Monday, March 9, 2015

montevideo, uruguay...

Uruguay is a small country...wedged between Argentina, Brazil and the Atlantic Ocean. Though it is comprised mostly of fertile soil and grassy prairies...we never saw that side of the country.

Our port of call was Montevideo...the capital city which has 1.8 million residents (mostly Spanish and Italian). Over half the population of Uruguay lives here. 

I was looking forward to exploring the city which was the birth place of my good friend, Anneliese .  Her family left the country when she was a child....and she has never returned to visit.

It seems that many boats ran into trouble and there they stayed....right next to the cruise ship terminal. 

We went on shore...and took a tour of the city with its 14 miles of beautiful beaches!

It is a rather lovely old 'seaside' city...though the 'sea' is actually the Rio de la Plata River which is 140 miles across at its mouth.  No wonder it appears to be an ocean rather than a river! It holds an enormous amount of water...since it is the end flow of two rivers (the Uruguay River and the Parana River).  This is the second largest draining basin in South America and carries a huge amount of silt out to the sea. 

And that explains why sailboats sail on seas of Montevideo!  Though we saw many people swimming out there...the brown water looked less than appealing to me. 

The beaches though were lovely! It was summer vacation while we were there...and it seemed everyone was out on the beach having fun.

Palacio Salvo is an iconic building of Montevideo...constructed in 1925 and standing 100 meters was South America's tallest building for many decades.  It was originally intended to be a hotel...but is now a mix of residential and commercial space.

And then there was the impressive Palatio Legislativo (the government building)...also completed in 1925 to mark the 100th year of independence for Uruguay.  Designed by Italian architects...featuring local Carrara marble walls, ceiling murals and gold relief work...the building is a National Historic Monument.  Quite lovely!

We learned a little of the city's history...that it was founded in the 18th century by the Spanish, and over the years its citizens fought against the British, Spanish and Portuguese for independence, as well as neighboring Argentineans and Brazilians. Today Montevideo is the major commercial center of Uruguay.   We visited Old Town...just steps away from the modern, bustling city square.  All that remains of the old fortified city is the original city gate...which now divides the old from the new.

The beverage of choice in much of South America seems to be 'tea' (an infusion, actually).  Not just any tea...but yerba mate.   And it would never do to drink it from a regular mug.  It is steeped in a special gourd called a guampa...then sipped through a bombilla (straw with a filter on the end). I couldn't resist bringing home a souvenir for my son-in-law...who would feel right at home in Montevideo, sipping on his favorite beverage!

As for trees...we mostly saw eucalyptus or palm trees.  The eucalyptus trees were introduced to Uruguay from Australia in the late 1800's...and have been a boon to the economy.

Apparently the fishing in Uruguay is good as well...though these fishermen never looked too serious about their sport!

Our time in Montevideo was over before we knew it......and a tugboat showed up to push us out to sea.

 See what I mean about muddy water?

And soon the city of Montevideo was but a memory.  A good one!


  1. Your trip looks amazing, thank you for sharing all your wonderful photos they are just perfect!

  2. Beautiful! I think there must be more to Anneliese's story... I do believe that you are thinking incorrectly about that muddy water...wouldn't it be like swimming in smooth chocolate? It has to be good for the skin! =D

  3. What a great trip! Enjoying traveling the world via you and your photos!


  4. It's all a distant memory to me too, so much so that I don't remember if the water was muddy. . . but then, for us it was mainly a weekly but stop on our way to church so it did not include too many dips, if any. If I'd been there I would have wanted to hire a taxi to take me into the city to see if certain places are still there... such as the historic looking MCC building where my parents met.
    Maybe we'll do that some day.

  5. Another interesting place, Judy. Thanks for sharing your photos and 'travelogue' with us. I don't think I'd be swimming in that muddy water either but the beaches are nice. I was surprised at the length of the beach and the width of the river's mouth. I just read Vee's comment regarding the water. LOL It would be like swimming in the Petitcodiac River in Moncton I think. They call it the chocolate river because of all the chocolatey looking brown silt. :) Great post!

  6. Interesting to learn a bit about an area I have never visited. Also interesting is the Yerba Mate connection. I have recently been reading a bit about it on some of the healthy eating sites I visit. Seems it is used as a coffee substitute although I think I'll stick with my coffee.
    I think you were wise to stay out of the water.

  7. So interesting. Love all the photos. I'm thinking of Tony and Charlotte looking at the Yerba Mate steeping in those gourds!

  8. What an amazing trip!!!! I loved getting to see the sights!

  9. I was truly thinking about that special gift for your son-in law. Yes, that truly is part of their culture. Maybe we should have a Yerba Mate steeping party....
    I could not believe the color of the waters....I don't know if you would find me swimming in their.
    Doesn't traveling make you look for your next destination?

  10. I loved this city and was so happy to see it again, through your eyes. My souvenir of that trip (and I only purchase one thing - or try to - each trip) is a print of Montevideo Harbour. I'm glad you enjoyed this city too!

  11. I never knew so many Italians lived in Uruguay! I know many are in Argentina. The muddy river waters remind me of the southern Mississippi River--as it travels south it holds a lot of mud and silt.


'The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.'
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson