We were so delighted to get this email from our reader, Dan, who had just returned to the USA after his vacations in Uruguay. His wild experiences—thanks to the confidence instilled by the Guru’Guay guidebooks—are the stuff of memories of a lifetime. Lovely stays, mad classic car races and even a psychotherapy session at a bargain price.
Hover your mouse over the underlined text to read the Guru’s thoughts.
Thanks for taking the time to write, Dan.
After explaining to so many of my friends why I went to Uruguay and how your books and website gave me the knowledge and foresight to have a great trip, I thought I’d share a bit of my experience having just returned home last week.
Briefly, I went for 9 days flying through Panama from San Francisco on Copa. Each of the 2 legs headed south was about 6.5 hours and 7 hours coming home. From home to hotel and back including layover, both directions required 24 hour+ travel days.
I started my trip with a beautiful brand new rental car from Mariño and drove up the coast as far as Cabo Polonio, spending 3 nights at Brisas de la Pedrera on the way. About half the restaurants there were open and the stay was lovely in every way.
On the upper deck of the bus to Polonio, I really met and made friends with my first Uruguayan, a woman my age who was about 70% fluent in English and I about 30% in Spanish. We speculated about what would happen to us if the bus rolled, considering the options of using the rusty seat belt (one for the row of seats) and riding it out, vs jumping clear at the last minute…which seemed to be the more popular choice.
I asked her profession and she replied that she was a psychologist and therapist, and laughing, asked me “was I as well?” I said no, but that I was currently a therapy patient, maybe that was why it seemed so. When she told me what they get paid there, I said, well then, can you book me when you get back to Montevideo? My delivery was humorous, but she said, why not? And so, several days later when I was there, I went to a great session with her!
I took my time heading back and stayed in Piriápolis and Atlántida, both interesting slices of lifestyle. In Atlántida I stayed in a modest apartment house.
At 4 in the afternoon the place was quiet, but by 7pm it was quite another story: the street became the spectacle of a local car show— absolutely emblematic of the wonderful middle class society in that town. There was a static procession of people’s antique and racing-equipped small cars. Both directions were taken up by lines of snorting, popping cars, surrounded by family and friends walking along with their crew until each car finally made it to the front where they had an archway covered in racing logos and lit by bright floodlights. As each car came up a heavily-amplified announcer dramatically gave the specifics while the cars revved madly and screeched their tires. Then smoke machines on both sides released their plumes and the cars roared off the stage while the crowd cheered wildly.
Quite a sight! (I have dabbled in various motorsports over the years) By 11pm it was like nothing had happened and the streets were empty.
Continuing the theme for Atlántida the next day I got to know the owner, a former racing mechanic named (appropriately) Alex Ferrari! Before long, he opened a huge shed and invited me in to see several dozen go-karts that he races with a team. Remembering what you wrote about “a las órdenes” I deviously inquired further. Before I knew it we were rolling a tiny racing machine down a ramp and out on the street. I put on a helmet and pulled the cord to fire up the harsh, crackling little beast. Down the street I go trailing a cloud of castor bean smoke!
I spent my last few days in the Ciudad Vieja seeing the sights after turning in my rental car since you can’t park there anywhere. Took a bus over to El Cerro, which I thought was a nice, authentic barrio. One restaurant stood out from the many I patronized- a Vietnamese place on the walkway near my hotel. A nice change from the staples I had become accustomed to. Owned by a very charming young couple, the waitress was a Venezuelan migrant and her chef boyfriend a local. Made me realize how many food type choices I take for granted here in the San Francisco Bay Area!
Anyway, there’s a few travel stories for you. Thank you so much for the inspiration to go to a wonderful and new place!! I didn’t make it to Colonia or Buenos Aires for that matter. So I left myself another reason to return.
Dan from the USA
We’re confident that if you buy the Guru’Guay guidebooks, you’ll also have the chance to be able to generate the kind of experiences that Dan had.
- Buy the Guru’Guay Guide to Uruguay: Beaches, ranches & wine country
- Buy the Guru’Guay Guide to Montevideo (audiobook available too here)