South American Street Art

To be perfectly honest, I cannot pass a colourful wall and not pull the (currently beaten up) camera out. Same goes for when I see hearts – on stickers, in chalk or paint – I’m constantly asking John to stop in the street just so we can check out a crack in the ground that looks like a heart, haha old romantic.  That damn Drew Barrymore and her ‘Find it in Everything’ book about hearts everywhere – it’s so true!

Ok, so Chile

Hands down, South America’s number one artsy destination – the entire city of Valparaiso is covered in colourful street art. It’s stunning – an outdoor art festival every single day. Lucky residents.

Here we are!

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Kids

Hummingbird

Game

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God, so true

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That's pretty much how it looks!

Woman Man Valpo view Dexter Watering can

Waaaay down in Torres del Paine in Patagonia, this fantastic postbox is probably the cutest piece of art in the land!

The loveliest postbox in the land

Up in Ecuador, Quito’s residents have some serious artistic talent. The colourful kiddies are from Otavalo, which coincidentally houses the universe’s most colourful market!

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Courtyard

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Word

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Colombia didn’t have much in the way of graffiti type art…see the voluptuous example from Cartagena for Colombia’s take on art. That Botero has a thing for the ladies… You do also see the odd hummingbird throughout Colombia.

Colombia

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Bolivia‘s street art scene seemed to centre on women…

This is pretty much how the locals look

Local Grafitti

Street Art

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…Oh, and some dinosaur prints. Hahaha!!

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Not exactly street art, but Peru’s handmade decorations (from Cusco) are awesome. I wouldn’t say no to spending another Christmas in this special place. Art was a little more old-school up north in Kuelap

Tree

Llama

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Argentina’s definitely a little more colourful…

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Eye

Che

Now there's a mosaic!

Well it wouldn't be La Boca without this...

There's tango everywhere here

We didn’t find too much in Brazil

Colourful graffiti in Paraíso

Graffiti in Ipanema

Except maybe the most epic piece of art you’ll ever come across wandering down the street:

Amazing sandcastle on Copacabana Beach

Essentials – Packing List for South America

South Ameria

What do you bring on a season-spanning trip to a continent when your daily outings could be in tropical rainforests, on beaches, climbing ridiculously high mountains or traversing glaciers? Here are our essentials!

General

  • Packing Cubes. I used 3 packing cubes (similar to these) and rolled everything into them and they slotted perfectly into the backpack. I don’t think I’d travel again without packing cubes; you can fit so much into them and you can pack and unpack them really quickly.
  • Venturesafe Pacsafe 25 litre daypack – we chose this as our day-to-day bag; it was comfortable enough to wear sightseeing every day, strong enough to withstand a 3 day adventure in the torrential rain and humidity of the Colombian jungle and is supposed to be slash-proof (thankfully, I can’t attest to this but that’s actually why we bought it).
  • Water Bottle/Flask. We went with this one from Hydro Flask, great for keeping glacial water cold and boiling water hot (tea time!)
  • Travel Hairdryer. I had to pick one up on our travels. BIG mistake not packing this first day…it warmed me up after many a cold shower!
  • Eye Mask – Papinelle in Australia have the loveliest eye masks made with Liberty of London fabrics (filled with lavender and complete with silk ties which won’t ruin your hair – since you’ll obviously be spending hours straightening your hair whilst backpacking…)
  • Ear Plugs – I’m what I would honestly call an ear-plug connoisseur (can I put that on my CV?) and definitely recommend Ohropax wax earplugs – there’s no noise getting through these babies.
  • Portable Battery Pack – we used this one by Anker, you won’t have electricity everywhere in South America and it’s really handy to be able to charge your phone or camera in your backpack whilst you’re on the go.
  • Universal Adaptor Plug. Non negotiable.
  • Neck Pillow – I brought a velour one with me on this trip (thanks Mum); last time I had one of those blow-up ones which was definitely easier to carry but way less comfy. You need some comforts on this type of trip.
  • Travel Towels – you know those microfiber ones you can pick up Penneys (or Primark or any sports store actually) – they fold up really neatly but get so manky – they’re the one thing you’ll want to get rid of the second you get home!
  • OzForex Travel Card – we used this for currency in a few countries (you can only have a certain number of currencies on it) but we found it had the best currency conversion rates around (from Australia) and all the ATMs we went to accepted it.
  • Ziploc Bags (medium and large size) – probably the most useful thing you could pop in your bag – great for preventing spillages, keeping passports dry, storing coffee beans, keeping wet clothes separate – the list is endless!
  • TSA approved travel locks – we used these as a deterrent more than anything but if you stay in hostels you’ll need them for the lockers provided.
  • A Pen – don’t overlook this one; you’ll need it at every border crossing.
  • Bose Travel Speaker; we used this with our phones and iPad to listen to music and watch movies. Surround sound in a tent baby!!
  • Tea. I brought a box of Harney & Sons Paris Tea along with us and savoured each and every single cup of tea.
  • John’s Aeropress has to be included on this list – I think he used it along with his mini coffee grinder more than he changed his socks. True story.

