Ah, Montevideo, Uruguay! The unknown, the ignored, the unsung! I was so excited about it, I even wrote it in all my CouchSurfing requests: “we’re excited because Montevideo isn’t a common tourist destination for Europeans“. That is quite true, but it’s such a shame! The clean, modern, forward-thinking and fin-de-siècle beauty of this small capital will definitely mesmerise you; and maybe push you to stay longer than you originally planned.
One week is too much in Montevideo, Uruguay?
And yet the volubile lady at the tourist office seemed surprised when we said we would stay one week. “You don’t think that’s enough?”, I inquired. “I think that’s too much”, was her answer.
But we had decided to enjoy our time here with late starts and calm days, after almost 2 weeks of intensive hopping-around. Such quiet periods are necessary on a long trip, to avoid exhaustion. Whatever the tourist office might say!
Montevideo, Uruguay: a beautiful and relaxed city
Let’s be frank: Montevideo (or ‘MVD’ if you’re writing a text message) is Uruguay – more than ⅓ of the country’s population lives here. The city has a typical new-world design of parallel streets sort of built from the port inward, with lots of beautiful baroque and art deco buildings in the centre.
The surrounding by the Río de la Plata, which is here as wide as a sea, gives it a special charm. Unfortunately the riverfront is reduced to a few kilometres of poor rambla with high traffic. The big Parque Rodó with its lake allows an enjoyable breath in a city that doesn’t seem otherwise particularly stressful.
The reasons why Montevideo in Uruguay is such an awesome place
A report on quality of life has consistently rated Montevideo first in Latin America since 2005.
- It’s the gay-friendliest city in South America;
- abortion and marijuana consumption have been legalised a few years ago;
- the unemployment rate is comparatively low and,
- there’s scarcely any violence or theft on the streets, as we happily felt during all our stay.
What to take part in: candombe
Moreover, there seems to be a lot happening with many theatre houses, museums and galleries. We were lucky enough to see a (free!) tango festival organised by the city council; and Candombe aka street drums flash-mob (+10 coolness points for the trendy word) happening every weekend.
Attending a CouchSurfing night out also confirmed what our hosts told us; Montevideo is small, when you get to know someone, you are bound to meet them again within a few days.
And you, have you been to Montevideo, Uruguay? What struck you most about that city? SHARE WITH US IN THE COMMENTS!
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