Montevideo was a good choice for the start of my trip. Its easy-going atmosphere, manageable size, relaxed and friendly people, quiet streets and familiarity allowed for a soft take-off to the land of no schedules or deadlines and few plans. Being shown around by an old friend made it more special.
No matter how small or sleepy the city might appear at first, I have discovered a lot in my 10 days here.
Street art – The city is covered with it on every corner. The colors and motifs are impressive making long aimless walks (see my previous post) even more interesting.
Tasty food – the city is hiding some real gems. If you ever venture here try:
- Toledo – nice, small tapas place in the old downtown
- Candy Bar – Brooklyn meets Montevideo for dinner
- Masala Haus – my friend’s place with delicious healthy food
- las mollejas (AKA “sweetbread” in English and “ris de veau” in French) – one of those dishes made from some weird gland of some poor calf, which tastes and feels like cloudy heaven
Legit yoga – I found a very simple and serious yoga studio on Calle Acevedo Diaz called Centro de Yoga Sivananda. Got a good class, after which we were offered a small dish of sweet rice as a “gift to the gods”. It was a bit hard to follow the Uruguayan Spanish (had to look around at other students all the time), but I did learn that downward-facing dog was called “a tent” (la carpa). I wonder what it’s called in other languages…
Espacio de Arte Contemporaneo – This was one of the most exciting discoveries! An ex-prison and its grounds turned into a space dedicated to contemporary art. While the space itself and the current exhibition (on Uruguayan filmmaking) are well worth the visit by themselves, what is hiding in the prison’s cellar really makes this place unique. I have never seen anything similar in a large contemporary art museum anywhere else.
The museum houses resident artists chosen by the institution to spend two months on the premises to create their art while the visitors pass by, speak to them and, if they want to, engage in the creative process. Each artist is allocated a room (ex prison cell) for creating and an adjacent room for exhibiting their art (often still in the making). It was insightful to observe the xbox lying next to empty tubes of glue, tainted glass next to empty beer bottles, a broken fridge holding LCD screens and political protest posters (not part of any artwork – or were they?). And it was even more interesting to observe the artists – some smiling and chatty, others frustrated or absent altogether.
It’d be amazing to see such projects more often elsewhere in the world.
Cool coffee places – On top of all this Montevideo hides some cool coffee spots (granted you need to look for them a bit longer than in other cities). Check out:
- Pecana on Calle Carlos Maria Maeso – try the brownie!
- Escaramuza – an amazing bookstore with a café in the back garden on the corner of calle Charrua and calle Dr. Pablo de Maria; best coffee I’ve tried in MVD.
I love having all this time on my hands to hang out on sunny terraces and read, read and read. I have years of reading to catch up on and I started well with 700 pages of an amazingly written novel this week. Also – Kindle is not as bad as I feared.
And finally – this is only a two-hour drive from Montevideo:
One day, I’ll be back to Uruguay for more! Next stop: Buenos Aires.