12th March 2009

Final Report from Neptunia in Uruguay.

The first town in Uruguay was called Fray Bentos and is the town where the original Fray Bentos corned beef plant was built. The remains of the original factory and buildings are now preserved as a museum.

We decided to go a few miles further on and stay at a small riverside resort village. Two nights in a modern three room apartment with all facilities cost us only 25 pounds a night. The river was the river Uruguay and about 2 miles wide before it flowed into the river Plate. Our apartment had a balcony overlooking the river.

Next stop, Mercedes and on to Dolores. The countryside is very much like Norfolk but much hotter. Unlike Argentina, Uruguay is not set up for tourism and only the larger towns have somewhere to stay.

There are a lot of very old cars in Uruguay but they seem to be collector’s cars only. Most drive around in modern newish cars as they are the wealthiest in S.America. Unlike Cuba where all the old cars are American, here they come from all over the world. We even saw a Ford Escort estate of the 1950's which was the same as the first car we had.

After making our way south to the old Portuguese town of Colonia we made our way along the coast towards Montevideo.

It was now quite clear that Uruguay was nowhere near as cheap as Argentina and any tourist area became expensive as the prices doubled.

In Montevideo we checked the prices of the ferry crossing to Buenos Aires in case we were unable to change our return flight.

At the airport we managed to change our return flight to start at Montevideo which cost us about the same as the ferry would have cost. This now meant that the rest of our trip would be all in Uruguay.

After cycling for about 100 miles along atoll road and passing many tolls, we came to a toll booth where a policeman informed us that cyclists were not allowed on the toll road. Although this was technically correct, we had seen many local cyclists on this road and there was no other route. We told the policeman we were going just up the road to the next village and carried on as usual.

A turn off this road down a dirt track to the coast led us to a small village called Neptunia where we looked for somewhere to stay. We could find nowhere and so stopped at a beachside cafe for something to eat. Here, they informed us that they had a small apartment attached to the cafe which we for rent but was fully booked up. However, we could stay for that night only as it was vacant. We agreed but said it would be nice if we could stay longer if possible.

Ten minutes later, the owner informed us that we could stay as long as we liked as the booking had been cancelled.   We stayed five nights.....

Moving on slowly up the coast we paused at Piriapolis which is the local Clacton where it gets crowded at weekends. The prices were higher than previously but we were told that further on it was much more quiet and very good scenery.

As we cycled further, the houses became much bigger and more expensive looking and all along the coast there were exclusive clubs and resorts.

The town of Punte de Este turned out to be a millionaires retreat with very expensive looking tower blocks and coastal villas and so we moved on to what looked like a nice place on the map ......Jose Ignacio where we were told there were two small hotels.

One of these wanted 300 USD a night the other 250 USD a night. Both were empty. Joan asked the second one if they would accept 100 USD which was still much more than we had ever paid and they said ok.

It appears that only wealthy Americans stay in this place.

It was not worth even half what we paid and it was what most people would call a rip off.  So next day realising that all this part of Uruguay is very expensive we beat a hasty retreat back towards the little village of Neptunia, and arranged to stay in our little cafe apartment right on the beach until our flight home.

Here it is very peaceful and David is catching fish from our patio on the beach. He lies in a hammock while watching his fishing rod. What luxury.

Today is Tuesday and we are staying here until our return flight on Sunday.

See you all soon.


Regards,

Dave and Joan