Montevideo: Maybe I’m biased, But Buenos Aires It Ain’t.
I could have stayed in Buenos Aires forever, eating empanadas, sitting under palm trees, and tango-ing the night away. But there was so much more I wanted to see during these mere four months, so I crossed the Rio de la Plata into Colonia, then took a short bus ride two days later to Montevideo.
I booked a bus leaving at midnight that night, and, after putting my rucksack into a ridiculously overpriced storage unit, I set off to make the most of my single day in Uruguay’s capital. Bypassing the local buses, I chose to walk the three kilometres to the centre. I always feel that so much is missed by those who take transport from one sight to the next, rather than immersing themselves in the city. Well, bus-takers, in this case, you didn’t miss much. I passed street after street of uninteresting houses and shops before arriving at Plaza Independencia, in the centre of Montevideo. The plaza itself was interesting, though. To one side, there was an arch that was the last remains of the old city, and to another was what was once the tallest building in South America.
I carried on walking to Mercado del Puerto, what I understood from the guidebook to be a bustling marketplace of food stalls, but what turned out to be a building of high-end restaurants. After grabbing a greasy empanada, I continued around the corner to Museo de Carnaval. The little museum displayed masks and costumes from Carnaval in Uruguay, and showed videos and information about the festival. No doubt about it, Carnaval is firmly on the bucket list.
My last stop before the sun went down was the Antel tower, a shiny glass pinnacle offering sights of Montevideo from its 27th floor. Entry was free (as was the guide I inexplicably needed for the journey up and down the lift)- a refreshing change in this increasingly expensive city. The view was pretty, though the photos were somewhat impaired by the reflections in the glass.
As the sun went down, I walked back to the centre in search of a milonga, eager to see if Uruguay’s claim as the real home of tango was true. I found the one tango school that was listed in the guidebook, but was told there weren’t any milongas that night. After a scour of the internet, I finally found a midweek milonga at Museo del Vino. I arrived as the class was ending, paid my entrance fee, got a glass of wine, and waited eagerly to dance (after two days without it, I was already in withdrawal). But my withdrawal was to last a bit longer, it seemed, as the handful of people participating in the class sat down and the dance floor remained empty for the next couple of hours. Giving up on my notion of an Uruguayan tango, I took a ridiculously overpriced taxi back to the bus station, retrieved my rucksack from the ridiculously overpriced storage unit, and got on my overnight bus to Tacuarembo.