I keep my blog as a personal record of what I'm up to, which might be seen as working towards "An elegant sufficiency, content, retirement, rural quiet, friendship, books, ease and alternate labour, useful life"

I'm certainly not there yet.  There is quite some way to go!










Entries in Uruguay (2)






The clouds were building over the city as we seemed to circle around it.  When we woke this morning, we looked out (as we do) and felt sure that the view was that of Punta del Este.  Sure enough, that’s exactly what it was, evidenced by the white edifice on the landscape that was CasaPuelblo.  By this afternoon, though, we simply had to be approaching Montevideo – not that far from Punta del Este but as we were to discover later, a world away in some terms.




We approached our berth by sailing past containers and, above, stacks of the components for wind turbines.




Oh, and the Uruguayan Navy.




And the Zaandam, an Holland America cruise ship already in port.




With a helpful shove from a tug right beneath our verandah, we made it to our berth.




Although we had tickets for a tour, we decided to throw them in and go it alone, so as soon as we were docked, my Hero and I hot footed it along the quayside and away.




We stopped at the dock entrance though, to take photographs and pay homage to an event we last commemorated on the Oriana, as we sailed out of Buenos Aires that time.  The Graf Spee was scuttled in the Rio de la Plata and this memorial marked that event.




We crossed the road out of the dock estate and were soon in the pedestrianised old town.




We walked though a small square with a monument with this lovely sculpture on the side facing us.  This appeared to be a “real” gaucho, unlike one we saw last evening…maybe I’ll tell you more about him later.




This part of Montevideo is pretty gritty.  The old town is undergoing some renovation but in the meantime the shabby is overriding the chic.  We knew of this from one of the lectures we’d heard on board the ship, from Terry Breen, who’d bought  property in this part of the city and who’d been able to give us a valuable insight.




As we wandered up the main street, we came across a bunch of people.  What was going on?  My hero soon got it – a wedding!  Quick, said he, she’s about to throw her bouquet!




Well, I didn’t quite catch the moment, but it’s enough to give you an idea.  It was a simple, unfussy but heartfelt celebration and the small girl who caught the bunch of roses was thrilled, believe me!




I’ll post some more specific impressions of Montevideo later, but for now, walk with us through this pedestrianised street and enjoy the calm and relaxed atmosphere here.




The remnants of a formerly grander community are still here and, in some places, are being restored.




But it’s going to take time and in the meantime, the force are out on their Segways, keeping order.




We soon approached this landmark which we recognised – the gateway to the old town there at the top of the street.




On the other side lies the newer, commercial capital city, with government offices around this grand square.




Though we were heading right across it, we spotted the theatre there on our right hand side so snapped a picture to remind us to revisit it on the way back!




We admired the various government and offical buildings as we went,




taking especial note of the man on the horse in the centre – Artigas, the founder of Uruguay and generally regarded as the “father of the nation”.




Actually, we were on a mission.  The crossroads between San Jose and Paraguay was a short distance from here, but that was where our destination lay.




I know that several of my friends will be familiar with the name Manos del Uruguay.  Well, it seemed silly not to make a small visit to the source of some of the most gorgeous knitting yarns around, wouldn’t you say?




It wasn’t a difficult choice.  In fact, I’ve seen a better selection elsewhere.  But oh my, the prices! 




Four skeins of silk blend and four more of the hand dyed chunky were soon picked out and paid for – at a quarter of the price elsewhere in the world.  What a great souvenir!




We made our way back the way we’d come, behind this family.  I noted mother’s shoes which demonstrate the trend here right now for extraordinary platform soles.  Had I not worn similarly crazy shoes in the past I might have tutted…Winking smile




On our way back, we spent longer taking a closer look.  Here, in the corner of Independence Square was a small cloister typical of the slightly faded glory that seems to be characteristic of the city.




Terry had told us that this is a city of atmosphere rather than monuments and catching sight of these two soldiers – one in ceremonial dress – cross the road seemed to confirm that.




Some of the buildings are very grand when seen from a distance, but look a little more closely and all is not quite as it might seem.




Anyway, sitting with a tub of dulce de leche ice cream (is there any other sort?!), we watched the world go by a while and simply savoured the atmosphere, just to see if it’s true.




Those policemen segwayed past us again.




On our way back, we decided to pop inside the cathedral to take a look rather than walk straight past.  What lovely floors awaited us.




Though since there was a service on in a side chapel, we simply took a quick look and left.




We quite like Montevideo but after the glamour and wealthy tone of Punta del Este yesterday, today came as a little surprise.  Shabby chic doesn’t quite cut it – the shabby is there more than the chic right now, but perhaps in ten, twenty year’s time?




But one thing’s for sure, Montevideo is real.  There’s no veneer or any false front: what you see is what you get.  It’s a genuine place and that’s fine with me.




It was good to be home though.


Nice. Very nice.




We’re winding down here.  It’s always a sign that we are on the countdown to packing up when the evening entertainment is the crew show.  We smiled and thought of that day in Manila, when we were with Jane and Allan and danced the Filipino Tinikling dance as we were buying some small evening bags.  I had mine in my hand last night, too!




But today, we woke up in Punta del Este, after four days at sea.  We opened our verandah doors and breathed in the warm air and looked forward to going ashore.  A 20 minute tender ride!




