Uruguay or Bust

IMG_1088Uruguay is my new favorite place. Particularly its eastern coast and the small fishing village of Jose Ingacio.  Skip Punta del Este and head straight to this cool bohemian yet sophisticated  town 20 miles down the coast.  Think Montauk and the drive out to the Hamptons and you can envision the scenery.  But its more than meets the eye and I found this rural stretch of coastline and the understated glamour of Jose Ignacio charming as hell.  We stayed at one of the Vik properties called theIMG_1102 Estancia set on a seemingly endless landscape of Africa-evoking plains.IMG_1115  It’s the brainchild of a half Norwegian, half Uruguayan billionaire with incredible taste. Each of the 12 suites have been designed and decorated by a local artist and very contemporary in design.  It was a perfect backdrop for a family vacation except maybe the horses onIMG_1099 property that my son is highly allergic to.  The Beach was only a 10 minute drive but we had our own bikes to ride to and fro.  After all, we needed the exercise to counteract all the gorgeous food we consumed.  The restaurants are insane as the best nightlife options revolve around food.  It’s a foodies delight.  At the edge of the dunes on the main beachIMG_1107 in an inconspicuous bungalow, Parador La Huella is the best place to be and be seen so we tended to frequent there.  It was also IMG_1098very close to THE yoga studio as Isabella, a teacher from BridgeHampton just opened her adorable place for the season.  Our bike rides were a highlight as the landscape is so beautiful from larger than average sand dunes and picturesque cow fields to serene horses in the distance.  IMG_1101One evening we ventured 40 minutes to a charming town founded in 1892 called Garzon where we dined at Mallman’s Michelin star restaurant in the middle of nowhere.  He’s known as a seedbed of gastronomic talent…who knew?  It’s such a low-key, laid-back, rustic-chic scene now but I fear that the word is out and it will be a changing.  The locals have tried to keep Jose Ignacio a little under the radar but I hear that an international art fair is on the agenda!  We had the pleasure of visiting one of Uruguay’s most famous artist Pablo Atchugarry at his nonprofit arts center run by his 27-year-old son Piero.  They were so gracious showing us his intricately shaped abstract sculptures IMG_1143carved out of marble that we are actually contemplating a FullSizeRendercommission.  I feel blessed to have been able to spend a little less than a week here with my boys sans significant others.  It’s only a matter of time when things change in our nucleus and I will embrace that as well.  As Diego Sanchez, a local energy healer, says “Uruguay is maybe the most undramatic place imaginable, but people get here and they find themselves hanging around”.  Well, we did just that and I would go back in a second to Playa NICE.  This chalkboard says it best as I felt like this as soon as I entered the country.IMG_1142

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