January 19, 2009
We’re off to Uruguay for a couple of days. Montevideo is just a 45-minute flight over the Rio de la Plata, the widest estuary in the world.
BA’s highly convenient city airport, Jorge Newbery, parallels the river, and is only minutes from Recoleta. Of course we could take a hydrofoil or the standard ferry from BA's Puerto de Montevideo, which takes three hours, but Aerolingas Argentina is an excellent airline and the time saved is well worth it.
We rent a car at Montevideo airport and take a leisurely drive along the coastal road into town. The mix of apartment buildings reminds me a little of A1A near Miami Beach 30 years ago. I’m surprised by the lack of traffic and the small crowds on the beaches. We pull into the modern NH Hotel, which is neat, clean, and has all the amenities.
We opt for a ramble along the Rambla Gran Bretaña toward the Ciudad Vieja and the Mercado del Puerto. Good timing. The floating city pulling into port is the new Queen Mary II. We’ve got a 45-minute head start on the invading party.
The market stalls are full of food, more parillas than you can shake a skewer at. The beef, chicken, sausages and gambas sizzle away. Soon, the turistas will arrive, and then the grill masters really will lick their chops.
In the afternoon, we drive to the Punta Carretas shopping center, where we discover the hand-made woolens of Manos del Uruguay. The hand-dyed wools and color combinations are dynamite. Too bad this store promoting traditional Uruguayan workmanship is in an American-style mall.
Makes me wonder if I’m being old-fashioned or simply tired of homogeneity?