How a 134 km drive took 7 hours.

Trip Start Dec 05, 2010
Trip End Jan 03, 2011

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Where I stayed
Posada de Piedra Punta del Este
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of Uruguay  , Maldonado,
Friday, December 17, 2010

Today we set out for the beach. As you can see from the google map snippet, there's not a ton of detailed road maps. Plenty of tourist offices give out free maps but they lack detail, as we discovered.

The main obstacle today was a conference call that I have every Friday at 11 am EST, or 2 pm Uruguay time. We picked up the rental car at 10:30, and for the 90 minute drive to Punta del Este, we thought we had plenty of time to make it to our hotel! 

 First we had to go back to our hotel, pack up and check out. We ended up missing the exit to the highway leaving Montevideo and took a smaller road. It's true though, as long as the ocean is on your right, you're going in the right direction. We stopped at a Super Walmart type store called Geant, and picked up beach towels, chips, hairspray for my high maintenance husband and vodka for me. Then we had to stop at a gas station for a legit map and were again on our way.

Google maps had our hotel totally on the wrong side of the point, so we decided to stop about 20 minutes before my call started and find an internet cafe in Piriapolis where I would either call the conference line or skype in. I got James to slow down at an intersection and I yelled out to people on the street if they knew of a "locutorio" using the term Argentines use. One asked the other who asked another who told us a "ciber cafe" was right around the block. I grabbed my laptop backpack complete with headset, vonage hookup, magic jack, my notes for the meeting and ran in. Ten cubicles full of gamers looked up at me as I ran in and asked if they had computers for skype. He answered dubiously, some times it works. Then he pointed me to the corner for another place that obviously had faster connections.

Turns out they were closed from 12-2, for lunch perhaps? It was 5 minutes to 2 so I stood right outside the door, waiting for them to let me in so I could quickly dial in. Five failed attempts with "no se puede completar su llamada" (your call could not be connected) and I eventually saw a loose ether net line and an open desk intended for laptops. I plugged in the Vonage and was all set

After my "workday" was officially over and the out of office vacation message went on, we had our first experience with chivito.  the national sandwich that captured the attention of Anthony Bourdain on his show No Reservations.  It was a delicious meat sandwich but alas did not come close to our favorite Chilean sandwich the chacarero. (if you read our chile blog also on travelpod you will see how much we adored that one) 

Now with the pressure off, it was time to leisurely proceed to our hotel. We stopped one more time to get on the internet (the posada's website has no directions whatsoever) and we also stopped at a real estate office to find out what the house prices were like for beachfront property (a 4 bedroom house with ocean views on 3 sides was around $330,000 US) and after several more U-turns and asking random pedestrians, we found our hotel! It's about 10 minutes off the beach down a dirt road but climbs a hill, passes horses and cows grazing and is a total retreat from the South Beach atmosphere of Punta del Este. James and I have our own little cabin, access to a pool and jacuzzi, included made to order breakfast in the communal dining room, and internet and directv in the common (beautifully decorated) living room. 

We jumped in the pool (all day in a car without air conditioning!) and napped before venturing out for dinner. By the time the sun set, and our house emitted the only lights around, we knew we'd have to have a solid game plan for where to go eat. James, craving sushi/Asian/anything other than red meat, researched an Asian fusion place that had been reviewed by NYTimes travel writers and so we were on the hunt for KM 185 in Jose Ignacio, the next beach town over. It was so dark that we mistook a well lit house for the restaurant, but then noticed lots of other cars turning down the road so we kept going and a parking attendant told us it was the restaurant Marismo. We gave up on Asian, settling for whatever this place was, agreed to check it out. Best decision all day!

Fire pits in the sand, steel drum band, a tree house looking restaurant with multiple floors, and tons of people eating brick oven pizza. We found a table, the waiter took our drink order and then another brought over a pizza. We explained we hadn't ordered that and he said, no it's our opening night for the season and it's all free. James and I exchanged glances, said gracias and dug in! It was a great meal, for which we tipped them heavily and reminded ourselves that even on days where we feel like we keep getting lost and can't find our way, God has a plan and sometimes that plan might be stumbling on free pizza.
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My Review Of The Place I Stayed

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