Monthly Archives: November, 2013

If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium

After a long night in the airport hotel, a (very) small breakfast was served in the restaurant next door. It wasn’t much more than coffee, tea, a piece of old toast and some greasy croissants. We watched a bit of tv to kill some time before noon. We took a taxi from the hotel back to the airport (it took us a quick 7 minutes as opposed to yesterday’s half hour joy ride).

Although ‘Ministro Pistarini’ airport is a lot bigger than Montevideo’s space ship, the dining options are equally limited. We had a dry sandwich and salad for lunch and then proceeded to the check-in. Our ticket was fully paid for with air miles (all those flights to Munich finally paid off), but we did make a change in our reservation a few weeks ago. As it turned out, we had a valid booking but no tickets for some reason. We had to wait for an hour and Patrick had to go to a small room behind the check-in desks to negotiate our way onto the plane. Everything was okay in the end – even our 50kg luggage went through. We cleared security and customs and collected our last stamps – and then bought some M&M’s with our remaining Argentine pesos.


We boarded the Boeing 747 airplane around 5:00pm – only to find out that because of the booking-ticket confusion we did not have seats next to each other. Through some airline miracle, Patrick had a empty seat next to him and Marijke could switch seats easily.


I would love to say that the 13 hours went by quickly, but it still is a very long flight. We arrived in Frankfurt at 11:00am and an hour later we were on the way to Brussels! Patrick’s father was kind enough to pick us up and drove us to our house. It was a great feeling to be back home.

And with that, our grand adventure came to an end! Thank you dear blog reader for your great comments… we had a lot of fun with the blog and we will release our ‘greatest hits’ post in the near future.

…y vivieron felices para siempre.

If it’s Tuesday this must be Belgium

If it’s Wednesday this must be Rome

If it’s Thursday this must be Montreal

I fear I never wanna go home

Leaving On A Jet Plane

As all good stories, also this story must come to an end… Today was the day we packed up all our stuff and headed for our first plane connection from Montevideo to Buenos Aires. We spent the morning in the sunshine of Montevideo’s ‘Ciudad Vieja’. It was a beautiful Sunday morning with people walking and jogging on the boardwalk. Around noon we looked for the bus that would take us back to Carrasco and our bags. After 10 minutes we figured out the bus system and then waited at the correct bus stop. The bus picked us up and an hour later we picked up our bags and headed to the airport/space ship.


We arrived at the brand new Montevideo airport much too early – but the air conditioning was a nice bonus. We spent our last Uruguayan pesos on McDonald’s (we didn’t have enough pesos left for the fancy airport restaurant). Our bags (slightly overweight but that was okay) were checked in and rolled down the belt into the belly of the airport beast.

Flying from Montevideo to Buenos Aires is like flying from Amsterdam to Brussels… it’s not always the quickest way. In our case however, it was a good idea because it would get us to the (right) airport in Buenos Aires. After sitting around at the gate for a bit more we boarded the plane from Aerolineas Argentinas and off we went into the night. The flight itself was quite bumpy, but we made it to the other side of the Rio de la Plata in about 40 minutes.
As our flight to Frankfurt and Brussels is only tomorrow, we checked into a hotel near the airport. We made a mistake by not booking a taxi in advance, so when we went to the taxi counter we did not know that they would hook us up with an idiot. He drove much too fast, missed two speed bumps, drove in the wrong direction, picked up his phone whilst driving to send a text,… all the stuff you don’t want from a taxi ride. The hotel was located in the back of a shopping mall and it did not take long before we crashed on the bed.
Tomorrow we have to be in the airport around noon, so hopefully we have a relaxed morning. Although we are extremely happy to be going back home, we are also a bit sad that our adventure is slowly coming to an end…

All my bags are packed I’m ready to goI’m standin’ here outside your doorI hate to wake you up to say goodbyeBut the dawn is breakin’ it’s early mornThe taxi’s waitin’ he’s blowin’ his hornAlready I’m so lonesome I could die

A Log On The Fire

With the car sold, we finally took some time to explore Montevideo, the largest city and capital of Uruguay. One third of the population of Uruguay lives in Montevideo – and 14 out of 16 football teams in the Primera Division are from Montevideo. We took the bus from Carrasco to the Plaza de la Independencia and walked around the colourful town.


We had lunch at the ‘Mercado del Puerto’ – a covered market dedicated to the art of grilling meat.The fire was blazing in the middle – and the best Uruguayan cuts of meat were barbecued to perfection. We had some tapas and a brochette and sat at the bar looking at the action.



In the afternoon we walked around the ‘Ciudad Vieja’ and enjoyed the summer sun. It won’t be long before we are on an airplane heading home, so we are enjoying any sunshine we can get still. The colonial architecture in this city is impressive – although the city is very quiet on a Saturday afternoon.





In the evening we went back to the ‘Mercado del Puerto’ for some more meat. Unfortunately, the waitress quit her job between taking our order and passing it on to the kitchen (no joke) so we had to wait quite some time and the restaurant tried to reorganise itself. Luckily we were not that hungry yet so we didn’t have to eat each other. 🙂 In the end the food that we received tasted really good and we went home with a full stomach.

