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The Final Stopover In Montevideo

In Search of the Penguins - Montevideo

overcast 24 °C
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After yesterday's busy day, I woke up early for the final stage of my epic trip. Getting a taxi from my hotel in Buenos Aires before dawn, I made it to the airport in plenty of time for my short flight across the Rio de La Plata to Uruguay. Eventually boarding the small city hopper, we were served a breakfast box after take off. However, no sooner had I started eating and we were already coming back down and landing in Montevideo. This was just a half hour flight across the river mouth!

Landing over Montevideo

Landing over Montevideo

Flying over the city centre, we eventually landed at the small modern airport on the outskirts of the city. Completely contrasting with the overflowing and dilapidated Aeroparque in central Buenos Aires.

Upon arrival I flew through immigration and waited to collect my bag, as I would have to manually check in for my onward flights later in the day. However waiting and waiting my bag was no where to be found. Eventually a man came over to ask my name, and he eventually told me that my bag had arrived yesterday and was upstairs to be collected.

I then proceeded to go through customs without my belongings, making my way to the airline desk by check in and retrieve my bits. Repacking on the concourse floor, I then checked in for my later flights and sent my bag straight through to London.

Heading downstairs I attempted to get my hand baggage put in luggage storage, but after being told the extortionate price and effort it would take I changed my mind and decided to just carry it around with me in Montevideo.

Having done some research before leaving, I was still unsure of exactly how to get into the city, so I went to speak to the tourist information, who told me which bus numbers I required. After grabbing some cash I then headed into the city - not even 9am yet!

Plaza Independencia

Plaza Independencia

An hour or so later, the packed out bus arrived in the city, and after remaining on it until the end, so that I knew where to catch it on my return later, I got off and headed down to the main avenue and the Plaza de Independencia. Named in honour of the independence, the square has a statue and mausoleum dedicated to Artigas - the national hero, whilst being surrounded by many governmental buildings.

Artigas Mausoleum

Artigas Mausoleum

The square is also the site of the Palacio Salvo, one of the most iconic buildings in the city, as well as the old city gate. However despite all this, there is also a disgusting tower block located in the very same square. How very South American.

Beautiful....

Beautiful....


Old City

Old City

Carrying on into the Old City, there were many little shops, cafés and squares. By this point I was getting hungry and thought I might go for lunch in the McDonald's I was just passing. However as it was 11am in South America, this meant it was still breakfast time, so I would have to wait! As I continued down the road towards the coast, the buildings got much more shabby. Quite surprising as this area could be a prime location! Eventually I got to the coast and I continued along a sea wall, gaining views of the city from afar.

Views from the sea wall

Views from the sea wall

Returning, I bought a souvenir and then headed back the way I had come towards the bus station, where I found a bus headed to the airport itself. Heading through security, I then sat in the departure lounge looking at the plane that would take me to Sao Paolo.

Inside the Airport

Inside the Airport

On booking, there were two flights just 45 minutes apart. As I was transferring I figured it would be best to take the earlier one to give myself extra time to transfer. Big mistake.

Queuing to board, we kept waiting and waiting. Eventually messages were relayed in Portuguese and Spanish - there was a technical problem. After finally speaking to someone in English, I was informed that in an hour they would have more information. What of my three hour connection I asked? "You have time at the moment".

Unfortunately on the other flight no one cared, and so I had to wait. As time ticked away I was left with the realisation that if we finally did make it, I would still be lucky to make my connection. Where would I be sleeping? Who knows....this wasn't the EU, so I didn't have any rights either.

Eventually after an hour and a half, we started queuing again and eventually made it to the plane. However I was at the back of the plane and had a tight connection. With lots of faffing, we eventually took off and made it to Sao Paolo as fast as we could. However upon landing we then had to get on an airport bus from the front doors only. The girls going to Madrid were hopeless, but I has 50 minutes to go.

After waiting to take the crew too, we finally headed to the terminal building, where I ran as fast as possible. Clearing security and with no time to put my belt back on, I held up my trousers as I legged it to the gate as fast as possible.

Eventually boarding the plane I had around 10 minutes to spare - Far too little to prevent a stressful experience. And with cold weather at home, I now had to just hope my bag had made it too or I would be freezing in London without even a coat.

