Saturday, October 10, 2009

Montevideo, Uruguay

Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, is indeed South America’s most livable capital city. It has the culture of Buenos Aires and Europe, yet isn’t that hectic.

This is a city of contradictions. On the one hand, there are many cultural happenings and delicious food. The first weekend I was there, simultaneously occurring were a performing arts festival, a film festival and a tango festival. The museums are mostly free and the many mansions exhibits were housed in reminded me of Europe. This is amazing as Uruguay is relatively poor compared to Europe and the U.S., yet provides well in the area of culture.

The food consists of simple empanadas (baked pockets stuffed with meat, cheese, or vegetables) to the gourmet parrillas (e.g., steaks). My favorite daily pastime was entering a bakery and purchasing a bunch of tiny savory and sweet breads and pastries. These include cheese croissants, fruit tarts, flan, brownies, dulce de leche (caramel paste) with chocolate.

Another highlight is that Montevideo is blessed with miles and miles of beaches along the Rio de la Plata. Its coastal thoroughfare, the Rambla, is populated day and night with people enjoying the views.

On the other hand, Montevideo has its unsavory characteristics. These include dog feces all over the sidewalks and parks; potholes on practically every sidewalk; and air pollution from continuous car exhaust. There are also run-down parts of the old town that are unsafe to wander at night.

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