Thursday, 14 December 2017

URUGUAY: Montevideo, People Believe In God But Without Religion

Montevideo is the pleasant capital city of Uruguay, a country in South America.

It is situated on the east bank of the Rio de la Plata and is the southernmost capital city in South America.

Montevideo is the capital and largest city of Uruguay. According to the 2011 census, the city proper has a population of 1,319,108 about one-third of the country's total population in an area of 201 square kilometres (78 sq mi).

The southernmost capital city in the Americas, Montevideo is situated in the southern coast of the country, on the northeastern bank of the Rio de la Plata.

Montevideo was founded in 1724. For much of its early history, the city consisted of what is now known as the Ciudad Vieja (Old Town). By the mid-19th century the city began to grow eastward towards what is now known as Centro.

The demolition of the old fort that used to mark the eastern boundary of Old Town enabled the construction of what is now Plaza Independencia. Eventually Boulevard Artigas was built around Centro, but by 1910, suburbs were already developing beyond it which were later annexed into the growing city.

As the capital of Uruguay, Montevideo is the economic and political centre of the country. Most of the largest and wealthiest businesses in Uruguay have their headquarters in the city.

Since the 1990s the city has undergone rapid economic development and modernization, including two of Uruguay's most important buildings—the World Trade Center Montevideo (1998), and Telecommunications Tower (2000).

The headquarters of Uruguay's government-owned telecommunications company ANTEL, increasing the city's integration into the global marketplace.

The Port of Montevideo, in the northern part of Ciudad Vieja, is one of the major ports of South America and plays a very important role in the city's economy. The port has been growing rapidly and consistently at an average annual rate of 14 percent due to an increase in foreign trade.

The city has received a US$20 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank to modernize the port, increase its size and efficiency, and enable lower maritime and river transportation costs.

The most important state-owned companies headquartered in Montevideo are: AFE (railways), ANCAP (Energy), Administracion Nacional de Puertos (Ports), ANTEL (telecommunications),BHU (savings and loan),BROU (bank), BSE (insurance), OSE (water & sewage), UTE (electricity).

These companies operate under public law, using a legal entity defined in the Uruguayan Constitution called Ente Autonomo or autonomous entity.

The government also owns part of other companies operating under private law, such as those owned wholly or partially by the CND (National Development Corporation).

Banking has traditionally been one of the strongest service export sectors in Uruguay: the country was once dubbed the Switzerland of America, mainly for its banking sector and stability, although that stability has been threatened in the 21st century by the recent global economic climate.

The largest bank in Uruguay is Banco Republica (BROU), based in Montevideo. Almost 20 private banks, most of them branches of international banks, operate in the country Banco Santander, ABN AMRO, Citibank, Lloyds TSB, among others.

There are also a myriad of brokers and financial-services bureaus, among them Ficus Capital, Galfin Sociedad de Bolsa, Europa Sociedad de Bolsa, Darío Cukier, GBU, Hordenana & Asociados Sociedad de Bolsa, etc.

Tourism accounts for much of Uruguay's economy.

Tourism in Montevideo is centered in the Ciudad Vieja area, which includes the city's oldest buildings, several museums, art galleries, and nightclubs, with Sarandí Street and the Mercado del Puerto being the most frequented venues of the old city.

On the edge of Ciudad Vieja, Plaza Independencia is surrounded by many sights, including the Solis Theatre and the Palacio Salvo; the plaza also constitutes one end of 18 de Julio Avenue, the city's most important tourist destination outside of Ciudad Vieja.

Apart from being a shopping street, the avenue is noted for its Art Deco buildings, three important public squares, the Gaucho Museum, the Palacio Municipal and many other sights.

The avenue leads to the Obelisk of Montevideo; beyond that is Parque Batlle, which along with the Parque Prado is another important tourist destination.

Along the coast, the Fortaleza del Cerro, the Rambla the coastal avenue, 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) of sandy beaches, and Punta Gorda attract many tourists, as do the Barrio Sur and Palermo barrios.

The Ministry of Tourism offers a two-and-a-half-hour city tour[ and the Montevideo Tourist Guide Association offers guided tours in English, Italian, Portuguese and German. Apart from these, many private companies offer organized city tours.

Most tourists to the city come from Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Europe, with the number of visitors from elsewhere in Latin America and from the United States growing every year, thanks to an increasing number of international airline arrivals at Carrasco International Airport as well as luxury cruises that arrive into the port of Montevideo that often participate on The Wine Experience.

Montevideo has over 50 hotels, mostly located within the downtown area or along the beachfront of the Rambla de Montevideo.

The old Hotel Carrasco, established around 1930 and a landmark of luxury for decades, has been renovated by Sofitel and re-opened in March 2013.The hotel has 93 rooms and 23 suites, a Spa, a large casino, restaurant, bar, library and cafe.

