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Uruguay

Value-added tax refund scheme for foreigners in Uruguay

Value-added tax refund scheme for foreigners in Uruguay

— Now that we’re back in Uruguay for the last few days of our South America trip, I thought I’d share an interesting value-added tax scheme being used to promote tourism in Uruguay. Apparently, if you dine at a restaurant in Uruguay and pay with a non-Uruguayan credit or debit card, the value-added tax or VAT— which is rather substantial at 22% — is automatically refunded to your card. Generally, I prefer to pay in cash at restaurants, since servers can’t always be trusted not to mishandle a card.
A few photographs from Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

A few photographs from Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

— Our stay in Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay, was rather short, less than twenty-four hours. However, the charming old barrio is compact, so tourists can take in the highlights in a few hours. Some even visit as a day trip from Montevideo by bus or from Buenos Aires by ferry. The weather during our brief visit was almost entirely overcast, as the photographs show. In the main square of Colonia del Sacramento, we found the Basilica of the Most Holy Sacrament, not to be confused with the church we visited in Buenos Aires with the same name.
Southernmost point in our journeys, Punta del Este, Uruguay

Southernmost point in our journeys, Punta del Este, Uruguay

— Today we walked down the street from our apartment in Punta del Este to a small park at the mouth of the Plata River, where a Uruguayan flag more or less marks the southernmost point in Uruguay. Unfortunately the wind wasn’t cooperating with my photography. Although I recognized this right away as being the southernmost steps we’ve taken on this trip to South America, after a quick bit of internet sleuthing, I discovered it’s also the southernmost steps we’ve taken ever.
Waiting for a bus, onward to Punta del Este

Waiting for a bus, onward to Punta del Este

— Our short stay in Colonia del Sacramento is coming to an end. We’ve checked out of the hotel here and are waiting at the bus terminal for a ride to Montevideo. We won’t be there long; we have onward tickets to Punta del Este and a small apartment reserved there for the next several nights. We had thought about renting a car and driving ourselves, but bus tickets are quite inexpensive in Uruguay, and frankly I didn’t relish six or seven hours of driving.
After the ferry from Uruguay, first morning in Buenos Aires

After the ferry from Uruguay, first morning in Buenos Aires

— We’ve just finished a long breakfast at our hotel in Buenos Aires. The ferry from Colonia del Sacramento was a much smaller vessel than I expected. Luckily I didn’t get seasick; I’ve had issues in the past, though usually on slower moving boats. The arrival at the port yesterday afternoon was a bit aggravating. Buenos Aires is a metropolis, and I expected to arrive in a facility with ATMs, exchange desks, and so on.
Montevideo, our first day of sightseeing in photographs

Montevideo, our first day of sightseeing in photographs

— After about twenty hours of traveling, including an overnight flight, our first day in Montevideo should have been a throwaway. We did have a short power nap when we arrived, but shortly after that we began a walking tour of our neighborhood and the surrounding areas. Two blocks from the guest house we found Teatro Solis, one of the most noted theaters in Uruguay. The reason so many people are milling around the theater is because, as luck would have it, this weekend is a celebration of national patrimony, so there was a lot of free cultural programming going on.
Lunchtime protein orgy at the Montevideo Port Market

Lunchtime protein orgy at the Montevideo Port Market

— Earlier today we ventured a short walk from the guest house to the Montevideo Port Market, which has been referred to as “Disneyland for carnivores.” Once inside, we spent perhaps a half-hour walking from stall to stall, watching the masters work their grills and attempting to gauge how happy their customers appeared. The wood smoke filled the air all the way up to the rafters, so much so that several hours later we can still smell the smoke in our clothes.