¡Feliz Cumpleaños! – Montevideo Style

Day 22, Grand World Voyage 2020

Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020; Montevideo, Uruguay

Today we celebrated my sister Elaine’s birthday with a leisurely day in Montevideo, Uruguay, and a lively Chinese New Year celebration on the Amsterdam.

A trio of birthday cards from our travel agent, travel hosts and the captain started her day on the right foot. (Yes, I forgot to bring a card….) The captain’s card even included a chocolate bar.

Later we celebrated with lunch ashore. Actually, it started with just a couple of local beers, but we decided to go ahead and try Uruguay’s national sandwich, chivito, and a pizza. The chivito was something like a steak on a bun, with melted cheese, mayo, lettuce, tomato, olives and an egg.

I forgot to avoid eating vegetables rinsed in water and survived. Uruguay reminds me more of Europe with palm trees than Latin America, so I blithely ate the whole sandwich. I’m not sure I would order it again (it wasn’t anything too special at our sidewalk café), but I do like to try local foods, especially if they are considered national dishes.

The Zillertal beer tasted a little too much like a Budweiser for our tastes, but we weren’t successful with our spotty Spanish in requesting something darker or more like an ale.

The Amsterdam docked just a few blocks from the Ciudad Vieja (old town), so it was just a short walk to a lively plaza with shops, restaurants and a market.

We found a mixture of colonial, art deco and beaux-arts architecture, with classical Coca-Cola vignettes in storefront windows.

I stopped to sketch at Plaza Zabala, a small park with another statue of a man on horseback. This time it was General Don Bruno de Zabala, the founder of Montevideo. Nesting birds created a noisy racket above us in the tall trees.

At the Plaza de la Constitución we browsed the flea market booths with their vintage silver, china, old books and 1960s art prints, but opted instead to have those beers and then lunch. We were very comfortable in the shade, but the walk back to the ship in the early afternoon sun sent me straight to the shower.

Elaine’s second birthday surprise came later in the afternoon when guest services delivered a colorful birthday bouquet, sent by her two sons. They know that she loves flowers.

The final celebration was the Chinese New Years party in the Lido. The menu ranged from suckling pig to duck crepes, and the staff had outdone itself with the Chinese decorations. Many passengers dressed for the occasion (including me), even though Lido dinners usually are casual.

We are ready for some sea days after three consecutive days exploring ports. Next up – the Falkland Islands, where the temperatures should be much cooler.