Other hotels are located in colonial buildings, such as the Hotel Palacio and boutique hotels, especially away from the downtown area, retain a colonial feel. One such hotel is Belmont House established 1995, located on the Avenida Rivera in Carrasco.

It is set amidst gardens and has 24 rooms and suites and is served by the Restaurant Allegro.

Montevideo is the heartland of retailing in Uruguay. The city has become the principal centre of business and real estate, including many expensive buildings and modern towers for residences and offices, surrounded by extensive green spaces.

In 1985, the first shopping centre in Rio de la Plata, Montevideo Shopping was built. In 1994, with building of three more shopping complexes such as the Shopping Tres Cruces, Portones Shopping, and Punta Carretas Shopping, the business map of the city changed dramatically.

The creation of shopping complexes brought a major change in the habits of the people of Montevideo. Global firms such as McDonald's and Burger King etc. are firmly established in Montevideo.

Apart from the big shopping complexes, the main retailing venues of the city are: most of 18 de Julio Avenue in the Centro and Cordon barrios, a length of Agraciada Avenue in the Paso de Molino area of Belvedere, a length of Arenal Grande St. and the surrounding streets in Villa Munoz and a length of 8 de Octubre Avenue in Union.

Montevideo has a very rich architectural heritage and an impressive number of writers, artists, and musicians. Uruguayan tango is a unique form of dance that originated in the neighborhoods of Montevideo towards the end of the 1800s.

Tango, candombe and murga are the three main styles of music in this city. The city is also the centre of the cinema of Uruguay, which includes commercial, documentary and experimental films.

There are two movie theatre companies running seven cinemas, around ten independent ones and four art film cinemas in the city. The theatre of Uruguay is admired inside and outside Uruguayan borders.

The Solís Theatre is the most prominent theatre in Uruguay and the oldest in South America. There are several notable theatrical companies and thousands of professional actors and amateurs.

Montevideo playwrights produce dozens of works each year; of major note are Mauricio Rosencof, Ana Magnabosco and Ricardo Prieto.

In recent years Montevideo nightlife has moved to Ciudad Vieja, where a large concentration of buildings cater for the recreational interests of young people during the night time.

Under a presidential decree of 1 March 2006 smoking is prohibited in any public place with roofing, and there is a prohibition on the sale of alcohol in certain businesses from 21.00 to 9.00.

A Cultural Centre of Spain, as well as Asturian and cultural centres, testify to Montevideo's considerable Spanish heritage. Montevideo also has important museums including Museo Torres García, Museo Jose Gurvich, Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales and Museo Juan Manuel Blanes etc.

The center of traditional Uruguayan food and beverage in Montevideo is the Mercado del Puerto or Port Market. A torta frita is a pan-fried cake consumed in Montevideo and throughout Uruguay.

It is generally circular, with a small cut in the centre for cooking, and is made from wheat flour, yeast, water and sugar or salt. Beef is very important in Uruguayan cuisine and an essential part of many dishes. Montevideo has a variety of restaurants, from traditional Uruguayan cuisine to Japanese cuisine.

As the capital of Uruguay, Montevideo is home to a number of festivals and carnivals including a Gaucho festival when people ride through the streets on horseback in traditional gaucho gear.

The major annual festival is the annual Montevideo Carnaval which is part of the national festival of Carnival Week, celebrated throughout Uruguay, with central activities in the capital, Montevideo.

Officially, the public holiday lasts for two days on Carnival Monday and Shrove Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday, but due to the prominence of the festival, most shops and businesses close for the entire week.

During carnival there are many open-air stage performances and competitions and the streets and houses are vibrantly decorated. Tablados or popular scenes, both fixed and movable, are erected in the whole city.

Notable displays include Desfile de las Llamadas or Parade of the Calls, which is a grand united parade held on the south part of downtown, where it used to be a common ritual back in the early 20th century.

Due to the scale of the festival, preparation begins as early as December with an election of the zonal beauty queens to appear in the carnival.

Church and state are officially separated since 1916 in Uruguay. The religion with most followers in Montevideo is Roman Catholicism and has been so since the foundation of the city. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Montevideo was created as the Apostolic Vicariate of Montevideo in 1830.

The vicariate was promoted to the Diocese of Montevideo on 13 July 1878.

Pope Leo XIII elevated it to the rank of a metropolitan archdiocese on 14 April 1897. The new archdiocese became the Metropolitan of the suffragan sees of Canelones, Florida, Maldonado–Punta del Este, Melo, Mercedes, Minas, Salto, San Jose de Mayo, Tacuarembo.

Montevideo is the only archdiocese in Uruguay and, as its Ordinary, the archbishop is also Primate of the Catholic Church in Uruguay. The archdiocese's mother church and thus seat of its archbishop is Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepcion y San Felipe y Santiago.

As of 2010, the current Archbishop of Montevideo is Daniel Fernando Sturla Berhouet, SDB, since his appointment on 11 February 2014.

