Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Woke up at 6:00. Breakfast was delivered at 6:15. Ship was docked by 7:00 so there would be no tender today. As a matter of fact, yesterday was the last tender port of the trip. We left the ship at 8:30 to walk to our second independent excursion – another Shore Excursion Group one called “Highlights of Montevideo”.
The tour description states “Experience personal attention, away from the large group tours offered by the cruise lines, when you book the Highlights of Montevideo City tour. This comprehensive tour includes visiting the Old Town (Ciudad Vieja), Port Market, Parliament Palace and much more.
Begin directly at the pier and board your comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle and be provided with excellent local, knowledgeable guides. The eclectic city of Montevideo is also the capital of Uruguay and the 8th city on the 2013 MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index for Latin America.
Your first stop is in the historic Old Town, where you can view beautiful buildings from colonial times. The old part of the town is held by Spanish military fortifications whose stone walls set the boundaries of the fortified San Felipe y Santiago city by the guarded fortress named Ciudadela. See also the Solis Theatre, The Cabildo, the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Museo Torres Garcia and other museums. There are also many galleries, cafes and antique shops in the area.
Next you will see Plaza Independencia (Independence Square) close to the city center. On this square you will see the statue and the Mausoleum of General Artigas, a Uruguayan national hero. Also view the Presidential offices, Palacio Estevez, Palacio Salvo and the Ciudadela Gate. Continuing you will see the Parliament Palace, inaugurated in 1925. The symbolism and neoclassical architectural style represents the democratic values of the country.
From the Parliament area, you will take a scenic ride to Mercado Agricola Montevideo (MAM), one of the last iron-built markets in the Montevideo. What began as a humble fruit and vegetable stand in 1913 has since expanded twice into a shopping mall a city block in length offering a variety of goods. You will find today there are still vendors selling fresh fruits and vegetables. In 2006 the building was refurbished and helped to revitalize the entire neighborhood.
After your introduction to some of the history of Montevideo you will next travel to the Obelisco De Los Constituyentes. This bronze and granite obelisk was inaugurated in 1938 as a tribute to the writers of the nation’s first constitution, dating to 1830. The sculptor of this work of art is the famous Jose Luis Zorrilla de San Martin.
Continue to the area named Parque Batlle, or Battle Park, where you can stroll through the largest public park and green space in the city. While here, pause at La Carreta, a stunning bronze monument depicting oxen pulling a covered wagon that was created in 1934 by Jose Belloni. Next to the monument you will also see the famous Estadio Centenario, the soccer stadium inaugurated in 1930 for the World Cup in which Uruguay was victorious. On July 18, 1983 it was declared by FIFA as a World Football Historical Monument, being the only construction of its kind in the world.
Make your way to the beautiful sands of Pocitos Beach and pose for a photo at the Montevideo sign. Admire the picturesque view from here as you look upon Pocitos Bay.
Conclude your tour traveling to the Punta Carretas neighborhood and make a stop at the 62-foot tall Punta Brava Lighthouse, also known as the Punta Carretas Lighthouse. If time allows you may be able to enter the lighthouse and climb to the top if you like.
Make a stop for a brief look at the Port Market, (Mercado del Puerto) and admire the iron structure that was built in Liverpool. At present, this area is one of the most typical gastronomic centers of the city where locals and visitors can taste the delicious Uruguayan meat which is cooked on the big barbecues. A great number of artists also perform in the surrounding area turning the streets into large theaters. Return along the River Plate enjoying city views back to port area and your ship.
This tour is perfect for those who are short on time but want to gain a great overview of the city. Reserve your seat on this special tour today.“
I expected it to be very similar to the one yesterday and it was to a certain extent. However, they divided our group into vans instead of one big bus. Those of us who arrived early were ushered into the first van to arrive and our tour started. The van was not as comfortable as the bus but we were able to swing into crowded parking areas much easier. I expect that the ones who arrived closer to the final time were put in another van.
Because of the early time, the guide wanted us to get to Old Town later in the tour when there would be more activity so we didn’t follow the tour description exactly. She spoke English well and kept us entertained and informed as we made our way around Montevideo.
Pocitos Beach & Sign
Mercado Agricola Montevideo
We did not stop at the Lighthouse, but we did make a brief stop at the University.
I was not able to get a good photo of the obelisk but there was an interesting building. The guide said the builder believed he was a wizard, so he wanted to live in an appropriate dwelling.
Also, as we were driving around, I noticed how many Coca-cola signs there were along with street art. There was also a lot of what I would call graffiti. But I guess art can be in the eye of the beholder.
The last stop was the Port Market. You could get out here and then walk back to the ship at your leisure, or go on back to the ship. Since Chuck had already gotten his Mate cup and Mate tea (very popular drink in Uruguay), we opted to go back to the ship.
I was looking forward to getting some lunch.
Flowers of Uruguay
There are at least two explanations for the name Montevideo. The first states that it comes from the Portuguese Monte vide eu, which means, “I see a mountain.” The second is that the Spaniards recorded the location of a mountain in a map as “Monte VI De Este a Oeste” meaning “The sixth mountain from east to west.”
Montevideo is the commercial, political, and intellectual center of Uruguay and is considered one of the continent’s most important centers for learning and the arts.
Tourism in Montevideo is centered in the Ciudad Vieja area, which includes the city’s oldest buildings, several museums, art galleries, and nightclubs.