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Rambla y Calle 11, Parque del Plata, Canelones, Uruguay

Viapark Hotel in Parque del Plata Uruguay - The perfect seaside family hotel

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Welcome!! Our New Restaurant — “Sal y Ajo”

5 December 2013

We are tickled to introduce the latest addition to our Viapark family, Restaurant Sal y Ajo. The brain-child of local hotelier Alex Caceres, Sal y Ajo (Salt & Garlic in English) marks a step up in the dining experience available along the Costa Del Oro. Alex recognized the need for something a bit more upscale than the pizza and parilla fare common to the region, and has created a menu focused on the seafood offerings from the adjacent Atlantic Ocean. In the summertime, Sal y Ajo will also support the beach-front Parador, providing specialty drinks and food to-go (in addition to typical beach-goer favorites cervezas, refrescos and helados).

Chef Matias will direct the kitchen while Tiago attends to the table-side needs of our diners; come enjoy what this duo has to offer.

Welcome aboard Sal y Ajo!

A Glimpse into a Nation’s Soul

16 November 2013

Messages hidden in money……. We usually don’t look at the paper money that passes through our hands in every day use; it’s just part of life’s background I guess. Often the pictures on the bills follow a theme of sorts — dead presidents in the U.S., royal personalities in the U.K., architectural scenes in the Euro-zone and so on. Idle musing one day in Uruguay brought my attention to the image on the widely used $1000 peso note (approx U$D 50.00): a woman named Juana De Ibarbourou. I hadn’t known of any powerful female political personas here, and military stuff seems to be pretty well male dominated; the whole thing was something of a curiosity to say the least.

A quick internet snoop later and a really interesting insight into the nature of Uruguayan culture jumps out. Juana was a famous poet here. There are a total of 7 different denominations on the UY paper money, from $20 pesos thru $2000 pesos. The personalities featured on the remaining 6 banknotes include another poet, a sociologist instrumental in founding the national education system, a violinist and composer, an artist, an educator, and a priest and botanist involved in creation of the national university and library systems. Only two of the 7 ever held political office; all of them simply were people the society has chosen to celebrate as being worthy of recognition for their individual contributions to the creation of the national community.

Living here is fun.

A Couple Easy Conversions

4 September 2013

Dealing with unfamiliar monetary and measurement systems is high on the list of the day-to-day adaptations we face as we blend into a new culture. It is of course possible to look to conversion tables for precise answers, but here are a few easy short-cuts that will at least get you in the ballpark:


Temperature Conversions 

(these will get you within a few degrees)

Celsius to Fahrenheit:  Double the Celsius temp, add 30 (for example: 10 Celsius x 2 = 20, add 30 = 50 Fahrenheit)

Fahrenheit to Celsius: Subtract 30, divide by 2 (same example: 50 Fahrenheit minus 30 = 20/2 = 10 Celsius)



1 Meter is about 39 inches- a bit more than a Yard (a long 3 Feet)

1 Kilometer is about 2/3 of a Mile (100 KPH = 65 MPH, more or less)

For 1 Square Meter, think 10 Square Feet (example: a 120 Square Meter house is about 1200 Square Feet)

1 Hectare is about 2.47 Acres (think 2 1/2 Acres)


Uruguay Monetary Conversion

The Uruguayan Peso has been hovering around 20 Pesos to the U.S. Dollar, so each Peso is worth about a Nickel. The easy conversions:

From Pesos to Dollars, drop a zero and cut it in half  — for example: with $1200 Pesos, drop a zero = 120, cut that in half = U$S60

From Dollars to Pesos, other way around — for U$S40, double it = 80, add a zero = $800 Pesos

*Note that $ is the symbol here for Pesos, U$S is for Dollars


Simple, but useful.








El Señor Mata-Mosca!!

31 August 2013

Back in the early 1960s, my brother took a job in the scientific laboratories that the Public Health Service (later the EPA) operated in support of the Atomic Energy Commission Test Site near Las Vegas. The guys in the electronics shop there used 190 proof ethyl alcohol to clean radios and other electronic components, as the 190 doesn’t conduct electricity, evaporates without leaving residue, and all in all, is very useful around electronics. A sidebar benefit is that 190, aka grain neutral spirits, is the same stuff that is the active ingredient in a lot of the things we like — think  Vodka, Whiskey etc.– but in 190, is about twice the strength of ordinary spirits (parties at the PHS tended to be lively affairs, as one might imagine). Of course, 190 isn’t available for sale to the public in the States- probably a hangover (sic) from prohibition.

Imagine my surprise at discovering, right there on the shelf next to the diapers in a local supermarket, some 1 and 2 liter bottles labeled “Alcohol.” A bit of investigating revealed that it was indeed straight 190; the label even lists mixing with fruit juice to drink as a beverage as a suggested use. (more…)

Good News — Bad News

28 August 2013

The really good news is that the nasty-cold part of winter appears to be giving its last gasp. We will get a few chilly days early next week, after that it’s high 50’s into the 70’s+ for the duration. At last!!

Viapark Hotel is in Parque Del Plata, centrally located on the Costa Del Oro – Uruguay’s Gold Coast. This is the string of charming little beachfront villages that extend along the Atlantic Ocean east from Montevideo some 150 Kilometers to the world-famous jet-set destination of Punta Del Este. By most standards the climate here is mild; we might get a dozen mornings per year where early risers wake to frost-covered grass, but the white stuff typically leaves as soon as the sun hits. Prevailing winter winds from the south, however (next landfall off the beach that direction is Antarctica), bring plenty of humidity, which in turn yields a perceived temperature a good deal below what one might expect. It’s a small price to pay for the pleasure of  experiencing this grand little country, but nevertheless, few tears are shed as Invierno (winter) slides into Primavera (spring).

