Things That I Have Learned in Montevideo, Uruguay

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Things I Have Learned in Montevideo, Uruguay

“Montevideo is like Buenos Aires without the LA vibe.” Anthony Bourdain

Over half of the country’s 3.3 million people live in the capital, Montevideo.

Montevideo is not a city for vegetarians. Salads are few and far between. (translation-Did  we make a barbecue today?)

The chivito is Uruguay’s classic sandwich.  Chivo means “goat” in Spanish so it means baby goat but the sandwich is made with steak, ham, cheese, and sometimes other ingredients, like lettuce, tomato, and fried egg. We had a scaled down version.

Walk past any small eatery in Montevideo  you’ll see two, three, even four people sharing a single sandwich.

Jacinto, open since 2012, is a much talked-about eatery led by Lucía Soria, an Argentine chef who trained under renowned chef and restaurateur Francis Mallmann before moving to Uruguay. Her restaurant is just off Plaza Zabala  (near our hotel) in the historic heart of the city, She invents fresh and modern versions of old Uruguayan classic dishes,

The Carnaval Museum is located in the Old Town. it was free on the Sunday that I was there.

I loved the display of old carnaval photos, the music and especially the amazing costumes.

Uruguayans hold the democratic process very highly. They remember the years of dictatorship and the upcoming election is very important.

Everyone is out supporting their candidates and trying to get your vote. It is inspiring to see.

.La Rambla is the longest continuous sidewalk in the world on the banks of the Rio De  La Plata. Joggers, cyclists and families are out enjoying the view. 

One of the popular tourist attractions in Montevideo is the classic sign on La Rambla.

We stayed  in the  Ciudad Vieja or the Old Town  at the Alma Historica Boutique Hotel. All the rooms are different.

We were in the Torres Garcia room  which  of course led us to his museum. The hotel is cool and staff is very helpful.

Joaquin Torres Garcia is  perhaps Uruguay’s most famous artist, despite spending most of his life abroad in France and Spain.

García created curious portraits of historical icons such as Beethoven, Da Vinci and Dostoyevsky as well as cubist paintings similar to those of Picasso. The gift store is a good place for souvenirs.,

 Jose Gurevich was born in Lithuania 1927 and moved to Uruguay when he was four years old. He was a well-renowned painter, muralist and sculptor who died at the very young age of forty seven. His museum features drawings from his life in Lithuania as well as Uruguay.

The main area of the Ciudad Vieja is the Plaza Independencia. General Artigas lead Uruguay to independence. His  mausoleum is built under the square and directly below a huge iron statue of him riding a horse. It’s a really cool, unexpected mausoleum. Uruguayans know how to commemorate their independence struggle and heroes.

 Architectural landmarks include the stunning Palacio Salvo, a towering masterpiece by the Italian architect Mario Palanti. The Art Deco facade may look vaguely familiar if you’ve done any sightseeing in Buenos Aires. That’s because Palacio Salvo is the graceful sister of Palacio Barolo, his other best-known work,

The Teatro Solis, yet another impressive example of Montevideo’s architecture. Built in 1856, the theater was renovated from 1998-2004, when it was reopened to the public. The theater is recognized globally for its phenomenal acoustics,

The Palacio Legislativo  (the Parliament) is a huge imposing neoclassical building overlooking the city.

Mercado Agricultura de Montevideo (MAM)  is a working market in a beautiful early twentieth century building.

There is plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and beef.

One thing you notice in Montevideo is that people are obsessively drinking yerba mate.They all have thermoses or that beautiful mate cup with a silver straw  (bombilla) which is sold all over Uruguay. You can find bags of  many varieties  of yerba  mate in the market. Finding yerba mate to try in a cafe is difficult. Yerba mate  is  bitter and an acquired  taste.  I  had already had it in Argentina and bought the mate cup  and yerba  mate there. It seemed like  if I wanted some in Montevideo, I was going to have to get someone to share theirs  with me.

