Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Montevideo

was fun! We thought we might not be able to go, because of all the smoke. On Friday the smoke was so thick in Buenos Aires that there was no visibility at all and the port had to close down. All the highways were closed and the bus station closed too, so I was feeling really trapped! But at the last moment the smoke lifted a bit, they opened the port, and we caught our ferry over to Montevideo. We had an hour-long ferry ride to get across the river and then a two-and-a-half-hour bus ride to get to Montevideo.



People say that Montevideo is boring and quiet, and it was kinda true, but I liked it. In general I think the vibe of the city is much more relaxed and quiet than Buenos Aires, and at night (or on Sunday morning) it can be pretty spooky, like a ghost-town. The architecture is pretty similar to Buenos Aires, which I love. On Saturday morning we went to the Old City and there were some lively bustling touristy areas. There was a fun antiques-market in Plaza Matriz. We bought some old lino-prints from the seventies to add to our growing collection of cheap art. The Ciudad Viejo in Montevideo seemed a lot like the San Telmo neighborhood in Buenos Aires; that is, lots of beautiful old buildings and cobbled streets, and some intense touristy spots and other areas that are just quiet and old. When we returned to the Ciudad Viejo in the evening, we wandered off the main drag looking for a restaurant, and suddenly all the streets were SO dark and absolutely silent and deserted, it was totally spooky and we hurried back to the main plaza.



We rented bikes for the whole day on Saturday and rode all around town. That was my favorite thing about Montevideo. It cost about US$10 to get two bikes for eight hours, and the traffic in Montevideo is totally chill. There is a bike/walk path beside La Rambla, the road that follows the seashore all around the city, past piers and parks and fishing clubs. It was beautiful riding all along the shore and looking out to sea, going past people fishing off the piers or sitting on the wall drinking mate. We also rode around the streets, which are beautiful and quiet. The cars drive in single-file (unlike in Buenos Aires) and nobody ever tries to run you over. The city is a bit hilly, but not too much.





We stayed at Red Hostel Montevideo, which was really beautiful but terribly disorganized. It's a gorgeous big old stone building that's been nicely renovated, with a cute little woodstove in the middle and a gorgeous stained-glass skylight, and a nice terraza with a bar on the roof. Our first night there, they had screwed up our reservation and had given away the room we'd reserved, so they put us in a terrible little room with awful beds, but the second day we got to move to the room we'd reserved. Then they kept asking us to pay for our room, even after we'd already paid. So, I recommend the place because it's so beautiful but they were as disorganized as any hostel.

The food in Uruguay seems to be mostly the same as Argentine food, but they do have this special combination, Chivito, that's served at all the restaurants:



It's a big steak with ham, cheese, bacon, and a fried egg on top; sitting atop a mound of french fries, melted cheese, potato salad, lettuce, tomato, carrots, beets and green beans.

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