By Roy Heale
Nestled along the banks of the Arroyo de las Vacas river creek, Carmelo is a small town located in western Uruguay, noted for its wineries, beaches, and laid back lifestyle. The river runs along the east and south part of the city and serves as a port for the town. On its north bank there is the Puerto Carmelo-Tigre, where small catamaran boats carry passengers across the Río de la Plata to Argentina.
A swing bridge, the Puente Giratorio de Carmelo, which opened on May 1st 1912, passes over the river joining the north part of the city with its small southern community. Here another port along the southern banks of the river hosts a marina for private boats plus the CarmeloYacht Club. Along the coast there is the extensive white sandy beach Playa Seré, a large green space park with picnic areas and parillas (BBQs) for public use, a small zoological garden, and a Casino Hotel. It is here where every day the locals enjoy long sessions of drinking mate while sport fishing in order to catch bogas and pejerreyes from some of the breakwaters which go hundreds of meters deep into the waters.
Another attraction is the mouth of the Las Vacas waterway where numerous sports watercrafts and sailing boats traverse the area to enter Carmelo. The yacht pier and the nautical campsite, where it is possible to camp by the river, are distinctive and popular.
There are two main plazas in the city. One is Plaza Artigas, with a monument to the foundation of the city in 1816, the church Templo Histórico del Carmen plus the city museum and archive. The other, more central, Independence Square—also known as Sculptures Square—is the commercial hub of the city. The main business street is 19 de Avril, which connects at the south end with the bridge to the southern shores.
In this small resort town there are two choices for your accommodations. One is in the resort community by the river beaches and the other is in the heart of the small downtown. The Hotel Urbano is the perfect choice on a quiet side street in the downtown area. It is just a couple of blocks from the Main Plaza Indepencia which is the heart of the city. This modern, bright and clean hotel offers almost twenty spacious rooms in different sizes and sleeping configurations. There are singles, doubles, triples, superiors, and suites to select the ideal size for your own requirements. On the second level there is a large outdoor patio and sun deck to spend those quiet moments. The main floor lobby café/bar offers a complete buffet breakfast with pastries, breads, fruits, juices, coffee, tea, ham, cheeses and more. There is also a relaxing street level outdoor patio for those who like to dine or sit outside. Rooms are reasonably priced and the buffet breakfast is included. This ideal hotel is a great home away from home when visiting the beautiful and historic town of Carmelo.
During the summer months this is a very popular outdoor destination for Argentines and Uruguayans who want to escape the big city heat and bustle to relax in the tranquil country atmosphere. Inexpensive catamaran ferries operate daily by Cacciola from Tigre, Argentina to Carmelo and provide an extremely enjoyable 2.5 hours passage through the Rio de la Plata Delta islands.
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