Soledad was our wonderful guide in Uruguay. She is  knowledgeable, smart, funny and can change plans when needed. She was also very helpful with getting the necessary bandages for my finger  and she was right. It was exactly what the doctor told me when I got home.and have to do for the next few months. 

Fly safe,

JAZ

Things I’ve Learned In Sao Paulo, Brazil

Things I’ve Learned In São Paulo, Brazil

“Cities were always like people, showing their varying personalities to the traveler. Depending on the city and on the traveler, there might begin a mutual love, or dislike, friendship, or enmity. Where one city will rise a certain individual to glory, it will destroy another who is not suited to its personality. Only through travel can we know where we belong or not, where we are loved and where we are rejected.” Roman Payne

Metropolitan São Paulo is more that 3 times the size of Moscow and 6,5 times the of
size of New York. With almost twenty million inhabitants, it is the biggest city in both Americas and the Southern hemisphere.

I guess that is why they have some really bad traffic jams.

São Paulo is inland. Los Angeles is on the ocean. They have the same air pollution.

There is coffee on almost every street corner in São Paulo. Brazilians love a coffee after lunch. (non Brazilians also at Casa Mathilde)

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Manhattan has many skyscrapers and tall buildings. So does São Paulo.

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Between the tall buildings, traffic, air pollution and coffee, I felt right at home.

Parque Ibirapuera is the city’s largest green space and one of the largest city parks in Latin America. The name means a rotten tree in the Tupi language and despite the unfortunate name there are many beautiful trees.

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There is plenty to do here…paths to walk or bike or people watch, museums, Niemeyer architecture, a lake, and more.

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It is rated as one of the best urban parks in the world.

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Most of the buildings are designed by Oscar Niemeyer and the landscaping is by famed landscape artist Roberto Burle Marx. (The Auditorium by Niemeyer)

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The opulent park is so big that you can easily forget you’re sitting in the middle of one of the most populated cities in the world.

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The São Paulo Museum of Modern Art (MAM) is located in the park. It was built in 1948 and modeled after the Museum of Modern Art in NY (MOMA).(lunch at MAM)

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It has over 4000 mostly Brazilian works of art. The commissioned mural in the front is by graffiti artist Os Gemeos.

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The Marquise is a large covered construction by Oscar Niemeyer that links several of the buildings together. Every day, skateboarders, cyclists, athletes, families and friends gather there.

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It provides a shaded paved area for young people to roller blade, roller skate and skateboard.

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It is very crowded on Sundays and people sell food, drinks and crafts as well.

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Many streets in Sao Paulo  are named for Portuguese explorers and Brazilian Revolutionaries.

Uber is banned at the moment due to protests from the taxi drivers unions. The mayor is hoping to find a middle ground that appeases both parties.

People who live in the state of São Paulo are called Paulistas. People who live in the city of São Paulo are called Paulistanos. Paulistanos love Pizza.

MASP is one of the cities best art museums.

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On Sundays, the area around MASP on Avenida Paulista hosts two great outdoor markets. The space under the museum becomes a huge antiques market, and the space across the street is a handicrafts market where great street food is sold

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The world’s largest gay pride parade takes place here in May/June. It’s also supposedly the most expensive real estate in Latin America. The whole avenue runs along a subway line and so easily reached by public transport. (Kobra paints on Avenue Paulista)

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Another lovely museum in São Paulo, the Pinacoteca houses a huge collection of Brazilian art that serves as a visual story of the country’s history and cultural evolution.

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It is the oldest gallery in São Paulo and visited by many school children.

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The venerable public art museum was masterfully restored in exposed-brick style in the 1990s by Paulo Mendes da Rocha, a winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

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The museum has a beautiful café downstairs and is connected to Parque da Luz, a public park that includes outdoor sculptures and a European-style garden area.

