Thursday, December 3, 2009

Montevideo - Uruguay

Unfortunately, the need to not look like a tourist in a big city means that it is difficult to capture the vibe you get from different urban settings. Luckily, there are still words!

My overall sense, having now made the circuit of BA to MVD to Punta del Diablo and back, is that Montevideo is a wonderful place. More or less like the mythical barrio we hope to find here in BA.

The streets seem wider (especially off the main thoroughfares..) - children play soccer in the side streets - meanwhile buses, cars, and horse drawn carts scuttle around with purpose (but not the incessant honking and impatience that is Buenos Aires).

The main drag in Montevideo is Avenida 18 de Julio. All the shops and monuments congregate around this major artery that connects the "Old City" with center city.

This is.. some "Palace" - I´m not sure if we knew the name, we certainly didn´t know its purpose. Though there are no signs are markers to explain it, there are postcards. Interesting none-the-less.

Plaza Independencia - Montevideo, Uruguay
Loudest ice cream vendors this side of the Rio del Plata!
On the far end of the plaze is the "Gateway to the Old City" - which basically means you are about to enter ten solid blocks of tourist trinkets..until you reach the still old city - which is where we ended up.

Not much to "do" in the Old City - so we sat down for a meal at what looked to be a cozy and affordable parrilla. Though pictures exist of the entre - it is best to only post the picture of the bread and beer - as not to give anyone a visual heart attack. Let´s just say, the service was much better than the food!

In fact, the gentleman that served us was very friendly. We talked for a good while about the then upcoming elections - as well as the upcoming superclasico (massive soccer derby) between Uruguayan giants Nacional and Peñarol.

The man explained in detail the flags we had seen around the city (Frente Amplio). That Frente was a coalition group and had a strong hold in MVD (they went on to win the election).
He also said that there is not much difference between Nacional and Peñarol. That perhaps Nacional is more of a posh club, but that they were more similar in being the largest clubs - unlike the social stigma that separates Boca and River in Argentina. Thus, he also debunked the notion that either club was affiliated with a political party. We could have talked much longer on this topic, but we were paying for the food rather than the conversation. I was gracious for the little insight into the soccer scene in Uruguay - food for thought!

We eventually made our way back to the hostel. Then later made an attempt to hit the beach that was just a few blocks from our place, but being the homebodies that we are - we did not last too long. We made our way back, again, and spent the rest of the evening engaged in conversation with a Pan-South American group of travelers at the hostel. This very interesting crowd included a journalist from Ecuador who was covering the elections as a foreign correspondent - he more or less hates soccer, but loves baseball and wishes to one day get a visa to visit the States so he can go to a Yankees game, a Chilean who is studying to become a doctor and speaks better German than I do Spanish - a Bolivian who had just moved to Uruguay and offered me a spot on his club soccer team - and so on...

That is enough to chew on for now.. There are maaaany pictures from Punta del Diablo..and much to say yet to come. But later.. now I have to go find someone to tutor me in Spanish so I can give Kaitlin a break!

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