Posts Tagged With: Montevideo

Hotel Review: Hyatt Centric Montevideo, 11 July 2016

Hyatt Centric Montevideo

We spent one night in July 2016 at this property, and had an excellent stay. The deco of the property is fresh, and we were also treated well as diamond members.

Pre-Check In Communications
The Hyatt Centric was proactive in their communications. On the last minute, I decided I wanted a shuttle from the port to the hotel, given that the hotel is some ways from the port, and we arrived after dark. Arranging transport last minute was quick and painless, and our driver was there as promised. It was 27 USD (925 UYU) for the 20 min ride from the port to the hotel in Pocitos, and they supplied a Mercedes (the alternative is BMW).

Hyatt Centric Montevideo

Check In/Check Out
Not as quick, but still painless. When I arrived, the Director of Operations came out and introduced himself and thanked us for being diamond members, while the FD did our check in.

Check out was quick, no problems with the bill.

We booked the Pre-Opening rate, which includes breakfast at the lobby restaurant, but the FD encouraged us to eat at the Club Lounge on the 13th floor instead. We had to inquire about the times of service at the lounge for breakfast (printing it on the card like a regular HR would have been helpful).

Although we opted for points, we found a welcome amenity in our room. It consisted of a bottle of Uruguayan red wine, six macaroons, and some fruit. There was also a personalized welcome note from the Director of Operations.

Hyatt Centric Montevideo

Room
We booked a regular King room, but were upgraded to a Club King with River View on the 10th floor. It’s 49 sq m, and contemporary in design, with three distinct areas.

Sleeping/work areaThis area is carpeted, and the King room is in the middle of the room. The decor is very Room & Board, with hanging lamps, and fabric headboards. The bedside tables are generously-sized, and they also have USB chargers by the wall for your electronic devices. The TV faces the bed.

The work desk is a little bit small, has a work lamp (not adjustable), and power plugs. There’s also a little booklet with things to do, and room service, on a very hipster clipboard.

Hyatt Centric Montevideo

Lounging
This area is hardwood, and there’s a floor-to-ceiling window featuring view of the river. Part of the view was obscured by a room to the right of the room, so you can peep into the living area of another hotel guest.

There’s a nice fabric sofa, table, and an extra fabric armchair. Our welcome amenity was on the table. There’s also a cabinet facing the sofa, which contains the fridge (really cold!), an electric kettle, and an Illy coffee machine.

Hyatt Centric Montevideo

Bathroom
This area is tiled, and in the form of a long rectangle. The bathroom has a rather open concept, but you can close it off with two barn-style doors, one accessed from the bedroom area, and one from the entryway. The toilet/bidet can be closed (but not locked), and there’s a walk-in shower with rain shower and wand.

The sink and dresser is pretty long. There’s a actually a chair if you want to sit at the dresser, with amenities like cottonwool.

Hyatt Centric Montevideo

Club Lounge
On the top floor of the hotel (13th), it’s decently-sized, and offers a great view of the River.

We only went during hors d’oeuvres and breakfast service, so I’m not sure if it’s open throughout the day. Both services are hosted. It’s slightly odd that the hosts ask for my room number only after I’ve taken my food.

The hors d’oeuvres has no hot option, but quite a bit of complimentary alcohol. There are several desserts, one salad option, breads, cheeses, olives, etc.

The breakfast selection is continental. I found the pastry to be on the hard side of things, and I prefer my pastries to be warm and flaky.

Hyatt Centric Montevideo

Service
Friendly and efficient.

Wifi
Fast

Food and beverage
On the expensive side of things (over 900 UYU for a room service hamburger). We ended up walking a little to a sushi place 6 mins walk from the hotel for our dinner.

Overall
This is a lovely property. I love the design of the hotel, and they obviously did a good job getting it ready – I couldn’t tell that it just opened one month ago. I’d return to this property in a heartbeat if I’m in Montevideo again.

Hyatt Centric Montevideo

Categories: Hotel, Hyatt, Lodgings, Premium Travel, Uruguay | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Uruguay: Montevideo to Colonia, 13 July 2016

Colonia Del Sacramento from the lighthouse

Our grand plan today involved getting from Montevideo to Colonia. Colonia is a UNESCO World Heritage site that was built in the 1500s as a Portuguese town, and a fortification of sorts. It’s about 3 hrs by bus from Montevideo, and 1.5 hrs by a fast ferry from Buenos Aires.

The night before, I checked online, and seeing that buses run from Montevideo to Colonia 20 past the hour almost every hour, I decided to just wing it when we get to the bus station. At around 11.45 or so, we checked out of the hotel, and got an Uber to bring us to the bus station (we were running out of Uruguay Pesos, and didn’t want to change more). It was a longer-than-expected 20 min ride, because there were traffic diversions.

We arrived at the bus ticketing counter at 12.05, got the last two seats on the bus by the lav (argh!), and hopped onto the bus by 12.10. Sitting beside the lav isn’t ideal, but it does beat waiting another hour for the next round of buses. We paid 330 per person for the 3 hour bus ride, and with that, we spent the last of our Uruguay Pesos.