There’s a log on the fire

And it burns like me for you

Tomorrow comes with one desire

To take me away

He’s Going The Distance

Today was the day that we said good-bye to our faithful travel buddy Rodrigo. He took us 25,743km from Vancouver to Montevideo in 131 days. We drove him across 16 countries – through the desert plains of Nevada and Peru to the mountains of Ecuador and Chile! We’ve driven through rivers in Belize and over rocky mountains in Guatemala. Although we had some hiccups (heat shield fell off on the first day, exhaust needed to be welded back in place, one ignition coil needed to be replaced after our great heights, spare wheel went flat, …), we have been truly impressed by the performance of our Toyota 4Runner. He took quite some abuse on the roads of Belize and El Salvador but he kept going. Today the V8 was running as smoothly as the day we bought the car – and I will miss the ‘roar’ when you start the car engine.


We drove the car to the airport at 10:00am and after a quick inspection, the new owners paid the full amount. We went with them to a notary about 15km away and officialised the sale there. In less than an hour everything was done. The new owner drove us back to the center of Carrasco… and we were left without a car! Although a bit sad to see our travel partner driving off into the distance, we were happy to have the sale behind us. Now we can focus on getting a plane ticket to go back home some time next week!


In order to celebrate our successful sale we had a big lunch in ‘Don Pepperino’ and enjoyed the rest of our day strolling around the city center. At night we celebrated again with a double load of sushi orders. 🙂

They deftly maneuver and muscle for rank,

Fuel burning fast on an empty tank.

Reckless and wild, they pour through the turns.

Their prowess is potent and secretly stearn.

As they speed through the finish, the flags go down.

The Thrill Of One Bite

Atlantida is only a half hour from Montevideo, so we did not have to rush today! We made sure Rodrigo was in perfect working condition and ready to be sold before leaving on our last drive of the journey.

We drove to a small B&B in Carrasco – a fancy area outside Montevideo. We parked Rodrigo behind the secured gate and after checking in and a nice chat with the friendly owner, we headed to the main street of Carrasco for a late lunch. We had a nice ‘chivito’, the national dish of Uruguay. It consists of a slice of filet mignon, bacon, eggs, ham, olives, mayonaise, tomatoes and mozzarella, served in a bun.


We stopped by the casino (although we did not go inside) to admire the colonial architecture of the grand building.


In the evening we had take-out sushi (we are by the seaside after all) to recover a bit from all the meat of the last days. Especially the one with cheese and strawberry was surprisingly delicious!


So you see, we’re not camping anymore and wherever we can, we try the local flavours. We can tell you: Uruguay is very delicious! More food pictures coming to this space soon!

It’s the rye or the kaiser, it’s the thrill of one bite

Let me please be your catering advisor.

If you want substitutions I won’t put up a fight.

You can have your roast beef on the rye or the kaiser.

Marijke said I should honour to the original so here is the link to the original…

Eight O’Clock Rock

Cross Uruguay from one end to the other doesn’t take one very long. It only took us a couple of hours from the border crossing to the Atlantic Ocean in Atlantida! We drove through cloudy weather to the most southern destination on our journey so far. The summer season does not start here until December so most hotels were unfortunately closed. After cruising around town for a little bit we finally found this pretty hotel ‘Birkina’ which had a secured parking spot to offer as well. The hotel used to be owned by Belgians, how about that?

We sorted out some paperwork for the car, went through our stuff to see what we are going to take back home and went for a dinner downtown. In what looked to be the biggest restaurant even made we ordered ourselves a local hamburger and a spaghetti bolognese. It was also the only place that was open. When we looked at the tv screen we noticed that it was already an hour later than our own watches indicated. So we corrected the time to 8:00pm. That made us feel a little less awkward eating so early in the evening. The locals usually only start dinner at 10:00pm, if not later.


After our delicious meal we went back to the hotel and watched some new episodes of ‘Breaking Bad’ and then called it a day. The long drive had really worn us out so we didn’t have much trouble falling asleep.

Put your glad rags on and join me hon’,

We’ll have some fun when the clock strikes one.

We’re gonna rock around the clock tonight,

We’re gonna rock, rock, rock, ’till broad daylight

(One For My Baby And) One More For The Road

Well, when you’ve driven across 15 countries, it’s only a small step to add one more! As we may be able to sell the car in Montevideo, we hit the road towards Uruguay. You can take the ferry across the Rio de la Plata (which takes about 3 hours) – or you can drive around and cross over land. We decided to drive over land and cross the border that way. We only needed to be in Montevideo on Friday, so we had some time.

It was definitely more cloudy today than it has been the last days. The drive up north was very quiet. As we were running out of Argentine pesos, we had to make a quick stop at Carrefour to take out some more cash and stock up on supplies. After a couple of hours and a small meat feast (we forgot that you can’t take this over the border and we didn’t want to waste it) we reached the ‘Puente Internacional’ at Fray Bentos, an impressive bridge between Argentina and Uruguay.


