February 21, 2005

Two Days in Uruguay

This will be an entry of mostly photos. I hope they work for all of you.

The photos are below. But you can press HERE to see a slideshow of photos for this and the previous entry.

We left mid-morning Tuesday - the 15th. We drove north on Route 9 and then Route 12. We only passed by one city of any size, Campana. The land is flat grassland and river bottoms. It is about 300 kilometers to Gualeguaychu, an average mid-sized town about 50 kilometers west of the first bridge that crosses the Uruguay River. The crossing was uneventful. They really go overboard on not allowing agricultural products like milk, cheese, meat and fruit to come across. The fruit is pretty typical but the rest is unusual for two friendly, nearly identical countries. So we ate our sandwiches before tossing what we could not eat and then entering Uruguay. It was another 200 kilometers before we made it to Colonia, which is just 50 kilometers by water. The drive was interesting, but the next time we will be taking the ferry, despite the cost.

Colonia del Sacramento is a small town. It has a fantastic beach on the river. In fact the river's beach has sand finer than the ocean. And it seems to stretch on forever. Compare this to the swamp on the Argentine side. A small part of the town still has a colonial feel. I am not saying that it is anything like Antigua in Guatemala. Still it is lovely and unusual for a part of the world that seems to be no more than 120 years old despite its 300 plus year history. Besides the normal cars and hundreds of motor scooters, I saw a good number of antique cars around. We found a nice place in the old part of town. It cost only $22 per night and as usual it included breakfast. There was a TV in the room. In the evening, I was disappointed to find that it did not work. We sat at a river front restaurant drinking beer and enjoying the sunset. After ole sol descended, we stopped at a nearby pizzeria for a pie and some more beer.

The Rio de la Plata's Beach in Colonia

On Wednesday we spent the morning exploring old town and especially its shops. Midday we grabbed some of the food we got through the border and had lunch. I guess we should have tossed it all, because the one piece of sausage we salvaged made me sick the next day - but that will come later. Then we drove to two nearby wineries, the Bernardi and Caluva wineries. The wine was not all that good, but I love the vintner culture. Vineyard owners and workers can be so wonderful. I really find most of them just so friendly and open. They make a lot of grappa here, too. It doesn't taste all that great either. After the wineries, we drove down by the beach. We rested and enjoyed the river as we drank beer.

Old Town
Old Cars
Pleasant Walks
Past the Lighthouse
And Cobble Stone Streets
The Bernardi Winery
Wine in Wood Barrels

On Thursday we decided to drive to two wineries in nearby towns. One was supposed to produce a five-star wine. The first winery was not very welcoming to visitors. They wanted to be called and, I think, they wanted a fee. I never pay. So we were off. The other was the Irurtia Winery. I was beginning to feel the bad sausage from the day before and yet it was one of the nicest wineries that I have been to in a long time. They were just beginning the syrah harvest. We ate some. I was so surprised by how good the grapes tasted. We got to see the entire operation from the grapes being processed to the wine cave. We tried a fantastic sweet white wine. We did not buy that expensive one, but bought three others.
We returned to a park in Colonia. Our ferry would leave in just a couple of hours. The slow ferry takes 3 hours for the 30 mile river and costs for than twice the fast, one-hour, boat. Still is cost more than $70 and another $20 departure tax. I am surprised that so many people make the journey everyday given the cost. Still there is more than half-a-dozen crossings everyday. We arrived about 10:30 at night. It was good to be back in our Argentine home.

Entrance to Irurtia
Processing the Syrah
Picking the Muscat Grapes
Enjoying the Wines

I was pretty much out of it the next day. Thank god for ciprofloxacin hydrochloride, or just a cipro. Take six 500 mg. tablets over three days, and all is well.

Posted by bill at February 21, 2005 11:57 AM

Looks a little like Europe (France, especially.)

Posted by: GE at February 26, 2005 07:15 AM

Very good reading. Peace until next time.

Posted by: WaltDe at August 31, 2006 03:00 PM