Well here we are, the last full day aboard the Celebrity Infinity, well not quite on board as we are in Montevideo and have planed a city tour. Anyway, the alarm went off at 0700hrs just as we were completing the docking procedure, up to the Ocean Cafe for breakfast then wait ’till our trip departs around 0930hrs
Everything ran to time and our bus left 0930hrs, sharp. We headed for the old town and drove along 19th July Street, this commemorates the end of their colonial period in 1813. Apparently Uruguay was created on the advice of the British to the Kings of Spain and Portugal as a means to bring peace to the area. The River Plate was the most fought over area in South America due to its position and accessibility for both the Spaniards and Portuguese to get their ill gotten gold out of Ecuador, Peru etc., without having to travel around the horn. We had a stop in Independence Square with the magnificent statue of José Gervasio Artigas, who became Uruguay’s national hero, he launched a successful revolt against Spain, defeating Spanish forces on May 18 1811 in the Battle of Las Piedras. He then led Uruguay when they obtained their independence 1813, below this statue is his tomb.
In 1913 Uruguay hosted the very first Football World Cup, which they won, as a centenary anniversary of their independence, the stadium is still here and naturally we were driven past it.
Next we were driven along their sea front, approx 25 Kms, past several sandy beaches and being Saturday, they’re starting to fill up, swimming and sunbathing after all it is summer here. We were shown the only 6 star hotel in S America, built in 1911 by a consortium of businessmen who wanted to create a place similar to Nice, in the south of France. Quite an impressive building but the inside had a major refit completed in 2006. Prior to returning for a Tango exhibition, we drove around the avenues in the aforementioned areas, the cheapest houses we were informed started over 1 million and rising quickly, as we drove by you could smell some of the wealth!!!
Our next stop was the Tango Exhibition dance, very good but we had been spoilt on the ship as one of the acts were professional Tango Dancers. More interestingly this was held at the house originally owned by the son of an Italian immigrant who made a fortune in property at the start of the 20th century, living there all his adult life and devoted himself to alchemy. Before the dancing we heard all about it, and so can you now! Alchemy was a medieval philosophy and early form of chemistry whose aims were the transmutation of base metals into gold, the discovery of a cure for all diseases, and the preparation of a potion that gives eternal youth. The imagined substance capable of turning other metals into gold was called the philosophers’ stone.
A Closer Look Because their goals were so unrealistic, and because they had so little success in achieving them, the practitioners of alchemy in the Middle Ages got a reputation as fakers and con artists. But this reputation is not fully deserved. While they never succeeded in turning lead into gold (one of their main goals), they did make discoveries that helped to shape modern chemistry. Alchemists invented early forms of some of the laboratory equipment used today, including beakers, crucibles, filters, and stirring rods. They also discovered and purified a number of chemical elements, including mercury, sulfur, and arsenic. And the methods they developed to separate mixtures and purify compounds by distillation and extraction are still important.
After all that we headed back to the docks but we elected to jump off the bus at the old British market, filled today with many restaurants, all selling Bar B Q’d beef, after all this country has a lot of beef on the hoof and it is their main export commodity. We enjoyed a Uruguayan Steak and Beef ribs whilst we were there, washed down with Uruguayan red wine, excellent.
After a short stroll up one of the roads, we headed down to the docks but on the way I was distracted by a pie se of History. As we all know there was a big naval battle here in 1939. The battle of the river plate fought between 3 British Cruisers and the German Pocket Battleship, Graf Spree, resulted in the Graf Spree fleeing into Montevideo Harbour for refuse and essential repairs. As Uruguay was neutral, it could not stay more than 72 hrs and was frightened that when it came out a much larger British Fleet was waiting for her, so after leaving Montevideo Harbour, Captain Langsdorf scuttled her. In 2004 a Team of divers fetched up from the sea bed the Graf Spree’s range finder, apparently this piece of kit back in 1939 was revolutionary and here it is, at the entrance of the Montevideo harbour together with one of her anchors.
Back on board we went up to deck 10 and sat sunbathing round the pool, I watched this 90,000 ship move sideways out of her berth before leaving the Harbour.
Being our last night we had to pack our main bags and leave them outside our cabin; after docking tomorrow morning they will be waiting for us in the baggage hall. We did about 80% of our packing but had to break off to go and watch our last show! the Finale, sob sob!! Laura brand closed the two weeks shows with another fantastic performance, we still don’t know why she didn’t Win “Britain’s Got Talent”.
Back to the cabin, completed the packing though hadn’t closed them as we were running late for dinner; again last night so had to do the necessary with our stewards etc. Again a super meal.
Back to our cabin and this time we completed the cases and put them outside for their collection. Early to bed, up at 0630 hrs tomorrow, breakfast finishes at 0800 hrs and we have to be off this excellent cruise ship by 0930 hrs. Long flight back to UK via Madrid tomorrow, neither of us is looking forward to that!!!!!!!