Paris with Flip FlopsMarch 13 in Uruguay
We've all heard Buenos Aires is the Paris of the South, so what does that make Montevideo? Our free walking tour guide nailed it "Paris with Flip Flops". With a smaller population, Montevideo has a similar European feeling to that of Buenos Aires, but with a more casual air. Making the most of my day until my evening ferry to BsAs, I'm started out the day with a free walking tour (an activity I suggest wherever you can, and tip your guide, because it really gives you a good sense of history as well as lay of the hand).
Curioso Free Tour is the one I joined today as I arrived at the Plaza Independencia too early for the tour I planned to take, or that I thought I'd planned to take. Curioso was actually the one I'd initially found online. Our small English speaking group headed off to explore what Montevideo had to offer. The guide was relaxed and very knowledgeable as he took us to the Mausaleo de Artigos, a hero of Uruguayan independence, Teatro Solis, through the old town streets, to the port, the market, the squares, the cathedral, palaces and past several museums. We even sampled Grappa Miel, a honey spirit that I ended up coming with a bottle of. Probably the best souvenir that I could've gotten.
By the way, local tip. Some people come to Uruguay to reset their stay count for Argentina, and while you're here, you can also take out US dollars and break the bills to smaller denominations so you're not forced to exchange more than you want back in Buenos Aires.
At the end of our tour, I said goodbye to the group and headed off on my own to find lunch. I'm determined to have a chivito, aka the Uruguayan sandwich. After a bit of searching, I return back to one of the squares where I'd spotted a restaurant with it on the menu. There's another spot near the southern entrance of the Mercardo del Puerto that also looked good. Eating at the square though allowed me time to head to the cemetery to check out some of the sculptures.
Montevideo's cemetery is nowhere near as busy as La Recoleta in Buenos Aires. I much preferred this one and wish I had more time to walk around. They close at 4pm and I arrived at 345pm. Still if you plan your day well, definitely worth a visit. They also have a tour on Tuesday nights where a guide takes you around and tells you stories of some of those whose bones rest here.
The cemetery behind me, I head back to the Old Town and Palacio Taranco, which our guide had pointed out earlier. Luckily it was still open for another hour or so. The architects of this fine place also designed the Petit Palace and Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Admission is also free. I was wandering the walls when I realized this was actually one of the few places that I had previously wrote down about to visit. With all the wandering, I'd completely forgotten til then, talk about a pleasant surprise.
A bit more time in the southernmost capital of the world, I browsed through the artisan market near the port before checking in for a 2 hour ride ferry ride back to the Buenos Aires. A little immigration hiccup on the way - but more on that tomorrow.Read more