Other religious faiths in Montevideo are Protestantism, Umbanda, Judaism, and there are many people who define themselves as Atheists and Agnostics, while others profess believing in God but without religion.

Carrasco International Airport is about 15 km east of the city center, in the suburb of Carrasco in the department of Canelones. The airport is linked to the city center via major four-lane divided arterial roads.

Route 101 the national highway running by the airport terminates at a roundabout where it connects to Avenida de las Americas, which in turn connects to Avenida Italia, which runs all the way to Centro.

People used to complain all the time about Carrasco's dilapidated and overcrowded old terminal. In 2009, Carrasco Airport opened a beautiful new terminal and expanded to eight gates, four jetways, four remote parking spots.

Unfortunately, to pay for the $134 million terminal, the government sold a lot of bonds backed by a USD $40 and $19 for flights to Buenos Aires airport fee charged to all departing travelers.

Based on where you are from, some airlines already include this fee in the price of the ticket,in the United States it is mandatory, but if your airline did not already charge you the fee, you will be required to go to the airport fee counter next to the check-in counters and pay the fee before you can leave the country.

You should be able to look at a fare breakdown of your ticket to see if this fee has been included, look for code WU in the tax lines.

Buses depart right outside the airport to Terminal Tres Cruces, just north of many major sites downtown easily walkable to hotels. Airport transfer by bus costs UYU56. Catch any bus that says Montevideo, just outside the departure doors at the post marked bus.

Once aboard a bus, keep your eye out for the Tres Cruces bus terminal if you intend to get off here, because the bus doesn't actually stop in the terminal, but just outside. If you are heading to/from Punta Carretas take the DM1 bus.

By remise Rate from airport to Downtown around UYS 800/950 (Uruguayan Pesos) or USD 40/45. The airport taxi to the center costs UYU1500 or USD70; metered and prepaid prices are about the same as of September 2012. Payment in USD is possible, but using UYU works out to be about 10% cheaper.

During weekdays one can take the normal radio taxi from the city to the airport for around 800 UYU, but be careful because some cab charge extra for carrying his bag and the other problem that the vehicles are small because using a security screen between the front and back .

Another possibility for travelers who are heading to Montevideo from nearby Buenos Aires is to take the high-speed ferry operated by Buquebus. A one-way ticket, tourist class, costs about UYU 2250 and takes just over 2 hours.

There are several boats a day. The ferry arrives in the Ciudad Vieja district of Montevideo, situated very close to downtown - a cab ride to a hotel in El Centro or Pocitos is much shorter and cheaper than from the airport.

Ferry service to Buenos Aires is also available via the same company Buquebus or ColoniaExpress via Colonia. The ticket can include the bus from Montevideo to Colonia, it is cheaper and about 1 to 2 hours longer than the direct crossing.

You can buy a bus ticket, about 188 Uruguyan pesos from the city terminal (Terminal Tres Cruces) to Colonia, 2 to 3 hours, stay a couple of hours or days, which is highly recommended, and then buy a ferry ticket in Colonia to Buenos Aires whicht takes about 1 hour.

If you book well in advance via internet, MasterCard works, even if it takes a couple of attempts you can get the Express service (1 hour) for around 500 UYU.

- Bus to Salto - 6 hour direct transfer is 640 pesos with Agencia Central SA - several departures throughout the day/night.

- Bus to Porto Alegre -a trip of about 12 hours, operated by two companies (TTL and EGA), departures every day about 8 pm and arriving at 8 a.m

- Bus to Sao Paulo - a 28 hour trip leaving every Sunday, serving cities like Florianopolis and Curitiba on the way, operated by EGA.

- Bus to Santiago de Chile -a 27 hour trip leaving every Monday, operated by EGA.

- Bus to Cordoba -about 12 hour trip leaving daily, operated by EGA

- Bus to Asuncion -a 26 hour trip leaving four times a week, operated by EGA.

- Bus to Colonia del Sacramento. Departures every hour, operated by two companies: COT and TURIL. There are two services: Directo no stops, time travel of 150 min and Parador stopping in all towns on the way, taking over 3 hours.

- Bus to Punta del Este. Departures every hour, operated by COP and COT, taking about 2 hours of travel. Most services are direct, but some make a stop at Piriapolis.

For those leaving from Porto Alegre, Brazil, there are two options: one that enters Uruguay via Chui and another via Jaguarao. For both, you start by taking the route BR-116 up to Pelotas.

Next, if you want to visit Chui, the southernmost city of Brazil, or the Santa Teresa Fortress or even see the beautiful beaches of the coast of Uruguay, then, at Pelotas, take the route BR-392 to Rio Grande and next the route BR-471 all the way to Chui.

Takes about 6 hours and 30 minutes to go from Porto Alegre to Chui. On June 6th of 2010 there were 5 tolls between those cities, a total of R$ 34.60, it's important to note that they only accept Brazilian Real.

