On our final full day in Uruguay, I had the luxury of sleeping a little later, eating a great breakfast and swimming/lounging at the infinity pool.
Joe and I had the chance to meet some interesting guests that were staying at our hotel, Playa Vik. We ran into a couple from L.A. that we met back in Argentina at La Bamba Estancia. They are real estate brokers who were at the end of their three week trip. Joe had the chance meet the owner's son, an avid polo player. We met an interesting couple from Zurich, where the husband is a wealth manager for the Swiss banks. We really enjoyed this opportunity to meet so many colorful people.
After freshening up, our guide, Catalina, arrived to take us to the most popular restaurant in town: Parador La Huella at Playa Brava in Jose Ignacio. Situated directly on the beach, it impresses with a seamless marriage of indoor and outdoor. We were seated at their best table, under a breezy white canvas shade placed directly in the sand. We ordered flat bread pizzas while we munched on bread with hummus and an array of other sauces. I chose to eat sushi and sashimi; Joe and Catalina ordered fried fish with roasted vegetables and sweet potatoes. For drinks, we went international with some familiar Belgian beers to share.
Once lunch was over, we traversed the sand dune to arrive at the Hopupu surf school hut to meet our surfing guide, Joaquin. Since I can (somewhat) surf, all I really wanted was to be accompanied by someone who knew the area. Joaquin helped me select a wider but tall fiberglass surfboard; thankfully, I didn't have to use the beginner soft tops. Spring suits were available since the water can be chilly. The wind was blowing on shore, creating less-than-ideal surfing conditions, but I still wanted to get out in the waves.
The color of the water reminded me of my days living in St. Augustine, Florida. In fact, a similar beach break, dotted with sand bars, created an air of familiarity that made it easy to paddle out. Once I paddled past the break, it took awhile to catch my breath. The surf wasn't the best -- I only caught a few waves -- but for me that's better than nothing at all. Joaquin and I caught one last wave in, returning to the surf hut to retire our boards.
Next on the agenda was the drive to the Fasano Hotel out in the countryside. The Fasano, based out of Brazil, boasts other fabulous locations, one if which I visited in Rio de Janeiro a few months back. The main reception area, formerly an old home, has been converted to an eclectic, cozy library and dining area. The manager gave us a little background on the property as he led us to the pool area for a time of relaxation. He informed me that they had reserved several items for my comfort as we were to spend the day here: a bungalow in which to change and refresh myself, a golf cart to zip around the property and an hour-long massage at the spa. Such service!
Since the hillside is rocky, they built the impressive pool to blend naturally with the surroundings. Several rock ledges, waterfalls and a deep swimming hole made it seem as though it been formed long ago. Joe and I ordered a some drinks, toasting to yet another amazing day in a beautiful locale.
Soon it was time to move to the next event, my massage. I used the golf cart to travel uphill to my appointment. The intense massage was much needed after two days of surfing and wakeboarding. Tough life, I know :) Afterward, I drove the golf cart to explore my bungalow. Bungalow sounds like a humble word when in reality, this was a luxurious suite with large bathroom and rain shower, large living and dining space and a huge porch to view the sunset over the Maldonado River.
I changed into a dress for our evening reservation at the trendy Fasano restaurant, perched high on a craggy cliff overlooking the property. We were led to the best table in the restaurant, where we were joined by our guide, Catalina, and her boyfriend, Augostine. We enjoyed stimulating conversation as we ordered wine and starters. I selected Ham and Parmesan Ravioli; Joe chose Spaghetti Bolognese. Joe and I were really fortunate to have Catalina and Augostine as our dining companions -- I hope to have the opportunity to dine with them again someday. After an almost 4 1/2 hour dinner, it was time to say our goodbyes and return to the Playa Vik. Our driver was waiting for us as we deposited our golf cart at reception.
Another wonderful day and night in paradise. I don't want my time to end here!
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