Search This Blog

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Night Out On The Town!

Wally doesn't like to drive in Montevideo because of all the wild drivers who straddle lanes and buses that barely squeeze by you. He especially doesn't like going there at night! So I jumped at the opportunity to go with some others who were willing to do the driving.

You know me, always out for a bargain, I was thrilled to be invited to go to a "FREE" concert being held at the sports club , Club Bigua in the barrio of Villa Biarritz one of many Montevideo neighborhoods.

Most towns have a local social club/gym but this neighborhood has "some bucks". There are several high end neighborhoods in Montevideo and this one showed it belonged to their ilk, not just by its pricy high-rise buildings lining the streets but by its amenities like this huge sports center.

We didn't know if the concert would be held outside under the stars on the grassy grounds surrounding the place (it was a beautiful night) or inside. It didn't dawn on us that the singer would be accompanied this evening by the Symphony Orchestra of Montevideo, so yes, it was held indoors this night.

On entering, I noticed the unique 2 story basketball court with its bank of windows above where you can watch the people exercise and work out on the row of running machines. This sports club also had several Tennis courts (a very popular sport here) full of participants. This was a very active place.

The concert started at around 7 o'clock and lasted some 1 1/2 hours. It played to a packed audience (every seat was taken). The orchestra conducted by Maestro ÁLVARO HAGOPIAN played a piece in the style of the "Big band" era.

Then the main attraction came out, a singer named LAURA CANOURA.  She was hard to get a photo of because several bright lights shone on her and my camera washed her face out.

There were several children in the audience and amazingly the audience hushed them as they made noise.  I was impressed that this crowd really wanted to hear this singer sing.

I will try and edit a portion of Laura singing. If not please excuse the first few seconds of blurry pictures and babies crying, it seems to clear up quickly. I liked these song choices but others in my group had heard her on previous occasions singing livelier songs from her stage play in which she stared as "Pia". I don't know about that play, so one day I'll find out what that plays' story was about.

After the concert we located an Asian restaurant. It was down some dark street and it had no windows to the street. You had to be buzzed in. I felt like I was trying to get into a "speakeasy" one of those places to sneak a drink of booze in during the prohibition era in the "Roaring Twenties"(1920s') when booze was banned in the USA. This restaurant was primarily used for delivering Chinese food to people in the local neighborhood who called them up by phone. Foreign food is a novelty here so it was good to have a change of pace food wise.

Finally, before we drove back home, we stopped by 2 interesting sites.

I got to see "The Greetingman" The Greeting man is a giant statue in light blue of someone "bowing in greeting" It is a gift to Uruguay from a Korean artist called Yoo Young-ho. It was installed last year in October, 2012.

It's located alongside the rambla (a road that runs by the water) in the Buceo neighborhood of MVD and it is 1 block from José Batlle y Ordóñez (1 block before) if you are coming from the East.

It is lit up at night and highly visible.

It cost 200 thousand dollars (US). It weights 3 tons. It is 6 meters tall (19.69 feet).

Bowing is the Asian form and Korean way of greeting one another.

"Greeting is the first step in any relationship!"(Yoo Young-ho) That was the point of this sculpture.

The statue is blue so as not to reflect any racial skin color or prejudices and it is naked for the same reason. A dress style could prejudice one by identifying it with a social class.

It was given to Uruguay because Uruguay is supposedly the direct opposite globably to South Korea on the map.

According to El Pais newspaper the artist raised the bulk of the money for the Uruguay statue by selling 800 smaller stautes at $200 each

2 tourists "bowing down" to read the plaque!
Yoo Young-ho has an ambitious aim to put 1000 of these statues around the globe. He hopes to install a second statue between North and South Korea as a gesture of peace. He also wants a third one installed in Vietnam as a way to "ask forgiveness" for Korea's part in the Vietnam war. He believes a forth one should be placed between Palestine and Israel to serve the same purpose for peace as the one he wants between the 2 korean countries. So far, the only one that stands in reality, is in Uruguay.  He is calling this the "Greetingman project" because of his grandiose dreams.

Forgive me, but I thought this YouTube video that I posted below was funny. I never knew about the Greeting man before lastnight. As a side note, in thinking back to my visit there, the statue forces you "to bow in front of it" since the information regarding it is written on level ground in black granite and placed before the statue. Everyone coming up to the statue bends their head down, in order to read, what the plaque says.

The second site we saw was the refurbished Hotel Sofitel Montevideo Casino in the Carrasco neighborhood (another high end neighborhood). It is a beautiful french style classic looking building which has been declared a National Heritage site. It was gorgeously lit up to highlight its facade. The hotel part has 93 rooms and the casino is in the center of the building under a domed roof.

Since we only drove around it in the parking lot and didn't go in, I will have to look inside it another day. I don't gamble but I do enjoy peeking into places, especially beautiful architectural gems. So one day I'll try and snap some inside pictures of that Casino/hotel.

All in all, I enjoyed my "night out" and about in Montevideo very much.
 (photo credit goes to Loren Henry for the "Greetingman", casino and restaurant)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Cinema in 3D!