Around 30 minutes after crossing the border, you can visit the Santa Teresa Fortress. An option is to stay a night at Punta del Diablo, in case you are too tired to keep driving to Montevideo. From Chui to Montevideo, just stay in route 9. Takes about 4 hours and 30 minutes.

Again, there are 3 tolls between Chui and Montevideo, each cost UYU 60.00. In this case, they do accept foreign money. However, it's strongly recommended that you pay in Uruguay Pesos, as they charge a lot more if you pay in Real or Dolar.

If you want the fastest route to Montevideo which is about 2 hours shorter than the first one, you should cross the border at Jaguarao. To reach this city, just stay in route BR-116. After that, take route 8 to Montevideo.

Montevideo is not a large city and it boasts a very efficient public transportation system so getting around is not difficult at all.

If you are not bashful about your Spanish, feel free to ask people which bus route you need to take to get to your destination as it can be the most effective and cheap option,UYU $33.

Alternatively if you know some Spanish there are two websites similar to Google Maps that are useful: Como ir and MontevideoBus. In addition there are both iPhone Bondi and Android SoloBus apps to help navigate the bus system.

It is useful to know that if you choose to ride a bus, upon boarding you will pay either the driver or the assistant who sits on the right-hand side of the bus or door-side a few seats from the entrance.

There is a small device that will dispense your receipt, make sure you hold on to it for the duration of your ride as sometimes company supervisors board buses checking for these receipts making sure no one is riding unauthorized.

If you are unsure where to get off you can always ask the driver or assistant to let you know when your stop is coming up and they'll be happy to oblige. Just try to remain visible so they can tell you,though if the bus gets full and you've moved to the back they'll yell out the street name.

It is also important to note that you do not need to have the exact fare as the driver or the assistant carry change. Of course, expect disgruntlement if you pay with a large bill.

The city's central terminal is called Tres Cruces. Aside from being a full-fledged mall, it sports companies with fully-equipped tour buses that can take you anywhere in Uruguay and even into neighboring countries. Expect UYU $376.00 one-way to Colonia, about 2 to 3 hours.

Efficient and on time. All destinations, timetables and hours are available online. Any bus from the airport marked Montevideo will reach Tres Cruces in about half an hour and cost 56 pesos.

It helps to ask the bus driver to inform you when to get off because the Tres Cruces terminal building is rather nondescript from some sides and you may miss it.

You can use a Remise a bit like a taxi but more professional and you can ask the company to send you a driver in your language, for example: you can rent it for an hour and the cost is approximately U$S16.

Taxis are plentiful but not too cheap, gasoline is expensive in Uruguay.

It helps to know a little Spanish. A ten-minute cab ride costs about UYU100. Taxis are metered and upon the end of your ride you are shown a chart depicting distance and cost though on some vehicles this chart will be on the window between you and the driver.

Generally there are two fare schedules. The first is for Monday-Saturday from morning to mid-evening. The second fee schedule is for Sundays and late at night, and is slightly more expensive. Tipping is not expected, but you might round up to an even number to be polite.

It is also not uncommon to sit on the front.

Car rental is cheaper if booked ahead but be aware that places like the airport and the ferry terminal charge higher rates than the same agencies in other locations around the city.

A few phone calls and a cheap taxi ride to a location other than the air or sea ports will save you half the rate for the same car at the same company.

Driving in Montevideo is not too difficult, especially for those visitors from Europe or developing countries that lack strict lane enforcement and have lots of roundabouts. Visitors from countries with few roundabouts and strict lane enforcement, like the United States, will find it baffling at first.

Road traffic in Montevideo is amazingly light outside of rush hour, and even during rush hour is relatively good compared to, say, North American cities of similar size.

It is not too hard to find parking in most of Montevideo. Indeed, if you do not see a Reservado sign, or red and white stripes or red paint on the curb, you can safely assume that one is allowed to park at any particular curb.

The only major obstacle for visitors is that from Monday to Friday, from 10 am to 6 pm, there is a Estacionmento Tarifa parking management system in place in much of the Ciudad Vieja and Centro.

To pay the tarifa for parking look for or ask for the closest Abitab office and make sure you know the number of your licenced plate. As of early 2016, rates in Plaza Independencia, downtown/Ciudad Vieja are roughly the equivalent of US$1 per hour.

You can pay in UY$ or US$ with not much difference given the very small amounts.

Montevideo is not a large city, and many of the sites can be seen in several days as they are clustered together.

Ciudad Vieja — Montevideo's Old Town. Enter through the portal called Puerta de la Ciudadela at one end of Plaza de Independencia.

Plaza de Independencia — The square at the end of 18 de Julio Ave., with the latter being the main commercial artery of the city.

Palacio Salvo — Next to Plaza Independencia. Once South America's highest building, the Palacio Salvo still dominates Montevideo's skyline.

