Uruguay travel blog by Mark Berman -
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The small city of Carmelo sits on the edge of the Rio de la Plata (river), northwest of both Colonia del Sacramento and Montevideo and just 2hrs by boat from
Buenos Aires with Colonia Express. I arrived in Carmelo from Mercedes 2hrs north on Route 21. I stayed the night and had a look around the city. Unlike other semi 'off the
beaten track' places in Uruguay I was able to find a reasonably priced budget hotel. I celebrated this by eating dinner at a nice Chinese restaurant!
Starting early the next morning I explored the city a little.
Firstly to the main plaza - Plaza Independencia. The plaza is big and instead
of a great monument in the middle, there's a huge tree! This is very unique for South America I must say. The plaza does however have a fountain and a set
of 8 white statues depicting Hera, Dionisio, Zeus and other Greek mythological and religious figures. On the south side of Plaza Independencia is the
church Templo Parroquial, its red-brick facade was glowing in the morning sun.
Down By the River
7 blocks south is the river 'Arroyo de las Vacas' which leads a short
distance (maybe 1km) to the Rio de la Plata. I strolled down to have a look. The waterfront area has been restored in recent years, this is where the
ferries depart for Buenos Aires. You will no doubt see the Puerte Giratorio de Carmelo - the great big orange swing bridge across the river built
in 1912. You will also see various small yachts and river boats moored along the rivers banks. There is a park with a small clocktower, seating, lamps
and a road and walkway along the riverfront. At the Rio de la Plata end of the river is the Nautico camping ground, Sere beach, yacht club, Hernandarias
monument, fishing areas and amazing panoramic views. Carmelo has a zoo and fauna reserve on the other side of the Giratorio bridge not far from the
citys theatre Teatro Verano.
Exploring Around the Center
Back in the center of town I went looking for the other main plaza - Plaza Artigas. There were a couple of horses and carts
parked up beside the plaza underneath shady trees when I arrived. This is a nice plaza with tall palm trees, the central monument is of course to General
Jose Artigas. It has some historical buildings surrounding it. On the southern side of the plaza is the church Santuario del Carmen with its many arched
doorways and windows. It has a clock face built into it below the 2 bells and cross at the top. Right next door to the church is the museum and archive -
Museo y Archivo Parroquial del Carmen which has historical objects and documents, mainly religious. It has something like 5000 books. The building was
built in 1848. The other sides of Plaza Artigas have more historical buildings from this period. The streets, buildings and houses in Carmelo in a way,
are similar to that of Mercedes, but on a much smaller scale. On the north side of Carmelo, 7 blocks from the center is the park Parque Artigas and the
Plaza de la Madre. I asked a taxi driver if it was worth taking a look, he didn't think they were anything special, so I didn't. On the way back to the
hotel I walked past the old Gospel Gallery building. While I was waiting for a bus south-east to Colonia del Sacramento a man cycled past
while walking 5 dogs at the same time!
Wine Tasting and Golf
If you enjoy more upmarket type activities like golfing and wine tasting, then Carmelo has one of South America's
finest golf courses as well as wine tours
Bus to Colonia
From Carmelo I travelled to Colonia
just 77kms southeast, 1hr and 20mins. The scenery along the way was of farms, vineyards, trees and lots of openness.