Monday, June 10, 2013

Montevideo, Uruguay, South America

About Montevideo

By Julie Coburn

The Delights of Montevideo,  Uruguay

If you don’t already know, Uruguay is nestled between the borders of Argentina and Brazil. It’s a tiny country compared to the giants that sit above and around it but, that doesn’t mean it’s any less charming than any other South American Country.
The population of Uruguay is a little over 3.5 million people and at least half of them live in its Capital Montevideo. This city is an absolute must see if you’re in South America. In fact, if you visit Buenos Aires you can be in Montevideo in just under an hour by plane.
The first thing that strikes you about this marvelous place is the history that surrounds it (which, of course has a staunch military background). Sitting on the banks of the world famous Rio de la Plata (River Plate), this proud city is a site to behold. During the summer months La Ramblas, which is the main coastal road in Montevideo is packed with locals and tourists alike as they take walks along the river banks and its beaches.

What to See
For soccer fans or, indeed for those of you that are interested in a bit of sporting history, a visit to the Estadio Centenario is not to be missed. This soccer stadium was the place where the very first FIFA World Cup was held in 1930. Very famously, the hosts, Uruguay won the cup.
It would be wrong to say that much has changed about the stadium since that time but this just adds to the overall ambience. If you can, whilst you’re visiting take in a soccer game between the ancient rivals Penarol and Nacional, the atmosphere is something you will never forget!
Plaza Independencia is a landmark that splits the old Uruguay from new. It’s famous for its interesting architecture as well as the famous statue of General Artigas who is considered to be the father of Uruguay.

Ciudad Vieja or, the Old Town is set near a harbor which is one of the main haunts for cruise ships. Not only will you find lots of hints of the past such as the colonial streets, iron gates and lamps there are also plenty of little cafes and bars that are great spots to catch some sun and just watch the world go by.

Food and Drink
It has to be said, if you’re not a meat eater, you may struggle in Montevideo. The Argentineans would strongly disagree but some of the best beef in the world comes
from this great city. In fact, the national dish in Montevideo is the Chivito which is certainly not for the faint hearted. This sandwich is packed with beef, bacon, ham, an assortment of cheese and salad. It’s unlikely that whilst you’re in the city you will not see the locals eating these for lunch almost every-day.
The national drink which is taken very seriously in Montevideo is  Mate. This very strong but completely herbal tea is to be found everywhere. If you see people walking with a little cup and metal straw in one hand and a flask in the other, the likelihood is they couldn’t leave home without their Mate.

Sadly, South America is considered largely to be quite a dangerous place. The people of Montevideo are generally very welcoming and will be happy to tell you all about their great city. However, poverty is an issue. If you make sure you’re street wise in that you don’t wear lots of jewelry and keep your money well hidden, you shouldn’t have a problem.

The police in Montevideo take petty crime VERY seriously especially if tourists fall victim to it. You will see these friendly faces wherever you go and they can easily be identified by the sign “tourist police” on their backs. If you’re sensible it’s unlikely you will fall foul of any crime, just make sure to take a few precautions.

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