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There are dividers between “good and “bad” parts of the city. The Pinacoteca is located across the street from the Luz train station.

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Estação da Luz is a beautiful 19th-century train station with high ceilings, intricate ironwork and narrow walkways  which separates the park from one of the worst drug areas in São Paulo.

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It is called Cracolandia or Crackland. Prostitutes line the walkways in search of customers. Crack cocaine has become a big problem in Brazil It is the second biggest crack epidemic since the US in the eighties.

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In the City Center, keep your eyes moving, put away your cell phone and camera. Keep your money hidden and walk with a purpose like you know what you are doing. ( just like growing up in NY)

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Se (cathedral) is located in the historic city center ( where the city was founded).

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The Neo-Gothic building took fifty years to complete because two world wars made it difficult to get materials from Italy. I have no exterior photos because see above.

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The Patio do Colegio was the original center of São Paulo.All that remains of the 16th-century building are the doors and a stretch of clay wall. It is now a historical museum the gardens of the museum is a pleasant café.

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The old center with its beautiful architecture and churches is still more homeless and drug infested than gentrified. There are a few good coffee places so change is near.

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Casa Mathilde is a great Portuguese bakery that serves the famous pastel de nata.

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I  have not been to Portugal ( where it is called pastel de Belem) but from the lines and conversations these are probably the best pastries outside of Portugal.

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Mocoto is located in Vila Medeiros, a neighbourhood in the north of São Paulo. Chef Rodrigo Oliveira attracts food-lovers with his distinctive take on Brazilian cuisine from the north-eastern state of Pernambuco where  his family is from. ( mocoto broth  – signature dish from original recipe, rice and beans, Brazilian dried, salted beef)

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Mocotó is also a cachaçaria, selling more than 500 cachaças.

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Alex Atala is the chef at D.O.M. who became famous for using Brazilian ingredients in beautifully executed contemporary dishes. It is the ninth best restaurant in the world.

Gastromotiva is a Brazilian organization which uses gastronomy to promote social change for at risk students.They have a vocational education program for eighteen to thirty-five year olds who are passionate about food and cooking who’s families make below a certain income.

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They have also instituted a cooking program in the prisons but there is a lot of bureaucracy in Brazil when it comes to prison change.

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We were lucky enough to spend some time with the students and have a delicious meal cooked by students and alumni. It’s a great organization for foodies to get involved with. https://gastromotiva.org

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São Paulo is considered one of the best cities in the world for the development of creativity in street art.

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The city’s streets are filled with wonderful examples of street, especially in the city center.

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For some of the best, visit the area Villa Magdalena, especially Beco do Batman (Batman’s Alley).

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Vila Madalena is an artsy neighborhood with rows of pastel colored townhouses. There are nice art galleries, arts & crafts shops, bookstores and great nightlife in its restaurants, corner bars, and botecos (small bar/restaurants). Come here for samba, or just mingle with locals enjoying live music and petiscos (tapas) at the botecos.

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Botecos are everywhere. The doors open to the street, tiled walls and floors, a counter stocked with fried stuff, and sometimes peanuts are served. You can make a quick stop for a coxinha and a soda, or sit down for a prato feito with a bottle of cold beer. Most botecos are very simple, but there are also “modern”ones.

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Brazil has the largest number of Japanese living outside Japan of any country in the world, and many of these Japanese Brazilians live in São Paulo. The Japanese neighborhood, called Liberdade, is a fun place to explore and see how the influence of Japan has influenced Brazilian life here and, of course, try some great food. On Sundays, an enormous market takes place in the public square of Liberdade, and thousands of people from around the city attend.

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São Paulo is a huge city. I believe that you do what you can and next time I will see more. Thanks so much to our guide Arthur Simoes (who likes that painting) for his  sense of humor, energy (we had some long days), patience and knowledge of São Paulo. Obrigada until the next time.

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Tenha Uma Boa Viagem,

JAZ