After crossing the bridge and paying for the toll, we pulled out for the most efficient and thorough border crossing in the Americas! In less than 29 minutes we were stamped out of Argentina, stamped into Uruguay, car import permit cancelled for Argentina, car import permit received for Uruguay, car inspected by customs official and car searched by a big labrador for any contraband. It was the most thorough search to date, although they did not bother to check the tent.

We drove to the first town to find a campground and once we arrived we rewarded Rodrigo with his final sticker.


I could tell you a lot

But you got to be true to your code

So make it one for my baby

And one more for the road

Working On The Rail Road

Monday morning so back to work! Today we took Rodrigo in for having the ignition coil replaced. We drove to the Toyota dealer in Buenos Aires as we had an appointment at 8:00am. Thankfully they had the spare part in stock, so Rodrigo could be fixed in a day. Below you can see a picture of the part that has been replaced and how it was temporarily fixed MacGyver-style with duct tape. It cost up about 100 USD for the new part and the installation – with a free car wash and Toyota coffee mugs on top.


While Rodrigo was in the shop, we took the train back to the city center to sell the books that we are not going to take back home. It took us a 50 pesos taxi ride, a visit to 9 bookstores but finally we sold the lot for 70 pesos – seriously less than what we were expecting but then again it was the only bookstore in town that wanted to take them and we didn’t want to carry them for another 5 blocks. That’s a total profit of 20 pesos… about the cost of a cup of coffee. Anyhow we were happy that we did not have to dump the books in the trash and that someone someday will buy one.


We had lunch in the city and took the train back in the afternoon. Notice how the Argentines are queueing for the train! Very civilised!

With Rodrigo back in action, we’ve decided to continue to Montevideo in Uruguay!
Johnny he worked on a railroad
A poundin’ on iron and steel
Workin’ his way out West now
The only sure thing’s his next meal

What’s New Buenos Aires?

What better way to start a sunny Sunday morning than with a nice breakfast? Through the luxury of our little house in Buenos Aires we are slowly but surely getting accustomed to sleeping in a bed, having a fridge and constant internet connection.


We headed into Buenos Aires on the train today, the city of tango, Evita Peron, Boca Juniors versus River Plate, the pope, … . The first train we were on broke down and everyone had to get out, but the second one got us to the city center! Buenos Aires is a really beautiful city on a Sunday morning. Wide lanes, plenty of green and beautiful buildings. We did not take a lot of photographs today, but here’s one of Marijke outside the ‘Casa Rosada’, which is the Argentine equivalent of the White House.


The Plaza de Mayo is the place where for thirty years the ‘Madres de Plaza de Mayo’ used to protest every day. Their children disappeared during the military dictatorship between 1976 and 1983.


Everywhere in Argentina you can find signs that the Falklands (‘Las Malvinas’) belong to Argentina. It’s an issue that we don’t really understand… but it’s a sensitive topic here still…


We had a nice lunch at a local parillera – where meat is grilled continuously and vegetables are optional.


We took the train back in the early evening and relaxed around the house a bit. The owner kindly donated a suitcase so we don’t have to buy a new one to be able to get back home! Tomorrow we take Rodrigo in for replacing the ignition coil, we need to have our laundry done urgently and we need to sell some more equipment!

What’s new Buenos Aires?

I’m new–I want to say I’m just a little stuck on you

You’ll be on me too!

You Better Shop Around

Some time ago we decided on Buenos Aires as the end point of our journey. As we’re getting closer to the end, we also tried to sell some of our camping equipment. We cleaned up the car, sorted out which stuff we’re not taking back home and then made a nice display. As the campground was filling up with weekend campers, we went around to advertise our stuff. The little red seat was the first to go… and about an hour later we had sold our 2 coolers, some of the plastic boxes, the jerry can and the little red tub we use for doing the dishes. We had some fun with the other campers as well as they wanted to see the inside of the tent. We tried to sell the car as well but unfortunately that was a bit more difficult.


The short drive to Buenos Aires – and the last official kilometers of Keep Calm & Drive South – was pleasant. The sun was out and the roads around Buenos Aires were in good condition. We had booked a room in Punta Chica outside of the city centre so we had space to park the car. The parking space was a bit small and it will be quite the adventure reversing the car out again. The room however turned out to be a small house and our host Betina was there to welcome us.


We set up our used camping gear shop on the road side to try and sell the remaining equipment. We’ll donate everything that is left – but whatever we can sell is a nice bonus. Despite all Marijke’s charm it took about an hour to sell out pots and pans – and that was the only item we sold. Our store signs gradually got more desperate – until be decided to call it a day around 6:00pm




We went to the supermarket with the money we made and bought supplies for the next 3 days. We’ll be here for a short while as the car is fixed at the Toyota dealer here before selling it… hopefully!

Before you ask some girl for her hand now

Keep your freedom for as long as you can now”

My mama told me, you better shop around