Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Our Trip to Minas, Uruguay, Part Two

article from July 9, 2012
By Jamie Douglas

Minas, a charming town located in the sierras of Uruguay, has held an attraction for us for some time now, and we recently went there in search of housing for the near future – in vain, unfortunately.

Nevertheless, I highly recommend a visit to this small city in the “mountains” of Uruguay. There are various direct bus services from Montevideo, Piriápolis and Punta del Este. The ride is about one and a half hours from any of those places. If you are coming from the central or northern Atlantic coast, there is a shortcut by taking the bus to Pan de Azúcar and walking a block to the COOM “office,” a stale, rundown bar inhabited by strange creatures at all hours of the day. A bus leaves from there at noon. This bus schedule information website offers the details on most services available in the country in English.

So we took the ride from the stinking bar up to Minas, an incredibly clean town with 25,000 mostly friendly people and clean air that is surrounded by lovely rolling hillsides. The town itself features just about anything your heart might desire: well-stocked stores, restaurants and confiterías featuring world-class coffee and a great assortment of pastries, as well as several very nice hotels. Our favorite is the Posada Verdún, located at 715 Washington Beltran, just a couple of blocks from the bus station, in the heart of town. The posada features its own dining room, which serves world-class food at very affordable prices, and the chef’s pride is his bread. Judging by his waistline, he eats there, as well. All the rooms are well appointed and heated/air conditioned. We have been to this particular location several times, and they really do treat us like family. Their motto is “Su casa en Minas.”

Walking around town, we were constantly amazed at how clean everything was, how many smiling faces we encountered and, even late at night, how safe we felt. The little city just does not give off the aura of fear and crime that you encounter in so many other Latin American cities.

Another thing that was very pleasing to the eye was the architecture. With a couple of newer exceptions, all the buildings are no more than two stories, with many polychromatic fronts. The entranceways are tall and feature very ornate doors, most lacking iron grates.

The town features several well-groomed parks, the largest of which is right in the center of town, with a large statue of General Lavalleja sitting on his horse (with the occasional pigeon pooping on his chapeau). There are several vacation parks just outside of town, the best known of which is probably the Parque Salus, the source of the mineral water of the region as well as the local beer, Patricia, which recently got gobbled up by the Belgian multinational Ambev, then Inbev, the company that bought out Anheuser-Busch and Corona Modelo and is looking to become the world beer monopoly.

It is nevertheless a very nice excursion to go there. An ancient bus takes you the 10 kilometers from the Minas bus station to the nature park, where you will enjoy an abundance of eucalyptus and pine trees.

Other local attractions include the retreat village of Villa Serrana, 25 km northeast of Minas; Parque Artiguas, with its huge statue of the Uruguayan national hero, José Gervasio Artigas, on his horse; and many nature attractions in the surrounding mountains that offer outdoor activities such as fishing, camping and hiking.

Overall, Minas is a lovely destination for a few days or a weekend, but if you want to move there, there really is not much available in rentals. There are plenty of properties for sale, of course, whether you want to be in town or on the outskirts. So if you are in this neck of the woods, by all means, stop by in Minas and enjoy the easygoing town in the sierras, 500 feet above sea level, one of the higher places in Uruguay.

see also: Uruguay's "Secret": Minas and Our Trip to Minas, Uruguy: Part One

Jamie Douglas
About to be homeless (again) in Uruguay

[All photos by Jamie Douglas]

I encourage you to write me at cruzansailor [at] gmail [dot] com with any questions or suggestions you may have. Disclaimer: I am not in any travel-related business. My advice is based on my own experiences and is free of charge (Donations welcome). It is always my pleasure to act as a beneficial counselor to those who are seekers of the next adventure.