Clothes

This isn’t the entire list but the pieces I’ve pulled out over and over again:

  • Rain Jacket – unfortunately this one’s a necessity. We needed these every single day down in Patagonia. John bought a Mac in a Sac on Amazon and mine is from Marmot (a wind-breaker is a great idea).Black Leather Trousers – I couldn’t believe how many times these came out. John doesn’t want to see me wearing them every again but I care not!
  • Jeans – I went with a deep grey pair (only 1 pair of jeans, yes!) and I wore them all the time. Do not travel without jeans, seriously.
  • Hiking Boots – these are not a luxury, particularly in wet season – there are slippery stones and mud all over South America. You’d be crazy not to pack these! Mine were by Merrell and John’s were by the North Face. If I never see mine again I’ll be happy though…yep, don’t think I’ll be getting over all that climbing any time soon…
  • Trainers – good for days you’re not doing a major hike. I brought Nike Lunar Flyknits (like these) and got a lot of wear out of them.
  • Converse – way nicer than wearing your hiking boots or trainers with your jeans, and good if you want to look a bit more dressed up than trainers allow.
  • Havaianas – absolutely essential (for the beach and manky showers alike)
  • Sun Hat.
  • Bikinis – I brought 2 but Colombia is a fantastic (albeit expensive) place to pick up really pretty swimwear.
  • Pashmina/Scarf – great for all modes of transportation (why are aeroplanes always freezing?) I had a light grey one with me but also purchased a warmer scarf in Otavalo, Ecuador and wore that a lot.
  • Yoga Pants – not for morning yoga sessions (way too disorganised) but they’re great for hiking/trekking/keeping warm/relaxing and…sleeping in a tent! I packed 2 pairs.
  • Sports Top – I just brought one but could have used two; especially useful for trekking as they dry really quickly.
  • Sunglasses – not sure it’s necessary to actually mention this but John left his in the car in Ireland so just in case…

First Aid Kit

  • Plasters/Band-Aids
  • Paracetamol
  • Malaria Tablets – we went with Malarone as they’re the only ones that don’t seem to have any after effects. However, we brought a ridiculous amount with us – I don’t know what some doctors are doing recommending malaria tablets for everywhere in South America (our doctor in Dublin did); it’s just not necessary – check out the WHO website for where you actually them.
  • Insect Bite Cream – I’d recommend a proper one instead of just a normal cream – those mozzie bites can be seriously bloody annoying…and scarring.
  • Anti-histamines – as above.
  • Nausea Tablets – boat trips and long bumpy bus journeys. Enough said.
  • Eye Drops – you can get these along the way but it’s always nice to be able to read the packaging in your own language!
  • All Purpose Balm – I used C.O. Bigelow Rose Salve but Lucas Papaw lotion or Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream would be good too.
  • Little Scissors (absolutely indispensable)
  • Tweezers
  • Sun Lotion – SPF 50 – the rays are incredibly strong in this part of the world
  • Bug Spray or Lotion with Deet to keep the mozzies away (OFF! is good as is Nopikex which you can purchase in Colombia)

Key stats from our South America trip!