Kerching!  Uruguay!!  First time we’ve stepped on Uruguayan soil and another notch on the world map for us.  Our first stop was the very “punta”, the headland where the Atlantic Ocean and the Rio de la Plata meet, in the area known as “Plazoleta Gran Bretana”.




I waited patiently for the flag to unfurl!




All photos taken, we hopped back on the bus and headed along Playa los Ingleses, spotting a shipwreck as we went.  Our guide Claudia told us there are reputedly 300 wrecks in this vicinity, but this one is a little more plain to see than the others.




Our tour was “the Art of Punta del Este” and so our next stop was the Ralli Museum.  Now, Claudia went on to explain about these museums, situated in several parts of the world and financed by the bequest of a banker by the name of Harry Recanati.  Well, we’d not heard of him before, but we had heard of the bank he sold to make his fortune: Santander.




The first exhibit to greet us on entering the cool, white building (actually, it wasn’t that cool!) was Salvador Dali’s Fire woman sculpture.  I’m not sure of the exact title and there are several sculptures on this theme of women and fire…suffice to say, this was the one which we saw here.




We enjoyed looking around this collection of mostly South American art and found the building itself interesting.




I liked the small tile motif which appeared here and there in the floor, on the stairs, in the door frame…in all kinds of surprising places.




A picture to take away?  Well, I’m not sure I could live with it every day but this one appealed to me for the apparent simplicity and of course, for the subject matter.  A couple of cows under an Ombu tree couldn’t really be anywhere else but in this part of the world.




When you look more closely,  though, this is hardly a simple painting.




Mr Uriburu, I’m not sure I have anything like your tenacity when it comes to mark making on a grand scale.  The energy and pace of those “scribbles” is amazing.  I love it.




There were three floors to the gallery and just when we were thinking we’d seen it all, we found a bit more.




Outside in the garden were some smaller bronzes, reminiscent of some we’d seen in Santa Fe a few years ago.  Not really up our street – a bit sentimental and twee.




But there was one which made me smile.  It reminded me of “Les Chuchoteuses”, a scuplture on the streets of Montreal and I took the photograph and several more whilst meandering through the garden.  It’s only now that I realise the middle woman has no clothes on.  Is that what her friends are trying to tell her, do you think?




Anyway, back on the bus and on the way to another part of Punta del Este, Claudia announced we’d be crossing a new(ish) bridge and that it would be fun.  The architect wanted to depict the shapes of the waves and designed the bridge like a roller coaster.




We drove slowly over it to get to the photo stop, but on the way back, the driver asked, did we want to experience “the emotion”?  Well, how daft can you get?  Twenty or so grown people squealing with delight on riding a bus over a bumpy bridge?!




We drove through more smart areas of Punta del Este, passing this converted water tower – now a boutique hotel – and Claudia name dropped as we went.  Zinedine Zidane owns the penthouse apartment of that development, Eva Peron stayed in that yellow house with ten chimneys during the winter months, George Bush stayed in that house over there…you get the picture.  Anyone who is anyone in South America has property here and looking around, it’s easy to see why.




We stopped for a couple of hours by one of the many, many beautiful, clean beaches and I quickly snapped a picture of this chap hawking a few clothes along the promenade.




Some were heading for a “parrillada” lunch though my hero and I felt it was a little early for that and decided to explore the main street a little further.




Many of the stores were selling beachy things and although it’s always interesting to see the variations on a deckchair the world over, these were not really what we were looking for.




We did pop into the Santander bank and get a few pesos though, because just across the street was a small supermarket.




Their Dulce de leche department was pretty extensive, too.




Not only that, but the ice cream parlour on the corner had some interesting variations.  We managed not to dribble, but it took some skill!




We’re not sure the name of this airline works in all languages.




It was time to meet up again by now, but before we did, we scooted over to the beach to take a closer look at the hand.  I think it’s fascinating that there’s an opposite one in the Atacama desert, too.




As we waited for everyone to arrive, I couldn’t resist taking a picture of this family going down to the beach for the afternoon.  I rather envied them!




But actually, we were heading somewhere interesting too.  (Don’t you love it when someone comes and plonks themselves down just as you’re taking a photo?!)




We were going to Casapueblo, home of the artist Carlos Paez Vilaro who died just a couple of years ago but whose home and art collection remains a popular place to visit.




It’s a quirky place and being there doesn’t really give a good impression of how huge it is.




We were taken to the terrace high above the Rio de la Plata to drink champagne and enjoy the view.




It was very hot, but some found a cool spot to relax.




His art was everywhere.  Simple, blue and white motifs with much pattern.




The sun features frequently, too.




We peered through windows at other parts of the building.




and wondered, how would it appear from the sea?  Probably pretty huge!




Beginning to feel rather weary from the heat and resisting any temptation to spend megabucks on rather lovely salad plates, we made our way back towards the bus, enjoying the breeze of the coastal path.




Every view in Punta del Este includes a wide sweep of sand.  Oh, and look what’s there in the bay…




home!  We give a little wave to our travelling companions but they’re probably not looking Winking smile




We came out by ships tender this morning but it’s a different, private boat which takes us back.




We’re quite pleased about that, because the tenders are not so comfortable for a longer ride and we can sit up top of this one and savour the fresh air of our elegant surroundings.

Punta del Este is a very nice city indeed.