Punta del Este: A Rainy Weekend In Paradise
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Three months flew by and before I knew it, I had to renew my tourist visa for Buenos Aires. The wonderful thing about Bs. As., other than the beef and beauty, is that the city is across the river from Uruguay. A one-hour ferry ride got me and my friends to Colonia, but we didn´t want to stay in the quaint town. We wanted beach.
From Colonia we took a 5-hour bus ride to Punta del Este, a well-known vacation spot for the porteños (Argentines). What I saw of the countryside was nothing short of breathtaking. It´s humble with small hills, a few trees, lots of cows, sheep, and horses. But something about it made my heart warm. Maybe it was the tiny towns we passed through, the kids playing football, the adults sipping mate. Or, maybe it was seeing what a country truly looks like, how the people truly live, on the inside.
We checked into our hostel, El Viajero, around 6 p.m., took a siesta, showered and were pumped to start the weekend. When we were about to hit the town, we walked outside and saw that it was pouring rain. What a bummer. We asked one of the ladies at the desk where to go and she said El Puerto, the Port.
After a delicious dinner — asado de tira (ribs), provoleta (plate of melted cheese), y ensalada — at el Triángulo, we hopped over to the Port. As it is in Buenos Aires, it was around 2 a.m. and the parties were just getting started. There were three bars at the Port: Soho, Moby Dick and Mamba. Moby Dick had a wicked vibe with a live cover-band playing all the classic American hits from yesteryear, thick Uruguayan accents and all. The place was packed and my preferred party place of the three. The Soho was a dance club, not unlike most that you find anywhere, but a little stiff. Mamba was a multi-room venue with Latin beats blasted and a dance floor filled with close contact, like dancing sardines, but the crowd was loving it.
The next day was overcast but we were blessed with no precipitation. We hopped the local bus and rode the 20 minutes to La Barra, just up the coast. We were told by many to see Bikini Beach, which we did, and which we loved. The sand is granular and doesn´t stick to bags, clothes, bathing suits, eyes, ears, mouth and nose. Truly worth considering if you have to wear the same bathing suit or use the same towel for a couple of days. Sometimes hostel showers can´t quite clean everything.
The waves were solid in height and power, sucking me down a couple of times, but I doggy-paddled to safety. The surfers were out in the cove catching decent waves, the fishermen lined the rocks catching the days dinner, and despite the lack of sun, everyone seemed to be catching some color. It´s a good day when you leave with a tan and not a burn.
That night we hit up El Diablito, a club on the coast with a deck that overlooks the water. Since the venue is on the east-side of the point that makes Punta del Este, you can party watching the sunrise.
The next day was raining and uneventful. All hostellers were trapped indoors, making it cozy and, at times, a little uncomfortable. There was, literally, nowhere to sit. We decided to spend our last night on a worthy dinner, seafood at Leandro´s. The merzula and abadejo, two types of white-fish, were melt-in-your-mouth, like a stick of butter. If you are not a fish person, I highly recommend the ñoquis in a salsa rosa, rosé sauce, also a melt-in-your-mouth experience.
Bellies full and elated from the deliciousness, we headed back to the hostel. We checked the forecast and Monday was supposed to beautiful. So we decided to stay in, catch an early sleep in preparation for an early rise. And that we did. We spent all of Monday on La Brava Beach, also on the east side, catching up on sun. The beach also had finer sand, which made for an awkward bus/ferry ride home.
Upon re-entering Argentina, as a Canadian, I was prepared to pay a visa-fee. However, customs just stamped my passport and I went through. I am wondering if the fee only applies to travelers going through Ezeiza International Airport. Perhaps I will have to pay an exit fee, which has also been the word on the street. Nonetheless, I don´t really have any new information of the visa fee, like I promised I would, other than you don´t have to pay to come back from Uruguay.
Would I go back? To visit, absolutely. However, from what I saw, it reminded me of Florida, which might not necessarily be a bad thing. There were a lot of new high-rise buildings, a bit rundown, and a party scene that relies on temporary visitors. For a weekend, it was beautiful. For anything loner, I need the city.
By Brit Weaver
About the Author
Toronto born and based, Brit is an avid leisure cyclist, coffee drinker and under-a-tree park-ist. She often finds herself meandering foreign cities looking for street eats to nibble, trees to climb, a patch of grass to sit on, or a small bookstore to sift through. You can find her musing life on her personal blog, TheBubblesAreDead.wordpress.com.