|Saturday we woke to thick, overcast skies and knew rain was imminent. It made the decision to depart to Punta del Este after breakfast pretty easy. By the time we checked out and Bryan went to get the car the rain had already begun. On our way out of the city we decided to drive by the Estadio Centenario, Uruguay's national soccer stadium. Built in just 9 months in 1930, it was the location of the first World Cup against Argentina, of which Uruguay were the champions. The Uruguayans take great pride in their futbol! According to Marcelo, it is the only thing they collectively take pride in for their country. Since it was raining heavily and all locked up we could only drive around it. The side of the building is a mural painted with futbol players.
We continued on with our 1.5 -2 hr drive to Punta del Este through the heavy rains. Unfortunately our outlook there seemed just as bad, but it would be a change of scenery. Punta del Este is known as the San Tropez of South America, where the rich and famous come during the summer months (dec, jan, feb) to be seen along the sandy beaches and in the clubs.
During our drive we took a recommended detour through the tiny, coastal resort town of Atlantida. Along the coast it was lined with sand dunes and stretches of beaches. Today, the waves were perfect for the surfers who didn't mind the rain on their backs. In the summer I could imagine it being a relaxing place to enjoy the beach, out of the chaos of Punta Del Este and Montevideo.
Next we stopped briefly in Punta Ballena to get a look at Casa Pueblo, it's a hotel built by Uruguayan artist Carlos Paez Vilaro, originally as a summer house and workshop. Its white, rounded, abstract design can be compared to houses of the Mediterranean coast of Santorini. The artist referred to a Hornero, a type of bird, when discussing the type of construction, which took 36 years to complete. Inside it features a tribute to his son, Charles Michael, one of the survivors of the flight which crashed in the Andes that we learned about in Montevideo. Unfortunately it was too rainy and too busy to even get near it. We were only able to drive by and see it from a nearby parking area.
From there the final part of the drive was quick and, under 2 hours, we made it to our apartment, Yoo. Briefly the rain let up and it appeared the sky would clear but the dismal weather soon returned. For lunch we drove to L'Auberge, a small restaurant and resort. Bryan has decided that on our next visit he'd like to stay there. So, it appears we will be returning one day. Anyway, our lunch was in, what felt like, a wooden chalet treehouse with an open fire in the small kitchen. It was very charming. I had another chivitos, Payton had grilled Salmon, and Bryan had a thick steak, once told the ribs weren't available. We also had a Bouza Tannat wine which was delicious. To finish it off we had a dulce de leche pancake with a scoop of ice cream. We had hoped to have their dulce de leche waffles which came highly recommended but, unfortunately, they are only offered at tea time beginning at 4 pm.
Full from lunch we all took a short nap listening to the sound of the rain. Don't you love vacation? Once we awoke Bryan and I attempted to walk to a nearby market to get a few items for in the morning. The downpour of rain and not coming across the market we returned to get the car and drove to the Punta Shopping mall nearby. It was a madhouse! Kind of like a Super Walmart at home....selling everything under one roof: food, clothes, electronics, books, etc. We ended up finding everything we needed but couldn't find the milk. Finally someone pointed to an aisle we had been down several times, which was loaded with yogurt, and saw the bags of milk. Yes, their milk comes in bags (which you open and pou into a pitcher at home) and they are all stacked up like gold bricks. We were looking for jugs or cartons of milk, not bags. It's really interesting to see how other countries really live, shop, dine, etc. After seeing the milk, it does seem to make more sense in terms of storage and waste to use bags instead of cartons so we are now curious why we don't do this in the U.S.
We checked out from one of, what seemed like, 100 check out lanes, scurried through the rain to our car, and worked our way out of the jammed parking lot. There was water flooding everywhere, especially right in front of the entrance to our hotel parking lot. We were lucky to get through it. Payton thought we were lost, having been gone for almost an hour and a half.
The evening was pretty relaxed...We stayed in, ate empanadas from the store with Patricia beer, and watched "House of Cards" on Netflix before going to bed.