8 Hours in Montevideo
Trip Start Jan 21, 2012
58Trip End Mar 16, 2012
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There was more mass confusion trying to find "our" guide, driver and van on the dock - - more lack of coordination by Diego (whom I finally met later in the day). Diego is a young soccer player from Uruguay who went to Connecticut on a scholarship and started organizing South American tours from there, coordinating with his mother and other (out-of-work) friends. Again, it all worked out and we had a great day, but there were a lot of pissed off people for a while
We stopped by the river for while to see the huge waves whipped up by the high winds and then spent a little time wandering through a flea market in Constitution Square and admiring the government buildings at Independence square, all to the tunes of American movie theme songs (Star Wars, River Kwai, Top Gun, etc. Very strange). Their Parliament building, said to be the 3rd most beautiful in the world is exceptionally rococo and interesting. We went to a park and took lots of pics of a wonderful bronze wagon being pulled out of a pond by a team of horses. It is one of the best pieces of public art I've ever seen! It is incredibly dynamic and is especially effective because it is emerging from a real little pond. We also took many pics of a pretty cathedral and the little hill across the harbor which was the first landfall seen by a member of Magellan’s crew. It is now topped by a small white memorial. The name of the city, Montevideo, reflects the words written by Magellan in his diary “I saw a hill” The natives who had lived in what is now Uruguay did not survive the coming of the white man and Christianity; Uruguay is the only South American country that has essentially no remaining native population. We saw a moving statue of a group of the people who used to inhabit this area, the Charruas.
We had a tour, snacks, and various wines at the Bouza vineyard, located in the countryside outside of the city. The place is pretty, the tour interesting, the wine good, and the time spent seeing more of Uruguay than a single city worth the time we spent. Diego met us there and apologized for all of the problems we've had with his tours. I hope he gets his act together because it has been nice having an alternative to Holland-America tours. Their tours have been generally very good, and being part of one of their tours makes getting off the ship more efficient than going off on one's own.