The bus ride was uneventful, and rolled by the bucolic Uruguayan countryside. It made several stops along the way. It probably pays to do more research than we did, and find out which bus offers the most direct route, because our meandering bus ride took about three hours. At around 3.30 or so, we arrived at the Colonia del Sacramento bus station, which is across the street from the ferry terminal.

Colonia Del Sacramento

We walked some 15 min or so to the fortified town of Colonia, the site of the UNESCO World Heritage site. The area has very clear signage, and maps are located around the little town, with different points of interest. While the +1 was climbing the fortifications and jumping over mud puddles, I just took it easy as I was getting increasingly hangry, not having eaten a thing the whole day.

Despite my increasing hangry-ness, we decided to climb up the lighthouse for a bird’s eye view of the Rio de la Plata and the town of Colonia.  As a very tourist-y town, Colonia takes you can pay in Argentinian Pesos or Uruguayan Pesos. Uruguayan Pesos offer the best rate, but if you aren’t looking to go change money, Argentinian Pesos will be accepted at a shitty rate. The lighthouse was kinda nice, but we wouldn’t recommend it for taller people. It did get to be quite a squeeze with visitors, even though the ticket vendors do manage foot traffic. We had a bit of trouble getting to the top, because it is pretty hard to climb to the top with a bag. We had to relay our bags up before climbing up. I’d still recommend hiking up, though.

Santa Rita, Colonia Del Sacramento

After the lighthouse, I was done. By this point, all I wanted was to sit down and eat. Unfortunately, a lot of the restaurants in the square were closed, because the day trip tourists have left, and so many restaurant operators make the decision to close shop. We had to walk to the edges of the square to find a restaurant that had a kitchen that was still operating. We wound up at Santa Rita (the +1 said they have bad reviews on Google, but whatever – beggars can’t be choosers).

Salmon Skewers from Santa Rita, Colonia Del Sacramento

They started us off with a bread course. We had salmon skewers and ordered a Santa Rita paella. We thought the salmon skewers were great. I thought the Santa Rita paella was so-so, but given how hungry I was, I couldn’t care less. It was perfectly edible. We also enjoyed a sunset by the restaurant. The dinner set us back by $50 for two of us. As our hotel was some ways from the town of Colonia itself, they also called a taxi for us to take us to our hotel.

Sunset in Colonia Del Sacramento

Categories: Food, UNESCO, Uruguay | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Uruguay: Stuffing my face in Montevideo, 12 July 2016

Yo <3 Mi Barrio, Montevideo #graffiti

Around noon, we moved from our first night at the more upscale part of Montevideo to the downtown of Montevideo, where there are more touristy things to do.

After checking in, I really wanted to eat parrillada, because Uruguay is famous for its beef. The hotel kindly supplied us with a map, and some simple directions on the map, and off to Mercado del Puerto we went. Mercado del Puerto is sort of like a tourist trap that’s filled with Uruguayan BBQ restaurants indoors in a market. We were dazzled by the meats on spits, which included a suckling pig. We ended up getting lured by a place that offered complimentary white wine, and ordered a parrillada for two. It wasn’t the best, but it was decent, and set us back around $30 for two people, including two glasses of white wine.

Parillada at Mercado del Puerto, Montevideo

Following our very hearty lunch, we decided to walk up Sarandi, a pedestrian street lined with shops, which brings you through downtown Montevideo. It was definitely less harrowing than our trip to the mercado, because the sidewalks of Montevideo are rather narrow. There is also some cool graffiti along the street, and after about 10 mins of walking, we ducked into a lovely little cafe, Sin Pretensiones (the name is very ironic), run by some lovely ladies, where we both got cafe con leche. I highly recommend this cafe despite its ironic name. It is a lovely place to spend an hour just sipping coffee.

Cafe Sin Pretensiones, Montevideo

The architecture around Sarandi is probably from the 1800s, and generally pretty well maintained. I loved how some of the lion figurines at some of the higher buildings were used to hide drainage pipes. In the world of contemporary architecture, it’s sometimes nice to have some throwbacks of how people used to camouflage the nitty gritty items that is found in every building.

Montevideo

As we edged towards the Plaza Independencia where the very impressive Palacio Salvo stands, I saw a lovely bookshop. I can’t remember its name, but it’s a couple of doors away from the Torres Garcia museum. It even has one of those old elevators that have metal doors that close. Torres Garcia, an Uruguayan artist, also features in the cityscape. Some of the buildings were decorated by prints of his artwork. I’m not particularly art literate, but it was kinda cool that I happened to go to an art exhibition in the MoMa last fall, which featured South American artists, and I was really taken by Torres Garcia’s works.

Cool bookshop on Sarandi, Montevideo

Torres Garcia on buildings, Montevideo

Categories: Book Shops, Cafe, Food, Uruguay | Tags: | Leave a comment

Buenos Aires, Argentina to Montevideo, Uruguay: Please put on the shoe condoms, 11 July 2016

Buquebus Terminal, Buenos Aires

Yet another travel day. It does seem that this trip involves a lot of moving around. We’re heading over to Montevideo, Uruguay, so I can check off another country. There are several options of going to Uruguay from Buenos Aires and they all involve a ferry (well, flight if you feel fancy, but it doesn’t take less time). You can either do the cheaper ferry + bus option (which takes longer), or go the more expensive, direct option.

