Uruguay is a small country in South America. It lies between Argentina and Brazil, and has some interesting places to visit. This site contains photos from this beautiful country and its inhabitants.
Hotel Carrasco is a historical building on the rambla (coastal road) of Montevideo, Uruguay. The name Carrasco refers to the neighbourhood it is built in. The building is from the beginning of the 20th century, and has recently been restored. The photos in this article are from April 2013, after the restoration was completed.
It was built by Alfredo Arocena, who was the main owner of the land in this area since 1907. In 1912 he created the Sociedad Anónima Balneario Carrasco, a company dedicated to convert the zone of Carrasco into a beach resort. One of the first activities of that company was the start of the construction of the original building, which also started in 1912. The hotel was designed by the French architects Jacques Dunant and Gastón Louis Mallet. After 9 years, and being interrupted by the World War I from 1914 until 1918, the building was inaugurated in 1921.
Over time, the hotel started to lose popularity. The facilities couldn't live up to the expectations of more modern times, and the building started to deteriorate. Eventually it was left abandoned. In 1975, the building became a national monument.
In 2009, Carrasco Nobile S.A. won the bid to carry out renovations on the hotel. In March 2013, the building that was declared a national monument in 1975, opened its doors to the public again. It now has a casino, which I haven't visited myself. I'm personally not too fond of the modern additions in front of the hotel (the glass entrance and the modern staircase), but the majority of the building and the inside of the hotel is absolutely stunning.
Click here for more photos.
Torres del Paine is a national park encompassing mountains, glaciers, lakes, and rivers in southern Chilean Patagonia. It was declared National Park in 1959, and UNESCO declared it Biosphere Reservation in 1978. It has a total surface of 242.242 hectares. The park is most famous for the mountain peaks it is named for, the Torres del Paine ("Towers of Paine"). The Torres del Paine are the three lighter grey peaks to the right of the centre of this photo. The Cuernos del Paine ("Horns of Paine") is the light grey mountain on the fold, with the black mountain tops. The mountain at the right is Cerro Paine Grande, and it is the highest mountain here. Its height is said to extend 3.050 metres above sea level, although apparently that is disputed; some observations apparently lead to measurements of 2.750 metres.
The park offers various beautiful spots. One of those spots is Laguna Amarga ("Bitter Lake"). This lake has a special colour, due to the stromatolites living in the lake. In the photo above you can see the lake, with the Torres del Paine in the background (they are the grey peaks to the right of the snowy mountain on the left).
Within the park (and around it), you see lots of Guanacos (Lama guanicoe). It is a camelid native to the arid, mountainous regions of South America. It stands between 1 and 1,2 metres and weighs about 90 kilograms.
The Cascada del Río Paine (cascades of the river Paine) are beautiful cascades in the River Paine. The colour of the water is caused by glacier flour, which are silt-sized particles of rock. Because the material is very small, it becomes suspended in river water making the water appear cloudy, which is sometimes known as glacial milk.
Salto Grande is a waterfall on the Paine River, after Lago Nordenskjöld. It exhibits tremendous power as it drains the Lago Nordenskjöld and feeds Lago Pehoé.
Spending only one day within the park left us wanting for more. There are so many beautiful spots, like the Río Serrano, which meanders through the countryside as can be seen in the photo above. We had to leave out quite a few interesting spots, such as the Grey Glacier. I hope to return here some day to explore the rest of the park.
More photos from Torres del Paine here.
Uruguay is home to Phoenicopterus chilensis, or as it is called in English, the Chilean Flamingo. I had seen flamingos before, but normally only in the Laguna de José Ignacio. A while ago, I spotted this solitary flamingo while kayaking in Arroyo Maldonado, near La Barra. I was intrigued, and at first I thought it probably had lost track of its flock.
A few days later I decided to explore the Arroyo Maldonado a bit more deeply than I had done before. A few kilometers in, I found a colony of flamingos. I was quite surprised, because I live less than 5 kilometers from this spot, as the crow flies. Who would have known...
There are six species of flamingo in the world, of which 4 live in the America's. The plumage of the Chilean Flamingo is pinker than the slightly larger Greater Flamingo, but less so than Caribbean Flamingo. It can be differentiated from these species by its greyish legs with pink "knees", and also by the larger amount of black on the bill (more than half).
The reason why flamingos stand on one leg is apparently not fully understood. There are several theories, ranging from exotics ones as the supposed ability of flamingos to let half their body sleep to more down-to-earth ones where it would conserve body heat, but none has been proven.
The color of flamingos is greatly influenced by the food intake. The pink color is obtained from carotenoid pigments. However, a Chilean Flamingo is pale pink and will never be as brightly colored as the much more spectacularly colored American Flamingo.
Laguna del Diario is a small lake in Punta del Este. It's about 4 hectare (about 10 acres). It's located at the entrance of Punta del Este (actually officially Maldonado still), and about 50 meters from the Rio de la Plata, only separated by from that by the beach and the highway. The lake is accessible for water sporters such as kayak and wind surf. As is the case for all fresh water lakes in Uruguay, the use of motorized vehicles is prohibited.
Especially outside the holiday season, this place is a wonderful quiet place to enjoy nature. The lake is host to a big variety in birds. Great Egrets, such as seen above, make their nests at the shores of the lake. You can see lots of Snail Kites (see below), and while you're on the water alone they hunt right alongside you.
Along the borders of the lake, there are almost swamp-like conditions. Very little depth, and lots of birds foraging for food, such as this Snowy Egret.
The lake is has a dense population of water plants, and when kayaking through the lake in this time of year, you often find yourself surrounded by vast expanses of water flowers.
If you want to visit Laguna del Diario yourself, you can find it here:
El Ateneo Grand Splendid is a bookstore in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The bookstore is a branch office of the book chain El Ateneo, and it is located in an old theater called the Gran Splendid. In January 2008, the Guardian called this bookstore the 2nd most beautiful bookstore in the world. The building was designed by the architects Peró and Torres Armengol for a businessman called Max Glucksman (1875-1946). It was inaugurated as a theater in May 1919.
In the year 2000, work started on transforming the old theater into a bookstore. Bookshelves outline the walls of the galleries and the main arena. The former stage has been transformed into a bar, where one can eat and drink something while reading a book from the bookstore. Nowadays, El Ateneo Gran Splendid is the flagship bookstore of the El Ateneo and Yenny bookstore chain, receiving over a million visitors every year.
The ceiling in itself is a work of art. The dome measures 20 x 19 meters, and was painted in 1919 by Nazareno Orlandi. The painting is an allegorical representation of peace, and was painted to commemorate the end of the First World War. Peace is represented by a feminine figure, surrounded by representatives of the world.
The front side of the theatre, which was formerly the lobby, is also used as part of the bookstore.
For more photos, see this gallery. The bookstore can be found at Avenida Santa Fé 1860, in the Recoleta neighborhood.