To say that I had low expectations headed in to our visit of Montevideo, Uruguay would be far too optimistic. Mostly based on the comments of friends and fellow travelers I was pretty much expecting the town to be a dump with nothing redeeming about it. It was, at times, described as sleepy, boring and lame. I was not deterred, however, convinced that I’d find a way to explore and enjoy for a few days while there. And we did, arguably with more excitement than I ever expected, though that was just one small burst of adrenaline, not really an extended level of interesting. And, while it certainly isn’t a city I’ll put on any of my top 10 lists (other than places I’ve been robbed), I do think it has some redeeming qualities. It even managed to mostly keep us busy in the middle of winter.
Part of what kept us busy in the visit was some unexpected discoveries. I mean, who really expects to see a military marching band parading through town on a random morning? We followed them towards Plaza Independencia where we were treated to a Changing of the Guard ceremony. Various sources suggest that it happens every day at noon, every few hours or sporadically. It was an interesting spectacle and gave us the opportunity to see the Plaza with a slightly different view than just the typical statue and surrounding buildings.
Following the show we ended up at a small market in one of the streets. Again, not enough to make for a destination in its own right, but it was nice to see some different produce and the locals out shopping.
And, most unexpected to me, was the beauty in the architecture and its wear over the past 150ish years. Sure, much of it in the historic Ciudad Vieja is crumbling and in various states of disrepair, but I sortof like the character that lends to the town. Of course, that’s also where the guys who robbed me ran off to, but still.
And then there were the murals. Walls all over town were covered not with crass graffiti but with actually pretty paintings. OK, a few were weirder than others, but it was still pretty cool.
I actually thought back a bit to Ghent while walking around in Montevideo, mostly because of the graffiti aspect. It is different, but there is a very similar vibe to it.
I really, really enjoyed this aspect of Montevideo. Not enough to say it is a great destination worth spending a ton of time in, but I was pleasantly surprised by the scenery. Fortunately I get to see it again in January when it will be a bit warmer and a different view of things.