So, I kind of thought it might be a good idea to keep an account of some key statistics from the 6 months we spent in South America (also including Cuba here):

Countries: 9

Passport Stamps: 30. Mostly from all the criss-crossing Argentina and Chile!

Aeroplane Trips: 19

Long-haul Bus Journeys: 69

Boat Trips: 17

Hostels: 59

Mosquito Bites: 81. Buggers.

Pizzas: 45

Photographs: 13,266

Phones Broken: 2

Favourite Country: Colombia (both of us)

Least Favourite Country: Bolivia (agreement again!)

Favourite City:

Favourite Place Overall:

Least Favourite City: Agreement on La Paz, Bolivia

One item we’re glad we packed:

  • Ciara: Earplugs (technically 2 items but you know what I mean!)
  • John: AeroPress (for making his coffee!!)

São Paolo, Brazil

We flew from Rio’s Galeão International Airport (R$30 and 30 minutes in a taxi from Copacabana although we were warned it could take hours. Lucky us!) to São Paulo’s GRU airport for less than $95 for both of us – amazing deal but we did fly at 6am on a Sunday morning. We rented an AirBnB apartment in the Paraíso area of the city (taxi from GRU to Paraíso was R$28 and took about 10 minutes), which was definitely not a tourist centric spot so we definitely had a local neighbourhood feel. We had 2 full days in São Paulo, not enough time to do this megacity of 11 million people any justice but we managed to tick a few things off the list! The metro is pretty good here, very easy to navigate and costs R$3.50 per trip. Oh ya so we’re back at square one with the language again – 6 months of learning Spanish and now we’re in Portuguese territory – it’s so frustrating! We were actually able to communicate pretty well in Spanish to be honest; they say that Portuguese speakers can decipher Spanish pretty well, thank God they were willing!

The Japanese Market (at the Liberdade metro stop) is on every Sunday, worth a stop off since São Paulo has the world’s largest Japanese population outside of Japan – about 1.5 million people! They gotta do sushi well, right? Yes! The streets here are lined with red oriental style lampposts and there are lots of Japanese supermarkets and trinket stores to wander around after you’ve perused the market stalls.

We met a few people from São Paulo over the past 6 months and they all told us that the one thing that you HAVE to do is visit the Mercado Municipal de São Paulo (São Bento metro), oh my God were they right! Amazing. The selection of produce is fantastic; fruits we’d never seen before, colourful spices from all over the world and cheeses smellier than you’d find in France! Back to açaí and we visited the first place to offer açaí in the market, Don D’Aju. Perfect! The biggest draw of the market is the famous mortadella sandwich, perfect if you’re in the mood for a pound of meat.

Avenida Paulista is the financial area of São Paulo, the CBD I guess. We walked a few kilometers of this one evening, coming across concrete towers, more Starbucks than you can imagine but also some street tango classes which is pretty cool. A few streets away from Avenida Paulista is Rua Oscar Freire, a shopping area and lovely place to wander around shops such as American Apparel, Forever 21, Kate Spade and Espaço Havaianas, Havaianas flagship store where you can get flip-flops for about $5. Well worth that visit! You can actually get Havaianas in the supermarkets and from street vendors – you know the ones that sell newspapers? It’s actually the perfect city to have a Havaianas malfunction – you know when the strap breaks and there’s no fixing it? (Oh ya, it’s happened to me in New York and in Lima. I sure wear mine out!)

Colourful graffiti in Paraíso

Colourful graffiti in Paraíso

Fresh coconuts - just grab a straw!

Fresh coconuts – just grab a straw!

Sunday Market in Liberdade

Sunday Market in Liberdade

São Paolo Cathedral

São Paolo Cathedral

São Paolo Cathedral

São Paolo Cathedral

In front of the Cathedral

In front of the Cathedral

THE coolest traffic lights!

THE coolest traffic lights!

Banespa Building - based on the Empire State Building

Banespa Building – based on the Empire State Building…kind of…

Banking in São Paolo

Banking in São Paolo

Busking on the streets of São Paolo

Busking on the streets of São Paolo

Municipal Market of São Paolo

Municipal Market of São Paolo

More of the market

More of the market

That's a hell of a lot of spices!

