Montevideo was a nice come down from the paradise of Buenos Aires and Palermo. Less glamorous, a little dodgy (I witnessed a knife fight and a purse snatching on the same day) but with a funky-cool vibe and interesting neighborhoods all the same. There’s a hipster-friendly mix of graffiti and desolation among the buildings comprising Old Town — the neighborhood looks like the set of Omega Man — a post-apocalyptic wasteland featuring trees growing from the sides of buildings that seem like a few decades back they were rather nice. A handsomely-masoned building for the Bank of Uruguay sits across the street from an abandoned parking lot (?) lined with street art. There’s even a beautiful church with a single side of exposed brick beneath a snowy white paint that has the effect of a decaying underbelly. The neighborhood dogs are photogenic.
But Monte has a more modern and charming side as well and a shore called the Rambla that locals stroll down or alongside in the sand. After Southeast Asia the beaches aren’t so grand – but in opposition to the knifey dark side of Old Town they are no less appealing. Even further North, up the coast of Uruguay from Montevideo are other more famous, remote and charming beach towns: Punta del este, Punta Diablo, Cabo Paloni0. I made it to Punta del este the nearest of them to Montevideo, unfortunately my visit coincided with three days of rain and bad beach weather.
The week beforehand I returned back to Buenos Aires to join friends at Lollapalooza, an international music festival featuring multiple bands I had never heard of. I ended up staying for a week in Palermo, again and then in San Isidro at an AirBnb.
I wanted to record my new found appreciation of the Uruguayan Tannat wine. Tannat is a french grape that for some reason thrives more readily in Uruguay than France, and here in Uruguay Tannat wines are everywhere. I’ve been drinking a lot of wine the past few months between here and Argentina and I must admit that I much prefer Tannat to Malbec. Malbec is a grape I have tried my hardest to enjoy but for the most part I just don’t — Tannat on the other hand feels much more drinkable to me. An added boost is that apparently it is the 4 to 5 times richer in the antioxidants procyanidins than Cabernet Sauvignon. While it’s a stretch to believe drinking wine is good for me it’s fun to believe I am.
I must say that of many of my destinations, Montevideo has felt the most normative. That’s not a bad thing. It’s been an easily livable destination and I’ve built a steady routine between my gym, mate addiction, Spanish lessons and work. Uruguay has a lot more to offer that unfortunately I am unable to explore without a car and constant dependence on wifi.