After leaving Puerto Madryn, we continued sailing up the coast of Argentina on our way to Punta del Este in Uruguay. As the distance was over 1500 kilometres, we had a scheduled sea day before our arrival into Uruguay. After breakfast, I attended the Alan Riles lecture on Climate Change. If you have read the previous blogs on our Eclipse Cruise, you will remember that Alan Riles is the guest lecturer that Celebrity had engaged to provide unique insight into the geography, geology and environment of South America’s Patagonia. Today’s lecture highlighted the global impact of climate change on the environment, particularly the receding ice caps in the Andes ranges and the vanishing glaciers in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. It was a very sobering lecture that left me wondering about the future of the spectacular area that we had been exploring over the past several days.
In the early afternoon we attended the Captain’s Club wine tasting and food pairing which we had pre-booked. This event took place in the elegant but modern Blu Restaurant, which is one of the Eclipse’s specialty dining venues. Our sommelier, Fabrice, led us through the tasting of 5 distinct and exclusive wines that were matched perfectly with a variety of foods comprising cheeses, vegetables, olives and chocolate. This was a wonderful way to enjoy a relaxing meal away from the busyness of the buffet.
We left the Blu Restaurant in time to attend this afternoon’s matinee in the Theatre. Alejandro, the Cruise Director, was hosting a rendition of the Tonight Show. The guests included an entertaining performance by Bryony, a crew member; an acrobat (Max) who delighted us with gravity defying antics; and an interview with the Captain who related a number of his experiences and time with the Eclipse.
Our evening started with dinner in the main dining room where one of my favourite entrees, steak, was the featured menu item. Afterwards we went back to the Theatre to enjoy a production of Show Toppers that was put on by the Celebrity Eclipse dancers and singers. We headed off to our stateroom and looked forward to our first day in Uruguay after a good night’s sleep.
As I stated at the beginning of this entry, our destination was Punta del Este on the South Eastern tip of the country of Uruguay. Because of high winds and rough seas, we were not able to stop at Punta del Este, so instead we continued on to our next port of call, Montevideo, also in Uruguay. We had been expected to dock at the downtown pier at 12:00pm, but because of apparent congestion issues in the port, we weren’t able to disembark the ship until 3:00pm.
Kim had pre-booked some tours for our stay in Montevideo, but due to the change in arrival time, she had to improvise and rebooked a private tour and lunch at a local winery. We were picked up at the pier by a driver who spoke no English. He had been informed by the tour operator where to drop us off, so we drove out of the city and into the countryside with no idea of where we were going and no way to communicate with the driver.
After 30 minutes of driving, passing through several villages along the way, we turned onto a gravel road and proceeded about a kilometre before turning into the entrance of the Pizzorno Winery.
Our driver indicated that this was our stopped pointed to a small parking lot across the gravel road. This is where he was going to wait for us while we had lunch and a tour of the vineyard. We entered the foyer of the winery, where we were greeted by a pleasant hostess who took our names and led us through a small dining room, where a young family were seated at a table, to a private tasting room, separated from the main room by a glass wall. We were seated at a table which had been reserved for us and the hostess explained the process for the tasting menu.
Our lunch consisted of several different courses including shrimp and mango salad, lamb, pumpkin stuffed ravioli and finished with a dessert of flan with dulce de leche mousse and berries. Each course was paired with a different wine, carefully selected to enhance the flavour the dish. My favourite wine was the Tannat, which originated in the South West of France, but was brought to Uruguay by Basque settlers in the 19th century. It is the most prominent grape in Uruguay and is considered its national grape. This wine goes very well with rich meats and fatty cheeses, probably another reason that it was my favourite!
After lunch we toured the family-owned winery, which has been around since 1910. The vineyard covers 21 hectares of land and produces about 160,000 bottles of wine using 12 different types of grapes. The winery produces ice wine by freezing grapes after they are picked - an interesting twist on how ice wine is produced in the Niagara region, where the grapes are picked at just the right time when the they are frozen on the vine. The winery also produces a light and fresh sparking wine. When we finished walking through the vineyard, we returned to the winery where we were taken through the production area, below ground level, and were introduced to the various types of hardwood that are used to barrel the wine.
It was after 6:00pm and we summoned our driver who picked us up at the entrance to the winery. By the time we got dropped off at the pier and back on the ship it was 7:15pm. Since we had missed our dinner seating in the main dining room, we went to the Sky lounge for a drink then got some food at the Oceanview Cafe which we took back to our stateroom. We had a casual but enjoyable dinner on our balcony.
Continue to Day 14 - click here
Sharing Our Travel Dreams
Sharing our personal experiences onboard and on the road, along with tips and insight for creating memorable vacations.