That’s a hell of a lot of spices!

Lovely colours

Lovely colours

Cheese-sus!

Cheese-sus!

Nearly taller than John!

Nearly taller than John!

So much fruit!

So much fruit!

Hungry?

Hungry?

Where?

Where?

Plenty choice here!

Plenty choice here!

Decisions, decisions!

Decisions, decisions!

Like a beach party ☀️

Like a beach party ☀️

Bye, São Paolo!

Bye, São Paolo!

Next stop: New York City!!

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Getting to Rio from Montevideo in Uruguay on the cheap is not easy! We had to get the ferry back to Buenos Aires from Colonia in Uruguay (again with Colonia Express), then fly from BA’s Ezezia International Airport (taxi from the Colonia Express port to the airport was $ARS150 and took about 40 minutes) to Sao Paolo (we flew with Qatar Airways but bring a fleece to Sao Paolo airport as they have the air-conditioning set at Antarctic) and then catch another flight (we flew with TAM who were wonderful) to Rio de Janeiro. It took us about 24 hours in total and going to Rio was really a last minute decision but we’re sooo glad we did it – it’s just beautiful.

We booked an AirBnB a couple of blocks from Copacabana beach (taxi from the airport cost R$70 – about $30 but took 2 hours – it’s only 20km from the city!!) and although we didn’t really have time to do much research on the best locations to stay in Rio I think it was a perfect location for a first-timer in Rio. Copacabana is in the Zona Sul or South Zone. We were pretty short on time in Rio, just 3 days so we tried to pack in as much as we could. It’s definitely a place we can’t wait to get back to so that can only be a good sign! So I guess I’ll start with Copacabana, one of the most famous beach resorts in the world. We were a couple of blocks back from the beach and the roads were exceptionally busy so we didn’t get much sleep. We went to visit the Belmond Copacabana Palace (hotel) and that’s DEFINITELY where we’re staying next time! Plush. The beach itself is 4km long so there’s plenty of space for strolling, sunbathing and beach-sports. There are lots of places to eat all along the beach, I guess shacks really but they sell more fast food really, burgers, chips and ice-cream but they also sell fresh coconuts with a straw and there are plenty of places to stop off for a cocktail. In the evening there are plenty of market sellers selling souvenirs, trinkets and the like. If you walk a couple of blocks inland you’ll find plenty of supermarkets; the best one we found was Zona Sul – very like the supermarkets in America, plenty of choice. So, I now have a new addiction, açaí bowls. They’re absolutely delicious and a superfood you know! My 3-a-day habit has not yet ensured my transformation into Gisele but I’ll keep you posted! This might be because we found an AMAZING gelato spot. God, I can’t even explain how good it is – it’s from Oficina del Gelato (Address: 903 Ave. Nossa Sra. de Copacabana) – just try it out.

If you continue walking down Copacabana beach you’ll eventually find yourself at Arpoador, a huge rock that separates Copacabana from Ipanema. Watching the sunset at Arpoador is one of the most touristy yet essential things you should do in Rio. There’s a great buzz here, with guys selling cocktails (caipirinhas of course), hippy singers drawing groupies and people just chilling out and chatting making it a lovely place to watch the sunset. The sunset itself wasn’t great to be perfectly honest. I had heard it’s so amazing there’s often clapping and standing ovations so we were a little disappointed with a grey sky – I compare every sunset we see to Borneo though (see post and pics of Borneo and those sunsets here) and nothing has come close yet. I’ll keep searching!!

Once you’re on Arpoador rock you’re looking up along Ipanema beach all the way up to Leblon, the most affluent area of the Zona Sul. Our AirBnB hosts told us it was the nicest beach in the city so we spent a few hours relaxing here. Beach-life is definitely different to what we’ve been used to in Australia for the past few years. In Australia you’re a little stroll across from all the eateries when you’re on the beach. In Rio, apartment blocks and busy roads (with crazy drivers) line the beachfront and you have to go a couple of blocks inland to find food and shops. We walked a lot on our first day looking for food!! We did find a wonderful açaí place in Ipanema, Polis Sucos, delicious! T.T. Burger lies in between Copacabana and Ipanema beaches and is a pretty good spot for food after the sunset. They make their own guava ketchup and delicious summer mint and mango milkshakes.

