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  • Day21

    Montevideo, Uruguay

    January 23, 2018 in Uruguay ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Today is the last day of our land tour, as tonight we’ll re-join Aurora and sail south towards the Falkland Islands. Our itinerary today includes a coach tour of Montevideo, followed by a lunch and wine tasting session at one of Uruguay’s most famous wineries, Varela Zarranz.

    Our tour starts off with a short drive along the coast, before turning inland to visit Parque Batlle, where Monumento La Carreta stands. This is a national monument, constructed in 1934 by José Belloni, which depicts early settlers in Uruguay, with their belongings being pulled along by a fleet of oxen. They’ve clearly had a problem with people climbing on it, as it’s now surrounded by a laser alarm system, backed up by two security guards!

    From here, we head south back to the coastal road, passing stretches of sandy beach, towards the Carrasco area.

    Believe it or not, that’s not the ocean stretching out as far as the eye can see front of the city, but rather the Plata River, which doesn’t meet the ocean for another 100 miles.

    The next order of business is the winery located about 30km to the north of Montevideo, where we’re booked in for a guided tour and then lunch/wine tasting in the gardens. The grounds are beautiful, with grape vines stretching into the distance, and trees full of chattering green parakeets overhead. This setting reminds me so much of the wineries in Perth, Australia that we visited with my aunt many years ago.

    We’re given a potted history of the company and led around the facilities, which was actually quite interesting. At the back of the cellar, they have around 40 giant barrels for aging the wine. And when I say giant, I mean giant—each one holds nearly 17,000 litres of wine! They’re really old too, as we were told that the original founder of the vineyard transported these barrels over to Uruguay from France in the 19th century.

    Lunch is, yet again, brilliant - although we thought we were off to a false start when we were given a platter of roast beef and potatoes to share between 6, when others had the same platter between 2. Our fears are quickly allayed though, as after requesting (and rapidly clearing) another platter between the 6 of us, they just keep bringing more. I think in the end we ended up with one platter each—given that each tray contained around 10 thick slices of beef, and sliced potatoes and sweet potatoes, this was a gargantuan lunch by anyone’s standards. And all washed down with several litres of wine. By the end, even I had to admit defeat.

    Over-wined and distinctly over-fed, we waddled back into the bus for our 16:00 appointment with Aurora. I suspect a nap will happen whether I want it to or not!

    As we drive back to Montevideo, I’m reminded yet again of how this style of travelling gives you but a tiny taste of what a place has to offer, and of how much I need to come back and spend some proper time in some of these places. Rio and Buenos Aires in particular are amazingly fascinating cities, and to only spend 24 hours in either one is to do them a great disservice.

    Our arrival back to the ship brings to an end this mini holiday-within-a-holiday, and despite the added expense that doing a land tour involves, I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.
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