Mausoleo de Artigas — This large monument in the Plaza de Independencia pays tribute to Jose Gervasio Artigas, one of the heroes of the Uruguayan Independence. Under the monument is the mausoleum, which is open on the weekends. It contains an urn with his ashes and two honor guards keeping watch.

National History Museum — Spread between five old historic houses, holds important bits of the country's history. No entrance fee.

The sexual diversity monument, erected in 2005, is located on Policia Vieja St., between Plaza de la Constitucion and Plaza Independencia. It reads Honouring diversity is honouring life; Montevideo is for the respect of all identities and sexual orientations.

It's South America's first monument dedicated to sexual diversity. Other places of interest to gay people include the Edificio Liberaij, where two gay Argentine bank robbers featured in the 1998 movie Plata Quemada died in 1965.

El Dia del Patrimonio, — On the last Saturday of September or beginning of October, all the museums and historical places of interest around the Plaza de Independencia open for free to the public.

There is also a large Murga, or a traditional South American parade in which all the Uruguayan political parties take part.

MAPI - museum of indigenous art and Uruguayan archaeology.

Museo Torres Garcia - displaying works of this most prominent Uruguayan artist.

Barrio Reus - a small neighbourhood with charming coulorful houses.

Palacio Legislativo - national parliament, the first one in South America and an iconic symbol of Uruguay´s long lasting democracy.

Museum of Natural History - built in the form of a mosque and located at the beach promenade.

Museo del Carnaval

MNAV - national museum of modern Uruguayan art.

Fortaleza General Artigas at Cerro - it now houses a collection of armoury. It is the original fort from which Montevideo originated.

Palacio Taranco - seat of the Museum of Decorative Art.

Mercado del Puerto - this is a covered market full of restaurants and some shops selling handicrafts. The main market is open every day during lunch hours. The restaurants around the exterior offer both indoor and outdoor seating, and they remain open for dinner.

Nacional - not only the name of the world famous football team but also the stadium where the first game of the first World Cup Uruguay 1930 was played.

Museo Blanes - museum of early Uruguayan art from the 19th to early 20th Centuries

Tiles Museum or Museo del Azulejo - exhibiting around 3000 tiles

National Museum of Anthropology and National History

Central Cemetery - a historic cemetery with sculptures

Punta Carretas - a shopping centre located in a former prison

World Trade Centre

Parque Rodo - Montevideo's main park with numerous amusement facilities

Castillo Soneira

Pittamiglio Castle, Rambla Gandhi 633. Interesting Castle. Must pay for a 45-mins tour to enter. Better to call and check the opening hrs. edit

The Rambla — This waterside roadway has people biking, fishing, drinking mate, and enjoying the great views. 22 kilometers-long (13.6 miles), the Rambla goes along Montevideo's waterfront. Lovely at sunset.

La Feria Tristán Narvaja Flea Market — Spend part of Sunday morning with the locals on Tristán Narvaja Street, where vendors sell everything from t-shirts to antiques to kitchen supplies. It's right off of 18 de Julio Ave. and the entrance is often marked by people selling puppies.

Pocitos — This barrio lies about 2 miles south-east of El Centro.

The Pocitos beach runs east from Punta Trouville for about a mile. Highrise apartments ring the beach along the Rambla, but going in-land a few blocks brings you into an older neighborhood reminiscent of San Francisco's Marina district.

Head uphill on 21 de septiembre St. from the Rambla at Punta Trouville for about 7 or 8 blocks to avenue Ellauri, turn left and walk another 4 blocks to Punta Carretas Shopping, a major shopping mall that is built on the remains of a prison,they preserved the prison gate inside the mall.

Walking — Montevideo is a relatively safe place. The city is built on a slight hill, the spine of which extends into the Rio de la Plata to create the point that was the original city or Ciudad Vieja.

From the Plaza de la Independencia, the main street that extends east from the plaza is 18 de Julio Ave. El Centro downtown is in this area and there will be lots of shops and places to change money.

You can walk around without worry almost anywhere, and there are lots of side streets and areas you can explore: be aware that the port area, just off the main tourist and port terminal areas, is considered dangerous by locals as much as by the police.

Parts of the city may appear run-down, but do not confuse this with it being a bad neighborhood. Along with Buenos Aires, this is one of the few cities in South America where poverty is not overly prevalent.

That being said, there is simply not enough money in Uruguay to construct lots of new, modern buildings, so buildings are kept in use for long periods of time.

Montevideo City Tour — Regular or Private City Tour around Montevideo or visiting wineries, Punta del Este or Colonia del Sacramento.

Mercado de los Artesanos — This market, located on the corner of Paraguay and Colonia streets, is fantastic! An array of artists and craftspeople converge here to sell wares made from leather, paper, woodwork, and various textiles.

Montevideo Leather Factory, Plaza Independencia 832. This factory has a wide range of leather garments at reasonable prices, and they offer custom-made jackets tailored to your measurements in 24 hours. Opening hours: SAT till 1700hrs, SUN till 1400hrs.

