Luckily our anniversary fell on the day of our arrival in Punte del Este, the playground of the rich and famous. This is also the place of the famous sculpture LA MANO (hand in the sand) to warn against the strong currents on that beach. It reminded me of the poem by Stevie Smith ‘Not waving but drowning’.
The waters are too shallow for the cruise ship to enter the harbour so we needed to board a tender which whizzed us quickly to disembark. However, they did seem to keep piling everyone in and I looked across nervously at Mr B who gripped my hand reassuringly. There was a big trip organised to visit the Conrad Hotel but to be honest we shy away from these as we prefer to discover gems ourselves and not be herded along like cattle.
The hand in the sand is only about 10-15 minute walk away and we indulged in a cool beer on the very lovely white sand beach. I spotted a beach seller in the distance carrying a beautiful cotton blanket on a pole waving it like a sail. “That would be fantastic for D, (our eldest son) he would love that pattern!” Mr B marched off across the dunes to negotiate with the seller and came back a few moments later the proud owner of a bartered blanket. A beautiful textile according to the label MADE IN INDIA. That blanket would have a few airmiles racked up on it by the time it had travelled all the way back to the UK with us.
A little research online had helped us to decide which restaurant we wanted to dine at for our special occasion and we chose GUAPPA. It is right on the seafront and split into two restaurants, the beach front and the air con inside one across the road. We were lucky enough to get a front row seat on the beach and enjoyed a super delicious meal of fillet steak and a bottle of BOUZA Albarino.
Bouza is a local vineyard which you can arrange to tour and dine at, but we didn’t have time to visit unfortunately. The beef we had in Uruguay was the best we had ever eaten anywhere in the world.
A yacht race streaked past us as we ate and drank to our hearts content. What a place to celebrate such an auspicious occasion.
You dock right in the port here so it is really easy to get into Montevideo, this delightful city. We opted for the Tourist Bus which is easily caught behind the tourist office a mere few minutes walk from the cruise terminal. Mr B always groans slightly when I suggest the tourist buses, firstly he NEVER listens to the commentary through the headphones and secondly gets a bit grumpy sitting for more than an hour on the bus, lurching and trundling along the streets. I, however, adore them. I love to get a sense of my bearings around a city and in my book there is no better way to do it than by hop on, hop off bus. Except I tend not to hop on and hop off but stay and do the full circuit back to the beginning and then if an area tempts me for further investigation either walk to that spot if close, or stay on the bus until I can jump off and then explore that gem.
I dislike wandering aimlessly as you are bound to miss gems and can sometimes wander into dodgy areas. Montevideo is a charming city with lots to see and it is a coastal city too, obviously, so has a great stretch of beach. There is a real Italian feel here as many Italians emigrated here in the early 2oth century and English is widely understood. Spanish is the main language.
A must visit is the Mercado del Puerto next to the terminal. It is a rich cornucopia of smells, tastes and colour. Wandering around here really makes you feel hungry and we promptly headed for the nearest restaurant and soaked in the atmosphere.
A wander through the colonial areas reveal lovely squares and plazas with delicious food and wines. We fell head over heels in love with Uruguay.