Obviously another very important piece of Rio’s tourist infrastructure is Cristo Redento or Christ the Redeemer statue on Corcovado Mountain. You can see the statue from pretty much everywhere in the Zona Sul which is pretty cool. Quintessentially Rio. Google Maps was honestly absolutely useless for the rest of South America but it’s fantastic again in Brazil so we used that to help us get around the subway and buses. There’s a flat cost of R$3.40 for each journey you take on the bus and R$3.50 for each journey on the subway. Pretty easy to work out! We took the bus from Copacabana to the neighbourhood of Cosme Velho (how to get here) and then purchased our tickets on site for R$51 (R$62 in high season (round-trip). You can buy tickets here too). The train takes about 20 minutes to get up to Cristo Redentor and the views from the top are amazing. Rio is honestly gigantic!

Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro or the Botanic Gardens are at the bottom of Corcovado Mountain so can easily be done on the same day that you visit Cristo Redentor. The gardens have been in existence since 1808 – what??!!! Since we love an old rose or two we had to go and check it out (entrance is R$7)! There are over 900 different varieties of palm trees in here, a gunpowder factory and a beautiful building housing a fantastic collection of orchids – oh, and toucans and a tiny monkey! Awesome!

We hopped off the subway one evening at Botafogo. There’s a beach here but it’s in no way sanitary so it’s not a beach-day spot. There are plenty of yachts moored here so it makes for a nice place for an evening stroll (aside from the millions of cars whizzing by) and a shopping centre called Botafogo Praia Shopping which has plenty to keep you occupied for a couple of hours.

Rio is full of favelas or city slums which are apparently run by druglords. You can visit these if you wish (through an agency – do not go there on your own) but there was no way we were giving more cash to these guys to watch people living in squalor. There’s a huge favela right behind the Sheraton hotel at the end of Leblon beach. It’s crazy how close those who have and have not live together here.

Copacabana Beach

Copacabana Beach

Such a tough life!

Such a tough life!

Amazing sandcastle on Copacabana Beach

Amazing sandcastle on Copacabana Beach

Ipanema Beach

Ipanema Beach

Wandering down the promenade

Wandering down the promenade

So pretty

So pretty

John admiring an old tram before going up Corcovado Mountain

John admiring an old tram before going up Corcovado Mountain

The Zona Sul en-route to Cristo Redentor

Overlooking the Zona Sul en-route to Cristo Redentor

Would you just look!

Would you just look!

Cristo Redentor in all his glory

Cristo Redentor in all his glory

Rio from above

Rio from above

It's one gigantic city

It’s one gigantic city

A stop off in Botafogo to see Sugarloaf Mountain

A stop off in Botafogo to see Sugarloaf Mountain

Cable car to Sugarloaf Mountain

Cable car to Sugarloaf Mountain

Rio's Botanic Gardens

Rio’s Botanic Gardens

A lonely rose in the rose garden

A lonely rose in the rose garden

A durian fruit tree

A durian fruit tree

I'm sure these are safe...

I’m sure these are safe…

Caught mid-flight!

Caught mid-flight!

Ugly but still pretty!

Ugly but still pretty!

Lily-pads

Lily-pads (and hearts!)

Aw, and a lily

Aw, and a lily

Orchid storage!

Orchid storage!

Just so many

Just so many

I want them all!

I want them all!

Hands down THE prettiest flower

Hands down THE prettiest flower

These gardens are gigantic

These gardens are gigantic

Ya...am...I don't know

Ya…am…I don’t know

The Cacti Garden

The Cacti Garden

They've got everything here!

They’ve got everything here!