Manos del Uruguay — Several locations throughout Montevideo, including one at the Punta Carretas mall. Sells woven goods and other handcrafted items,a little pricey.

Punta Carretas Shopping Mall — A large shopping mall located in a former prison where the military regime used to torture dissidents. It has several levels, a food court, cineplex and full-service dining options.

It is currently the most upscale mall in Uruguay, although still small by U.S. standards and features several boutiques for international fashion brands.

The Sheraton Hotel is connected to the mall. The mall has ample parking, but because the developer had to build around the existing prison as part of the development deal, the parking garages are very confusing and difficult to navigate.

Montevideo Shopping Mall — Another large modern shopping mall in the Pocitos neighborhood of Montevideo. It has one huge parking garage which is easier to navigate then Punta Carretas but is not quite as upscale.

The not-so-big capital of a small country that is not often in the international news, and while not exactly a world center of gourmet gastronomy.

Montevideo is a city where one can eat wonderfully and relatively cheap, with plenty of local character though it's not the same cuisine as in Argentina, yet not too exotic for most tastes.

Meat — Uruguay is renowned for its meats, and Montevideo has many parrillas where they are grilled up to perfection. Although both Uruguay and Argentina are large exporters of meat, especially beef, and their meat is renowned for its top quality.

They still keep the best for themselves, while also being masters in the art of grilling it.

So, only going there can you eat the best meat and taste for yourself how outstandingly good it is. Steaks or bifes are typically served medium-rare, so if you like them well-done, be sure to specifically ask for that bien cocido.

Chivito — This is the local sandwich, made with meat,usually beef tenderloin, not goat as Argentines might guess from the name, slices of hard-boiled eggs, and vegetables. It can be served al plato or on a plate, which means it is going to take a fork and knife to eat it.

Like a hamburger, it is traditionally served with fries, but it is tastier, cheaper and much bigger than a hamburger. Several guidebooks call the chivito a cholesterol bomb.

After eating one or two of these delicious monsters, you will begin to understand why so many elderly Uruguayans have pot bellies not from eating at McDonald's.

Marcos Chivito is one of the best places in Montevideo to get these tasty treats, as well as La Mole, and some Carritos. An excellent choice is to try chivitos in Bar San Rafael.

Milanesa — similar to Wiener Schnitzel, this is a common meat dish in most of South America, including Uruguay. It consists of a thin slice of breaded beef although chicken and fish versions also exist.

Each slice is dipped into beaten eggs, seasoned with salt, and other condiments according to the cook's taste,like parsley and garlic. Each slice is then dipped in breadcrumbs or occasionally flour and shallow-fried in oil, one at a time.

Some people prefer to use very little oil and then bake them in the oven as a healthier alternative. Sometimes it may include a fried egg on top. A popular variation is the milanesa a la napolitana. It consists of a beef milanesa topped with ham, cheese and tomato sauce.

Fresh Pasta and Fresh Gnocchis — they are everywhere on the menus, with all types of vegetarian or meat sauces usually a cheap, filling and delicious option! Be sure to try cappelletti Caruso, a dish whose exact origin is controversial.

But definitely invented by a Uruguayan chef decades ago, consisting of cappelletti (tortellini) in a delicious mushroom cream sauce.

Desserts — In Uruguay, desserts are huge and plentiful.

There is dulce de leche a kind of creamy caramel, a totally addictive threat to diabetics, coming in several versions: lighter, darker, softer, thicker, plain or with vanilla or other flavorings, etc. on almost everything and stores that sell nothing but caramels.

Many places sell nothing but dessert, so pick the one with the best looking pastries and cakes and enjoy!

Churros — Find them for sale at the Parque Rodo. Try the sweet versions - they come with sugar on top, or filled with chocolate, dulce de leche or cream filling - or the cheese-filled ones.

Pizza — There are pizzerias all around Montevideo. Most make square pizzas, a traditional form in Uruguay. Muzzas or mozzarella are most popular.

The local style of dough is sometimes soft and airy as bread, but still crusty, and not merely baked, but wonderfully gratinated with the excellent Uruguayan cheese.

Look for pizza places that are fullest of local customers often, it's the simplest nondescript places that serve the best pizza, and it can be really, really good.

Faina — It's a mixture of chickpea flour and milk, which is baked in the pizza oven. Quality is varible among pizzerias, most delicious is the thin or de orilla part which is crunchier.

Cheese — Yes, just cheese. Uruguay has a traditional and strong dairy industry, and although the varieties are mostly the better-known European ones, such as mozzarella, Gouda or Parmesan, quality is usually superb.

As in France, just dropping by a supermarket and buying some bread, butter and cheese can make a surprisingly cheap and delicious meal.

And yes, there are also restaurants specialized in many international cuisines, as well as some gourmet places run by talented chefs - as well as American fast food chains.

