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Published: November 6th 2006
Life's a beach
Miles of sandy deserted beach. It gets busy in summer though - apparently!
Yes, it's visa time again so we decided to go off to Carmelo in Uruguay. Having visited Colonia and Montevideo, we just wanted to go somewhere different. Fortunately, Cacciola
have a ferry from Tigre which is much cheaper than Buquebus!
The journey over the water took a little over 3 hours and we were a bit surprised by how shabby the boat seemed, and disturbed by the lack of safety instructions or lifejackets (not that we expected to sink!).
Arriving in Carmelo at night was good as the customs people only gave a cursory glance to our bags in their search for foodstuffs which they feel may bring the dreaded Foot & Mouth disease to Uruguay. Our uneaten oranges escaped!
Then came the search for a hotel. We wanted to go to the Rambla but were shown a hellhole of a room which they wanted US$15 for. It felt like a cell so we said "maybe" and went to find somewhere else. Just up the road was the "Bertoletti" which was a very friendly place with a huge double room and en-suite facilities for about US$14. we took the room.
I asked the guy on reception for
How can a sundial be wrong?
I know how to set the time on my watch, but this sundial was about an hour and a half out. How do you change that?
advice about where to eat. He described where two restaurants were. I certainly didn't expect them to be the only two in town! (Actually a small white lie, there were about 5 in total but ti took us all weekend to find them) The Fay Fay was on the main plaza and we ate a huge parrillada which was excellent. The Uruguayan wine was perfectly acceptable too. Tired from the journey we then retired to our hotel.
Saturday was a good day. We found a confiteria on the plaza for breakfast. Only one medialuna is needed as they are the size of 3 porteño medialunas! After that, we found the Tourist Information Centre which had very little information and a pretty basic map. We wandered around the town and saw the statue of the city's founder Artigas in the plaza bearing his name.
Crossing the river is by the only bridge which, apparently, is unique in that it is opened when required using human strength. It rotates around a central point to allow ships through, but not whilst we were there. Just over the bridge was a tribute to a "famous" cyclist who died a few years ago.
The founder of Carmelo. I would imagine there were just as many restaurants to choose from back then!
We then walked to the beach area which was fine. The weather was great for an afternoon baking our bodies but the flies were a bit irritating. Fortunately they didn't bite and, if the occasional mozzie-like buzz really wasa mozzie, they weren't hungry either. Sunbathing is hard work so later on we made our way back to the centre for an ice-cream before taking a siesta. It's a hard life!!!
On Saturday night we ended up at the Fay Fay again. This was because everywhere else was empty and/or anticipating customers for their dinner/dance evening. Not quite what we were looking for. The Fay Fay's Chivito plate for two was excellent. Can't fault it and pleased we didn't order a side dish with it.
Wandering around town after dinner we found a bar near the Tourist Information which had a few people in. No local beer but the Heineken was okay. A couple of litres later and the place was full, our eyes said bedtime and our watches said it was well into tomorrow.
The weather forecast for Sunday was grim. We decided to take the 1pm boat back to Tigre and were relieved there was
We are quite used to mobile advertising, but the guy on his bike must find it tedious to listen to the tape all day long as he pedals around town.
room on it. Apparently the later boat was full. We killed time shopping for lunch, breakfasting and then watching the incoming passengers have their baggage inspected. This time the customs guys were very thorough and we saw a lot of fruit and sandwiches confiscated. What do they do with the stuff they take? Our guess was that it was either their dinner, or sold to customers on the return boat!
This time we were on a Catamaran which was very modern, comfortable, and had life jackets just in case! it was a smooth sailing but by the time we got to Tigre the weather was atrocious and we got a good soaking getting home.
It wasn't exactly thrill-a-minute in Carmelo but it was great to lie onthe beach for an afternoon and our visa will take us up to and beyond Christmas when we will be crossing into Chile anyway. Don't go expecting heady nightlife, but the bar we found did get quite lively which was a relief.
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