Most tourists in Montevideo head straight to Ciudad Vieja, a cute historical barrio that also has a number of restaurants and attractions. It is stuck between the port and the centro, and even though it has beautiful buildings from the colonial era—like the Teatro Solis and the Cathedral—many side streets are very run-down and not exactly welcoming or safe. In fact, part of it reminded me of Casco Viejo in Panama (where, by the way, we got robbed in 2001).
Nonetheless, we explored the neighborhood (during the day, though), from Plaza Independencia to the waterfront. There are a number of really cool murals here and there, as well as funny political messages and great street photography opportunities.
I’m not overly paranoid about our safety here. I use common sense, but despite what locals may say about their country, I don’t feel the “shit, I should not be here” vibe that you can get when you step into the wrong street. I wouldn’t flash valuable or get drunk and wander around at 3 a.m. (although it may be just fine, considering people eat dinner rather late here, streets are not empty at 3 a.m.!) but again, I probably wouldn’t do this in France either.
Actually, I find people here very nice, as in polite, helpful and respectful. Even when I walk alone, as a woman, I rarely hear more than “de nada, hermosa”, which is much more decent than being looked at like a piece of meat like in Nicaragua last year. In a way, Uruguayans are like Canadians: straightforward and courteous.