Friday, April 19, 2013

Piriápolis, Punta del Este and Punta Ballena

Now is autumn in Uruguay, possibly a good time to visit the famous Punta del Este and the other summer resorts in the Maldonado Department. The weather is still nice but there are no tourists around. This is Piriápolis and we are not on the Atlantic Ocean yet, but still on the delta of the Rio de la Plata.

 From Piriápolis we took the coast route to Maldonado, the road was lined by sand dunes. The sand is beautiful here, and very fine.

 Punta del Este, about 140 km from Montevideo, is like the Montecarlo of South America, with many tourists, especially from Brazil and Argentina, owning luxury apartments and houses. But first I'll show you a few 'old and cute' aspects of the city: the charming blue church Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria, located in the same square as the lighthouse.

This is the anchor of the Royal Navy ship Ajax, which took part in the 1939 Battle of the River Plate (Rio de la Plata). Its position marks the place where the Rio de la Plata officially ends (here in Punta del Este), and where the Atlantic Ocean begins. Now the water is no brown anymore, but blue!

Most of Punta del Este is super modern and full of designer boutiques and fancy restaurants, but you can still see old stuff. I especially liked the blue double container for sugar and yerba (mate) below.

The city and beaches abound with modern sculptures, and this is probably the most famous of all: the Monumento al ahogado, by Mario Irarrázabal. The name sounds a bit creepy (English language readers, can you guess the translation?) but it has been called many other things too, some more hopeful, and some just ... easy, like The Hand, or The Fingers.

Many Uruguayans told me that you come to Punta del Este to be seen (this is the resort for the rich and famous after all!) and look at this! Yes, the balconies are swimming pools. I love the idea except that... this building is in front of the port and the city's main street and promenade, basically everybody that passes by can see you in there, just like looking at a fish tank.

On the way back from Punta del Este we stopped in Punta Ballena.

We are back in the delta of the Rio de la Plata now, ready to head back for Montevideo. Next post I will move from the coast to show you a bit of the interior .

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©



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