October 17, 2013
Montevideo is a perfect city for those who want to explore a place rich with charm, friendly people, and interspersed with architectural nuggets.
Unlike its glamorous sister city to the West, Montevideo is in the midst of economic transformation and is ripe for continued growth and revitalization to its lovely neighborhoods.
With the recent completion of the sleek new Carrasco International Airport, the city is ready for increased visitors to the capital and to the booming, affluent resort coastline of Punta del Este.
Arriving at the bustling Tres Cruces bus station (complete with a new shopping mall above), a local bus was chosen (over a taxi) for transport to my hotel. It would be a perfect way to people watch and to gaze at the wide avenues and picturesque structures.
As the crowded bus sailed through downtown towards Plaza Independencia, I began to sense a warm feeling of the people. Many stopped and came forward to offer help and assistance, while others sat quietly, patiently waiting for the next parada de autobus.
Staying in the Cuidad Vieja (Old City), was a perfect choice. The Palacio hotel is a lovely old structure complete with an ornate (and very functional) central caged elevator, which whisks you up to your desired floor. Sleeping in this place made me dream of the rich history of Montevideo – who were the original residents which inhabited this hotel? For a moment I was frozen in time.
The Centro area of Montevideo houses most of the tourist hotels, which are nested along bustling commercial shops and loud crowded streets. However, this busy area is offset by quaint tree-lined neighborhoods on its border, each with unique and mixed architectural styles, some in the need of repair and others undergoing complete transformations.
Walking around the city reminded me a bit of Brussels, when I lived there in the 90′s, with beautiful old buildings nestled to abandoned, vacant ones with character and charm. They are waiting to be rehabbed!
he sparkling plazas with cherubic sculptured fountains certainly highlight the rich history. There is character everywhere. Don’t forget about the different cathedrals, including Catedral Metropolitana de Montevideo and the colourful graffiti art.
The endless waterfront anchors the coastline and offers residents a nice reprieve during the hot summer days. Fishermen, sunbathers, and loving couples align the route – as the Spring weather is now here and
people are coming out of the winter doldrums.
The final night was spent drinking outside The Shannon Irish Pub – where the loud crowds were glued to the TV’s as Uruguay was playing their arch rivals – Argentina – in a very close football (soccer) match! What an evening…Uruguay won!