We arrived to Montevideo (Uruguay’s capital) under warm, sunny skies and immediately began realizing our dream of spending the next 10 months in shorts and t-shirts. After finding the apartment we had booked in Punta Carretas (a neighbourhood outside of the centre), we spent the remainder of the afternoon exploring the immediate area (and catching up on some sleep).
The following morning we bused into Ciudad Vieja (the old city) for some touring. Sadly, the temperature had cooled off a bit so we decided to wear pants (if anything, to blend in with the locals). Our afternoon began in the Mercado del Puerto, an old train station now housing a number of restaurants. After lunch, we strolled the streets all the way to la Plaza Independencia, an impressive square surrounded by equally impressive buildings.
The following day was even cooler and a lot wetter, thus our time outdoors was limited. Nevertheless, we elected to walk along the coast taking in some nice views (despite the grey skies) of the sandy beaches in the heart of the city.
After three full days in Montevideo we felt that we had adequately explored the city. While the people we encountered in Montevideo were incredibly friendly and the neighbourhood we were staying in was lovely, the city wasn’t exactly exploding with attractions. In search of a tad more charm, we left for Colonia del Sacramento, an UNESCO heritage site settled by the Portuguese (and then conquered by the Spanish) in the late 1600s. Colonia certainly lived up to its picturesque billing with its heritage buildings and cobble stoned streets. The rain even let up a bit to allow us to snap a few pictures of our own.
Unfortunately the weather took a terrible turn during our last couple of days in Colonia. Strong winds and lots of rain gave us adequate opportunity to spend some time indoors enjoying some wonderful Uruguayan wines (Tannat being the most popular varietal). On our third and final day in Colonia we did a little more touring, but this time in the relative comfort of a golf cart.
Overall, we were pleased with the start to our trip in Uruguay. The kindness of the Uruguayan people (particularly their patience with the language barrier) easily compensated for the often miserable weather. The food, where red meat always featured prominently, was also really enjoyable.
Our primary observation to date is that we need to improve our Spanish! Next stop – Buenos Aires, Argentina to continue our education…