36 Hours in Cobblestonia
January 2, 2023 § 6 Comments
By Russell Frank
*By early 2020, The New York Times’s 36 Hours column had been running for nearly two decades. The series — one of the Travel section’s longest-running — offers readers a recommended itinerary for a weekend trip in a bustling location…Now, 36 Hours is finally back. – New York Times, Oct. 7, 2022
**With apologies to Stan Mack’s “Real Life Funnies,” every word is guaranteed verbatim from The New York Times, except the name of the town.
With its inventive food scene, excellent beaches and “Night of the Iguana” mystique, Cobblestonia makes the perfect weekend getaway. This urban jewel offers innovative restaurants, gorgeous parks and gardens, and museums that celebrate the area’s many cultures. The many cobblestone, pedestrians-only streets in the town’s historic center give the city an intimacy that belies its population of over 60,000.
In some ways Cobblestonia seems like a city frozen in time: cobblestone streets and clay-tile roofs, men and women in indigenous garb selling fruits and vegetables, and meticulously preserved traditions and relics dating back centuries. Now, thanks to a blossoming creative scene, there are also new, ambitious restaurants and plenty of contemporary art and design to complement the old. A new Cobblestonia is taking shape, and palpable energy is flowing to downtown areas.
In this famously diverse city you’ll find an energetic food scene, vibrant street culture and cocktail wizardry. This scenic city offers quirky museums, outdoor markets, great shopping and a creative food scene. There are also outlying neighborhoods to explore, along with natural wine bars, street art and pop-up markets. Just a 15-minute walk from the cobblestone alleys of the Old City, trendy restaurants and boutiques — even coffee bars that double as late-night performance venues — have blossomed.
The city offers a dynamic cultural landscape, with world-class chefs, design-forward shops and energy to spare. But you’ll also find a rich cultural heritage reflected in traditional temples and shrines, street food and homegrown art. Compact and easy to navigate, Cobblestonia remains underrated despite its picturesque center of cobblestone streets lined with medieval pink-hued buildings, well-preserved Roman sites and dozens of churches.
Beneath the grit, there’s a kinetic urban energy that can be savored in Cobblestonia’s street art, restaurants, music clubs and markets. The cobblestoned district — often compared with Paris’s Montmartre, and where your hotel will likely suggest that you have dinner — is filled with traditional taverns, where bands of five to six musicians move from table to table singing folk songs and taking requests.
This multicultural hub is known for its mild climate, rich culinary and craft traditions, and complex history. The city is filled with art and stunning architecture, but nature, too, is an integral part of urban life. Cobblestonia is laid-back and outdoorsy, but its sophistication shines in its expanding art scene, thriving fashion industry and a new generation of chefs embracing native ingredients.
The city has its own distinctive culinary, wine and cultural scene. There are enough old and new flavors to keep visitors satisfied for a weekend. We found ourselves snapping pictures of the stray (but evidently well-fed) cats that stalk the cobblestone plazas and nap on stone staircases.
Cobblestonia is emerging as a proud city, known for its progressive start-ups, energetic art scene and great dining and coffee. A new generation of chefs is championing locally sourced menus, and a relaxation of liquor production laws has led to a boom in microbreweries. The city, with its cobblestone streets and complex history, has become a cultural hotbed and gastro-magnet.
Explore the city’s innumerable charms — ruin-studded gardens, a growing contemporary art scene, diverse regional cuisines. A short walk will take you to the boutique- and gallery-lined cobblestone streets. With chaotic yet charming cobblestone streets, bathhouses steaming with sulfuric waters, and crumbling Soviet factories repurposed as hipster hotels, Cobblestonia is a study in contrasts.
Russell Frank is a folklorist by training and a journalist by trade. He worked as a reporter and editor for newspapers in California and Pennsylvania for 13 years before joining the journalism faculty at Penn State, where he has been teaching since 1998. He has visited Cobblestonia.
 Puerto Vallarta
 Chiang Mai
 Tel Aviv
Maybe I haven’t had enough caffeine yet, but what am I missing? Where *is* Cobblestonia?
Everywhere, apparently 🙂
The world has shrunk. All of this is true about where I live, except for the cobblestones. We have no cobblestones. Now, I feel a deep-seated need…for cobblestones.
This is brilliant. I love it!
Clever, brings a smile 🙂
Love this piece. It reconfirms my commitment to visit untouted destinations!