Country Uruguay | Dates May 6-9 | Accommodation Circus Hostel & Hotel
Our first venture in Montevideo was to see a street band with drums, Candombe, that practices outside on Sundays. We walked the old streets, lined with trees and historical buildings, until we arrived at the location. Unfortunately we did not see any musicians, nor any spectators, although we did find the “stage.” Instead, we saw many an unsavory character (USC) milling about, drinking, loitering and looking straight up sketchy.
At dinner we ordered the national food, Chiviti, which is a meat item with a fried egg on it. We dined at Bar Hispano, which was moderately priced and offered a hugely diverse menu. Our meal was quite good, and we followed it up with a craft brewery called Patagonia. Beer was delicious, and/or maybe we just hadn’t had a craft beer in weeks. We hurried back to our hostel through a sketchy deserted patch of street in Old City (Ciudad Vieja), and past a man guarding a construction site (weird).
Later, we researched the safety of Ciudad Vieja and Barrio Sur (the 2 places we walked) and found they are the only two areas in the city that are not so safe, especially at night, due to youths that like to lurk in shadows and rob people walking by the mostly-deserted streets. One blogger even wrote of a gun incident, although his account was highly unreliable as it stated, “for some reason in my mind I thought the gun was fake. I did not surrender my wallet.” We had already identified the unsavory youths ourselves, but still.
(May 7) After a delicious breakfast at our hostel and swiping food for lunch, we set out to explore. We debated the free walking tour, but given we hate it every time and are bored, we opted for a self-tour with the trusty map. It proved to be an excellent choice.
Starting by the gate of the city, Puerta de la Ciudad, we entered Plaza Independencia and viewed again the square, architecture of surrounding buildings. Then a strange, toothless man in a suit approached us and told us we could go into the mausoleum of Artigas, a Uruguayan hero during independence. Hesitantly, we went down the stairs below the monument and actually it was fine and we saw the enormous tomb and remains, which were even guarded by 2 guards (seems boring)! Said man also told us we could tour an old house for free, so we did. We then viewed historical buildings (most notable Placo Silvo with weird architecture), museums (the best was the Gaucho museum, including old spurs and weaponry), and some unexpected gems like the photography center and an exhibit sponsored by the bank where we used typewriters! Every single item was free.
We then crossed town, walking several miles to Aguda neighborhood to see the massive governmental building, the university (maybe we snuck in a few buildings, IDK) and the Mercad Agriola which was filled with fruit stalls, food vendors, and even wi-fi and a bathroom. We purchased mini gummies as a snack. This area had a ton of graffiti, much of which was about independence, equality and addressing social issues. More research told us that Uruguay is the most liberal country in South America.
We intended to walk back on the Rambla, a long road along the ocean, however we made an error and wound up on the portion next to a disgusting shipping yard. Here we walked briskly, passing a child that legitimately looked like a zombie. Our destination was the Mercado del Puerto, with foods that smelled delicious (albeit touristy) but nothing was in budget. Our hostel lied about having a kitchen, so we ate canned vegetables for dinner.
We got tickets to a “contemporary dance” performance at the famous Teatro Solis historical theater.
The performance was called Erosion and was not as expected. It was fitly, literally and figuratively, with the dancers doing various obscene “dances,” licking one another, and spitting; I don’t even know how to describe this, but it cannot be unseen.
La Rambla, Punta Carretas, Pocitos
Next day we took the Rambla, the correct portion this time, towards the fancier side of town Punta Carretas and Pocitos. We saw a very tiny lighthouse (lame), some beaches (kinda gross) and a beautiful park. 10+ miles in total round trip! On the way back I found $20 in the road! We used it to buy nuts being sold on the street that were previously not in budget. We stopped by Cafe Brasilero on our way back, the oldest cafe in the city, located on the cute Plaza Matriz.
After eating canned veggies for dinner, we went to a tango show at Baar Fun Fun. The bar was covered with old photos and relics and was very intimate, and the tango show was better than expected (although there is a semi-hefty per-person cover). It started out with guitar playing and singing in what I assume is classic tango style, and then a pair came out and did some insane dancing; how her legs moved that fast I do not know! We tried the local drink, Uvita, as well as Media y Media, which is a delicious combination of sweet wine and sparkling wine, also local. After the show we hustled home, basically running and looking assertive to avoid any incidents as we should not have been walking on the street.