Monday, October 16, 2006


Uruguay: NY Times Travel

Our friends at Uruguayan Adventure point us to this article in Sunday's New York Times

Uruguay: In Relaxed Montevideo, the Past Lives On in Style
FOR many tourists, there are only two reasons to visit Uruguay: beachy, clubby Punta del Este and quaint, historic Colonia del Sacramento. Montevideo, the nation’s relaxed capital on the banks of the Río de la Plata, offers an eclectic mix of architecture and culture, but is often relegated to the status of stopover.

Perhaps that is because the city doesn’t exactly reach out to grab you. Like Uruguayans, it sits back and reveals itself little by little. There is much of the old, and a small but slowly growing dose of the new.

The past lives on in style, though. Back in 1870, the average living standards there were higher than in the United States, and it shows. Take a walk through the Old City, where almost every street has a view of the water, sometimes at both ends, and you’ll discover a bounty of architectural treasures from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The surrounding downtown area is dotted with restaurants serving the unofficial national dish, the chivito, perhaps the world’s most extravagant steak sandwich. One is the Manchester, a vintage diner at the corner of 18th of July and Convención whose logo, perplexingly, includes London’s Big Ben. Its chivito consists of a tender fillet on homestyle bread with cheese, bacon, tomato, lettuce, roasted red peppers, palm hearts, hard-boiled egg and olives on top — for 95 pesos ($3.80, at 25 pesos to the dollar).

On Sundays, a short walk up 18th of July brings you to one of the wildest street markets you’ll ever see, the Tristán Narvaja Fair. The fair takes places on Tristán Narvaja Street, but its stalls, selling everything from live tarantulas to tiny clay ocarinas, spill out onto all the surrounding byways.

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