This seaside home has an “upside-down” floor plan designed to make the most of spectacular, wrap-around ocean views. The living room, kitchen and master bedroom are on the upper level where you can look directly out onto the dunes and watch dolphins dip in and out of the surf. Ground floor guest bedrooms are cool and quiet – all have blackout shades and shutters – perfect for peaceful, afternoon siestas. By night, you can drift off to sleep to the rhythmic sound of nearby ocean waves.
Armonía del Mar (Harmony of the Sea) features elegant yet understated Uruguayan style: sturdy stucco walls, a traditional tile roof and classic, comfortable furnishings. Ceiling fans offer breezy ventilation in the summer months. Heated tile-and-hardwood floors provide off-season warmth. The dining room opens onto a large deck equipped with a parrilla (grill) and a picnic table– ideal for indoor/outdoor asados (barbeques) while enjoying amazing sunsets. Just footsteps away: the wide, sandy of beach known as Playa San Francisco stretching one kilometer in either direction of the house.
Just to the west (two kilometers by bike or car) is the historic, quaint town of Piriápolis. There you can find inexpensive restaurants with fresh local seafood, souvenir shops and homemade ice cream. Experience first-hand the intrigue and mysticism associated with the town’s origin on a guided tour (founding father, Francisco Piriá, built the city on a grid with points symbolizing points of earth, wind, fire and water). Or take in the astonishing vistas on horseback led by a local gaucho (cowboy).
It is a place both breathtakingly beautiful and a little tattered around the edges – delightfully frozen in time.
A century-old seagate spans the city and downtown Piriápolis sports a delightful waterfront promenade. There is one grand, old hotel and several blocks of homes and buildings in art deco style.
By contrast, forty-five minutes to the east is the sleek, world-class resort, Punta del Este. Fine dining, casinos, designer shops and spas await you. On the way, stop in for a mesmerizing excursion of Casapueblo, the architectural masterpiece and home of Carlos Páez Vilaró, where the renowned artist still lives and works. Listen to his poetic recording (a salute to the sun) at dusk with drinks on the veranda.
With its old-world charm and sophistication, Uruguay’s capital and largest city, Montevideo, is just an hour-and-a-half away – making sightseeing and travel close and convenient. At Armonía del Mar you will have the best seat by the beach – and the most charming accommodations – to appreciate all that Uruguay has to offer.
I am American born and raised. Yet from an early age, I felt drawn to the South American culture. As a teenager studied Spanish in school and traveled to Spain. But it would be many years later before I discovered a place I felt strangely and wonderfully at home.
In all my years traveling the world as a television news correspondent, I had a well-worn passport, but still felt I was searching for something I couldn’t explain. During this time, my two children were born and we found a babysitter who would change our lives forever.
We embraced María as family, and she in turn gave my young son and daughter the gift of a second language. By the time they were toddlers, they would throw tantrums effortlessly in both English and Spanish.
Every Christmas, we scraped together enough cash to send María and her husband back to their home in Montevideo, Uruguay. She would bring back stories of the people, the horses, the music and the food. We dreamt of visiting someday, but it was not until María decided to retire and go home for good that we were to follow.
We came in from Buenos Aires on the Buquebus to Colonia. We took a drive to Carmelo then headed for Montevideo. Later we made our way east along the coast toward Punta del Este. For all of us, it was love at first sight.
One day, while in the car with friends, we passed through Playa San Francisco. I asked the driver to stop the car. On the spot, I walked over to a small, pristine beachfront lot – jotted down the number on the “vende” sign and immediately called the owner. Within days I was signing papers to own land in Uruguay. Within a year, we had our own little casita - Armonía del Mar (Harmony of the Sea).