02
Jun
2004
James

Coastal Uruguay in Winter

We left Buenos Aires on tuesday night for the Uruguayan border. Its possible to cross to Montevideo, the capital city and Buenos Aires’ smaller scruffier cousin, by a ferry boat across Rio de La Plata. But the cost of the boat launch was, once again, more than we were willing to pay when we could catch a night bus (that goes quite a bit out of the way up river) for much cheaper and at the same time saving us the cost of lodging for one night.

So we thus arrive in the capital city early in the morning, and after reading that the Uruguayan coast line is magnificent, we decided to head up the coast a bit to check out the premier beach resort, Punta del Este, located at an “eastern point” for which it is named where the Rio de la Plata river turns into the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, the peninsular city claims the water to the north as the Atlantic Ocean and the water to the south as the Rio, it all looks the same to me.

Well, first I have to say that the latitude of Uruguay is exactly that of North Carolina on the other side of the equator, so the flora and climate were VERY MUCH reminiscent of home sweet home Carolina. The bus ride very much reminded me of driving through the rolling hills and pastures of central NC along highway 64. The coast line we saw was a bit different than that of NC, there being rather large hills roling down to the rocky sea. In Punta del Este we walked around the peninusla seeing many luxurious summer homes and ran into only a few locals out walking their dogs. Since we are here in winter, the beaches and ports were empty and most if not all of the large 20 floor hotels were boarded up and empty.

It took us a while to find a restaurant that was open (none of the ones suggested in our book were open including the italian place that boasts being open year round 24/7). That afternoon we left the resort, after extreme boredome and lack of things to do and see. We headed along the road back to Montevideo 3 hours away.

Not far outside Punta del Este, we stopped to visit Casapueblo, the impressive eccentric home of a famous uruguayan artist perched up on a cliff. The house itself was quite cool, white-washed with no straight lines in the roof, walls, or really anywhere in the house. We werent able to see much more than an informative video on the life of the artist and the rear terrace overlooking the sea below due to a talkative austrian that held us up until closing time talking about his travels around south america. One most interesting thing about the artist was that his son was one of the survivors of the airplane flight that crashed into the Andes back in the 80’s… remember the movie Alive!

The house/museum closes at sunset, whereupon there are supposedly excellent views from the terraces, but naturally it was overcast that day. We hiked back to the main road and missed 2 buses to Montevideo. The fog began to roll in, the temperature lowered to “frigid” and finally in the pitch dark of night we were picked up by a bus headed to another town, that had to speed up to catch up with the 3rd bus we would have otherwise missed as well. We blamed all this bad luck on the Austrian.

There were other cooler more relaxed places more up the coastline towards Brazil that we decided to skip due to our rushed schedule, but we concluded that this beautiful place would be worth a return trip in peak season.

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