In Uruguay

Trip Start Jan 06, 2008
1
19
28
Trip End Mar 31, 2008


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Where I stayed
Edificio Deauville, 21 de Septiembre, 3003,

Flag of Uruguay  ,
Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Well. we now enter the last stage of our vacation. We are settled in to our one bedroomed apartment in Punta Carretas, a middle class barrio of Montevideo. We are 3 blocks from the Rambla, the wide road and footpath, much like Lakeshore Drive in Chicago, which follows the river/sea.
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. It has mostly been like that since our arrival, with temperatures in the mid to lower seventies. It is as if the god in charge of these matters has said, "summer's over, everyone has gone back to work and school, there is no need for good weather anymore". We shall see if the upcoming weekend provides relief - it did, we had two days of brilliant sunshine.  Most of the days since have been sunny and there has been that little touch of cool that hints that autumn is not far off.

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. We have included a photo of a typical menu board. Almost all the cow is eaten here, nothing is wasted. You will see on the board, prominently featured, are 'achuras' - this means offal. Tellingly the sausage (chorizo) and salami (salchicha) are both shown under offal. As in Spain, morcilla (blood/black pudding) is always available and is one of my favorites (not Joan's). It is pronounced morseecha here and not morseeya. All occurrences of ll and y are pronounced with a 'shch' sound. You will also see on the menu pescado (fish) pronounced pekado. Most occurrences of s are not pronounced, so that e.g. adios becomes adio. Another tasty item I have just been introduced to is molleja (sweetbreads). The menu is from a tourist spot so the prices reflect that. They are shown in Uruguayan pesos and there are about 20 to the dollar. 'Carnes de Novillo' literally means 'young bull meat'.
         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. We walked around the port in violation of security without trouble and were even able to go on board the Uruguayan Navy training ship, a three masted schooner, and were given a tour by an English speaking midshipman. They are about to go on a world tour and were busy getting the ship ready. Among the supplies was enough mate (matay) to last the 7 months. We asked how much mate each person used per week and based on the answer we estimated that there would be about 3,000 kilos on board when they left. Everyone was most agreeable and friendly, even the security guard at the gate - no awkward questions about how we got in, but, instead, information for Adam about when the next cruise ships were coming in. During the walk we also visited the Gaucho Museum in the wonderful Palacio Heber. There are many attractive buildings in 'Old Montevideo' but most are, unfortunately, in need of some TLC. There are exceptions, one being the Palacio Heber, once a private house now a museum.
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.


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Comments

mpeirano
mpeirano on

thanks
I am a Uruguayan living in Montevideo, and really appreciated your post. I feel that you somehow captured the Uruguayan thing, drab and smiling, carefree and paranoid, all at the same time. And you got every little detail right. I really mean it, a great post.

Abrazo
Miguel

adix2361
adix2361 on

montevideo
I was born in montevideo, and I always admire our beautiful buildings, I'm living in australia since 1977 and I'm very happy to see photos in the internet, try to put more photos of the old houses in avenida ocho de octubre, I still remember them they were fabulous..

bathmateus on

nice posting it is........


Bathmate

web royality on

That's looks so nice your posting.
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That will be necessary for all. Thanks for your posting.


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Ana Laura on

I loved your post, you really captured the Uruguayan flavour. I'm Uruguayan, and I live in Piriápolis, I just wanted to point out that Francisco Piria, the city's founder, was Uruguyayan as well, and not Argentinian (but a very good businessman, who saw the benefits of bringing Argentinians to his city)

Great work, I'm really glad you liked our country.

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