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Montevideo – The Anti-North American Suburb

Let’s be honest: Montevideo isn’t going to win a beauty contest. The pavement looks like a French street after a demonstration when protesters have been throwing cobblestones at the riot police. There are graffiti everywhere, bars on windows and doors, and every roller shutter feature street art that probably wasn’t ordered by shop owners. There’s an inch thick of old posters on most walls—did you know James Blunt was coming to Montevideo? Do you remember the last general elections?—that are pretty much archives material by now. The colonial buildings in Ciudad Vieja are falling apart and most modern structures are plain, with air-conditioning units outside each window.

Oh, and there’s no must-see sight in Montevideo, unless you’re very into carnival—the Museo del Carnaval is for you!—or into marijuana—head to the Museo del Cannabis!

Montevideo looks seedy, dirty and grim but it’s not.

In fact, this is precisely why I like Montevideo. Uruguay’s capital is the anti-North American suburb with cookie-cutter housing and suburban strip malls—no street, no building, no shop, no door, no pavement tile looks alike. Hell, even the layout of the three or four TA-TA supermarkets along Avenida 18 de Julio are completely different, as if the Guide to Supermarket Psychology and the Best Set Up to Trick Customers had been interpreted by two dozen executives with opposite perspectives.

It probably drives neat freaks cray but I find it inspiring.

You can’t get bored in Montevideo. Just go out and look around you.

Montevideo is that place where old ladies say “aproveche my amor” when they see Mark eating churros. It’s that place where when you ask for some bread at the bakery, the employee shows you five different kinds and explains the different textures and flavours. It’s that place where when you ask a question, you’re offered the answer with context, explanation and recommendations. It’s that place where old couple and pot-smoking twentysomething sporting gang tattoos hang out together at the beach.

If you want old colonial buildings, narrow streets and a rough-looking barrio, take a walk in the aptly Ciudad Vieja. If you want fresh air, there are 22 kilometres of ramblas along the coast and the playas aren’t bad for city beaches. There are large parks and busy streets, endless avenues and cute blocks with everything you need.

I fell in love with Montevideo the same way I fell in love with Santiago—just exploring the city. Yes, it’s hard to get there and apparently, it’s hard to leave as well, but it was worth it.

It always starts with buying drinks in a convenience store…
Convenience store in Ciudad Vieja
Puerto de Montevideo
Ciudad Vieja
Ciudad Vieja
Ciudad Vieja
Av Libertador Brigadier Gral Juan Antonio Lavalleja
Rambla República Argentina
Rambla República Argentina
Playa Ramírez
Waiting for ice cream…
Bulevar General Artigas
Montevideo’s unique pavement style…
Constituyente
Constituyente
Constituyente
Constituyente
Canelones
Av. Gral. Rivera
Av. Gral. Rivera
Av. Gral. Rivera
Obelisco a los Constituyentes
Universidad de la República
Barrio Cordón
Barrio Cordón
Avenida 18 de Julio
Barrio Cordón
Calle Eduardo Víctor Haedo by the Tres Cruces bus terminal
Playa de los Pocitos
Playa de los Pocitos
Playa de los Pocitos
Playa de los Pocitos
Playa de los Pocitos
Playa de los Pocitos
Playa de los Pocitos
Rambla República del Perú
Rambla República de Chile
Rambla República de Chile
Rambla República de Chile
Av. Dr. Luis Alberto de Herrera
Sandwiches de Miga at the Tienda Inglesa supermarket
Uruguayan yogurt (dairy products are tasty here!)
The most important place in a supermarket: the cheese and ham deli (these are basic ingredients for everything)
Mate at TA-TA Supermarket
Mate cups at TA-TA supermarket
Weed shop on 18 de Julio (accessories only…)
Doorbells in our building on Colonia
Plaza Independencia
Universidad de la República
Plaza Independencia
Plaza Juan Pedro Fabini
Avenida 18 de Julio
Plaza Matriz
Fuente de los Candados

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