“Sleepy, tranquil, quaint and relaxing.” These are the words that describe Montevideo in travel books about Argentina. All because pobrecito Uruguay doesn’t even get it’s own book; forever condemned to a “S. America On a Shoestring” chapter or even worse, a few pages in an Argentine travel guide.
The three-hour Ferry across the River Plate put me in Montevideo with just enough time to enjoy the sunset. The Ciudad Vieja juts out into the Atlantic, presenting an ocean view from almost any angle in the old city. Structurally and aesthetically, it doesn’t look any different than a city in Argentina, though there’s something different about the onda(vibe) here that I still haven’t put my finger on.
I met up with my 5 college friends from Buenos Aires and we headed out to ready to embibe whatever Monday in Montevideo could muster. To my surprise, the pub we ended up at had an enormous selection of beer (Chimay, Paulaner and local micros to name a few), which I had been longing for in wine-dominated Argentina.
To top it off, there was a guitar player banging out cover medleys of pop songs. He went from Bob Marley to Oasis to The Police without pause, I think he did 6 or 7 songs successively. He knew how to work it and had all the foreigners in the bar clapping and singing along. I chatted with him afterwards while he was chowing down free pub food (staple of playing bars) and he told me he only gets one gig a week so he has to work as a street cleaner to pay the bills. No one ever said being a musician anywhere was easy, even if you can win over 30 NorteAmericanos with 40 minutes of nonstop classics.