Monthly Archives: September 2018

What to Do in Montevideo

So many questions have been asked on CruiseCritic.com about what to do in Montevideo and I’ll admit that for most of my pre cruise planning, I didn’t have any plans.  Of course, I did make some plans within a couple of months of departure but first let me tell you a little something about Montevideo.

Montevideo is an industrial port yet it is very convenient to leave and return to the ship.  The ship docks in a very convenient location to the downtown area so you can just get off and walk and I think that was the consensus of what many passengers were going to do.  I do know a couple who arranged a winery tour as well as others who went to Colonia to take the ferry across the Rio de la Plata river, which some consider being the widest river in the world while others consider it to be an estuary or bay.

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The busy port of Montevideo.

I decided about two months prior to our arrival to organize a city tour of Montevideo.  The tour was scheduled to be about 3 1/2 hours long and I was quoted a price of $40 per person but the price would go down as more people signed up for it.  I listed it on our Roll Call excursion sheet and I quickly found others were looking for something to do too.  I quickly closed the group at 20 participants and the price went down to $25 per person due to the number who had signed up and I went free as I organized it.   I don’t remember the tour company but I made the arrangements through reservas@uruguias.com.uy

This company was very flexible as I had to send a message the morning of the cruise that our ship would be delayed and gave a time we could meet them.  I hoped they would get the message and would be available at the new time.

Once we arrived I had a few hours before our appointed time for our tour and I took advantage of this time to do some shopping.  If you walk off the ship to the end of the dock and then turn left toward the town, cross over the street and you will see street vendors.  I purchased some beautiful wraps to wear, mittens, hats and a few trinkets.  Running through my head was “how can I pack all this in my suitcase?”  Nevertheless, I persisted in purchasing mementoes of this trip.

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Our welcome sign near the entrance to the port
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Lots of vendors selling their wares to us.

At our appointed time and location,  a beautiful air conditioned bus arrived and with only twenty of us on the bus, we had plenty of room to move about.  Our tour guide was a little nervous since we were what he called a large group but since we were quite familiar to each other at this time having been on numerous private excursions as well as seeing each other around the boat, we ended up being a very easy group for our tour guide.

As we traveled throughout the city of Montevideo our guide told us the history of his country and also of the lawsuit filed by Philip Morris against the President of Uruguay.  This is a very modern country which ranks first in Latin America for democracy, low corruption and peace as well as first in prosperity.  One interesting piece ofd information our tour driver told us was that a former president of the country who was also an oncologist, enacted strong anti smoking legislation.  Phillip Morris International filed a twenty five million dollar claim against the president claiming that the legislation devalued its cigarette trademarks and investments and  sued Uruguay for compensation in the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), a part of the World Bank.  After six long years, the World Bank ruled in favor of Uruguay and Phillip Morris had to pay the defendants and the court their costs plus seven million dollars to the country for judicial expenses as well as other expenses.  Uruguay is a leader in the world in it campaign against smoking.

On our tour we drove through the Old City, Independence Plaza, their famous Metropolitan Cathedral, the covered market area, the soccer fields, the Japanese Gardens, the beachfront where the large MONTEVIDEO sign is located and so much more.  I felt like Montevideo was more of ann European country with the plazas, tree lined streets, and cafes.  I really enjoyed the sculpture of the covered wagon with the oxen pulling it depicting how the settlers arrived.  We really packed in what we saw in the 3 1/2 hour tour.  Hope you enjoy these pictures.

Coming up sometime next week is Buenos Aires and also Iguazu Falls both in Argentina and Brazil

 

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One of the shady plazas throughout the city

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Japanese Gardens

Puerto Madryn, Argentina

Sorry for the delay in writing about the rest of the ports of call on this cruise.  We had our young grandchildren come stay with us and for any of you who have young grandchildren, you can probably guess that I went to bed right after they did.  Fun times, great memories coupled with exhaustion.

Puerto Madryn was the other port we weren’t sure what to do.  We had just taken a wonderful tour to see the penguins in the Falkland Islands which included a two hour drive to the penguins and then another two hour drive back.  Many of the tours that were offered in Puerto Madryn, also entailed about a two hour journey. to and from the site.  We planned nothing and was going to wait and see.  We really didn’t want to have another four hour journey day.  Remember, I said we planned nothing but as you know the best laid plans of mice and men go awry and so did mine.

The two excursions that I had been thinking about was Punto Tombo and Peninsula Valdes.  On one hand I wanted to see all the wildlife that was available for viewing during this cruise and in my mind, if we were not able to make it to the Falklands then this would be the next spot.  On the other hand, it would mean two long days.

With a friend cancelling out of her Peninsula Valdes excursion, I decided at the last minute (as we walked off the gangplank) that I would take her spot.  This is a UNESCO World Heritage site and I find that I’m drawn to them.  Since they have that designation they must be worthwhile.  The mainly barren peninsula covers almost 900,000 acres  of “headlands, salt water lakes, depressions and rocky cliffs jutting 30 miles into the Atlantic” (Princess excursion description).  Blogger Hubby decided he would stay in port, take a walk around the beach and just explore on his own.

Friends and I  were looking for the tour guides from the company that this excursion was booked with as they were holding the blue balloons – a very good visual for us finding them as the dock is quite congested.  We all got into a mini bus and out the city we went.  We passed desolate looking areas with  very few homes.  Very little in the way of services here.  It reminded me of a desert area with some brush vegetation.  We did spot a few guanaco herds that to me reminded me of alpacas though I think I read somewhere that they are in the camel family.  We did stop in a Visitor Center and looked around at the exhibits that they had and purchased a few items in their small gift shop.

This was probably, for me, the most disappointing excursion that I had taken on this cruise.  To be fair, I think any of the excursions would have been a disappointment after the penguin experience we had in the Falkland Islands.  I found that the few penguins we saw, perhaps four, were behind a divider, which is not a problem.  The other wildlife was so far away I had to use a zoom lens to try to see them.  That was what was disappointing.  The scenery along the coast was beautiful with bluffs that we looked down to the Atlantic Ocean.  There was one area where we had a boardwalk but again, the animals were quite a distance away.  

As you look through some of these photos that I took, you’ll see how high the bluffs are and where the wildlife is around the shore.  In one spot, there were a lot of young sea lions and a few adults around a little tidal pool.  We jokingly thought it was a sea lion day care center and the pups were learning how to swim in this tidal pool.

After our time here we had some time left over and we went to the little seaside town on Puerto Piramides to use the restroom, buy some ice cream or just stretch our legs.  There really wasn’t much to see or do.  Probably a 10-15 minute stop, if at all, would have been plenty.  Following the stop we drove back to town.  

By this time the wind was picking up somewhat and we weren’t surprised to hear that we wouldn’t be leaving on time.  Even though our ship was tied up, the way the wind and water were moving, we kept hitting the dock.  Eventually we left 7 hours later.  With the late departure, we would have a later arrival in Montevideo, our next port of call.