SA: Punta del Este, Uruguay

Monday, January 30, 2023

We ate in the main dining room tonight at a table for six. I ordered the duck breast and Chuck splurged on the upcharge ribeye. I don’t think the waiter understood that Chuck said medium well because he got medium rare. I always order medium and hope for the best. Chuck ate as much as he could, but some of it was just too red for him.

The main stage show was another BBC Planet Earth movie so we skipped it in favor of an early evening because of our early tour tomorrow.

We had a room service breakfast again today. It arrived 10 minutes earlier than the promised time. Everything was correct for this order.

Today was our first independent (non-HAL) excursion for this trip. I typically don’t like taking an independent tour when it is a tender port since the process of tendering can be problematic at times. But I didn’t see any HAL tour that I was particularly interested in, so I ended up finding one on the website Shore Excursions. I had read that they were a reputable company, so I took a chance on it.

Today’s tour was a 3-hour tour entitled “Punta del Este Highlights” and the tour description stated “The picturesque seaside city of Punta del Este in the Maldonado Department is fast becoming the Monte Carlo of South America.

Make like a local as you experience every corner of this majestic area, from its sandy beaches to busy city streets. Head to the 45-meter-high lighthouse, built in 1860 with volcanic sand from Rome.

Stroll past upscale shops and restaurants along the famed Avenida Gorlero and peruse the local handicrafts while at Plaza Artigas.

You’ll go across La Barra Bridge and experience the sensation of driving over the famous wave-like bridges. Created by Leonel Viera in 1965, this bridge served to expand the area of Punta del Este and helped pioneer the design of concrete segment bridges of this kind.

On this tour you will also see gleaming yachts at the Port, Brava Beach coast, stunning homes of the rich and famous in residential districts as San Rafael, the romantic Hotel L-Auberge, Beverly Hills, the iconic Casa Pueblo and Carlos Paez Vilaro Museum, and much more including the iconic La Mano sculpture. Throughout your journey your guide will share the history and culture of this popular tourist destination.”

The original itinerary had us arriving at 10:00 but the program indicated that we would be anchoring at 9:00. I hoped the tour company was aware of the change. The only instructions said that the tour would begin 2 hours after the ship arrived and please be on one of the first tenders.

The program also warned us to be aware of our possessions especially Apple products and watches. I switched my stuff from my backpack to my theft deterrent Travelon purse. Since there was a chance of rain today, Chuck took his backpack and put both of our rain jackets in them.

Once we heard the announcement that the tenders were available, we made our way to the gangway. First thing we noticed was that our tender was not one of HAL’s lifeboats, but a boat provided by the city of Punta del Este. The second thing we noticed was that it was really bobbing around and up and down. A number of people stumbled getting on the tender from the ship’s tender platform and had to grab railings to keep from falling down. I heard that not long after we left the ship that they moved the tender operation to the other side of the ship where there was less wave action.

We found the representative from the tour company, and she checked off our names. We waited with others from the ship at the end of the pier. We watched the gulls and sea lions wait for any fish scraps to come over the side. The smell of fish was pretty strong.

Eventually another guide walked us around the corner to the tour bus. We waited for our tour guide to come. I think they put us on the bus early because it was getting hotter outside and the bus was running with the air conditioner. I figured that we would not start until 11:00 because we had anchored at 9:00 and the instructions said that the tour would start 2 hours after anchoring. Our guide still had names of people on the list who had not yet made it over on the tender boats so they could not start earlier than 11:00 (another reason it is more complicated when you take an independent tour rather than a HAL tour on a tender port day).

But before 11:00 rolled around, one woman on the bus got impatient and declared that she was going to find our guide so we could get going because the people who had not yet shown up should have gotten on an earlier tender! She got off the bus and marched off around the corner. Okay.

I guess she and the guide must have passed each other at some point because right at 11:00, the guide got on the bus with the remaining passengers. The bus started to move. The husband of the woman who had gotten off started raising a fuss that his wife was not on. I wasn’t sure that the bus was going to stop. However, the woman came around the corner as the bus was at the stop sign and got on. She was mad that the bus seemed to be leaving her. Not a great start to her tour.

Author: mmmtravelmemories

A retired college administrator who loves to travel. I write to remember the experiences and, I hope, to inspire others to make their own travel memories.

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