K Fe, Corner of Juan Paullier and Maldonado, Cordon area: You will feel like in Lavapiez in Madrid, Friedrichshain in Berlin or a Melbourne back alley. Enjoy a coffee in the afternoon or a home cooked meal always veggie option in this unique rotiseria cultural in the hart of the city.

Clothes, design, exhibition, roots, dub, dubstep, urban art. Open from 12 pm to 2 am.

Cafe Bacacay — located very close to Plaza de la Independencia, right across the Teatro Solis and open all day for a coffee or a bite to eat, this cafe/restaurant offers a variety of very tasteful dishes going from traditional to more innovative cuisine. Service was excellent.

La Pasiva — This restaurant chain is found all over the city, and specializes in beer, hot dogs, and chivitos.

Le Corte — Classic restaurant not fast-food, in the Ciudad Vieja, with lovely decorations and great food.

Mercado del Puerto — This touristy area houses a dozen or so restaurants. Most offer grilled meat, and you can find good paella, as well. It is usually quite busy - just find an open seat to be served.

Montecristo — Located in Pocitos, this restaurant offers innovative dishes and is housed in a castle-like building that used to be the house of an alchemist.

Sidewalk cafes — Cafes abound in the city center along the pedestrian streets heading towards the Ciudad Vieja.

Estancia Del Puerto — Featured on Anthony Bourdain's 'No Reservations'. It's an All You Can Eat meat bar.

Cru — Considered Montevideo's finest restaurant, with a good sampling of Uruguayan New Cuisine.

Don Pepperone — With several locations around the city, a good bet for anyone seeking a taste of an American-style chain. This Italian-American themed eatery offers a wide variety of pizza as well as other pasta dishes.

Mate — this traditional hot infusion is ubiquitous, found everywhere in Uruguay. Mate is derived from the dried eponymous herb or yerba mate, which was originally used by the indigenous Guaraní people from southeastern South America.

Although the word yerba means herb in Spanish, when a Uruguayan says that, it's usually the mate herb one is talking about. Mate is traditionally brewed in a gourd and drunk directly from it with a special silver straw that also filters out the herb bits.

It is also drunk in Argentina, Paraguay, and southern Brazil. It contains a lot of caffeine and similar stimulants; so, if you're not used to it, it's advisable to avoid it in the evening.

Most locals in Montevideo prefer to drink their mate without sugar, called a mate amargo or bitter mate, though much less bitter than the name suggests. Gourds and horns are constantly being refilled with the brew from sun-up to sun-down.

There is also a much less popular toasted, milder-tasting version or mate cocido that is prepared and drunk in cups just like English tea,it often even comes in teabags, often sweetened.

Salus — A mineral water bottled in Uruguay. If you're a little apprehensive about drinking tap water, this is a great way to go.

Tutti Frutti — A mix of delicious freshly squeezed fruit juice with ice.

Beer — Beer is often sold in 1 liter bottles. You basically have a selection of typical lagers. The most commonly found are Patricia or Pilsen, with Zillertal also often available. You can also order a chopp, which is a draft beer and if not specified, it is normally Patricia.

Uvita — A specialty of Bar Fun Fun, a liquor drink served in a shot glass and tastes of raisins. It is a secret recipe and only served at Baar Fun Fun.

Medio y Medio — A special mix of sparkling wine and white wine made by Roldos, in the Mercado del Puerto

La Taqueria, Jose Marti 3373. La Taqueria, situated just a few steps from Pocitos beach, offers excellent Mexican food at very reasonable prices. Run by two friends, this is a great place to eat and drink in Montevideo among the locals. Service is excellent and English spoken as well. Try the Taco del Diablo and the mojitos.

Piedras de Afilar Art Hostel, Montevideo downtown, Andes 1261 (Esq. Soriano). Art Hostel placed at the very centre of Montevideo, + B&B, WIFI, BICYCLES, KITCHEN. Dorms from 250 Ur$ (13USD).

Boulevard Sarandi Hostel, Sarandi 405 (Esq. Zabala). New hostel open in July 2009. Clean and spacious. Breakfast, towel, Internet and Wifi included. Free use of the kitchen. Dorms from 240 Ur$.

Albergue Juvenil, Canelones. Nice HI-Hostel close to the center. With kitchen and internet access.

Unplugged Hostel, Luis de la Torre 930. Located in Pocitos, one of the nicest and safest neighborhoods of Montevideo, just a few blocks away from its famous coast. Dorms from US$12

Hotel Arapey, Ave Uruguy 925. Rambling art deco relic with large rooms and linens as old as the building. Private bath, fans, TVs, elevator. US$32/38 single/double.

Ciudad Vieja Hostel, Ituzaingo 1436. Located near the historical heart of the city and in the middle of Montevideo’s nightlife. Free breakfast, internet, kitchen access. Dorms from US$11.

