Montevideo: Small City, Big Happenings

Tango music fills the streets in the Pocitos section of Montevideo

It’s a river so vast it resembles an ocean. And it sometimes behaves as such. Fed at times by the salty waters of the South Atlantic Ocean – depending on shifting currents – the La Plata is the widest river on Earth. From one shore to the next, there’s no sign of land. Just water all the way to the distant horizon. Add fine-grain white sands to its shores and you have a beach.

MONTEVIDEO: Reflecting the old and the new

On the two sides of La Plata’s shores rise two great cities. One of them on the Argentina side – Buenos Aires – is known throughout the world as a desirable place to visit. The other, on the Uruguay side – Montevideo – one might say lies in the shadows of the much larger and better known Buenos Aires. Uruguayans acknowledge their capital city is not exactly the destination that is Buenos Aires. But they don’t seem to mind. They like Montevideo for what it is – small with easy access to just about everywhere – and full of laid back and very friendly people.

But to me, Montevideo is much more. Like Buenos Aires, it has some amazing classical architecture; good transit system – although no subway – great nightlife; worthy museums and historic sites to see; and all the great restaurants you will ever need. It also has something Buenos Aires does not have: beaches.

VEGANS LOOK AWAY!: Meat-eaters, you MUST have a chivito canadiense when you come to Montevideo: beef, ham, fried egg, lettuce, tomato, bacon, cheese, mayo, yum!

I fell in love with Montevideo. To me it’s a smaller version of Buenos Aires – sorry Uruguayans, I know you don’t like that comparison :) – but with people who can’t wait to show a stranger genuine hospitality. So for me,  Montevideo struck the ball out of the ballpark. I say to you, go ahead and visit Buenos Aires. That is an absolute must. You would be a fool not to. You will find much to enjoy. But do not overlook Montevideo. Hop on the BuqueBus – the very comfortable ferry – and go across the La Plata to Montevideo. The crossing is three quick  hours, as the ferry has food, drinks, televisions, wi-fi, and much more to keep you busy during the crossing. Or you can just sleep :).

The BuqueBus also travels between Buenos Aires and Colonia, Uruguay. Spend a day or two in this beautiful, historic city, then take a bus – again with free wi-fi – to Montevideo. That’s what I did. And when I got to Montevideo, intending to spend just a couple of days, I stayed for weeks!

The BuqueBus: Ferry crossing the La Plata River, the world's widest river, from Buenos Aires (in the background) to Colonia, Uruguay. That's the Uruguayan flag fluttering in the wind.

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