Friday, December 11, 2015

Weekend in Uruguay

Monday and Tuesday this week were a national holiday in Argentina and Spanish school was closed. I think the holiday is to celebrate the repulsion of British boats who tried to enter the Rio Plata on the north side of Buenos Aires in order to exploit the natural resources back in 1810. Four friends from Spanish school and I decided to go to Uruguay for the weekend.

Uruguay is a popular tourist destination for wealthier Argentinians and Brazilians and is only a 75-minute ferry ride from Buenos Aires. Even though Buenos Aires is situated on the ocean, it really doesn't have any beaches. The coastline houses shipping ports and much of the shoreline near Buenos Aires is marshy. But Uruguay has some beautiful beaches, so that makes it popular.

The ferry dropped us off in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Colonia de Santiago, known as Colonia. We spent a few hours there eating dinner and walking around the compact old town before making the 4-hour drive east to Punta del Este, a popular vacation beach destination.

In Colonia we went up into the lighthouse. (L to R: Sean, Daniel, Nena, Sandra)

There are many flowering trees around here and they're gorgeous. Here's Sean and Sandra (just amigos).

On the beach in Punta del Este is this cool piece of public art. It's quite simple and yet very clever and people absolutely love it. That's good art. I was there early one morning before it got crowded with photo seekers.

Here's the crew out for a great dinner at a super cool off-the-tourist-path restaurant in Punta del Esta. For $40 I had a high-end steak, 2 glasses of wine, 2 beers, appetizer and dessert. And all in a very chic space.

The contrasting peace and quiet of Uruguay was drastic compared to the constant bustle and buzz of Buenos Aires. One of the highlights was simply being outside in quiet spaces. Here's me chilling on the beach. This past year I discovered the simple joy of laying down in the grass flat on my back. It is super relaxing and I can feel the fatigue just drain out of my body into the ground. Try it sometime on a patch of grass near you.

Hanging at an awesome sculpture park in Uruguay. There was hardly anyone else there and it is located on a beautiful bit of land in the hills inland from the beach a couple miles. Also in this picture is Barbara from Brazil who joined us for the day.

Fun wave bridge in Punta del Este. We had a blast driving it repeatedly late at night with our hands out the sunroof like we were on a rollercoaster. For tourists its really fun, but I think if you lived there you'd get sick of it, perhaps literally if you don't do well on rollercoasters.

What's Next

I have one more week of Espanol classes and then next Saturday I leave Buenos Aires for San Carlos de Bariloche. Bariloche (as it is known) looks to be a kickass mountain town on the edge of the Andes. There's a bunch of Swiss/Austrian architecture, a ski area nearby, a lake, and I think some good hiking and maybe mountain biking. Plan is to stay there for a week or more before making my way farther south into the heart of Patagonia. Stay tuned...


wotboy said...

I used to lay on my back in the tall prairie grass next to our yard when I was a kid. Nobody could see or find you, it was an amazing way to check out of society and listen to the wind and the frogs and the bugs for a while.

Kirk Ahlberg said...

Yeah. So peaceful when we can disengage from society for even just a few minutes.