Wednesday, March 11, 2009

CheapTravel Via Amazing Race to Uruguay and Argentina

The Amazing Race (TAR) reruns are currently being shown on OLN (Outdoor LIfe Network) here in Canada, and even though I have watched faithfully each season, missing episodes only when I have been traveling, I am really enjoying watching the reruns. From the premiere in September 2001, up to and including the current Season 14, I have been stuck in front of the television, refusing all calls during the hour long show.

Right now, we just finished Season 4 reruns, and are a few episodes into Season 5 (Charla and Mirna season: TAR fans will never forget that team!)

La Mano ~ Hand in the Sand ~ Punta Del Este Uruguay TAR Season 5
When I first watched this season 5 episode, I had not yet visited South America. Last night, when the teams headed to Punta Del Este, Uruguay, I was reliving my own trip there.

The marina, the hand-in-the-sand (says Phil Keoghan, TAR host: a sculpture of the last thing you see before a person drowns), the marina, the streets, the signs on the freeway. Ah! The ultimate in cheap travel!

Casa Pueblo Uruguay ~ Hotel, art gallery overlooking Rio De La Plata
Casapueblo was the pit stop on the last Uruguay leg. I didn't stay here, myself. I just spent some time in the galleries and shops, and admiring views of the Rio de la Plata from the terraces. Next time, though, I will plan to stay here. Casa Pueblo itself is fabulous, and sunsets from the terrace are supposed to be amazing!

Avenida 9 de Julio ~ Widest Street in the World ~ Buenos Aires Argentina
From Casapueblo, teams left at night to head west into Montevideo, the capital, to a disco filled with soap suds and tipsy dancers, then make their way further west, to the ferry at Colonia, to cross into Argentina. On The Amazing Race, editing brings down huge chunks of travel into less than an hour.

The ferry crossing from Colonia (Buquebus) to Buenos Aires takes about 3 hours. The drive to Colonia from Montevideo, close to the same. I had planned to take this same crossing but instead took the hydrofoil from Buenos Aires to direct to Montevideo. Even so, it was a three hour crossing of the 210 km (130 miles) wide Rio de la Plata. (I flew back.)

What I really enjoyed seeing was how the friendly Uruguayans went out of their way to help Charla and Mirna, even holding the ferry departure until the two latecomers could board, offering them sips of yerba mate. I had similar experiences in Uruguay, with total strangers offering aid, going that extra mile, and watching out for one another. Uruguayans have to be among the nicest people in the world! (Move over, Canadians!)

Gaucho BBQ and Tango Show ~ Estancia Santa Susana
While the teams in Season 5 did the tango thing at a different club than did I, the experience seemed the same. The gaucho tours are well worth it, IMHO, with good food and interesting shows, and congenial tour companions. I can hardly wait to see where they head to tonight!

In Season 4, rerun last month, the teams were on Borneo! I was beside myself seeing all the old familiar places that I had not yet traveled to when this season first showed. Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, Sandakan, Poring Hot Springs canopy walk.

And so, in a houseful of travelers who all love The Amazing Race, we take turns talking over the announcer, saying, "Oh! I was there! I did that!" and thoroughly enjoying ourselves reliving our trips. That we've mostly forgotten the teams and the outcomes of these early seasons only adds to the newness and fun of watching them all over again. Only, the second time around, we pay a lot more attention the the background shots than we do to the teams. :-)

Update : Now watching TAR 7 Santiago Chile, Argentina, Rob and Amber series

For more pics and info on these and other TAR destinations, see my travel site.