Montevideo is only a short air ride from Buenos Aires where we started our first ever touring in S. America. Our original plans for the three country visit to Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil were to pick up a car/van in Buenos Aires and drive from there the rest of the way to Brazil. Good thing we didn't do that because as we later found out it would have consummed most of our time and we would not have had much left to actualy see the sights. Going by air was definitely the best way for us with our ten days to see three countries excursion.

Arriving at Carrasco International Airport
in Montevideo late evening we had arranged for an airport pickup while still in Buenos Aires.  Our driver met us as planned and we motored into the heart of Montevideo to our three star hotel in the Ciudad Vieja district, the  old part of the city near the waterfront.  Not the most sencic part of the city but close to the city center allowing us to walk to the most interesting places in the city center. Our hotel, the London Palace, was not luxurious although rated as a four star, good enough for a two night stand.  Eating was the first thing on our minds after we arrived at the hotel. Being after 10 pm we were worried that we might not find any decent restaurant open, but were happily surprised to know that one of Montevideos best places (El Fogon) was just around the corner and still serving. The menu was extensive and expensive but we managed to get our dinners ordered. Don't recall anything especially great about the food but the service was excellent. This restaurant was not understaffed so there was a waiter at one's elbow within a few seconds with just a nod from us. Sasch had his "baby beef" cut of steak now that he was familiar with what to expect from our restaurant (parrilladas) experience in Buenos Aires. This cut of streak is most like a US cut fillet minon only about twice as thick. Lana and I had seafood selections neither of which made much of an impression. Probably we just didn't know the best dishes to order so missed their really good recipies or we were just too tired to notice.

The next day we opted for a walk into the city center to look for breakfast. Didn't find anything especially impressive with our search, just a few cafes along the main city streets, most of which were still not open at 9 am. Got the impression that breakfast is not a big thing in this city. Probably because they eat dinner fairly late as is common in Spain and other latin nations. We managed to get enough to make it to lunch and proceeded into the city center,
Entrevero Square. There we spent a couple hours investigating the various points of interest including statues of Uruguay's heros, the few interesting high rise buildings on each side of the square and finally a good looking cafe that could have been a sports bars on sterioids. The place was packed with soccer fans watching three or four world cup games simultaneously as the chewed down their lunches and chatted. The cafe was all in the European tradition of wood panelled walls, tables with white linen table cloths, a beautiful massive wooden bar and a courteious wait staff that was under a lot of mealtime pressure. The folks we met in Montevideo were to a fault courteous, friendly and outgoing. We liked everyone we met.

We made an early night of it the first day. The El Fogon again provided us dinner as we couldn't find a better option on foot near our hotel. The next day we made city tour reservations at the hotel. Our tour mini-bus picked us up on time in front of the hotel. The tour lasted a couple hours winding through the downtown districs and out into the surrounding suburbs. It was clear from what we saw on the tour that Montevideo has a high standard of living compared with what we say in and around Buenos Aires. There is some urban decay in the city but it's limited to mostly the old downtown areas near the waterfront. Otherwise one could have been cruising through any of many US cities which also have their derelict waterfront areas as well. This is one city that Lana and felt we could live in if we were retired but only if we could afford to live in one of the better districts. The tour ended at a very scenic location on the river called Punta Gorda. Our last photos of Montevideo were taken there.

After the tour we headed back to the hotel to retrieve our bags and head for the airport and on to our next adventure in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

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