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Punta del Este

 

 

The sun rises on a soft summer morning in Punta del Este, Uruguay. Medialunas Calentitas, a casually hip pastry shop, fills with young men and women coming from late-night parties and clubs to quell after-party hunger pangs, not an uncommon sensation among revelers who descend on this South American beach town. A perfectly uncombed blonde wearing fuchsia pumps, a white strapless top and a pleated denim miniskirt tries unsuccessfully to snatch one of the coveted sofa seats on the outdoor patio.

 

Punta del Este is famous for its wild nightlife and limitless supply of chic youth. The bar-hopping crowds usually hit the La Barra neighborhood, where Medialunas Calentitas can be found.

 

For decades, Punta has been the vacation haven for upscale residents of Buenos Aires and wealthy Brazilians. Recently, however, its fame has spread, and North Americans and Europeans have been flocking there as well.

 

The South American summer runs from late December into February, transforming Punta del Este into a lively resort with reopened bars, restaurants, boutiques and a lengthy calendar of events. It can attract as many as 300,000 visitors during the season. For the rest of the year, Punta del Este is a tranquil coastal city.

 

The eastern coast, referred to as Brava, is popular with singles and surfers looking to ride the big ocean waves. Not far from the downtown area is Bikini, an ample white-sand beach that lives up to its name: the ladies sport tiny bathing suits. The calm-water beaches along the western shore, called Mansa, feature safer waters for families and are perfect for wind surfing, swimming, jet skiing and other water sports.

 

They typical party day includes a late wake-up call and a light breakfast followed by a few hours of sizzling on the beach. Later in the afternoon, an order of mussels at a beachside cafe is sure to put people in the mood for a very popular after-sunset activity: napping. The evening nap is sort of an art form in Punta, as it is difficult to party until dawn with the locals without one. The city awakens and goes into party mode at about 11 p.m.

 

Partiers will usually start the night with a dinner downtown before heading to La Barra for some caipiroskas at an outdoor pub. Afterwards, they may head to the famous Conrad casino for some gaming or to one of Punta’s trendy nightclubs for a night of dancing and drinking until the sun comes up.

 

One favorite haunt is Tequila, a small club in La Barra’s main street. Granted, the doormen can be unfriendly, sometimes even rude, but once you get past them the fun is almost guaranteed. While DJ’s spin a catchy mix of techno and rock, the champagne flows, and partygoers get friendlier by the minute. ¡Viva Punta!



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