Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mercedes and mopeds

In an effort to not just stick with the tourist hotspots, we visited Mercedes, which is a bit further north than most tourists venture.  And Mercedes definitely isn't touristy.

Coming from Colonia, with it's numerous hostels and hotels, and plentiful restaurants with payment options in Uruguayan pesos, Argentine pesos or US dollars, Mercedes was something of a contrast.

We arrived at our little hotel where we had booked their apartment room, to find no one there.  We waited, and waited, and waited.  We phoned a number on the door, but the person on the end seemed to have no idea what we were talking about.  And we waited some more.

Eventually, a woman turned up.  We think she was the one we spoke to on the phone, but she clearly had no idea we were coming or that we had already paid the deposit.  Thankfully, she let us in and accepted our word about the money.  The place was fine, and she was friendly, but we were just relieved that we hadn't had our first accommodation failure.

And as for restaurants.  Well the first evening we hadn't spotted much around and didn't feel like going far so just went to a place on the square that was linked to the hotel there.

But the next day, as we wandered the streets during the day, we couldn't find anywhere to eat that was actually open. In fact, aside from the supermarket - which meant that we could at least eat - and the post office, and we hardly found anything open at all.  Siesta here starts early and ends late apparently.

And the place was like a ghost town.  As well as most places being closed, we walked around for hours and for a town of this size we saw surprisingly few people.  Goodness knows where they all were, because there weren't any shops or restaurants open for them to be in.

And most of those we did see were on mopeds.  This place appears to be obsessed with mopeds.  They are everywhere.  As usual in South America, no one wears a helmet, and there are often whole families on a single bike.

Like Montevideo and Colonia, many of the buildings were beautiful but decrepit. The post office was built in the 30s and is very art deco, with depictions of various modes of transport either side of the doors.

Aside from that, there is nothing much in Mercedes, but it was good to see a real town without the tourist window dressing.

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