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A little taste of Uruguay

Updated: Dec 21, 2023

Punta del Este | Montevideo

In late January, we arrived in Uruguay with Oceania Cruises. Punta del Este and Montevideo feature on the itinerary several times over the next few months.

Punta del Este, Uruguay

Welcome to Punta del Este in Uruguay, which is the country sitting between Brazil and Argentina. Uruguay is country No.64 for us!

Punta del Este is a chic fishing village and the St Moritz of Uruguay; you are surrounded by super yachts (and sea lions and seals) as you arrive, a beautiful marina and streets filled with restaurants and bars for all to soak up the lovely atmosphere.

As soon as we walked off the tender boat, we were greeted by these gigantic sea lions chilling out and relaxing on the pier; we were all filled with joy! After three months on an expedition cruise, we never got the chance to see such marine life so close, and here we wander off the tender on a cruise ship with over 1000 people, and we are meters away! Magical.

Once the excitement of watching the sea lions, we wandered the port to the fish market and were gifted with another seal show, all the fishermen feeding the seals the fish guts and even giving the onlookers a go; it was fascinating!

We followed this with a stroll up the street and to hunt out a fabulous spot for lunch, Zuzu Puerto, which we soon found as we needed to quench our thirst and hide from the sun and high humidity and relax; we found the perfect restaurant, the staff were full of positive energy, the food was exceptional, and they had Pisco Sours, so we were in our happy place.

After a long lunch, we strolled back to the ship (as we will be back in Punta del Este a few more times next month) to explore more.

We were presented with another beautiful surprise walking back: a lovely, lazy, big sea lion soaking up the sun, the same we were escaping from earlier. We propped ourselves nearby and enjoyed being close and personal while keeping our distance to avoid disrupting him. We enjoyed watching this incredible sea lion chill out; he (or she) always had one eye open to watch all the onlookers.

Uruguay, you are already impressive, and we can't wait to explore more of you.

We returned to Punta del Este several times during February and March and loved each visit's welcoming party. We couldn't get enough of the cuteness of the sea lions in their natural habitat and be in such proximity to them.

We also stumbled on a lovely cafe called LaRebelion. The gorgeous team gave us the warmest of welcomes, with a great selection of fresh organic food, delicious empanadas and coffee.

We loved the cosy and relaxing atmosphere and energy, along with the beautiful views over the marina; we dropped in on future port days in Punta del Este to say hello and be nourished with goodness.

Montevideo, Uruguay

It is a coastal city of beautiful architecture, colourful historic buildings, some derelict, some a renovator delight, and others already transformed to a stately home, pedestrian and cobblestoned walks and green parks and squares, whilst being enveloped by the ocean waters on either side of the city.

Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, is a city full of energy and life; as you leave the port, you can immerse yourself in the local food market, which is a gorgeous old warehouse now home to many restaurants serving the local meat, in every which way accompanied by wine from Uruguay, a new little fun fact: Uruguay makes wine! We look forward to exploring the wineries over our next two stops and sampling the delicious meats; we have heard rumours that it is even better than Argentina!

In the charming old city, you have an abundance of eclectic cafes and bars lining the vibrant sidewalks decorated with street art to guide you.

During this visit, we explored the city on foot. We enjoyed the city's spirit by savouring an Aperol Spritz on the edge of the unique food market, wishing we had more time to sample the delicious BBQ meat we smelled as we walked on by.

Here is a little history lesson: At first, Montevideo was simply a tiny Spanish military fort built in 1714 to counter Portugal's expansion of Brazil. However, settlers were not enticed; the Spanish governor in Buenos Aires, Don Mauricio Zabala, offered cattle and land to the first groups that would come and lay the foundations of a town. Among the earliest to arrive were families from the Canary Islands, who sailed into the small bay and came ashore in 1726. Over the following decades, Montevideo slowly became an important trade port between the "Old and New World". In the late 1700s, Montevideo had developed into one of South America's most essential and profitable ports.

Montevideo is a popular cruise ship destination; we loved watching Costa depart and breathe in as they expertly manoeuvred the ship from port.

Upon leaving Montevideo one evening in February, it was time to farewell some of our dear friends and crew. Still, we were grateful to celebrate over more fantastic food and wine in Privee, followed by drinks with more of our beloved fellow guests. New friendships are formed, and one of the best parts of travel is the beautiful humans you meet; we are always busy planning when our paths cross again.

During one port day in Montevideo, we needed to visit a GP quickly for a prescription.

We researched Hospital Britanico with English-speaking doctors, also known as The British Hospital, which has been in the Old City since 1857 and is known as The Foreign Hospital in Uruguay.

We arrived by Uber, and upon entering, we were greeted with warmth. All the staff were very helpful in leading us to the correct health department. We were impressed with the care, expertise, and modern facilities.

We could book an appointment with only one hour to wait, which we enjoyed over lunch in the beautiful cafe for visitors; surprisingly, there was table service and a full menu to order freshly cooked meals.

The GP was excellent and efficient, the modern and stylish facilities and furnishings were world-class, and the cost to visit the GP was less than 100 USD for a foreigner. The hospital also features a museum of historic medical tools and equipment displayed throughout the hospital halls, reminding us how far the medical industry has evolved.

Our next adventure is 'The Falklands'. Join us as we attempt to go ashore to a new and challenging destination as we continue our 110-day journey with Oceania Cruises, the circumnavigation of South America.

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