I always felt it would be a long day waiting to board Le Lyrial at 4pm. Nevertheless, there was a good half day to be lived through before then. After packing and storing my luggage at the Hotel I set off to look into the Museum of Decorative Arts. No surprises. There was no looking into, only looking at; the museum (housed in a superb 19th century building) remained closed after its opening time.
At the end of the street the brown flow of the river (the Rio de la Plata which separates Uruguay from Argentina) turned my attention; I thought to simply walk along the river edge for a goodly part of the day and off I went. Yesterday was a public holiday and today – Saturday – the streets remained virtually empty. Along the promenade locals and tourists meandered or sat and enjoyed the sun and their Mate. Very relaxing.A tall brick tower reminded me of the 19th century kiln towers in Hobart, but this was built on rocks just above the water – what would it have burned/cooked/fired?
Fishermen and women had their rods out waiting for a bite. While I watched a school of long silvery fish spinning out from the river and arcing through the air where nobody fished, I never saw a fish on the end of a line.Walking along, the vistas included:
I continued until I reached the western end of the suburb of Barrio Sur through which I had walked yesterday. An accidental smear over the lens gives the following set of photos a soft edge that does not represent the locality accurately.
By now I was near to Maldonado street in which that wonderful vegan café of yesterday was located. Alas, of course, it was not open. I plodded on towards the Independence Plaza and passed it to reach the Korean restaurant where I was hoping for vegetables. Instead it was an excellent lunch of tofu and seafood soup (with 3 small smoked oysters and two of the tiniest pipis in the world), with steamed white rice and assortment of small plates of additives.
I walked across the eastern side of the old city and along the port side, eventually returning to my hotel.
Before 4pm I and other Australians, dragging our luggage, tramped across the highway into the port and towards our ship. I was trying to put a lid on my brimming excitement. There was the ship – not the one in the foreground 😊. I was about to embark on a great adventure to the south.The wharf side greeting from all manner of Le Lyrial staff was overwhelmingly inclusive and a great show of top-level customer service. Onto the ship, and into my room within a blink of an eye. So smooth, effortless and pleasing. Luxury oozed from every pore. Not a mark on walls or furniture. No signs of the slightest wear or tear. Pristine. Spacious. Extraordinary.
I had a quick look around the ship to begin to familiarise myself with my new home for the next 15 days.
Looking out I saw that Uruguay hosts a ship graveyard. It seemed to me that a great deal of valuable metal was sitting there waiting to be collected, but I couldn’t see any activity.I felt compelled to accept the ship’s offer of a free glass of sparkling wine and chatted with others as they arrived. I met some members of a team of 15 amateur photographers from the USA; some had won international awards for their photographs. None of those I met were obnoxious, and they were all excited about what might be seen when we reach South Georgia Island (our first land after four days at sea).
We sat through the briefing ‘life on board’ and then the security and safety procedures before following a mandatory life boat drill. This included returning to our cabins and donning our safety jackets, after which we were checked to be sure we had tied ourselves in appropriately.
Finally, the ship pulled away from the wharf and we were sailing just after sunset. I cannot convey how excited I felt. How privileged. How fortunate. I guess my inner voice over all the years has been ‘Helen from little Burnie steps out into the great white world, and she is apprehensive’. I wondered whether this will be the last time I step out and push myself into the constant problem-solving situation which is the ‘work’ of travelling independently.Gradually Le Lyrial was out into the river and then into the sea, and Montevideo was over there getting smaller.
I ate at the upper restaurant buffet – and enjoyed a plate of salads and cooked vegetables. With all the sea air of the day, and the energy expended in anticipation of this experience, I was exhausted, enjoyed my spacious private shower, and was in bed by 9 pm. Slept like a log.