Could be in Greece

Trip Start Feb 27, 2010
1
18
21
Trip End Mar 31, 2010


Loading Map
Map your own trip!
Map Options
Show trip route
Hide lines
shadow
Where I stayed

Flag of Uruguay  ,
Wednesday, March 24, 2010


We arrived at the Genoves Hotel in Piriapolis to find a large coach party blocking the doorway – not a good start. Once we had fought our way to reception things improved and we were asked if we wanted to see the room. Unfortunately it smelt slightly of smoke so we tried to ask for a non-smoking room. This was interpreted as us asking whether it was OK to smoke as the response appeared to be that it was alright if we opened the windows. (This was despite a clear no-smoking sign in Reception). Anyway, we settled for ann air-freshener spraying of the room and settled in for our longest stay – 4 nights. We actually hung up some clothes in the wardrobe and allowed ourselves the luxury of not setting the alarm.
24 March
Morning revealed the superb beach view we had from the bedroom window – sand pretty much as far as the eye could see. The Hotel Manager – Belkis – introduced herself to us and was somewhat surprised to find that we did not speak fluent Spanish, having been in receipt of several Google-translated communications from Peter. These had apparently been remarkably accurate; surprising in the light of some of the tortured English we received when Peter had used the online translator in the other direction. Belkis kitted us up from the 'beach furniture' store – two somewhat mouldy but nevertheless welcome deckchairs in traditional British canvas – and we took ourselves on the beach for a couple of hours. It did not seem particularly hot but we soon realised that the sun was very strong indeed, and retreated to the shade of a cafe.

In the afternoon we walked along the front, past the original fishing harbour and took a chairlift up the  hillside, from where we had a good view of the countryside in all directions. Large cacti abounded. In the evening we had a rare surly waiter experience (but he seemed to be like that with everyone), slightly indifferent paella, but an extremely good Chilean Sauvignon Blanc.

25 March
Drove northwards up the winding coastal road. Piriapolis was the first holiday resort established in Uruguay and is popular with visitors coming across the river Plate from Buenos Aires and out from Montevideo for a break. It was developed in the 1930s and now seems like a good old fashioned British resort stuck in the 1960s but as soon as we drove northwards the countryside was completely unspoilt for a while, with rocky bays, little beaches, lagoons and lots of pampas grass. We headed for Casapueblo a white, Gaudi-style structure cascading a great distance down a cliff. The lower part is now a luxury hotel but the upper part is devoted to a museum and art gallery, detailing the life and work of the contemporary artist Carlos Paez Vilaro, whose home it had been. It was somewhat commercial but at least we got a decent coffee (surprisingly unusual) and enjoyed the art and spectacular surroundings. We bought a print of 'Gatos' - cats – in bright colours.
A little further up the coast we came to the entirely modern resort of Punte del Este, where the rich and famous hang out. We were astonished by the size, scope and quality of the highrise buildings stretching along a beautiful seafront – a sort of cross between Palm Beach and Las Vegas. We drove resolutely on, with the vague intention of reaching a wild area notable for sealife further up the coast, but eventually decided that we didn't want to sit in the car that long and spent an hour or so relaxing on a lakeside beach, watching all the different types of birds through binoculars, before we made our way back.
We had set our hearts on a traditional Parilla (say Pareeja) meal of steak grilled over open flame – but found that the Parilla in the restaurant we chose was not going to be lit that night. We were told to return the following evening – Saturday. Peter had steak regardless!
26 March
A messy sort of day. Peter was anxious to confirm our places on the Pluna Air flight from Montevideo back to Buenos Aires as the website indicated that our reservation had been cancelled, due to our no-show on the outward leg. Belkis was helpful in connecting P with an English-speaking person at Pluna but our seats could not immediately be confirmed .

Slightly anxious, we set off for the highly regarded Reserva de Fauna Autoctona,which promised to showcase the indigenous animals of Uruguay in natural surroundings. The setting at the foot of the Pan de Azucar (sugarloaf) hill was beautiful and the vultures and eagles flying freely overhead wonderful, but we were quite distressed by the small enclosures given to some of the animals. The Reserve was probably ahead of its time and very well-intentioned when set up, but
the concept of animal parks has changed so much over the 30-40 years.  Enjoyed a good ice-cream at the café, though.
We called in at the Castillo de Piria, built for his own occupation by one Señor Francisco Piria, Argentinian mastermind behind the resort (NB Piriapolis). We were wandering round the ground floor, looking at old photos, when we were courteously ushered into a group about to be shown to the upper floor. It seemed rude to refuse, but we then found ourselves locked into a the guided tour of a mini Stately Home conducted in rapid Spanish and realised how little we actually knew.
Anyway, it was interesting, and free to boot.



Back
at the hotel, the flight worry was found to have been resolved and we
enjoyed a very relaxing afternoon at the beach. Watching the sun go
down is always special experience, but to see the sun setting over
the sea at Piriapolis was spellbinding. AND we found the Parilla lit
as promised, so enjoyed another steak and a pretty good red wine,
though value-for-money well down on Argentina.



Slideshow Report as Spam

Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: