Taking the Why Out of Uruguay
The average traveler hears the words "South America," and conjures up images of Argentina, Ecuador, Chile or Brazil. Those who think outside the box picture themselves strolling the cobblestone streets in a colonial town called Colonia, climbing the steps of a house shaped like an eagle in a coastal town called Atantida, and exploring the streets of a town whose layout adheres to the mystical principles of alchemy and Kabbalah. In other words, they picture themselves in Uruguay.
A small country, about the size of Washington State, Uruguay snuggles in it's cozy cubbyhole between Brazil and Argentina, keeping a low profile and keeping it's often quirky attractions more or less a secret. The cat jumped out of the bag when US citizens of other nationalities discovered the potentials that this small-sized yet big-hearted country held for expats. Wondering what the fuss was about, travelers began to listen.
Holiday in Montevideo
Why Travel To Uruguay?
Traveling to Uruguay is a complex process, and some people might wonder if its worth it. The answer: definitely. When asked why people love it here, this is how they answer:
A Gorgeous Mosaic of Cultures: Yes, New York City Mayor David Dinkins used that phrase back in the 1990s to describe his beloved home town, but here, it truly applies. Uruguay offers a culture that combines a bit of Europe, a bit of South America, and a touch of what people call Eisenhower's America. The fact that its expat enclave draws US citizens, Canadians, Finns, Dutch, Aussies, Italians and many other cultures adds to its cosmopolitan flare.
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The People: Uruguayans truly love their visitors, and enjoy communicating with them, even if their Spanish skills are less than perfect or non-existent.
The Beaches: In Uruguay, fields of green flow down an endless expanse of sandy, undeveloped beaches, which hug the shores of the Rio de la Plata. Excellent fishing and surfing is available in some locations.
A Respect for the Past: Uruguayans preserve their old buildings, giving visitors a chance to get up close and personal with the events of their history. From the rustic colonial homes in a town appropriately called Colonia,to the turn-of-the-century Beux Arts building in Montevideo, travelers will keep their cameras ready at all times. Antique cars line the streets, and yes, people still drive them. Even the president still drives his 30-year old Volkswagen.
The Food: Its hormone-free farming practices put Uruguay's name on the traveling gourmand map, but beef is not the only reason for foodies to visit Uruguay. Fresh organic vegetables and chicken, grilled to perfection never fails to put a smile on people's faces.
Ecological Conservation: Karumbe, a marine conservation center Punta del Diablo accepts volunteers, who work with juvenile green turtles.
Quirky Attractions: A house shaped like an eagle, a former vacation rental shaped like a cruise ship, a former apartment building filled with Masonic symbols and secret passageways, and an entire city designed in accordance with the mystical principles of Kabbalah and alchemy add mystique to your visit to Uruguay.
Getting There Is Half the Fun- Well Sort Of
Now that you know why you should travel to Uruguay, your next two questions are undoubtedly:
1. Great! How do I get there?
2. When do I leave?
Most travelers to Uruguay arrive either by boat from Buenos Aires, or by plane into Carrasco International Airport. If Uruguay is part of a side trip to Argentina, I would suggest switching the order in which you visit the two countries. Here's why: In 2009, Argentina began charging US citizens what is known as a reciprocity fee. This means that they charge an entree fee equal to what the United States charges Argentinian citizens to enter the US, thus explaining the name "reciprocity fee." As of April, 2012, the fee is $140.On the other hand, if you arrive by ferry, or if you take the Buquebus ferry from Montevideo or Colonia, Uruguay, you do not have to pay the reciprocity fee.
The visa issue also comes into play when choosing an airline. TAM, a Brazilian airline, travels to Montevideo with a connection at LaGuardia Airport, and a stopover in Sao Paulo airport in Brazil, where you eventually connect with Pluna, a Uruguayan airline, which takes you to Montevideo. If you have a long layover in Sao Paulo, you might be tempted to step out and explore this lively Brazilian city, but step away from the exits! Brazil prohibits entry without payment of the reciprocity fee.
In fact, you are only permitted to stay in the transit lounge for a certain number of hours, so if your connecting Pluna flight is delayed, you have a problem.
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Adventures in South America | Flying Direct from the US
American Airlines, on the other hand, flies directly from Miami to Montevideo. If you usually fly TAM, you'll miss its Latin American hospitality, which includes little extras such as such a glass of water and a piece of candy before take-off, even in economy class, private video screens and an overwhelmingly charming flight crew. You won t miss the stopover in Brazil. TACA, a Central American airline, offers direct service from JFK service to Montevideo. TACA is a partner of Avianca Airlines.
When To Go
In case you were absent during high school geography, Uruguay is in the southern hemisphere, which means that its seasonal patterns are opposite of those celebrated in the United States. This means that residents celebrate Christmas on the beaches, with fireworks at midnight. The thermometer begins to drop in June, but a temperate climate keeps it comfortable for most of the year. Since The US summer is off-season in Uruguay, it s the best time to go for those on a budget. Next time you plan a trip, step out of the box and travel to Uruguay!
Travel to Uruguay