of the falls nearest the Brazil border. The only way to see the base of the falls is by boat.   So we headed down the trail to catch the earliest boat out that morning; the 10:50.  Along the way we saw lots of these guys.
They are a form of raccoon native to this area. They're called Coaties. They eat nuts, fruits and generally anything the tourists will hand them. But they have also been known to bite the hand that feeds them. This is one of about 50 pictures Patrice took of the Coaties.

From the Coaties we made our way to the boat concession. Patrice opted not to get totally soaked and stayed behind. I brought my bathing suit and was happy to get totally immersed. The heat index was to be near 100 degrees today.
 The boats made two passes at each falls; one to get close enough for pictures without getting your camera wet and a second pass for total immersion.
Here's a shot Patrice got of our boat heading toward one of the falls.
Here's a shot showing how the boats get close to the base of the falls.
 The boats basically disappear into the mist at this point.  Although the boat had enough horsepower for the driver to keep it stable, at one point water was pouring directly on me and into the boat.
 Patrice was kind enough to wait for me while I took that wild ride.  So after that we made our way uphill to the train station. This train takes you a mile or two to the big walkway to the top of the falls. It's not obvious, but at this point my shirt is completely soaked and I am glad of it.

The park has built miles of raised metal walkways to keep visitors from damaging the ecosystem in this rainforest. 

 But the walkway out to the Devil's throat is over the broad and relatively shallow Iguazu River feeding the falls. It is almost a mile long.
There are lots of these Urraca birds in the trees of the small islands that the walkway crosses.
Finally, after a long hot walk you come to the Devil's Throat. 
The mist is so thick you can't see the bottom.

After this moving, thunderous experience we make the long trek back to the train and the black path back to our hotel:
  We are still amused by this sticker we find on our patio door:

We have been here over a day and still haven't seen any monkeys.  And my Spanish might not be good enough to ask where I could find them.  Well, I could probably ask the question, but not understand a word of the answer.

Tomorrow we fly back to BA and take the afternoon ferry to Uruguay.