The Costa Urbana Shopping Mall.
In a way, this is a followup to my Costa Urbana Mall and boardwalk post. In that one, I mentioned how I would be returning to this mall to watch a movie playing in their theater multiplex. I know they have at least 3 theaters. I can't remember if there was a fourth or not. 

As strange as it sounds, this is the first time that I've been to a movie theater here in Uruguay. I'm kind of glad that I waited and was able to go to the cinema with some experts.

These 3 are sisters, Melany, Katherine and Aphril. They know that I have a blog and wanted to become famous! Here they are giving an Hola/Hello! out to my readers. They were kind enough to invite me along with them this past Sunday to watch a 3D animated movie playing at the mall.

If you readers know anything about me it's that I love a bargain and also that I try to let my readers experience everyday life here in Uruguay and share situations vicariously through me and my expat eyes.

First of all, the people here are so considerate! We were all going to take the bus to the mall but they wanted to make sure we all traveled together. So even though I live in the opposite direction from the mall and from these 3 sisters, rather than risking the chance we might not meet, they had their father drive them back to my bus stop. I was given a time to wait for them and sure enough they all hopped out of their fathers' truck at my stop. Then all 4 of us waited for the bus to come and we hopped on together. They have student bus passes (a yearly pass) so we could only choose the two bus companies that accepted their passes. Still, we only let a few busses pass us by and then an approved one came along and off we went. I paid 29 pesos for a one way trip.

The 3D movie was well advertised, as the posters show on the mall's escalator. The cineplex is upstairs. In my last post I didn't show much of the inside of the mall so this time I took a few snap shots.

The second shot shows just a bit of the upstairs food court with that chinese stand "Canton Palace" that I mentioned in my last post. Prices for a meal (that serve two nicely) are about 210 to 350 pesos. That's kind of expensive ($10 to $15) but that's why I mentioned the large portions and it's a novelty food here. Yet, I digress! On to the movies!

Normally, the prices for a non-3D show are:
Friday through Sunday and Holidays cost for Adults, 170 Pesos (Viernes a Domingo Y Feriados). Children under 12 and senors over 60 get in for 130 Pesos. Senors need to show their senor gold card. 

Monday through Thursday showings cost Adults 140 Pesos and kids and senors pay 100 Pesos each.

Movies shown in 3D and yes, there are those 3D glasses handed out to you to watch the show with when you enter, those are naturally a higher entrance price.  A 3D movie costs 210 pesos for Friday to Sunday and Holidays showings. I didn't see a price break for children or senors.

Mondays through Thursdays showings cost 170 pesos. Again, I saw no discount written for Children or Senors.

Now here is where I mention that I was glad I had my "expert movie goers" with me. Apparently Antel, the telecommunications network for Uruguay sponsors promotions for their clients. They offer a 3D movie special: 2x1 deal for 210 pesos. It's the same price any day of the week but for that price not only do 2 people get in for only one price but that promotion includes pop (pepsi cola) and Popcorn!

The 2x1 promo included soda pop and popcorn with our ticket.
An interesting thing to note is that the popcorn served here is sweeten not buttered like in the states. One time I went to England and to a movie house there and they also serve their popcorn sweetened and with salt.  My experts were savvy enough to ask for a bag to hold our popcorn carton in, how clever! Any popcorn that falls just falls back into the plastic bag to be retrieved later. Not everyone knew to ask for a bag but we 4 had ours!

Normally, The popcorn/soda pack costs 120 pesos for a large soda with popcorn and 115 pesos for a medium soda size. I also saw an Apple juice box and popcorn combo offered for 94 pesos a slightly healthier option. We didn't have to buy this as it was included in the 2x1 deal.  You get a medium pepsi and popcorn with the promo but we were accidentally given 4 large pepsis instead. It wasn't until later and our drinks were half gone that we realized our cup sizes were larger than others. Oh, well! We must have looked thirsty.

I knew that I would probably get in trouble if they saw my camera inside the theater so I grabbed these two quick pictures of the girls and I modeling our 3D glasses and then promptly put my camera away.

Oh yes, this movie was completely in Spanish but since it was one of those animated ones it was easy to follow and I really enjoyed it! The only thing that almost tripped me up, language wise, was that I thought the female character was the guys wife when later on I realized she was his daughter! OOPS!
It was clear that I still need to work on my Spanish but I figured out my mistake quite quickly.

Most Uruguayos here have cell phones and they seem to be on them 24/7. However, It was great that these girls had theirs on them as well since in order to take advantage of the 2 for 1 deal you have to call up Antel and let them know what time the show is that you want to go to. They then call you back leaving you a message with a code to give to the ticket taker. The information is at the ticket counter on what to do but it would be better to do this before arriving at the theater.  Here's the information to use.

call on your phone        *789*2*2#send  confirm opt.1     you will receive a message with the code.
(llamada por teléfono)   *789*2*2#send  confirme opt.1       (Recibirás un mensaje con el código.)

After the movie let out it was dark and we waited together for the bus ride home. They got off first, at their stop, and I continued on for a little while longer than hopped off the bus and walked home under a clear and starry night. I was glad they had invited me. It was a fun night out with the girls/Las chicas!!!