May 10, 2009 GMT
Fray Bentos

We're travelling to Uruguay. After a night's stay in the border town of Gualeguaychu, Argentina, we are perfectly poised to do a morning border crossing the international bridge over the Rio Uruguay into Fray Bentos, Uruguay. We want to visit the famous El Anglo, Fray Bentos museum. Little did we know the mischievous whims of politics would have the highway blockaded by Argentinians off and on since December 2005. OK so we didn't know and travel 40 kms to find that out.

IMG_1405 Anglo refrig plant.11.JPG

Turns out some of the lads have been intermittently protesting the Finnish company Botnia for the paper mill built and operating in Uruguay, but should have been located on their side of the river. Funny how polarized views about money vs environmentmental concerns can flipflop, depending on who's getting the money. So we backtrack and spent the rest of the day driving north to the next border crossing, going through customs, then riding south again to arrive back at the end of the day 20 km directly east of where we started that morning.

Our first impressions of Uruguay are very favorable. Healthy grain fields, modest but clean farm yards and houses, and friendly, approachable people just like Chilians. We stay our first night at the lovely Gran Hotel in Mercedes, where we meet Fabrizio Vignali, gerente general and bike enthusiast. Fabrizio owns two classics, a 1961 BSA and a 1972 Moto Guzzi. Given the weekend crowds likely to invade Colonia, he recommends we stay the weekend at his other hotel in Fray Bentos. We agree.

IMG_5286 Patquia chica y cortina.11.JPG

On Saturday we take the tour of El Anglo, the meat processing factory built in 1862 by the Liebig Extract of Meat Company; later bought and operated by the Brits from 1924 to 1979. The works and yards at Fray Bentos ranked among the largest industrial complexes in South America, had the first electricity in South America, employed over 5000 at it's height and helped usher in the industrial revolution there. Think Oxo cubes and Fray Bentos corned beef (Joyce and I can remember eating the canned meat as kids) and it may ring a bell for you too. The museum claims the products aided Stanley and Livingston in African exploits, Scott in the Antarctic, Brown & Alcock flying across the Atlantic and the Allied soldiers in WWII.

IMG_1397 Anglo Plant desk Fray Bentos.11.JPG

The museum has so perfectly preserved the administrative offices that it looks like the office workers have just left for their lunch break.

IMG_5351 Murray.Fabrizio.Joyce. Anglo Plant.11.JPG

Frabrizio, bless his heart, not only gives us a great rate on his four star hotel, but shows us around. Not only an accomplished business man but turns out he's a brilliant photographer as well. Joyce and I think, under different circumstances, Fabrizio could have worked for National Geographic, his artistic eye is that good.

SNC00065 tiny bikes Fray Bentos Refrigedora.11.jpg

After a wee tour of the local countryside with Fabrizio, we stop to take a bikes-at-sunset photo beside the massive Fray Bentos refrigerator plant.

IMG_5327 Mate a puesta del sol.11.JPG

A common theme, in Argentina as well as here in Uruguay, is the social gathering of folks while having a mate (pronounced "ma-tay") break. Sipped through silver staws, the drinker drafts up the tea produced from mate tea leaves that sit loose in the bottom of a special mate cup/gourd. It's a national pastime and we see everyone from security guards to secretaries sipping on their mates.

IMG_5317 Fray Bentos.11.JPG

We sit in the park, on a hill above, and watch the mate crowd below. We are really here to have a bottle of Uruguay Tannat wine, some cheese and bread, and watch the sun set over the River Uruguay. It's a shirt sleeve evening and the sun's final moments don't disappoint. The evening sky ends a spectacular blood red.

IMG_5340 Fray Bentos sunset.11.JPG

Posted by Murray Castle at May 10, 2009 04:20 PM GMT

NEW! HU 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar is now available! Get your copy now for some terrific travel inspiration!

HUGE, 11.5 x 16.5 inches, beautifully printed in Germany on top quality stock! Photos are the winning images from over 600 entries in the 9th Annual HU Photo Contest!

Horizons Unlimited 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar.

"The calendar is magnificent!"

"I just wanted to say how much I'm loving the new, larger calendar!"

We share the profit with the winning photographers. YOU could be in the HU Calendar too - enter here!

HU DVD Autumn Special!

Take 40% off Road Heroes Part 1 until October 31 only!

Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers Peter and Kay Forwood (193 countries two-up on a Harley); Dr. Greg Frazier (5 times RTW); Tiffany Coates (RTW solo female); and Rene Cormier (University of Gravel Roads).

The first in an exciting new series, Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers."Inspiring and hilarious!"

"I loved watching this DVD!"

"Lots of amazing stories and even more amazing photographs, it's great fun and very inspirational."

"Wonderful entertainment!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'HEROES' on your order when you checkout.

Renedian Adventures

Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!

What turns you on to motorcycle travel?

Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.

Books & DVDs


All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.

Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

Story and photos copyright ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

All Rights Reserved.

Contact the author:

Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!