On Thursday, following two and a half days at sea, early in the morning we sailed into our next port of call – Montevideo, capital of our second South American country, Uruguay. It was a bright clear morning, and the weather forecast was for a sunny and hot day ahead. As we sailed into the port area, I caught this striking picture of the dockside cranes in the early morning light, and also this picture of some forlorn rusting ships close to the port area:
The port formalities were soon completed, and we were able to leave the ship for our tour busses pretty much on time – an early indication perhaps that we had moved on from the Brazilian ‘somewhen’ culture.
The shore tour I had selected for Montevideo was to see the highlights of the city by the combination of a steam train as well as the usual coach. We began the tour by coach, which took us through parts of the centre of the city, with a short photo stop at the Palacio Legislativo – the Legislative Palace – the seat of the Uruguayan Parliament:
We were then driven to the General Artigas Central Station, where we boarded our steam train:
The steam engine and the carriages were beautifully restored inside and out by the Asociacion Uruguaya Amigos Del Riel – the Uruguayan Rail Friends Association, a not-for-profit organisation which uses the revenue from running the steam trains to fund further work, similar to the heritage railways in the UK:
The first part of the rail journey took us out though the suburbs of Montevideo, some parts of which were not the most scenic, as can happen with railways anywhere in the world. Eventually the line reached more rural landscapes on the edge of the city:
All too quickly we pulled into the rustic station at Peñarol, first passing a market stall right next to the ungated level crossing:
We dismounted the train, not easy with the very low platforms, and I took the opportunity to take more photographs of the train and in particular the steam engine, which had been built in Manchester in 1910:
After a few minutes it was time to leave the station, very much at the end of the line as far as the restoration work completed to date is concerned.I had very much enjoyed this part of the tour – I always enjoy travelling by train and it made a nice change and contrast to the usual coach travel. It was also good to see the Association doing such good work, despite the lack of public money, to restore and preserve the steam line for future generations.
In the leafy street outside the station we reboarded our waiting coaches, which had relocated while were on the steam train:
The coach then took us back into Montevideo, our route taking us past some nice houses again in leafy streets:
We had another brief photo stop to photograph the outside of a striking Catholic Church, and after passing the impressive Monumento a La Diligencia by José Belloni, we stopped again to photograph more easily the Monumento a los Últimas Charrúas, a moving memorial to the extinct indigenous people of the region:
We then drove past the Cenenario Stadium, where the first FIFA World Cup was held, and stopped once more to photograph Monumento La Carreta, another work by José Belloni:
We then drove on through the exclusive Carrasco residential area, full of lovely houses and hotels for the wealthy, before our final photo stop by the coast:
We then drove back along the coast towards the port area:
As we neared our ship, I noticed these amusing window ledges:
Returning to the ship, although very hot from the steamy weather, I was very impressed with the Montevideo we had seen on this tour – the clean leafy streets and whole ambience seemed so different to the Brazilian ports we had just left. I therefore decided that after a quick lunch I would venture to the city centre on foot, to explore that area with my camera, and to see if my first impressions of Montevideo were upheld there. This second part to my day in steamy ‘video will be covered in my next post.