Red Hostel, San Jose 1406. A hostel set in a renovated colonial home built in 1912. Typical hostel traffic, but very nice staff who like to hang out with their friends late at night on the hostel roof.

Splendido Hotel, Bartolome Mitre 1314. Rumor has it that this hotel was originally built by a former president at the turn of the 20th century for his mistress. The hotel is located near the Plaza de Independencia and the Teatro Solis.

Many of the best restaurants, music, bars, and sightseeing spots are literally within a few steps of the front door. Prices from US$11-38.

Pocitos Hostel, Av. Sarmiento 2641. In nearby Pocitos, a beach suburb ,is a purpose built hostel with free breakfast, internet, kitchen, fireplace, backyard and the most friendly and helpful staff.

They have bicycles for hire, don´t miss the bike ride from Pocitos to Carrasco (45 minutes) or Pocitos to Escollera, Old Town, 20 minutes. Dorms from US$ 12

The green hostel in the heart of the old city, 25 de Mayo 288 esq. Colon. checkout: 11h. Breakfast & wifi included. Bike rental. Dorms220$ Private700$.

Live MVD Hostel, Maldonado 1790,Bus #300 or #407 from Terminal Tres Cruces. checkin: 13:00; checkout: 11:30. This is a brand new hostel in the design district with cheap dorms and a central location. The owners, two girls from Montevideo, are super friendly and helpful.

Free breakfast with homemade bread, free bike rental, free Wi-Fi, and an art studio,you´re supposed to do a painting before you go. Very clean. English and some Portugues is spoken. USD 10.

Casa Sarandi Guesthouse, Buenos Aires 558. Intimate art-deco style inn, similar to a boutique hotel, in the Ciudad Vieja (Old City). Just three guest rooms, all with private bathrooms. Rooms are large with queen-size beds and antique furniture.

There's a cosy living room and a fully-equipped modern kitchen. The owners specialise in orienting guests to the city with a personalised check-in, handouts and daily recommendations of things to do. From 79 USD per night.

Hotel Embajador, San Jose 1212. checkout: 11:00. Nice and clean city hotel with a very good breakfast. The hotel is located parallel to Avenida 18 de Julio, hence very central.

Staff is friendly and speaks Spanish, English and some German. The hotel boasts a pool, gym, free-to-use Computers in the lobby, and free Wi-Fi on the rooms. Double from US$ 100.

Four Points Sheraton, Calle Ejido 1275. Close to one of Avenida 18 de Julio. In walking distance of Plaza Independencia and Ciudad Vieja. Has a pool and a small gym. Rooms are quite nice, but without balconies and you can't open any windows,a shame in the summer time. Friendly staff and an excellent restaurant.

Fully Equipped Short Term Apartments, Calle 21 Septembre in Pocitos. Very central and in a good neighborhood. Perfect solution if you plan to stay for several days and want to have the comfort of your own home.

Ibis Montevideo, Calle La Cumparsita. A 5-minute walk from the old town, this chain hotel has simple but comfortable rooms and is bookable over the internet.

Radisson, Plaza Independencia 759. Located heart of Montevideo's financial and commercial district. Features include a pool, gym, high-speed internet, and views of the city from the Restaurant Arcadia, located on the 25th floor.

Casa Sarandi Guesthouse, Intimate art-deco style guesthouse with just three guestrooms. All rooms are large with private bathrooms, great beds with imported linens and antique furniture. There's a cosy living room and a fully-equipped modern kitchen.

The owners specialise in orienting guests to the city with a personalised check-in, handouts and daily recommendations of things to do. Room with ensuite bathroom 89 USD per night.

Nh Columbia Hotel, Rambla Gran Bretana 473. This hotel is near the Ciudad Vieja with views of the Rambla. A modern hotel with a huge breakfast and free internet access, it has plenty of parking and a friendly staff.

Wearing or carrying items which may identify you as an affluent tourist can be a mistake. You shouldn't pack anything that you would be upset to lose. Leave expensive jewelry, watches and other items of value at home and only carry what you need.

That goes for credit cards and other documents as well; if you have no need for them leave them behind in the hotel safe, only take what money you are likely to spend with you.

Colonia - A pleasant little World Heritage colonial town. A nice chance to get away from the noisy city and relax for a while. Two hours away by bus.

Punta del Este - South America's most elegant and sophisticated beach resort, bustling and frequented by the rich and famous from all over the world in summer (November-February), quiet and almost deserted at other times of the year, but always beautiful.

About two hours away from Montevideo with easy access and frequent bus connections.

Piriapolis - Smaller, less famous, less sophisticated and quieter beach resort on the way to Punta del Este. One and a half hours from Montevideo.

Cabo Polonio - Secluded village on the open Atlantic coast with difficult access and no infrastructure, but outstanding beaches and an alternative lifestyle. Too far from Montevideo for a day trip.



Tourism Observer