I was standing on the roof of my hotel, watching the sun set over Montevideo, the golden glow sliding over a jumble of architecture that ranged from concrete brutalism to elegant art deco.
“It’s a bit rough around the edges, isn’t it?” I said to the New Zealanders standing next to me.
“Yes,” said one. “That’s what we like about it.”
The capital of Uruguay doesn’t always get its due—some dismiss it as the dimmer version of Buenos Aires. But they’re missing the point. Less-crowded, less-expensive, blessed with a wonderful coastline, friendly people and hearty food like the ubiquitous chivitos (beef sandwiches that come with a LOT of toppings), Montevideo is a city worth exploring.
Here are some photos I took, click first image to start slideshow.
BBQ is big here and the Mercado del Puerto is a good place to find it, but you can get some vegetables along with your meat.
A street vendor sells the traditional gourds, spoons and thermoses essential for making mate, the hot tea many Uruguayans sip all day.
Beef sandwiches known as chivitos are a Montevideo “must-eat.” They can come fairly restrained like this one from La Pasiva or piled high with ingredients plus an egg on top for good measure.
Look down as you walk, you may find that holes in the paving have been patched with colorful pieces of tile.
You won’t walk far before finding a cafe to rest at, which I think is a good thing.
Faded paintwork makes for a beautifully pastel note in this Montevideo alley.
Montevideo’s many squares are lit up at night, making for a cheerful sight.
The rooftop terrace of the Alma Historica hotel is an excellent place to take in the mishmash of architectural styles that is Montevideo’s cityscape.
This statute in Independence Square celebrates Uruguayan hero Gen. Jose Gervasio Artigas.
I loved this bookstore/cafe in the Old City even though I don’t really read Spanish.
Another square, another statute of a hero on a horseback.
This is a very cool outdoor gallery at the Prado, Montevideo’s huge urban park.
Another interesting museum, this one the Contemporary Art Museum set in a former prison.
A path beside a river in the Prado. Montevideo is home to about half of the country’s population of 3-4 million but the city has many tranquil spaces.
Lily pond in the Asian section of the city’s botanical gardens.
I loved this building which has English tours twice a day. It’s where parliament meets.
Named because of its size (footsteps are muffled), this is where Uruguay’s Constitution is kept under guard 24/7.
A handcarved detail in the marble decorating the Legislative Palace.
Now a Sofitel property, this used to be the Hotel Carrasco where the rich and famous came to play and gamble. Back in the day, Einstein stopped in. This year, it was the Rolling Stones.
The lovingly restored ceiling of the old Hotel Carrasco casino, now a fabulous dining space.
A sandy beach along the River Plate, so wide you think it’s a sea, just one of many beaches along Las Ramblas, the waterfront roadway tracing about 14 miles of Montevideo coastline.