Saturday, November 16, 2013

Walking tour of Salto

Nuestra Senora de Carmen church
OK.  So here I am, in Salto, with the whole day ahead of me.  Salto is tucked way up in the northwest corner of Uruguay, about 500 km from Montevideo.  "So why come here?", you might be wondering.  I wanted to visit one city in the interior.  And Salto is known for its thermal springs.  And soaking in thermal springs -- like "whiskers on kittens" to Julie Andews -- is one of my favorite things.

I am staying at a small hotel called the "Art Hotel Deco."

It's actually more B&B than hotel as it has only four rooms.  It's also somewhat misnamed, as the decor is antiques and wood.  The whole feel is a few decades longer ago than the Art Deco period.

My room.  MUCH bigger than my room in La Paloma
I was talking with the owners last night.  The place was built in the 1890s as the private residence of a wealthy family.  I suspected as much.  The current owners are a German couple who've lived in Uruguay for the past several decades.

One of the multiple sitting rooms on the property
The place looks great.  The staff is so over-the-top attentive and accommodating that it's almost embarrassing.  When I asked if they had an electrical adapter I could use (Uruguay has weird outlets, using round plugs spaced wider apart than my European adapter), the clerk went to the office area, unplugged a piece of equipment and gave me the electrical outlet strip that had some plugs that could accommodate my laptop.  It's almost too much.

The fresh fruit left in my room for a late night snack is a nice touch,

Anyway, this morning is to be dedicated to a walk around the downtown of Salto.

Plaza Treinta y Tres
Heading in the general direction of the river, I go through Plaza de Treinta y Tres, which has Nuestra Senora de Carmen on one end.

Nuestra Senora de Carmen (only this time shot from farther back)
It's Plaza 33 because the number 33 is important in Uruguayan history.  It's akin to the number 500 in the history of Sparta, only smaller.  I'm not sure of the particular akin-ness, but I figure you can wikipedia it as easily as I can.

I posed for this shot hoping (why I don''t know) that the church bell towers would look like devil horns
But Plaza Treinta y Tres is a few blocks inland.

Government buildings on the other side of Plaza Treinta y Tres, directly across from Nuetra Senora de Carmen
Which means I have to keep walking to get the next plaza, which is riverside.

Plazoleta Roosevelt.  Not sure if it's Teddy or Franklin Delano.
Just above the white fencing you can see a sliver of blue.  That's the Rio Uruguay.  And the green land on the other side of the river?  Argentina.

Stray dogs congregating in Plazoleta Roosevelt
I have now twice been close enough to the Argentine to see it, but I have yet to go there.  It's not some "Moses can't enter the Promised Land" thing, as I certainly don't think of the Argentine as sometime sort of Promised Land.

The Argentine
There's a $150 cover charge just to enter Argentina nowadays, so that's why I didn't just bop over there to get my 19th country visited.

Museo Historico del Rio Uruguay sign
I mosey down closer to the river.

Museo Historic del Rio Uruguay
The Historic Museum of the Rio Uruguay did not appear to be open.  So I gave that a pass, as breaking into historic museums after hours in foreign countries is frowned upon.  So I go.

Exiting the Museo Historico del Rio Uruguay
 Next stop is an iron pier that juts out into the Rio Uruguay, getting me closer yet to the Argentine.

On the Antiguo Muelle Ferroviario
See the guy in the black shirt?  He's holding a mate gourd and a thermos of water.  I saw a lot of that Montevideo, but up here in Salto?  All the time.  Everyone is carrying their gourd and thermos and sipping on mate nonstop.  All day and all night.

Looking into the Argentine and singing Elvis Costello:
"The transparent people who live on the other side /
Living a life that is almost like suicde"
Don't know why Argentina makes me think that thought
The antique iron pier, or whatever is the literal translation of Antiguo Muelle Ferroviario, is a good place to see the river and what's on the other side.  Which is the Argentine.  Which is as close as I will get to it.

Wandering back into town I find Jesus.

A big Jesus inside a barrel-looking ring
 Literally.  A statue of Jesus inside what appears to be some sort of barrel ring.  Somebody left him an offering of a 2L Coca Cola.  Right near Jesus was this building:

Translation:  National Headquarters of the Revival
I don't know why it's pink.  I don't know why it's shaped like a castle.  I'm just glad its both.

I saw on the map that there were some nice viewpoints of the river further downstream.  It turns out the walk to the river was nicer than the view.

Tree-lined walking paths are always a good thing
 I headed back into the heart of town:

Store near my hotel
And I saw a small store all geared up for Christmas, with Santa and a store-full of decorations inside.  I guess the USA isn't the only place that starts celebrating Christmas way too early.  By the way, I heard my first Christmas song on the drive up to Salto the other day:  "Last Christmas" by George Michael who may or may not have been recording as Wham! back then.  First Christmas song of the year and it's not even one of the good ones!

The streets of Salto
I am walking toward Plaza Artigas.

And here I am:

Heroic style statue with Artigas on board a horse
Plaza Artigas.
Closer view
 And right across the plaza is another church, Catedal San Juan Bautista.

Catedal San Juan Bautista
The sign said it was closed for today, Saturday.  I'm hoping it'll be open for Sunday mass (misas) tomorrow.

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