Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Punta del Este, Uruguay Feb 11th-Feb 16th, 2011

Hola, language change from last stop, now in Spanish instead of Portuguese

Traveling: I got here via a bus in Porto Alegre. The bus was expensive, about $120 or so. I have a feeling it included some fees for crossing the border, but I’m not sure. In the end, it was an insanely comfortable 9 hour bus ride or so that we took over night. The seats were amazing and it was very easy to sleep. I recommend traveling overnight, it saves you the money for a hotel for the night, and you also don’t miss anything going on.

Leg room on said bus

Culture/Stuff about there: Very laid back, it is a beach area where the wealthier people in Argentina and Brazil vacation, so it is similar to something like Florida for people taking vacations in the USA. Not as far as needing money to do that, but more of a comparison between the equivalency to something that we have. The beaches are nice, with two more family oriented beaches, the more popular being Playa Brava which is their “surfing” beach. You cannot actually get any good waves here, there are just more than the other beaches, but it is clearly not a surfing destination. The days start later here, as people stay out later at night. Most people wake up around noon, grab food and what not, then head to the beach from about 3pm-8pm. There is a beach that was a 15 minute walk from the hostel, that they refer to as “Bikini Beach”. It is a beach that still has more families than younger people, but this beach is the best of the three, and does have more of a younger vibe. The water was nice over here, not too cold or anything. I somehow stumbled in to a hand ball tournament on the beach that was going on for the weekend, that was hysterical to watch. Besides that, you just relax and grab food through out the day. The area is split kind of like South Beach where you can walk from a beach on one side of the strip to the other fairly quickly. Bikini beach is on one side, and Playa Brava is on the other. At night time, since the nightlife doesn’t get going in these countries until about 1am,, people start to pregame later as well. You can grab beers at the supermarket here for about $3 for a litre. A litre is about double what a normal beer is back home, it is similar in size to a 40. There is a strip on the pier which was about a 15 minute walk at night to go out. The bars are okay here, but nothing too special. The most popular bar is Moby Dick’s, it is decent. The bars stay open late, and it is common for people to be heading home at a time close to sunrise. I am a night person, so it is easy for me since I am always up late back home, but for a normal person this difference would take some adjusting to. I’m also starting to enjoy the music played at bars here better than the music in the USA. They play the popular US songs, well some of them, with a mix of the better South American music, which I like. They have a few small casinos, the Conrad being the larger of the two. It is owned by Harrah’s, and people talked about it as being good, but it is a joke of a casino, just insanely small. But, I guess they are not used to the ones in Las Vegas, so to them it is nice, but not even worth a visit like people tell you, unless you just want a good laugh at seeing the difference. Lastly, I’m really beginning to despise the United States for not allowing drinking in the street. People here do it everywhere and it is illegal, and they don’t abuse it or anything, but it helps create a more laid back atmosphere.

Also, when they joke here they type it….jejeje, and in Brazil they type….jajaja, and in the USA we type hahaha, so it is funny to see that.

A shot from out hostel, bikini beach is a fifteen minute walk in the background

A shot on the way to Bikini Beach w/ the Aussies

Bikini Beach

The Norweigan doctors and me, and Mads

Language: Spanish, besides Brazil and some of the French owned countries up North, everywhere in South America speaks Spanish. It does change from location to location, just like how people speak differently in California than New York. It was nice to be able to try and recall some Spanish from high school, and attempt to start learning again. I did a little Rosetta Stone here, but knowing the key verbs such as:

Have - tener
Like - gustar
Am I able - poder


How do you say… …in Spanish - Como se dice… …en Espanol?

Is very important. The best way by far to learn it is to understand the basics, and just attempt to ask questions and talk to people in Spanish. People are very willing to try helping once you show an effort to try. As I type this, it is difficult for me to type in English, because I am trying to learn Spanish, so some of my English vocabulary is not coming as easy to me, and I find myself speaking broken English here.

Safety: It is very safe here, you can walk around at any time of the day or night with anything and be fine. So it is certainly fine to take valuables to the beach here or out at night. Also, you can walk at night with peace of mind, and so you don’t need to take cabs back at night like you do elsewhere.

Transportation: Cabs didn’t cost much here, but it is easy to walk 10-20 minutes to anything you need anyhow, so get some exercise unless you are in a big rush.

Population: 7,300, but it gets up to near 500,000 when the popular summer season comes around between January and March

Currency: Uruguyan Pesos or US Dollars. Both are accepted most places, they tell you the price in Pesos, but it is certainly fine to pay in US dollars. Keep in mind that they make a small amount off changing the way you can pay, about 5% when I was there. The peso trades currently at about 19.5 to 1 USD. They don’t have real small change here, so it is common to get a candy at the grocery store instead of real small change, it’s rather entertaining.