But, there is bad news. Not really bad, more on the order of disappointment/grumble. We sent a post around a few weeks ago testing the water (sic) to see if we might find enough folks to charter a bus and block some rooms for an ex-pat based run-away to the hot springs in Dayman – near Salto. (more…)

Sunday MovieNite Films for September

22 August 2013

Hey All — Here’s the upcoming sched for films through the end of September. 4:30PM every Sunday in the Viapark lobby. As always popcorn and friendship are free, food & drink costs though :-).  Including specialties from J&M Sausage.

So come see us for free movies in English every Sunday night at the Viapark Hotel, on the Costa de Oro, near Atlántida, just an hour from Montevideo. Meet  other Uruguay Expats, Uruguayan locals learning English the Hollywood way, catch up with old friends, and make new ones.

Our great September lineup:

Sunday Sept 1: Gran Torino  – Clint Eastwood produced, directed and starred in the movie. He is a Korean vet who lives in a Detroit neighborhood that is taken over by an Asian crime gang and he deals with them.

The rest of our great September lineup, featuring more with Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Mark Walhberg, Hilary Swank, and more, with YouTube trailers, after the break…


A New Ex-Pat Business!! Minnesota Style Sausages & Smoked Stuff

20 August 2013

As a kid Jim Wiemann worked in butcher shops in his hometown in Minnesota. He learned how to trim, grind, spice, stuff, smoke, and generally create the family of tasty stuff our ancestors brought us from Europe. Those of us new to the Southern Cone frequently opine that local foods here are something less than exciting, “spicy” often being a term from our  fondly remembered past.

That has come to a halt with the birth of the J&M Sausage Factory, a new start-up here in the Costa Del Oro village of Marindia. Jim and his wife Mariellen offer a range of absolutely delicious goodstuff: Spicy Italian & Bratwurst Link Sausages, Ground Italian Sausage or Bratwurst by the Kilo, Smoked Bacon and Bondiola from their own smokehouse, Swedish Style Potato Sausage, German Liverwurst ….. the list goes on.

They are now some 6  months into the adventure, life is looking good as the kinks get worked out and the operation settles into a routine. We here at the ViaPark proudly feature the entire range of products in our restaurant, northern hemisphere breakfasts being a  house specialty.

We welcome the J&M Sausage Factory to our growing English-speaking community, each passing month sees our ranks swell both with visitors exploring here for the first time and folks who have made the decision to drop anchor and make this their home. We wish Jim & Mariellen the very best in this venture, It’s a pleasure to have them on board.


South America Road Trip! Interested? Let us know right here!

11 August 2013

With a tip of the hat to “Animal House,” it occurs to us at the Viapark Hotel, here in Parque del Plata, just an hour out from Montevideo on the currently-chilly Costa de Oro, that a road trip or three might be in order.  As the frosty Uruguayan winter crawls toward spring, this ‘ol bear’s thoughts drift towards warmth…

People enjoying the covered hot springs

Termas de Daymán in Salto, Uruguay

To this end we’ve been nose-to-keyboard trolling for hot springs, bus charters, good eating places, fun shopping, and similar sybaritic toys. The emerging image is a trial 3 or 4 day “run-away” with a group of nearby English speakers + local friends – thinking a (nice) charter-bus leaving Hotel Viapark in Parque Del Plata, off to a neat hotel at the Dayman Termas (hot springs) near Salto, bubble a few days, bus brings us back here.  Maybe some solo side shopping/sightseeing trips into Salto, local buses run frequently I’m told. Costs hopefully on the $125-$225 level per person at first glance, influenced  by the number of players, time of week, destination hotel, bus company — on and on.  We will need 20 to 40 folks on board to make these numbers work.  Thinking of a trip soon, last week August or first part of September.

If this sounds interesting, leave a comment right on this news article here, right on the website!  (more…)

Movie Nights for August 2013

The Hotel Viapark English-language movies near Montevideo continues! Our weekly Movie Night, for expats, immigrants, tourists, and locals who want to learn or practice English, is every Sunday, early evening. For the rest of the colder winter and early spring weather, a half-hour earlier than our high-season. Movies are at 4:30 pm now at the Viapark in Parque del Plata.

Free admission, good company, a warm heater, and good sound for the large flatscreen TV. Our kitchen is open for our burgers-and-beach-food menu, along with specialty sausage dishes from our friends at J&M Sausage Company. Beers and wines also available. Free popcorn too!

Previews from YouTube for the rest of August movies.

Coming Atractions:

Sunday 18 August: Dave with Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver. President in a coma! Call the temp agency!

Sunday 25 August: The Verdict with Paul Newman. Also featuring Jack Warden, Charlotte Rampling, James Mason, Lindsay Crouse, Roxanne Hart, and many other great actors.






Music Nights Dark Until It Warms Up

3 August 2013

Violin with bow, Electric Guitar, and SaxophoneIn honor of the frosty-cold winter nights here on the Uruguay coast, we are suspending our monthly free Music Nights at the Hotel Viapark in Parque del Plata, Uruguay. We still have other free events for both English and Spanish speakers, such as weekly Sunday Movie Night and the twice-monthly Atlántida area English-speaker expat meeting.