The route I took to Montevideo isn’t the standard. I did it this way to pinch some pennies, but only ended up pinching my nerves. I traveled every bit of a full day to get to Montevideo…a plane ride with a stop in Santiago, Chile for starters. Once in Chile, I had an almost two hour layover before loading back on to the same plane for a two hour flight to Buenos Aries, Argentina. Once in Buenos Aires, caught a boat for an hour to Uruguay. I reached Uruguay and chartered another coach bus for two hours to Montevideo, then finally a cab to my hotel. I must admit, that last coach bus ride to Montevideo had me a little bitter with mumblings of words that I choose to include for this blog. LOL Was it worth it? Absolutely and I’ll share why.
Montevideo is a bustling city that sits on the Atlantic coast in one of South America’s smallest countries, Uruguay. Its Spanish influence is undeniable in architecture and culture. One friend in our group that has been to Spain several times stated often that he felt as if he was in Spain. Montevideo is a destination that many Spanish countries visit, and is to many North American tourists, virtually unknown. During my journey there I was updating through Instagram and Facebook. Many asked,“Where is Montevideo?” I think that is what makes this trip extra special. It’s totally off of the radar for many North American travelers …and up until going… myself included. Now I get to share why this was such a great trip, and a full one.
Montevideo sits on the Atlantic Ocean and its climate is opposite of North America’s due to being south of the equator. So January and February are peak summer months. Temperatures average between a high of 82 degrees Fahrenheit, 27 degrees Celsius, to a low of 69 degrees Fahrenheit and 21 degrees Celsius. It’s shorts and beach weather for sure.
The currency is the Uruguayan Peso with average conversions of $1 USD equaling $28 UYU (Uruguayan Peso) and $1 CAD (Canadian Dollar) equaling $21 UYU. Of course, currency rates change almost hourly. The native language of Uruguay is Spanish. If you don’t know the language or have some familiarity with it, travel with someone who does. I was fortunate to have had a Montevideo native with me and two others that had some Spanish language proficiency.
For this trip, we opted for a hotel based on practicality over opulence. It’s summer there, and all I wanted was clean sheets, a functional bathroom, and accessibility to downtown attractions and transportation. Hotel Los Angeles fit the cost and the above criteria. It even included a decent continental breakfast if you woke up early enough from the partying the night before (which was a task). I always evaluate accommodations with the question “Would I stay there again?” I would! Cool and helpful staff and quite a bit of Old Spanish architecture made the stay welcoming and cozy. Listen, after the conversion, it was a little over $50 USD ($65 CAD) per night. There were no complaints from the home team over here.
FOOD & LIBATIONS
Now on to what I really like to check out in a place…the food and the booze. LOL I’ll start with the food first. Latin America is big on their meats (no pun intended lol). I had a few good meals but one of my favorites was in the port district of Montevideo. Estancia del Puerto served us the variety of meat that we kept hearing about. We had lamb, sausage, chicken, and beef… my goodness I’m salivating on my keyboard as I type. LOL All the meat was grilled, so none of us felt guilty about departing from our meal plans…at least I didn’t. What really made me happy was the price. A great variety of meat (and a little booze) for roughly $20 per person….I almost kissed the entire staff. LOL
Los Yuyos is another great restaurant but it was off the beaten path. We were lucky to have a cab driver that was taking music request. The stand out was a drink with a special kick called Caña. It’s super sweet and many take it in shots; if you’re brave enough to buy a bottle, have at it. One of our friends was that brave dude and …we salute him. LOLOL
I had one of the sloppiest sandwiches at La Pasiva called the Chivito. Anyone who knows sandwiches, understands that the sloppier, the better it taste. With beef, egg, olives, cheese, peppers, sauces all over it, I wanted to come back later for a doggy bag. lol
What were the odds that one of Montevideo’s Carnivals would happen during my stay and on the same street as my hotel? Well that’s just how fantastic this trip was. The carnival celebrated African heritage that inhabited Uruguay. For two nights, it was a culmination of bands, costumes, street vendors, beer, and plenty of people partaking in weed (for those who are into that, it’s legal in Montevideo). I wanted to dance in the street so bad, but I did get my robot in though. LOL
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know I hate a long tour. I mean…I despise it. I do however love a hop-on, hop-off bus tour. Bus tours of this kind give you the option of staying on the tour, or hoping off the bus to explore the site of your interest. It’s for us that have tour commitment issues. LOL For approximately $25 USD or $32 CAD, you tour the city on a double decker bus with a guide (and headphones for English tourist).
The beach is beautiful, and what I liked most is that I felt like I was at a chilled ongoing party. There were plenty of volleyball games and ice cream vendors for everyone here. Now, of course we found an umbrella bar situation to throw one back. But most importantly, I felt safe!
Things To Remember
There are a few points I have to reiterate. I was informed that only a third of the population in Montevideo have some knowledge of the English language, and even fewer are proficient. I ventured out alone for part of a day, and got by, but at times really needed the crutch of my Spanish speaking friends. Also, as European as Montevideo looks, it is still Latin America. Just as you would be cautious in any North American or world-class city, use the same precautionary measures there. Lastly, unlike the pace of most North American cities, South America runs on it’s own clock. LOL There is no rush…at all here!
Yes, I went as my mother would say, “around the mulberry bush and through the woods” to get to Montevideo, however it was a fantastic inaugural voyage into South America. I’d do it all over again…every single bit of it. Montevideo has to be one of my favorite trips of all time. The laughs and fun will continue to linger for years beyond my stay!!!