To be honest, Montevideo is not as nice as we had imagined. The bus terminal on the other hand, was very nice. Tres Cruces Terminal was the most impressive bus terminal we have been to so far. It has everything; an electronic departure board similar to those found in airports, people constantly cleaning the bathrooms, ATMs, food court, a shopping mall, and there was even a supermarket. The buses turned out to be pretty nice too. In fact, most buses in Uruguay had free wifi. Minus the bus terminal and the Rambla however, the rest of the city we visited was not overly exciting.
Montevideo is situated on the coast near where the Rio de la Plata meets the Atlantic Ocean. It is possible to get there by ferry from Buenos Aires, but if you choose this option, make sure to book at least 2 weeks in advance for big discounts. We stayed in a nice hostel/B&B called Posada al Sur in the old section of the city, a 4 km walk from the bus station.
From the top of our hostel, we were able to look around at what looked like your average South American city. The coolest part of the view was seeing the coast and the Rambla, a boardwalk-type path along the entire coast in Uruguay’s capital with access to the beaches, the port, and the old city. We were surprised, however, to find a lack of really old buildings in the “ciudad vieja.”
We also stopped by the Mercado del Puerto, which is famous for its steak, but we decided that steaks were not in our backpacker’s budget, especially coming from cheaper Argentinian steaks. Instead we got a free sampling of medio medio, a delicious Uruguayan drink mixture of half white wine, half champagne, first created inside the Mercado del Puerto. Plaza Independencia, located at the end of the main street, was nice, but nothing spectacular.
We also thought it would be appropriate to visit Estadio Centenario where Uruguay beat Argentina in the first World Cup in 1930. While inside the soccer (read: fútbol) stadium, which we basically had to ourselves, we noticed a sign to commemorate Uruguay’s first World Cup victory on July 18th, 1930: the same date that is the name of the capital’s main street. Normally, countries have named their capital’s most important street after a famous leader or date of independence, but here in Uruguay, it is named after the date they won a very important soccer match. This speaks to how a country of only 3 million people can rival its much larger and infamous soccer-playing giants to its north (Brazil) and south (Argentina). Even though Montevideo was not our favorite city, we still thought it was worth visiting if only for a few days. There are a few cool things.