After you create the habit of traveling it is almost impossible for you to take a break or holidays and stay home. At least you want to put your foot in a city outside the state. So there was me, close to the end of the year and have not planned any trip. At the last-minute, I went crazy and after listening the advice of some friends I decided to go to Uruguay. For those who live in southern Brazil is almost a requisite visit the neighboring country at least once in life, right?
As I was already late, I could not find any couchsurfing in cities that I thought to visit, so I booked hostel in Montevideo, Colonia del Sacramento, and finally, Punta del Diablo. Uruguay certainly is not the most economical destinations for those with tight pocket like me, much less during the summer, so I avoided cities like Punta del Este where a hostel rate can reach US$ 60 per day.
I am not used to make trips without planning; I usually have all planned at least a month before: tickets, hotel, cities and everything. Uruguay was the exception, I took some information of the web, I drew a basic plan trip and ran to the bus station to buy the tickets. I must admit that was an amazing experience. A trip that taught me a lot about letting go, letting things flow slowly and not being in control of everything, all the time. I felt much more spontaneous, more free and relaxed (well, most of the time). To prove that, I ended up in Buenos Aires to spend the New Year eve, along with a crowd of lovely Europeans that I met on the bus from Porto Alegre to Chuí.
But anyway, I wrote down my plan trip and some tips that can be helpful, perhaps you are the next to freak out at the last minute and jump to Uruguay, like I did.
Trip: Porto Alegre – Chuí
Time: 8 hours of travel
Bus price: R$ 111 Reais
From Porto Alegre, there are direct buses to Montevideo by the EGA and TTL Company, the tickets goes from 150 to 200 reais. Another option – the one I did -, is traveling at night by the Brazilian Planalto company to Chuí, border city with Uruguay, and from there take the next morning bus, to Montevideo or any other city in Uruguay.
One thing you need to know, Chuí and Chuy are technically the same city, the first one is the Brazilian side and the second one, the Uruguayan side. You just need to cross a street to cross the border.
What is the best option? It depends on the time, money and disposition you have. I enjoy knowing the little cities on the road, so the stop in Chui was pretty cool. It gave us time to rest before continuing the journey, save a little money, because that way you do not pay international travel fee, and finally, many people enjoy the stop at Chuy (Uruguayan side) to make free shopping in the duty-free.
Tip for foreigners: If you are traveling by the Planalto Company, let know the driver that you are not Brazilian and will have to stop at the Brazilian immigration to stamp your passport at the exit of Brazil.
From Chui Bus terminal you just have to walk about four blocks to the main street that divides the Brazilian side from the Uruguayan. Near there, you’ll find the two companies Ruta del Sol and CYNSA, both companies cover almost all the cities of the shore, Montevideo and Colonia del Sacramento. I went straight to Montevideo.
Trip: Chuy – Montevideo
Duration: 5 hours trip
Bus price: $ 537 Uruguayan Pesos Company
The Tres Cruces bus terminal in Montevideo is underneath a Mall with the same name. Right there you can exchange money and buy some snack at the grocery store, believe me, you will need it if you want to save some money, because the food in Uruguay is much more expensive than in Brazil.
Downstairs there is a luggage locker (24 hours) to leave your bags for a very affordable price. If you have a travel ticket from the same day, you can store your luggage free for four hours.
In front of the shopping is the CA1 Bus stop which is kind of local bus for the center neighborhoods and Ciudad Vieja. It has a lower price ($ 16 pesos Uruguayan) than the common public service ($ 23 Uruguayan pesos).
Trip: Montevideo – Colonia del Sacramento
Duration: 3-hour drive
Bus price: $290 Uruguayan pesos Company
In Colonia Del Sacramento bus termina,l there are also luggage lockers. Just one block away from the bus terminal there is the marine terminal where are the companies that crosses the Rio de La Plata to Buenos Aires (Buquebus and Seacat). As my trip to Buenos Aires was not within my first script and considering it was almost New Year eve, I ended up paying a lot for the trip in Buquebus.
Tip: Before you buy, check what kind of boat you will travel. There is one boat that makes the trip in an hour and another one that does the same journey in three hours, obviously much cheaper than the first one.
Travel in Uruguay is simply amazing, everything is very organized, buses are very comfortable and the country, in general, it is a lovely place to visit.
See how to know Montevideo by bike.