Our Argentina tourist visas were coming up on 90 days and needed to be renewed, so Sandro and I decided to make the most of it by taking a weekend trip to Montevideo, the capital city of Uruguay.
The easiest way to get there from Buenos Aires is by plane. But the more interesting and similarly priced way is by Buquebus, the river ferry. You can purchase tickets online, but I found that (surprise?) the site kept trying to tack on extra fees/insurance/etc to my total, which we didn't need. So we headed down to their downtown office a week ahead of time, passports in hand. It's high season (summer vacation time) here in BA, so it was pretty crowded. We waited about a half hour, but once we got to the ticketing agent, it was a fast and easy transaction.
*Note: This was a direct ferry from BA to Montevideo. You can also get ferries that go to Colonia (a small, pleasant, Uruguayan colonial town) in one hour, spend the day there, then catch a 3 hour bus to Montevideo in the evening. It's slightly cheaper and you can do both cities.
The day of our departure, we showed up at the Buquebus terminal in Puerto Madero about an hour early. Good thing, because it took us forever to get through security and customs. Once we were on the ferry, it was a smooth, three hour ride across the Rio de la Plata.
So because it's the height of summer down here and everyone flees the cities for the beaches, Montevideo was a quiet, slow, and really relaxing place to be. We stayed at the Sur Hotel, which was gorgeous and really affordable at that time. It was a few blocks from a ton of restaurants, plazas, cafes, and the beach, and also just a 15 minute walk to Ciudad Vieja, the trendy, touristy, shopping district.
We went for dinner at a typically Uruguayan steak restaurant in the Mercado de la Abundacia and got a surprise when half way through our meal the dance floor opened up, the music started playing, and older locals tangoed their way through the night.
Montevideo has a few really cool, gorgeous cultural points, like El Fuente de los Candados, or the Fountain of Locks. Here, lovers put their initials on a padlock, attach it to the fountain, and the legend says that they'll forever be in love and return to Montevideo someday.
There was a ton of good street art all over the city as well. It popped out at me everytime I turned a corner.
Oh. Also, Sandro and I killed some really delicious paella.
Not to miss:
-A walk down La Rambla, the path that stretches the entire length of the city coastline.
-Room #17 at Sur Hotel. Two words: In-room jacuzzi.
-Share the paella at Euskal Erria.
-A walk through Ciudad Vieja. If you like shopping and outdoor cafes, they've got 'em. It's geared toward tourists and can be a bit crowded, but is a pleasant area with a pedestrian street and butts up against the city's government buildings, older architecture, and public art.