This is our story about visiting South America. We had for a long time been thinking about a trip outside of Europe and when we finally decided to go a bit futher for two weeks we came up with three options.
Planning Our Trip to South America
The first option was a trip to Malaysia and Vietnam in Asia. We found cheap flight options and started to check where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do. The only problem was that all the guides we came across described the period we wanted to go as the beginning of the monsoon season. So we decided against going there this time.
The second option was from the beginning the favourite for Susann, who has always talked about going to South America. This option included flying to Buenos Aires, Argentina and to combine Buenos Aires with Santiago in Chile. We decided to book the first flight tickets, the return trip to Buenos Aires. However, at this point we encountered some problems with the prices rocketing some hours before we had time to book them. So instead we started to follow the prices for different cities i South America.
The third option, Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, was quite unexpected. As the prices went up and down from day to day we were finally able to book our tickets for half the price compared to the much higher price to Buenos Aires. At the same time we got two layovers in Miami, Florida and enough time to explore also that city.
We then decided upon a route for our travelling. The two first nights would be spent in Montevideo before continuing by bus to Colonia del Sacramento. There are ferries from Colonia to Buenos Aires, and we thought it’d be quite cool an experience to travel by boat. We chose to stay six nights in Buenos Aires and see the area around the capital of Argentina before heading back by ferry to Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay. Once back in Uruguay we stayed another two nights in Montevideo before spending the two last nights of our holidays in Punta del Este.
More about the stay in Argentina and Uruguay in a later part of this series. Now we will focus on how we got there.
The Flights – Part I
There is no direct flight from Stockholm to Montevideo – we had to stop twice on the way. The first stop being at Heathrow in London where we stayed for the night at the airport. We are still young enough to sleep at airports. After arriving at Heathrow we headed to one of the terminals where we had heard that there should be a café open during the night. Here we started with some coffee and tea to have somewhere to spend some time. It was actually not as calm as we had expected it to be at the airport at that time of the day. The café had people coming and going long after midnight and there was a piano that one guy couldn’t stop playing on (it didn’t really sound so well).
Sleeping at some airports could actually be quite comfortable, we have had nice experiences of this both in Stockholm and in Belgrade. But Heathrow is not one of those places where it is easy to find somewhere comfortable to sleep. Most benches are located along the huge windows and it really got cold after a few hours. So our tip for anyone considering sleeping here is to bring an extra blanket.
Our American Airline flight to Miami, Florida was luckily quite early in the morning and we were able to get some more sleep while crossing the Atlantic. This was our first long flight as flights within Europe rarely last for more than four hours. Combining it with sleeping, eating and watching some movies really made the time fly past. Being thrilled about being on our way to the other side of the would could also have played a part in the time passing so fast.
Next stop Miami, Florida. We did expect to spend quite a lot of time getting through immigration into the US. So while planning the trip we decided to get to know how to do at the airport on our way to South America and then explore Miami on the way back home. This decision was based on the fact that we’d have a few more hours on our way back home and we really expected the immigration to take a lot of time.
We were both really surprised when we had gone through both imigration and customs in only a bit more than half an hour. The officials and airport staff were really friendly and helpful the whole way through. The only extra attention we got was from the imigration officier talking about how much he liked Finnish passports before placing his stamp in the middle of Susann’s passport on the page with a squirrel. Thanks to the unexpectedly smooth process, we had more than 7 hours to kill in Miami before our flight to Montevideo. We immediately made up our minds and decided to explore the city, starting with the information desk at the airport. After a recommendation and easy to follow instuctions about which bus to take we ended up going to Miami Beach.
Arriving from late Swedish autumn and going to early spring in South America, we hadn’t exactly prepared for the 30 degree heat that met us as soon as we stepped out of the airport. And because we hadn’t thought about any heat, we had forgotten our swimwear in our checked in luggage. The only (simple) option was to walk around and enjoy the city. At the end, we managed to see only a small part during the few hours we were there. Let’s also mention that we were both feeling jetlagged. And so hungry that we paid a visit to McDonald’s (just to try American junk food!). At least we had the chance to really enjoy some sunshine and see the beautiful beach (walking barefoot on a sandy beach is so lovely!), so we knew what we wanted to do on our way back home. Go swimming, that is!
Back at the airport after a few hours we were able to get through security and the exit procedures in no time and we sat down at our gate. The most challenging part now was to stay awake, in order not to miss the next flight.
The Flight – Part II
Once we had borded the American Airline flight in Miami for a night flight to Montevideo we were finally on our way to our final destination. Being really tired we both probably fell asleep before take off and woke up a few hours before arrival at Carrasco International Airport in Montevideo.
Arriving in Uruguay
Arriving in Montevideo and going through immigration and customs proved to be one of the easiest border experiences we have had – and coming from Europe that says a lot (since we don’t have that many border controls to begin with). The process consisted of a few minutes of queuing, a smiling face and a cheerful “Welcome to Uruguay!”.
The next challenge and one of the bigger ones so far during the trip was to find out how to get from the airport into the city. Our hotel was in the area of Pocitos in Montevideo and we were told at the Tourist information which bus to take to get there.
We went outside of the airport and were a bit shocked about the fact that it was only around 10 degrees outside. We had expected the weather to be slightly warmer once leaving Sweden, but the spring in this part of South America was late this year. So how to catch a bus in Montevideo? We actually still do not know the answer. The bus we had been told to take just passed by the airport, without stopping and leaving us there waving.
Back at the tourist information we were given information about another bus which we could take. This time it was a lot easier as the bus driver actually decided to stop and pick us up. So off we went, not really to our hotel, but at least to the city. Our first view of Montevideo and Uruguay was then from the bus heading to Tres Cruces, from where it was surprisingly easy to find a bus heading towards our part of town – Pocitos. It was a funny experience, the driver was listening to loud reggae-like music and the speed limit seemed a bit hazy. But we made it to our destination!
That was the first part of our first trip to South America, we will follow this up with a lot more about Montevideo, Uruguay and Buenos Aires. Have you visited any of Argentina or Uruguay? What were your impressions?