Uruguay–an elegant country with amazing cuisine, gorgeous beaches, beautiful architecture, what seems like a billion cows, and…almost no guidebooks. Most of the usual suspects (ahem, Lonely Planet), relegate it to a chapter in books about Argentina. The plus side to this is that you’ll end up doing a lot of things on your own, because there just isn’t as much out there as there is for other countries in South America. Here’s a roundup of the resources I found helpful when planning my trip.
Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations Uruguay Episode – I bought the episode for $1.99 in iTunes and watched it on the plane. Note-not a single person at the Mercado del Puerto ate 1/10th of what Anthony did in this episode. Also, do not watch if you’re hungry.
Uruguay (Brandt Travel Guide) – It’s a little on the older side, and I probably paid too much for it. But I wanted a travel guide on my iPad to read on the plane that was solely devoted to Uruguay, and this was it. My favorite part was the apt description of how Uruguay is South America’s Oklahoma, which, being an Okie, made me feel right at home.
36 Hours in Montevideo, Uruguay – Maybe this one is cheating, because, duh, it’s the New York Times. But I never go anywhere without checking out their 36 Hours series. Never disappoints with at least one odd-ball recommendation that you’d miss without it.
How Much does it Cost to Travel in Uruguay? – Globetrotter Girls’ breakdown of their costs helped me get some estimates ahead of time.
Paradise Uruguay – A blog with great information on visiting and living in Uruguay (just not that easy to navigate).
That’s pretty much it. I didn’t do a lot of planning beforehand, and when I got there I travelled pretty leisurely and didn’t stress trying to get to everything. I’ll go back someday.
Odds and Ends
Where I Stayed: El Viajero Downtown Hostel
I stayed in a private room. Had it’s own shower. The place was a good location about a fifteen minute walk from the Centro Historico. It was clean, and the breakfast was decent. Did not seem like a party hotel, but I wasn’t looking for a party so maybe I missed it? I felt safe, and I would stay there again.
Transportation: I mostly walked and then grabbed cabs when I got tired. Cabs were pretty cheap, so I didn’t worry about public transit.
Tours: I went on two organized tours, both were with the company that partnered with my hostel. One was a city tour, and the second was a day trip to Colonia. Both were a good value, and they had basic itineraries that any tour company would cover. If you want to travel slow, you could probably hit everything on the city tour on your own, although I’m a sucker for a good tour guide. The Colonia trip could easily be done by renting a car or figuring out public transit–just depends on how much you want to budget and how much time you have.
Food: I ate breakfast in the hostel and a lot of lunches at the Mercado del Puerto. For dinners, I mostly grabbed small meals at cafes near my hostel. These were nothing to write home about. Two quick notes. 1) Avoid anything called pizza. You know this in your heart, but in a moment of weakness you may forget. Don’t do it. It’s not worth it. 2) If you accidentally order a french fry omelet, it’s okay to pretend to eat it and hide some in your napkin.
Biggest Surprise: The Street Art!
Biggest Disappointment: The aforementioned French Fry omelet. I really need to learn Spanish.
Favorite Photo: These crazy doors in the old part of the city.
That’s all I’m going to post about Uruguay for now. Got any other great resources or any good tips?