a cafe in the southernmost city on earth

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Ramos 6Situated on the Beagle Channel, Ushuaia is the largest city in Argentine Tierra del Fuego, and arguably the southernmost city in the world. In the past, the town has been a missionary base, penal colony and naval base for the Argentine navy. Ushuaia is now a tourist town and is commonly used as a base for hiking, winter sports and cruises to Antarctica.

Travelers like myself to Ushuaia who have a need for caffeine and a touch of the café culture are in luck, as situated on Avenue Maipú just along the coast is a fantastic café and restaurant, Ramos Generales El Almacén.  Located in a building that was an early twentieth-century general store, this café/restaurant offers wonderful espresso, cappuccino, lattes, café con leche, pastries and a variety of food options including sandwiches and salads.

Ramos 3The best part of the experience is the atmosphere, which harkens back to the early days of Ushuaia as a small port city, and features shelves full of eclectic collections of antiques.  In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth Tierra del Fuego remained one of the most sparsely populated places on earth. Some intrepid people from Europe and the Middle East, fleeing wars, hunger and discrimination at home saw in South America an alternative to their current lives and a way to build better prosperity.  That was how Don José Salomón, after a long pilgrimage from Lebanon, ended up in Ushuaia.  He arrived in Ushuaia in 1913 choosing the city as a place to live and raise his family. His ability to trade and business sense quickly made him a prominent citizen.  Soon thereafter he built a general store, a site which for many years was place to purchase supplies but also a meeting place for locals.  This is the site of the café.

Ramos 4In the original Spanish, the official website notes “A fines del siglo XIX y principios del XX la Tierra del Fuego, mítica, misteriosa y cautivante seguía siendo unos de los lugares más despoblados del planeta. Algunos intrépidos de Europa o Medio Oriente escapando de las guerras, el hambre y la discriminación buscaron en América una alternativa para la construcción de una nueva vida y mejor prosperidad.  Así fue como Don José Salomón, después de un largo peregrinaje  desde el Líbano, Trípoli, anclo en Ushuaia en 1913 eligiendo esta ciudad como su lugar donde vivir y formar una familia. Sus aptitudes para el comercio rápidamente lo ubicaron como un referente del lugar y pudo construir el ALMACEN DE RAMOS GENERALES, sitio que durante muchos años fue la casa de abastecimiento, encuentro social y cultural, cumpliendo un rol fundamental en el proceso de construcción de la ciudad de Ushuaia.  Por este Almacén circularon personajes históricos, nativos, encuentros sociales, refugio para los más necesitados, para los llegados del puerto, para los buscadores de oro y de quimeras, relación con la cárcel del Fin del Mundo e infinitas anécdotas de personajes e historias de vida que fueron fundando la mística de este lugar.”

Ramos 5The city of Ushuaia is beautiful, with the southern sea in one direction and the beautiful mountains of Patagonia in every other direction.  While the view from the Ramos Generales is not the best way to view the city, the coffee is very good and the atmosphere a bit of Patagonian perfection.  So the next time you are heading to the bottom of the Earth, be sure to stop by Ramos Generales.

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