Trip Start Jan 06, 2008
28Trip End Mar 31, 2008
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We thought we had lost the sun! For two months we have sought shade to avoid the heat of the sun but, on our arrival in Montevideo, we hardly saw the sun for a week. Our trip over on a Buquebus giant catamaran car ferry (I love the name Buquebus) was cloudy and rainy. The catamaran had obviously seen service in Sweden/Norway prior to here as many of the signs on the boat were in Swedish/Norwegian, even the one telling where the duty free shops were!
We found our new apartment without difficulty and have been here four nights as I first write this. It is also pouring down with rain. It is doing this in the English manner, i.e. constant steady rain not heavy enough to splash as it hits the ground but heavy enough to soak you through if you are unprotected
Between showers we took two long walks along the Rambla and walked to a large modern shopping mall with the best supermarket we have seen since coming south. The Rambla brings to mind Lakeshore Drive in Chicago, with a divided highway following the coast and a walking, jogging, biking pathway closer to the sea.
In the week of rain we rented a car for the day (a 1989 Peugeot) and drove to Piriapolis and Punta del Este. There is a good toll highway which runs along the coast to Punta del Este which is about 87 miles from Montevideo. We stopped off in Piriapolis first. This is a seaside resort built by an Argentine whose name was Piria, at one time he had his own ferries to bring people from Argentina. It is a small town and we had a taste of what it is like when the season is over. The season runs from late December to early March. As it was a wet cool day when we were there, the town was almost deserted
We drove on to Punta del Este in pouring rain which continued for all of our stay in Punta. Punta, (as it is known), is the destination of the South American (and increasingly European) rich. It consists primarily of row after row of high rise condominiums with some large houses interspersed. As most of the owners don't live there for the majority of the year this must be one of the largest expanses of empty buildings in the world for nine months of the year.
As we visited both places in the rain, we intend to visit again.
Open air markets, selling everything from fruit and vegetables (great quality) to handmade clothes and jewelry, are features of the parks near where we are. We have also 'discovered' a delightful coffee, pastries, sandwiches, bread place. It is directly across the street from us and serves wonderful coffee.
We have also been eating in parillas even more than we did in Argentina. I have to say I think the meat is better here. We had lamb asado in the Mercado Del Puerto which was so tender and tasty my mouth is watering as I write. They also serve fried provolone in the shape and size of a small pizza which is delicious. Of course, all considerations of diet or cholesterol have to be abandoned when entering any of these establishments
With the help of our landlords, a jolly young couple from Oregon - Adam and Leandra, we have taken a walking tour of the port and old Montevideo. Adam gives walking tours, mainly to passengers of cruise ships that dock regularly here, and so we had the benefit of his expertise. He is also able to go 'where no man has gone before'. Those of you old enough to remember will know that the German battleship the Graf Spee was scuttled in the Rio de la Plata during WWII. Some of the ship is on display in the port as is the bell from HMS Ajax which was one of the British ships involved
When strolling near the Plaza Independencia we were delighted to see a ceremonial band and honor guard of the Uruguyan army playing what sounded like Souza music. We asked what the occassion was of surrounding Uruguyans but nobody knew.
Having started this post by carping about the rain I have to end by saying that the weather since has been delightful - sunny, breezy, no humidity, and not too hot - great walking weather.