Place Stayed at: 1949 Hostel. I highly recommend this place, it was a stones throw from the beach. The room was just like any other hostel dorm room, and the restrooms were not great, but the stay here wasn’t expensive, about $30 a night per person, compared to the cheapest hotel here being $120 a night when we can. People chill out during the day in the area where their bar is, or outside in the front. The bar serves alcohol, but it is about double the price as getting it at a supermarket. There was a shorter guy at the front desk who would ask me to get beer for him when I went to get it at night, and he was totally cool with drinking it outside, but there was another guy who tried to enforce the “no outside drinks” policy. When you hit up the bars, their prices here are double what the hostel bar charged, so do the majority of your drinking with drinks from the supermarkets or gas stations.

view from outside the hostel

hostel hang out spot outside

I needed to take a nap in the bar/hangout area

Food: They had Italian places and it catered well to tourists here. Still, they have pretty good meats here, and I would either have a steak, or grab stuff at the grocery store to make at the hostel. Overall, the food is good, but nothing special compared to anywhere else that sets it apart, it’s certainly a little worse here than food I’d get at home.

Watch out, they serve random things on food in these countries that you don't expect, here is a burger with eggs on it

Beers/Drinks: They serve Patricia and Pilsner a lot, also Zillertal was common to get at the bars. They also sold a lot of Stella, the beer is pretty good here, but also nothing insanely awesome or anything.

Entertainment: Go to Playa Brava or Bikini beach during the day and then at night pregame some, and then walk along the pier until you see a strip of bars, Moby Dick being the one that was the best.

Shawn, I, y mi dos amigos de Uruguay

Internet: Very slow upload/download speeds, as well as disconnections while playing poker. If you lived here though, I’m sure you’d be fine when just hardwired directly to the modem or router.

Sites to see/Things to do: The beaches and the nightlife, and the nightlife is nothing great at all compared to other cities in South America. There is also this huge hand which I’d tell you that you should get a photo with at the entrance to Playa Brava. I didn’t do it, but renting a motor bike is cheaper here than at other places I’ve been, at about $15 for the day, so taking a bike to tour other area. Such as driving over the bordering town of Maldonado would be neat to just see what else there is along the coast line. You are supposed to have an international driving license from a place like AAA back home which is only $15, and that I have, but apparently no one really cares. So if you forgot to get this, I think it’s fine to still drive here.

Talk to the hand

Recommendation: Come here during their summer months, January to March. It’s also fine to come as early as October, but it’s not as nice then. At other times I assume it is not as happening here so I wouldn’t bother coming during those times. Also, three or so is ideal here. There are not sites to see, or crazy nightlife to witness, it is just a cool chill beach area. If you are craving beaches though, you can stay longer. I am heading to big cities for the next two weeks, so I won’t have access to the beaches as easy. This is a place that would be real awesome to have a vacation home at, and to live at as your place of residency, but as far as touring it, it just offers good beaches, and no sites to see.

Other Pics:

My boy Joe from Bristol

Los tres amigos

Sorry, but if you are using that dance move I'm going to have to get a picture

Random funny ad at the hostel

Arcade, I'm still a kid at heart

Me being a tourist

Sunset, I never got a great one because I was always a little getting down there, lie on the beach at night and you are sure to get really good ones

My outside work out area, located across from the casino and right off the beach, ideal for me imo

Cool hand ball tournament on the beach, I luck boxed getting to see this

Their pathetic, tiny Conrad Casino

Rating: 8/10, the proximity to the beaches was much enjoyed by me, and the night life was okay, but the place lacked awesome site seeing. I enjoyed my stay, but now don’t have a huge need or desire to go back any time soon. It is a terrific spot to vacation too, but not worth the money to fly far to get there unless you have the extra cash or are traveling South America. It is also not a place you would be able to live year round, but could do during their summer months.



  1. Have you drank any yerba mate?

  2. churvisa? The tea you are talking about?

    I haven't had any yet and leave Argentina soon, I wanted to buy a cup for it, but it will break before I get home. Everyone has it everywhere so I assume it's awesome.

    How did you like it?

  3. Yeah, I'm talking about the tea. It's pretty good stuff and I'd definitely recommend it.

  4. Yeah you were right, it is mate, I was thinking about something else, I've yet to try it but everyone is always having it everywhere

  5. Awesome post Reese -- looks awesome down there.. any girls tho? haha

  6. Yeah it was fun there, don't take many pictures of the girls for your posting pleasure, haha

    They were much better looking in other countries than in Uruguay btw