It’s low season for ferry travel so the direct ferry tickets weren’t too expensive. However, I also sat on my ass for a while, so we wound up paying $100 per person for the direct, 2+hr ferry from Buenos Aires to Montevideo with the Buquebus company. Ferry prices vary based on demand and supply, and buying it earlier might lead to cheaper tickets. We purchased our tickets online two days before travel.

Buquebus Ferry from Buenos Aires to Montevideo

Some things to note about ferry travel:

  1. It’s suggested that you arrive 2 hours before departure to clear immigration and board the ferry. If you believe the suggestion, you’re a sucker, as we were. We were there about 1h 45 min before departure. We were the only people there. Most passengers probably appeared about 1 hr before departure.
  2. Immigration on both sides are done on the side you board the ferry. It’s an elegant system and minimizes the immigration pain where you have to stand in line twice.
  3. There are various classes of travel on the Buquebus: first class, business class, tourist class, economy class. Based on your fare class, you have different (free) seating areas. We bought an economy class ticket, but we self-upgraded to the tourist class seating with no problems. There seemed to be a ticket checker on the business class and first class side. We mostly wanted to be on the upper deck of the boat.

Buquebus is the most expensive ferry company of the three (Seacat, Colonia Express) and the only one that offers a direct ferry from Buenos Aires to Montevideo (the other two companies go to Colonia del Sacramento). While it’s the most expensive, they also do have the nicest ferries. The Buenos Aires – Montevideo ferry was like being on a cruise ship, without all the free food and slots machines. They made us put on shoe protectors because they just washed the carpets. It was wild.

Buquebus Ferry from Buenos Aires to Montevideo

The ferry also had a cambio on board. For the sake of convenience, we changed some USD to Uruguayan pesos here. The rates here weren’t great – they are about 10% less than elsewhere, e.g. banks, regular cambios.

Arriving in Montevideo, the ferry terminal is actually in the heart of Montevideo’s old town, across the street from the Mercado del Puerto. However, we were staying at the upscale Pocitos neighborhood, which is about 20 min drive from the ferry terminal. We did get a hotel pick-up, so we whizzed out of that rather quickly.

By the time we were settled in, it was 7ish pm, so it was time to hunt for food. The +1 used his google-ful skills, and we wound up at a sushi place, Moshi Moshi, which is less than 10 min walk from our hotel. The sushi was excellent and cheap. It ended up costing $30 for the two of us.

Sushi at Moshi Moshi, Montevideo

Some random notes from today:

    1. I have a Singapore passport. Singapore has a population of 4 million people, and not everyone has a passport. Even fewer venture outside of Asia, so the Singapore passport is rather rare in these parts of the world. Today, it happened again. The immigration officer actually had to take out a booklet, to see what are the visa requirements for Singaporeans (none). It’s always amusing when that happens. I also have quite a number of unique stamps on my passport. The whole crew (it’s a slow news day at immigration) basically gathered round to flip through my passport.
    2. For some reason or other, you get a discount (10-20%) when you pay for dining using a credit card. This was pretty extensive, from small cafes to bigger restaurants. Use plastic. It saves you money.

Buquebus Ferry from Buenos Aires to Montevideo

Categories: Argentina, Boat, Food, Uruguay | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Another South America Run, 05 – 28 July 2016

Avenida Paulista

I’m cashing in on my bounty of Miles and Points, and also rewarding myself for finishing my PhD. So I decided to do a graduation trip before starting a new job in Singapore. I hope my Spanish improves rapidly! *yikes*

05 July: Seattle – San Diego – Dallas Fort Worth – Sao Paulo (nobody said award flights are direct, but at least I’m flying First/Business class)

06 July: Sao Paulo, Brazil

07 July: Sao Paulo, Brazil

08 July: Sao Paulo, Brazil

09 July: Sao Paulo, Brazil – Buenos Aires, Argentina

10 July: Buenos Aires, Argentina

11 July: Buenos Aires, Argentina – Montevideo Uruguay

12 July: Montevideo, Uruguay

13 July: Montevideo – Colonia, Uruguay

14 July: Colonia, Uruguay – Buenos Aires, Argentina

15 July: Buenos Aires, Argentina

16 July: Buenos Aires, Argentina

17 July: Buenos Aires – Rosario, Argentina

18 July: Rosario, Argentina

19 July: Rosario – Cordoba, Argentina

20 July: Cordoba, Argentina

21 July: Cordoba – Mendoza, Argentina

22 July: Mendoza, Argentina

23 July: Mendoza, Argentina

24 July: Mendoza, Argentina – Santiago, Chile

25 July: Santiago, Chile

26 July: Santiago – Valparaiso – Santiago, Chile

27 July: Santiago, Chile – Sao Paulo, Brazil

28 July: Sau Paulo, Brazil – Singapore (a long, 25 hr flight in SQ First)

Categories: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Itinerary, Uncategorized, Uruguay | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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