Punta del Este - huge let down

Trip Start Mar 17, 2008
1
8
33
Trip End Jun 08, 2008


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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Day 1 - Thursday March 27th
So much anticipation, so little reward. The early start (6am) and bus journey were fine, we arrived into Punta full of excitement after following the coast road for several miles and seeing unending sandy bliss. Things only started going downhill when we got in a cab. You can tell we've been away a while, 2.50 for a 3 minute ride we thought extortionate, should have been about 15p!!

Our hotel looked fab from the outside - on reflection, perhaps that's where we should have stayed. Now, we spend quite a lot of our lives in hotels, so maybe booking a swish one on this trip was asking for trouble, but given that reception is where first impressions are made - the receptionist on duty when we arrived didn't even say welcome to the AWA hotel, her opening remark was "check in isn´t until 2pm". Immediately I disliked her and everything she represented. To make matters worse, turning up with backpacks is clearly not the thing to do in a nice Punta hotel. We were made to feel like nothing more than an irritation. Maybe things would have been different if we´d had Louis Vuitton emblazened on our packs instead of Karrimor 65 litre!!

Nonetheless we headed out (we were begrudgingly informed they might be able to get our room ready by midday) to the beach full of hope that the day would improve. It did not. Punta was officially shut and in recognition of this the fabulous weather about which you´ve read repeatedly had shut down too. Punta del Este, the St Tropez of S America is more like a dreary Herne Bay when the sun ain´t shining. A walk along the beach, soft sand between our toes, freezing water splashing right up my trouser legs and miles of empty beach cheered us a little bit - well GB had a good laugh at my soaking at least; and thus we strolled back to the AWA to check in.

The rest of the day was spent wandering around deserted streets but for a few die hard surfers and the S America equivalent of the blue rinse brigade. No one smiles there either...

To dinner then, and we decided we would eat in the hotel - the single best decision we made all day. The food was outstanding. GB's pumpkin ravioli ranks amongst the best dishes she's ever eaten, we enjoyed our first taste of Torrentes white wine - delicious, and the service was impeccable and even included several smiles and lots of encouragement at my improving Spanish - at least I got what I expected this time after the rack of lamb debacle in BA!! Things had taken a turn for the better, surely some sun tomorrow would get us back on track and justify our decision to flex the credit card, stay on and fly back from Punta to BA as late as possible....

Day 2 - Friday March 28th
I awoke to rain crashing against the window. I went back to sleep. I awoke again to GB fiddling with the air con. I went back to sleep. I awoke a third time to itching mozzie bites, itching, itching, itching - and grey skies. Our Punta dream was not playing out as expected.

After deciding a run was out of the question (I couldn´t be bothered) we enjoyed a nice breakfast - great spread, fresh fruit, freshly baked muffins, OJ that had been squeezed with the peel still on (why would you do that?), and individual pots of heaven´s own spread, dulce de leche. All this washed down with nicely stewed coffee and a Yakult (that should get things moving...). The sun broke through whilst we were eating - and disappeared just as we finished; so we spent most of the day hogging the one working computer in the hotel´s lounge, blogging, downloading photos and videos, and trying to work out a route from Santiago to Macchu Picchu via La Serena (star gazing place), Salar de Uyuni (salt lakes), Lake Titicaca (highest navigable lake in the world) and La Paz (highest capital in the world). One blog I read contained a similar itinerary that took 23 weeks - we´ve got 11 days. The credit card is on standby for last minute flights....

After several (GB would say endless) hours we took a break, GB went to the spa (well fitness room with a jacuzzi in the corner!) - did another 6km on the treadmill and flooded the gym whilst taking a shower (I can´t work out how). I went for a walk to the beach and got 45 minutes of sun on my back. Shorts and tee-shirt rolled right up all I needed was the hanky on my head - but then what´s the problem, there´s no one here to see me look like an idiot is there!

Back in the hotel and more route planning research pays off. We´ve edited our itinerary so many times today it´s actually got less on it than when we started this morning, but at least we´ve found a route that will get us where we need to be. I think.

We nipped to the supermarket and troughed on lovely quiche, cherry tomatoes and cheese, then ordered a nice glass of wine back at the hotel while we waited for our taxi. Of course the cab arrived early - and necking vino blanco is not nice; but somehow having that one pleasure foreshortened was only appropriate given the last 2 days. Incident free ride to the airport, smooth check-in, good bottle of beer and travel journal updated (Eloise thanks for such a great present - we´ve written and stuck things in every day - it´s already unique) simply lured us into a false sense of security. Even larking about in duty free taking photos of me in various sunglasses (you can´t enjoy them by the way because it looks like we´ve left the bloody camera cable in ****!!!!** Punta) belied the 90 minute delay we would endure, the plane went technical. Our scheduled Parilla in BA became a bag of ham flavoured chip sticks on the flight and now it´s 12.40am and we´re sat in our B&B in BA (very nice it is too) having a good old rant on the blog to rid ourselves of 2 days less than perfect travelling.

BUT, do not fear, we are leaving at 6.15am (yep that´s less than six hours away) for Patagonia, a trip that promises much. Our spirit of adventure and excitement has not been dampened at all, although the irony of calling our latest blog "Chilling in Uruguay" should not be lost on anyone! GB has even said that if I can´t find the lead for the camera we can have a new one - maybe. I assume she´ll be dusting off her credit card then...but in fact I´m informed she doesn´t have one. Oh happier days are on the way.

Love to one and all from the undeterred Pablo and Carmen xx
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Comments

cadey
cadey on

chin up
Welcome to the world of travelling. Highs and lows. You sound like you've experienced both now but just remember, it could be worse - you could still be going to work EVERY day like the rest of us :-)
Shame about the camera cable. Gayle, get a new one as the pictures are a really nice addition to the blog and enable us to be just a little more jealous everytime we open a new one!
Richard - I have a new wine tip. Went to the ideal home exhibition mentioned sauvignon blanc to a V nice man who asked me if I knew of Cloudy bay. (at which point I said 'yes beautiful wine whoch both myself and my brother in law truly appreciate but my sister cooks with!)- nearly gave him a heart attack. He produced a VV nice bottle of 'Lobster Key'and tried to get me to buy a case for £176. I managed to resist (somehow) and couldn't persuade Nigel to buy some so I shall be on the lookout for it at a local well known supermarket.
p.s. glad you're using the travel diary.
p.p.s. you're next target is to get a ride in a taxi with a one armed taxi driver who decides to take a mobile phone call on a hilly mountain road. Ruth had that in Macchu Piccu so see if you can find him! xxx

mariastile
mariastile on

CALAFATE WILL CERTAINLY BE BETTER
Dear friends, I love traviling through your eyes!!! Thanks for adding me to this site!
I am sure you will find in the South great things to do and please let me know if there is anything I can help you with.
Sol loves her beautiful new english clothes, THANK YOU! Will be expecting your news from Calafate, big hug!
Maria

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