Look who made an appearance

Look who made an appearance

You don't want to get caught in these babies

You don’t want to get caught in these babies

Graffiti in Ipanema

Graffiti in Ipanema

Sunset samba at Arpoador Rock

Sunset samba at Arpoador Rock

Sunset session

Sunset session

Overlooking Ipanema and Leblon

Overlooking Ipanema and Leblon

Next stop: Sao Paolo, Brazil

Montevideo, Uruguay

We took the ferry from Buenos Aires to Colonia and then took a bus from Colonia (bus station is right next to the ferry terminal) for the 2.5 hour trip to Montevideo with COT ($URG311). You can get a ferry/bus combination from BA all the way to Montevideo but we wanted to spend a few hours in Colonia so went with this option instead. We took a taxi at Montevideo’s Tres Cruces terminal (very modern, with a pretty good shopping centre upstairs – clothes stores, supermarket, hairdressers, frozen yogurt and a food court; a good spot to have to wait around) to the centre of town for $URG160. We stayed at the SMART Hotel in the Barrio de los Artes (artsy neighbourhood) which was lovely; minimalist design, good food and great staff. I’m enjoying being back on hotel territory! The hotel was less than a five minute walk from Plaza Independencia, a great place to start your own walking tour of Montevideo.

Montevideo’s most attractive tourist area is the Ciudad Vieja or old city, which is reminiscent of Old Havana complete with crumbling facades and local ‘characters’. The old part of the city is surrounded by the Rio de la Plata (technically a river but more like the ocean) and you can easily walk along the rambla/boardwalk by the water – which can definitely be likened to Havana’s Malecon (remember my Havana post?).

We did a bit of walking tour so that’s the way I’ve decided to share this post. Hope you like it!

Walking Tour of Montevideo

Starting at Plaza Independencia, you’ll want to check out the beautiful architecture of the Palacio Salvo, apparently the site of the world’s first ever tango performance. Take that, Argentina! John obviously made me do a few tango steps here. Why not?! In the middle of the plaza you’ll find a 17 metre statue of José Artigas, (the man who put the wheels in motion for Uruguay’s independence from Spain and Portugal) on horseback. Underneath this statue is José’s mausoleum (free entry), a huge darkened room with some (very bored looking) uniformed guards. It’s worth walking just left of the statue to take a quick look at the beautifully renovated Teatro Solís too. Walking back along the back of the square I’d walk through the Puerta de la Ciudadela down Sarandí street, a street full of shops, art galleries and market stalls. Take a look around one of the loveliest bookstores you’ll likely ever see, Más Puro Verso Librería Brasserie (Address: 675 Sarandí). There’s a huge collection here, including some English language titles which is nice, there’s a brasserie upstairs and the music is ever so soothing. Museo Joaquin Torres García (Address: 683 Sarandí) is definitely worth a wander around. It’s a 4 floor museum dedicated to the works of J.T. García housed in a beautiful building with a quirky art shop at street level. Entrance is $URG100 (although they let us in for free as they had no change). Continuing down Sarandí you’ll end up at the lovely, leafy Plaza de la Constitucíon, complete with ornate fountain and market sellers and overlooked by the imposing Catedral Metropolitana. Take a walk in to the cathedral, it’s pretty plain from the outside (although still pretty) but the inside boasts beautiful blue tile-work and a very beautiful alter. It’s also a nice place to take some respite from the city. Continuing back down Sarandí you’ll find Artico, a very casual seafood restaurant/take-away spot – a great spot to pick up some lunch to eat back in the plaza. There’s a health food store a couple of more buildings down from here called La Molienda which has lovely fresh juices (orange or blueberry on our visit) for $URG8.

Palacio Salvo

Palacio Salvo

José and the Palacio Salvo

José and the Palacio Salvo

José and a crap load of aircon machines

José and a crap load of aircon machines

José's mausoleum

José’s mausoleum

Teatro Solís

Teatro Solis

Lovely tiles

Lovely tiles

Cool skateboard bench

Cool skateboard bench

Puerta de la Ciudadela

Puerta de la Ciudadela

Más Puro Verso

Más Puro Verso

JTG's New York

JTG’s New York

And some more

And some more

Continue down Sarandí until you get to Alzaibar street and turn right here to end up in Plaza Zabala. This is a very quiet park but one of the loveliest we’ve seen to be honest. Overlooking the park is the stunning Palacio Tarranco, once one of the finest residences in Montevideo (entrance is on 25 de Mayo so just walk along the side of the house. Entrance is free). There are a few floors to meander around here; it is still styled how it would have look back in the early 1900s although the furniture is somewhat minimalist compared to what you’d see in a similar style house in Europe. The garden, although small, is a lovely place to sit and relax.