Finally on board

Finally on board

The one silver lining? Despite not getting a window seat, I did at least have 2 free seats next to me, so I was able to get some sleep after this long busy day. Taking off on my third flight of the day, I was finally headed home after a long, expensive but fantastic trip.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Uruguay Tagged sea history airport city plane independence penguinhunt Comments (0)

Oh my god, it was 98 degrees

Italy - San Marino

semi-overcast 28 °C
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Less than a week after getting back from Budapest, it was time for the next getaway - this time to Italy with my friend and work colleague Fara.

We had planned a trip across the width of Italy to visit San Marino, Florence and Pisa, but as the only way to San Marino was to fly via Bologna or Ancona from Stansted, this meant a long first day of the trip.

Leaving home just after five I drove via Luton to Stansted early on Saturday morning to make our plane to the Italian city of Bologna, where after arrival we would then make our way to our hotel in Rimini. It was already very hot and in no time at all we were already disgustingly sweaty - what a contrast to the weather just a few hours ago at home.

After getting our tickets sorted we boarded our train, but after a fifteen minute delay it turned out there was a problem with our train, and so we had to board the following train. Unfortunately, this one was far busier and we ended up having to stand, crowded with a bunch of Americans who told us that things would only get worse - yesterday it was 98 degrees in Siena...which after translating is 36˚C...

Arriving in Rimini, we quickly checked in changed into summer attire, and made our way down to the bus stop for our hour ride to our third country of the day - San Marino.

Palazzo Pubblico

Palazzo Pubblico

After an hour in a lovely AC bus, driving through the Italian countryside, crossing the border and then making our way up Mount Titano, we arrived at the entrance to the Most Serene Republic's capital, taking in the quaint ambience and views over the nearby countryside, and the coast.

Mount Titano

Mount Titano


Quaint San Marino

Quaint San Marino

Reminiscent of Andorra, but with much less commercial tax free luxury goods, and more general tourist tat, we had a mooch around the 'city' for an hour and a half, paying for a tourist stamp and entering the castle before making our way back to Rimini, for some quick food and a relax before our last trip of the day, to the sight of Rimini - the beach.

Rimini beach at sunset

Rimini beach at sunset

Finding that a local event was going on we walked onto the beach to feel the warm Adriatic water before making our way back to the hotel for a well earned rest....

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in San Marino Tagged sea beach city hill independence italy2016 Comments (0)

In the land of HRH Rita Ora

#BalkanBants - Prishtina

sunny 36 °C
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After an afternoon in Albania, the following day we were on our way to Europe's newest country - Kosovo. Luckily the bus was running at 6am instead of 5, meaning we could have an extra hour in bed and therefore not get up until 5 in the morning - the luxuries of taking a holiday!

After taking a five-or-so hour coach journey through the Albanian mountains we arrived on the outskirts of Prishtina city centre, and after dropping our bags off at our hotel, we headed, via the Bill Clinton statue to the city centre.

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton

As the country is very much grateful to the Americans for stopping the war in 1999, there are numerous statues and sites named after American leaders, which together with Skanderbeg, Mother Teresa and HRH Rita Ora, make up the majority of things that will be seen in Prishtina.

HRH Rita Ora

HRH Rita Ora

After walking past the National Library and stopping for a bite to eat, we headed for the Newborn monument, erected on my 17th birthday in 2008 to mark Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia. Each year this is repainted but I must say that this year's design looks rather like standard graffiti that litters the city already - not as impressive as the original solid-yellow or flag designs from previous years.

Newborn Monument

Newborn Monument

We then headed up the main street passing the Skanderbeg Monument and Parliament building before walking through the traditional bazaar area. And that is pretty much where Kosovo's attractions end.

Skanderbeg

Skanderbeg

Unfortunately as a small city in a relatively new country ethnically made up of members of a neighbouring country Kosovo itself lacks a very distinct identity. Everywhere you go, Albanian flags are visible, and I was even given an Albanian pen in the souvenir shop. Perhaps once Kosovo gains more international recognition it will merge with its big brother Albania and form a united country, but for now, it's just a bit....well...boring.

Nevertheless, an interesting visit and a nice stepping stone onwards to Skopje.

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Kosovo Tagged city independence balkanbants Comments (0)

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