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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Montevideo and Punta del Este

Long days make for late mornings – the next day. We had ambitious plans to get up early, run back to the track, and perhaps do a workout. Instead, we slept in. Even when we woke, our sore muscles from yesterday’s exertion in the heat precluded any hope of a workout. That will have to wait until this afternoon.

Hotel Presidente offered a varied and plentiful breakfast buffet included with the room, so we tucked in to replenish calories from yesterday (likely a lot more than I burned, truth be told).


We spent a lazy morning re-packing our bags and snoozing in our room before heading to the bus station. Onward to Punta Del Este!

Valentin the guide from yesterday lamented the draw of Punta del Este. He hates the over-priced materialism that he sees in the way the city has been taken over by foreign wealth. “It’s not real Uruguay”, he explained to us on the tour. Real Uruguay or not, we were very much looking forward to experiencing this “mini Miami”.

We opted to walk from the bus stop to our hotel a mile away. (More accurately, Mindy tolerated my decision that we would walk because she’s a good sport.) As soon as we exited the bus station, we saw “La Mano” – a sculpture of a hand rising out of the beach. Burdened as we were with luggage, we turned our faces away from one of the prime tourist attractions of this idyllic beach town and marched toward our hotel. La Mano is one of the prime tourist attractions, that is, if you ignore the endless beach. Beautiful sand beaches for miles and miles on end. Mindy and I quickly noticed on our walk to the hotel that not only were the beaches beautiful, a good number of the people were, too. Everywhere we looked we saw tanned, finely toned bodies in bikinis and board shorts. As we reached the Hotel Atlantico, the front desk staff who greeted us were – not surprisingly - fit, tanned, and attractive. They showed us to a room that was perfectly suited to our beach-house mood.


The afternoon was wearing on, so we quickly changed into running clothes and figured out our route to Casapueblo – the other main reason we are here. We planned a 15km run along the beach to this hotel-restaurant that doubles as an art display, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean (technically, an estuary that feeds the ocean).

The early part of the run from our hotel followed the Punta Del Este harbour and then one of the two endless beaches.  Finding the sand too soft for comfortable running, we opted for boardwalks whenever they were available, and otherwise stuck to the road that parallels the shoreline.



For the most part we ran along the boardwalk…we did stop and enjoy the view from time to time. These stunning beaches followed the shoreline the entirety of our run to Casapueblo, and they didn’t even stop there!



Though the beaches were stunning, the running route became increasingly less so. Relegated to the sidewalk on the other side of the road, we could glance over at the now sparsely populated beach, but otherwise our attention was on the highway itself, which had few interesting distractions. Eventually, feeling that our plan to run all the way might have been a little over-ambitious, we began walking down a side road headed back toward the shoreline, hoping for a shortcut. A car drove up and we hailed the occupants, asking about Casapueblo. “Just up the hill you will see a sign to turn off. It’s a little over a kilometre down that road.” At last! With rejuvenated spirits we ran up the hill…then walked… (rejuvenated spirits only do so much after an hour of running in the hot sun). Upon cresting the hill, we returned to running until another sight caught our eye.


The fabled sunset view from Casapueblo, for sale? That’s an interesting proposition.

Shortly, we came upon crowds and tour buses, and scrambled down the steep bank for the view from the water-side.


Uruguayan hospitality surfaced again as we got to the admission gate for Casapueblo. There is a fee to get in to the restaurant-museum-hotel, but as the gatekeeeper didn't speak English, he simply waved us through. Once inside, we were shown to a washroom to  clean up post run. These washrooms were by a beautiful pool, whcih showcased an incredible view of the sunset. One of the hotel staff (not the one who had directed us here to clean up) came out and told me that this place was for hotel guests only. Then he looked at Mindy who was taking a photo of the sunset, and said: "it's fine if you want to take a picture, but this is for hotel guests only." 


I understand why they charge a fee for this view!!

The staff seemed quite perplexed as to why we would want to have dinner at the restaurant even after the sunset, but they allowed us entry nonetheless.






As the dying light ultimately faded, we called a taxi for a ride back to our hotel. Driven by the cab, it was interesting to see just how far it really was that we had run earlier.

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