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South America : Uruguay
Uruguay is a country in Southern South America. It has a South Atlantic Ocean coastline and lies between Argentina to the west and Brazil to the north. It is the second-smallest country in South America (after Suriname). The country has a mostly low-lying landscape and three-quarters of the country is grassland, ideal for cattle and sheep raising.
Warm temperate; freezing temperatures almost unknown.
Mostly rolling plains and low hills; fertile coastal lowland.
A violent Marxist urban guerrilla movement, the Tupamaros, launched in the late 1960s, led Uruguay's president to agree to military control of his administration in 1973. By the end of the year the rebels had been crushed, but the military continued to expand its hold throughout the government. Civilian rule was not restored until 1985. Uruguay's political and labor conditions are among the freest on the continent. In 2004 a leftist coalition which included the Tupamaros won elections which left them in control of both houses of congress, the presidency, and most city and regional governments.
In 2004, American Airlines launched a non-stop flight from Miami to Montevideo. The flight is not daily and only operates during the North American winter season. On the days when the non-stop flight does not operate, American flies via Buenos Aires. United Airlines also flies to Montevideo via a stop in Buenos Aires.
http://www.uair.com/ flies to Punta del Este and Montevideo from South American cities such as Buenos Aires, Santiago, and Porto Allegre.
Pluna is another Uruguayan carrier.
There are limited commuter train services around Montevideo. There are some tourist trains which do not have a fixed schedule. You need to find annoucements for them at the Montevideo train station. There is no regular long distance train service.
Certain Buquebus crossings from Argentina carry cars in the hold for an additional charge. There are road crossings via bridges to Argentina and in to Brazil.
There is regular many times a day bus services to Buenos Aires and Cordoba, Argentina with continued service on to Santiago, Chile. There are many buses which run to Porto Alegre, Brazil.
The "Buquebus" ferry service operates between Buenos Aires, Argentina, and both Colonia and Montevideo, Uruguay. Some services continue to Punta del Este. The buquebus website is always down.
Between Buenos Aires and Montevideo, fares are currently U$ 1460 pesos for tourist class, and U$ 1760 pesos for first class. Journey time is approximately three hours.
Yerba Mate gourds.
Uruguayans' national dish is bbq'd meat. There are many public markets where you can get a hundred varieties of meat. Vegetarians can order ravioli just about anywhere. In the bar the local speciality is gramajo, a dish which is french fries like potatos, eggs, and ham. If you ask they can make it without the ham. One dish that should not be missed is chivito, a heart-attack-on-a-platter combination of meat, potatoes, fried eggs, ham, cheese and mayonnaise.
Montevideo is a city of bars and has very few of the cafés of Buenos Aires. There are many good sidewalk cafés in the center of the city along the pedestrian streets in the direction of the old city.
Yerba Mate is widely drunk on the streets, but it is difficult to order in restaurants. You may have to buy a package at a super mercado and make your own. The drinking gourds are widely available from economical to super-luxe silver and horn. Yerba Mate is a social drink. If you are with a group of Uruguayans they will probably not offer you any because they assume that foreigners do not like the bitter taste. If you try some it will make everybody happy.
Uruguay is also acquiring a reputation for its fine wines, especially those made from the Tannat grape. Tannat wine is very tannic and rich, and is a perfect accompaniment to the barbecued beef that is at the heart of the national cuisine.
The Hotel Apart Bremen is a renovated old building with rental flats. Hotels in Montevideo (http://www.reservas.net/app/hcentral01.exe?135,UY,MVD,,,,ENG) The Radisson is on a main square and costs about USD $80-$100 per night. It has a pool. It may have been a former Moonies building. Room 1958 has a horrible problem with windows creaking in the night and morning, probably due to the changing temperature. Breakfast buffet is included in the rate, as well as several pieces of underwear washed for you daily. (March 2005)
Ciudad Vieja Hostel, in the Core of the Historical Heart of the City and in the Middle of Montevideo?s Nightlife. More information at http://www.ciudadviejahostel.com
Red Hostel at http://www.redhostel.com/ is a 2004 renovated old Montevideo classic French home. Typical hostel traffic, but very nice staff who like to hang out with their friends late night on the hostel roof.
There are numerous English language schools which are looking for native speakers as teachers. They can arrange papers or pay teachers under the table. The pay is not good, but enough to live on in Montevideo. Work permits are not particularly difficult to obtain and Uruguay lets you convert a tourist visa to a work visa without leaving the country.
In an emergency, call 911 or 999.
In Montevideo and Punta del Este the tap water is safe to drink. The Hospital Britanica near the Tres Cruces central bus terminal has European-quality service and is clean and efficient. Less care to health is needed in Montevideo than most places in Latin America.
A man named Sergio walks around and offers to guide people around the city for USD $15 an hour. Either his mother or father is from Brazil, while the other parent is from Uruguay. He has bad things to say about Argentina and portenos.