I will never not remember Uruguay for this Simpson’s scene, but when a friend at a hostel said he was going for the day and asked me to come along, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity.
To get to Uruguay from Buenos Aires requires a ferry either to Colonia or Montevideo (the capital), and costs about 40 pounds. We got ours at 12 midday and arrived there at 1, giving us about 6 hours before the return at 7pm. As we began to check out the town, we found that while I’m sure it would be beautiful in warmer weather, it was not only a little miserable in May, but also devoid of most of it’s citizens (I assume many people have summer houses there). The Old Town has a few decent restaurants, a church, bike and buggy rentals, some old colonial walls and a viewpoint from a lighthouse, but the lack of sun and people was rather depressing.
But anyway, we were hungry , so we decided to get some local Uruguan food. The Chivito (“little goat”) is a meaty sandwich filled with churrasco (grilled, thinly sliced beef), ham, bacon, lettuce and tomato, mozzarella cheese and a fried egg. Try beating that for protein. There are a few extra options, such as piccles, onions, fries and others, although the “fungi” type stuff we had with ours tasted like feces. You can also get it without bread, loaded onto a plate, as ours was. Although stuff is a bit more pricey in Uruguay than Argentina, which is pricey already, the Chivito is a relatively quick and cheap way to fill yourself up, plus it’s really tasty.
After this we still had about 4 hours left in the city, so decided to hire bikes for about $10 each for a few hours. We left the old town and cycled along the coast to the nearby town(ship) of Real de San Carlos, whose main attraction is a decrepit bull-fighting stadium named the Plaza de Toros. Although it’s forbidden to go in, we left a dog that had run the whole way with us (for no reason) to guard the bikes, and sneaked in through the unguarded fence to view the inside. You can really feel the history when you enter. Designed in Moorish style, it would once have been a vast, grand structure capable of containing 10,000 spectators. Opened in 1910, it hosted a mere 8 fights before bullfighting was banned in Uruguay in 1912, and since then has been abandoned. Parts of it are crumbling, and walking on the concrete seating feels a little bit dodgy. However it does seem that someone’s been keeping it from complete disrepair, as the grass is obviously mowed.
The coolest bit about being inside is that it feels very similar to a gladiator arena, so naturally we did some reenacting of scenes from Russel Crowe and Ridley Scott’s epic film Gladiator (“ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?”).
Afterwards we decided to enter the countryside a bit, and came across beautiful, vast fields of varying crops, which, with the sunset approaching, merely added to the dreamlike Gladiator quality of the place.
Long exposure of the sea and distant lights of Buenos Aires.
We arrived back to the bike rental place, and had enough time for a beer before getting on the coach and heading back to Buenos Aires for about 10pm.
Strangely, what started off as an average day had become something I’ll remember really fondly, but maybe it’s because I got on so well with the guy I went with, PJ from California (you can’t not get along with people from Northern Cali).