Monday, November 11, 2013

To the Lighthouse!

Let's walk on the Rambla
Sunday in Montevideo.  Montevideo is not "The City That Never Sleeps."  There are many of those, Las Vegas, included.  Montevideo is not.  It's more like "The City That Eats a Late Supper (But Not as Late as Buenos Aires or Madrid) and Then Shuts Down for Sunday."

So Sunday is a bad day to go downtown to the Centro or the Ciudad Vieja as not much would be open except for the Mercado Del Puerto.  And a central city where there's not much open and not many people is (a) no fun and (b) no safe.  But the neighborhoods of Montevideo are lively, energetic and safe on Sundays so this was a great time to further explore the Pocitos neighborhood and take a walk on the Rambla.

Looking down Rambla Mahatma Gandhi
Montevideo's Rambla is the boulevard that hugs the Rio De La Plata coast for the entirety of the city.  Certain segments are known by different names, e.g., the segment in Pocitos is Ramba Mahatma Gandhi.  But the whole thing is the "Rambla."

A section of sandy beach
If I were to turn to the left, and walk eastward along the Rambla, there would be a sandy beach.  The weather was overcast (!) and cool, so no beachcombers.  I decided to turn to the right and walk westward.  To the lighthouse!  The lighthouse of Punta Carretas.

The Rambla has something of a "fitness station" right there at the beachfront:

Fitness center right on the beach
 Maybe lots of other beaches have municipally-maintained workout equipment right at the beach, but the only other place I've seen this has been Rio de Janeiro.  Here's a picture of someone using the fitness equipment to get even more fit:

A little more time on that cross country ski simulator, bub, and you'll be looking good!  Walking along, I spy the purposefully quirky Castillo Pittamiglio:

Castillo Pittamiglio
Designed by an Uruguayan artist.  Shoehorned between two buildings.  Tours are offered.  They host magic shows at night.  Consensus opinion in tour reviews is that this building is best enjoyed by photographing the exterior.

After walking along the Rambla for several blocks, I veered inland.  And when you do that, there's always a beautiful old church to photograph.

Iglesia Sagrado Corazon

This is the Iglesia Sagrado Corazon.  It was not open for me to go in and take a look.  Next was one of the more interesting shopping malls you will find anywhere:

Punta Carretas Shopping
This is Punta Carretas Shopping.  It is a shopping mall developed from a building that used to be a prison where the military regimed tortured prisoners.  That's a thought that'll make you want to buy a cute sweater at Forever 21, assuming that Forever 21 shoppers ever think about such things.  (NOTE:  Compared to most Latin American countries, the amount of time that Uruguay was not a republican democracy and was under the control of a military dictatorship was very brief.  Uruguay has generally been a stable, functioning republican democracy throughout its 200 years of independence.)


The Uruguay Natural parrilla in Punta Carretas
All this walking around in Punta Carretas build up a man-sized appetite. To the parrilla!  For a big ol' juicy steak.  I've not given up my quest for great steak in Montevideo.  One disappointment is not enough to condemn a whole city.  So, based on the recommendation of my hotel, and with a little searching, I finally found Uruguay Natural.

They couldn't find a table for me, so they had me sit at the bar.  Sin problemas!  It gave me an up close view of the grill:

Grill master at his craft
I ordered a boneless ribeye, since only ribs seem to be served bone-in in the parrillas of Montevideo.  I ordered my steak medium, which is a medium rare in most of the world.  If you were to order your steak "medium rare," you would get what most of the world would call "rare."  "Rare" here seems to be simply letting the meat reach room temperature.  What about well done?  Apparently you get expelled from the country if you order it that way.

My steak arrived.  Would I be burned (to a well-done) a second time?

Boneless ribeye accompanied by steak fries, skin on.
Hallelujah no!  The steak was delicious.  Tender and juicy with just a hint of smokiness.  About the level of fat one would expect on a ribeye, but no gristle.  This grillmaster knew how to trim that away.  The steak fries were good.  Fresh and hot.  Skin on, just the way I like 'em.  Only needed a little ketchup to make them perfect.  And what's that on the small plate in the top corner?  In the two-section dish?  Next to the local butter (which is very good, by the way)?

Chicken pate, a.k.a., chicken liver.

It was good.  It didn't taste livery at all.

Forified by finally getting a delicious Uruguayan steak, I continue on my journey:  to the lighthouse!

I leave the beautiful wonderful smelling Uruguay Natural restaurant.  I've finally eaten a delicious steak.  And, almost metaphorically, the sun is breaking through the clouds and there's a bit of blue in the sky.  I'm starting to feel that ol' vacation magic.

I walk down a small side street toward the Rambla.

Jose Luis Zorrilla De San Martin
The street may be small, but the name is long:  Jose Luis Zorrilla De San Martin street.  I am welcomed by a statute of somewhat at least moderately important in Uruguayan history.

This man is important enough in Uruguayan history to get his statue on the road that leads back to the lighthouse
Even the trees are looking more beautiful:

I don't know what kind of tree this is.  Do I look like an arborist?
The gate to the Faro Punta Carretas!  The Punta Carretas lighthouse:

And I welcomed to the lighthouse site:

Entry into the Punta Carretas lighthouse site
(To be continued)

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