So, I wanted to write a quick trip summary, which I always feels a little odd about since, well, how interesting can my vacation seem to someone else? Is it just brazen bragging about where you've gone and the things you've seen? I never can tell if other people really want to hear about the places we've been, or if they are just good friends and are being polite. I'll take the safe route and keep it short.
The best bit: Walking the city. Buenos Aires is huge and beautiful and alive and surprisingly safe, to boot. The people we met were nice to us and, maybe this is just one of my personal quirks, but I really appreciated the level of service that waiters and retail employees gave us. We didn't see that in most of the other places we've visited in South America. We loved all the different neighborhoods of Buenos Aires we ventured into, although we did avoid La Boca altogether at the advice of some fellow travelers.
The worst bit: Not being able to switch Argentinean Pesos back into dollars. Due to the currency crisis and the obvious loophole that would exist if you were able to trade 1 dollar into 11 Argentinian Pesos, and then immediately turn those back into dollars at the official rate of 8:1, you're kind of stuck with any Argentinian currency you have left over at the end of your trip. We found a bit of a loophole at the duty free, which prices everything in dollars and then does let you pay at the official exchange rate of 8:1 (essentially giving you a 27% discount if you got your Pesos at the "blue" rate). So if Johnny Walker Black is your sort of souvenir...
The best bit: Everyone walking around with a thermos under one arm, and a cup in their other hand, drinking mate tea out of a metal, filtered straw. It's strangely cool. It seems everyone in the city drinks tea all day long. Kind of a lame "best thing", but coming up with one was hard, as we didn't really love the city. Sorry, Montevideans. It has some really beautiful parts, of course, and I don't regret going. But I'd sum it up as a smaller, grittier Buenos Aires, with less exciting food and....
The worst bit: Higher prices. Everything is much pricier here than in BA, and even more expensive than in the states.
Colonia Del Sacramento
The best bit: For one, it's got to be the most scooter obsessed place I've ever seen. It's by far the most common means of transportation, with parents dropping off their kids at school on two wheels, with the baby riding up front and the toddler hanging on the back. Still, what I'll remember most is Media y Media, a blend of half white wine and half sparkling wine that makes a late outdoor lunch seem, you know, fancy. We couldn't find it back in Argentina, so it might be a local thing. And the city is so flipping beautiful that it makes you want to puke. Everywhere there are cobble stoned streets lined by old trees...it's kind of upsetting how pretty it is.
The worst bit: Um, leaving? I wish we'd tried to do Montevideo in just a couple days and spent some more time here. And speaking of leaving, don't try to save a few pesos and take the smaller ferry on Colonia Express like I did. The smaller boat got completely tossed by the waves for the hour ride, causing me to get the worst seasickness I've ever felt. It turns out I am not a boat guy. To top it all off, waves crashing into the boat caused one of the five-foot windows to break, sending glass everywhere and bringing the occasional wave inside. Not good times. Definitely spring for the bigger Buquebus ferry, unless you're the seafaring type.
The Budget (Over 2 weeks)
Flights: $1,445.08 ($949.12 from Arizona and $495.96 from Peru)
Reciprocity Fees for Argentina: $360
Ferries and Buses: $243.08
Lodging: $224 (For 4 nights at AirBNBs. The rest of the nights were paid for with SPG points.)
Food, Wine, Taxis, Gifts and Everything Else: $727.85
So that's our trip. The best part was, definitely, getting to spend time with Mrs. Done by Forty. We're on the two month countdown until we're back together again, and we sing a non-stop loop of "Reunited and it feels so good..."
Good luck getting that out of your head.