We spent today in Punta del Este, Uruguay, a cute resort town about a 2 hour drive northeast from Montevideo. It was a pleasant 70 degrees and quite uncrowded, since it is fall here and this is primarily a summer resort, packed with Brazilians, Argentinians, and Europeans from December through March. The town sits on a peninsula where the Rio de la Plata meets the Atlantic Ocean and we were told the beaches stretch all the way up the coast to Brazil. They are lovely beaches with boardwalks and paths leading over small sand dunes, which are protected from foot traffic. The beaches are all public and there is no development on the ocean side at all. All hotels, condos, and restaurants are across the street – a nice touch.
Since this is a shallow port, we tendered in and used a few local tenders as well to stimulate their economy a bit. There was some difficulty securing our platform that leads to the tenders, so our morning excursion was about an hour late getting started. It was titled Punta del Este and the Casapueblo Museum. We drove past several beaches, the lighthouse, some new hotels including a Trump Tower (still under construction), a wavy bridge built like a roller-coaster, and a wealthy neighborhood called Beverly Hills, on our way to the Ralli Museum. This devoted art collector created museums in Israel, Argentina, and Brazil as well. His interesting paintings and sculptures included are mostly all from various modern day South American artists. One comical group of paintings were in a special room of works by Beryl Cook. She began painting when she was 60 and composed works about the funny things in life. Everyone got a kick out of her paintings. We also saw a sculpture by Salvatore Dali of a woman with drawers coming out of her body, symbolizing the feminine mystic. We had 45 minutes here.
Heading to the river side of the peninsula, we stopped next at the Casapueblo museum, the museum and home of Carlos Paez Vilaro, who kept adding onto his home for 30 years. The result is a unique structure on many levels. The upper floors house his museum and the lower ones are now part of a hotel. The artist passed away a few years ago and his children have taken over. All the works here are his, and he seemed to be a student of the Picasso style. He actually met Pablo on several occasions.
The tour was heading to a few more spots, but the driver was nice enough to drop us and another couple off at the pier on their way by, or we would have missed our afternoon tour. After checking out the biggest fur seal we ever saw on the next pier (a fisherman was feeding him, so he comes regularly), we got on our bus at 2:15 for the City Highlights and Classic Car Museum. This tour repeated a few things we had seen earlier, but did the complete circuit around the peninsula, up the coast, across to the river, down the coast to the tip where the river meets the ocean, and back to town. One of our first stops was at the famous hand statue on the beach, which we had driven by earlier. We took some photos next to the giant fingers. We also stopped at Casapueblo for photos, but no entrance. This was a view from further down the road, so we could see more of this mazelike structure. On the tip of the peninsula, we couldn’t see any great change in the waters, but I’m sure the currents here are tricky and the water gets more salty. The Classic Car Museum was back in town and had many old Model T’s, Chevy’s and European cars. Mac took lots of photos to show our grandson. Since we had over an hour here, and only took about half that, we decided to walk back to the pier. This way we could see more of the town. Many stores were closed because they were seasonal, but it was a pleasant 20 minute walk. We did see an elementary school getting out. The kids all wear a white shirt with a blue bow (even the boys). The school day here is in 2 shifts- the 8-12 shift or the 1-5PM shift. We saw the 5 o’clock shift getting out. Many parents pick up their kids, while others walk. We didn’t see any buses.
We waited a few minutes for the tender and returned to the ship by about 6PM. We were meeting Art and Joanie, and Jimbo and Mary Ann for a South American dinner tonight on the pool deck. The weather was comfortable and there was no wind, as on other occasions. The dinner menu had 3 types of steak and 2 fish, all local. The steaks were grilled right on deck. I had tenderloin (surprise) as did several others. It was fabulous- tender and juicy. The entire dinner, from appetizer to dessert, was delicious and the company was very enjoyable. Before we knew it, it was after 9PM and time to move to the evening’s entertainment, a comedian named Noodles. We ended the night with a lot of laughing.
We will be at sea for 2 days now on our way to Santos, followed the next day by Rio de Janiero and the end of this segment.
Yours in travel,
Pat & Mac