Plaza Constitucion

Plaza Constitución

The prettiest fountain

The prettiest fountain

The sweetest cherub

The sweetest cherub

Market in Plaza Constitución

Market in Plaza Constitución

Montevideo's Cathedral

Montevideo’s Cathedral

Tiles in the Cathedral

Tiles in the Cathedral

Stalls in Plaza Constitución

Stalls in Plaza Constitución

Awesome wall

Awesome wall

Palacio Tarranco's garden

Palacio Tarranco’s garden

John taking it all in

John taking it all in

Nifty Parisian piano

Nifty Parisian piano

How to own this..

How to own this…

What a staircase!

What a staircase!

They built them well!

They built them well!

You can either go back to Sarandí here or walk down Washington street to get down to a very famous Montevideo landmark, the Mercado del Puerto. There’s a lovely handicraft market just outside and has some good quality handicrafts. The Mercado del Puerto is less of a market than a selection of overpriced restaurants but it’s worth a look. There are a couple of souvenir stores here too. Make sure to look up to catch a glimpse of the awesome clock.

So much colour!

So much colour!

Central Bank of Uruguay

Central Bank of Uruguay

Walking out the back of the Mercado del Puerta, turn left and you’ll likely see the entrance to the Museo del Carnaval. Montevideo has the longest carnival season in the world at 40 days so it marks sense that they’d want to show off some costumes. Entrance is $URG90 (for us foreigners with a free coffee, no tea). You’ll find yourself in a darkened cobblestoned street with costumes of carnivals past surrounding you. It’s a pretty tiny but fun museum.

Street art

Street art

More street art

More street art

And a little more!

And a little more!

Doors of the world

Doors of the world

Outside Mercado del Puerto

Outside Mercado del Puerto

Mercado del Puerto

Mercado del Puerto

More of the market

More of the market

Inside the Museo del Carnaval

Inside the Museo del Carnaval

Model Carnaval

Model Carnaval

Past costumes

Past costumes

Here's a close-up - fine moustache!

Here’s a close-up – fine moustache!

Carnaval past

Carnaval past

What's this?!

What’s this?!

Recycle, recycle, recycle!

Recycle, recycle, recycle!

Made from plastic. Talented bunch.

Made from plastic. Talented bunch.

Mini model

Mini model

And another. So cute.

And another. So cute.

You’ll now need to make your way back to Plaza Independencia. From here, walk up Avenida 18 de Julio, Montevideo’s main shopping and traffic thoroughfare. There are plenty of cafés (something that’s lacking in the old town) and shops here if you need to buy some leather; Uruguay is famous for its leather and geodes. Random. You can also buy shoes with soles about 12 inches high. I honestly think this part of South America has some kind of a small complex. It’s just as bad in Buenos Aires. You’ll pass Plaza Ingenerio Juan B. Fabini and Plaza Cagancha walking up here and there are plenty of lovely colonial style buildings here so just look up! At the corner of Avenida 18 de Julio and Yi streets you’ll see Locks Fountain, similar to the locks bridge in Paris and absolutely heaving with lovers’ locks. We saw a little girl here with her grandmother and the grandmother was explaining the how if you put a lock here with somebody then you’ll always be in love; the little girl said she’d need to come back with her Daddy to put a lock there.  How adorable!

Once you get to Ejido street turn right and the Museo de la Historia del Arte will be across the road (the door is on the left hand side of this very ugly building). Free entrance here again gets you 3 floors of Greek, Middle Eastern, Roman and Pre-Columbian art.

Arty!

Arty!

Locks Fountain

Locks Fountain

Have a lovely Easter weekend 🙂

Next stop: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil