New Years in Punta del Este
For New Years I took up an offer from my mate Tanya to join her and some friends in the beach resort town of Punta del Este. I’ve known Tanya since my days at Monash Uni and she’s living in Boston at the moment. I knew she was planning a Christmas trip with a group of classmates (she’s completing her MBA at HBS) down in Argentina and Uruguay, and I was hoping to cross paths with her. We were able to meet up for dinner and a couple of drinks in Buenos Aires, and organised then to meet up in Punta for New Years.
I left Buenos Aires on the midday ferry to Montevideo, a three-hour trip east across the Rió de la Plata (River Plate) delta. Uruguay’s capital didn’t look like much as the ship pulled into the harbour, but admittedly I didn’t really see that much of the place as I was immediately whisked away on a connecting bus. Two hours later the bus arrived at Punta, a fairly generic beach resort town with high-rise apartments and a swagger of restaurants, bars, clubs and gift shops. I had time to kill as I had to wait for Tanya and her friends to arrive, so I grabbed some dinner and chilled out down at the beach until I got the address of the enormous house they’d rented.
We had a great couple of days in and around Punta. We spent most of our time, including New Years, in La Barra, a smallish town that reminded me of some of the smaller towns along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road: a single thoroughfare with lots of surf shops, ice creameries, cafes, restaurants, bars and clubs. We spent a few days on Playa Montoya there, a nice little beach with some good surf, and one day drove 30 minutes further east to Jose Ignacio, a fantastic beach with a few groovy cocktail bars on the sand and all of Uruguay’s “beautiful people” there to be seen (up to and including a model photo shoot at sunset!). We ate out most nights (including a rip-off $100 set menu at a sushi place for New Years) but the best meal had to be the Mother of all Parrillas (read: Very Big Barbecue) we did back at the house.