Montevideo, Uruguay

                                                     General Artigas, Plaza Independencia

February 8, 2010

Montevideo had a nice skyline when we went past it on our way to Buenos Aires.  The city turned out to be a very interesting place when we visited.  This was one of the ports where American Express had scheduled an excursion for our group.  We boarded our bus and met our guide, Maria Teresa, who was very knowledgeable, spoke great English and had a great sense of humor.  We first did a city tour which included a number of photo stops.  The Plaza Independencia (photo above) which is the city’s main square was our first stop.  The old citadel gate is there, along with the statue and mausoleum of Jose Artigas, the revered, heroic liberator of Uruguay.  Several other photo stops were made to view sculptures by Jose Belloni (see below and here).  These are very large depictions of animals, people, wagons, etc.

There are many other sculptures around the city also, as well as many parks.  Montevideo has 260,000 trees, more than twice the number in Buenos Aires, which is a much larger city.  We drove along the beach, which is very well kept.  At one of the parks we saw a little brown bird that we were sure we’d never be able to identify.  But our wonderful guide mentioned it, letting us know that it was the ovenbird, the national bird of Uruguay.  It builds big mud nests in an oven shape, as illustrated here.

After a pretty thorough tour of the city we headed out to the H. Stagnari winery, which has won many prizes for their wines, especially the Tannat Viejo, an aged wine made from a French grape that grows better and produces nicer quality wine in Uruguay.  We did the usual winery tour, followed by lunch in an upstairs dining room.  The lunch started with trays of cold cuts and cheese, accompanied by a Chardonnay that was as good as what we’d had in the Casablanca Valley in Chile.  The next wine was a Cabernet Sauvignon which was nice, but not memorable.  With our main course, which was beef, roasted vegetables and roasted potatoes we had Tannat Viejo, the aged red wine that is really outstanding.  Unlike most excursions, on this one the wine was flowing freely.  With dessert, something called chajà we had a blush wine which was also quite nice.  In addition to the good wine and good food, we also had good music, provided by two young men who sang and played guitar.  Yes, that is Susan dancing to the music, and there is video to prove it.

This was a full day, and a very pleasant introduction to Uruguay: a small country with a big heart.  It is a country well worth a return visit.

                                                 La Diligencia, Sculpture by Jose Belloni

© Susan L. Stone 2015