Where do I start? I’m going to attempt to write about a trip that happened over 10 years ago. Luckily, I snapped a few photos and videos, and still have my airline itineraries saved to my email – so I’ll try and piece the details of this trip together the best I can, 11 years later.
The year was 2009, and this was so very early on in my travel career. So far, my travel had consisted merely of one cruise and trips to Mexico, Canada, Brasil and the Dominican Republic. Uruguay would be only my tenth country, and my second absolutely solo trip. What I didn’t realize, is how much I would come to absolutely adore Montevideo. I had no idea.
Not What I Thought
These were my early days of traveling, so please give me a pass here…but for some reason, I wasn’t expecting such a clean, laid back, yet large and cosmopolitan city. I’m pretty sure the only image of Uruguay that I had in my brain was from an eighth grade social studies book that showed a dusty, poor, remote village. In fact, that may have even been a photo of Paraguay. Whatever the case, for some reason, I had a rural, small and ugly town pictured in my head. Of course, I could’ve just Googled Montevideo, but for some reason I don’t think I did – or if I did, I didn’t pay attention; this was so long ago. Either way, my biggest memory of visiting Montevideo was simply how much I was loving each and every minute of it, and that feeling of having your expectations and perceptions just completely shattered. Truth be told, I wasn’t really looking forward to visiting Uruguay at all, but by the time I left, I was kicking myself for not staying longer than one night – this was somewhere I could actually live!
I remember a few things clearly, like that gorgeous weather – blue skies and golden sun. I loved seeing so much old, Spanish architecture and I remember being awestruck by one building in particular. I was so impressed with it, I decided to wander inside the lobby to see more…and then into the elevator, and up to the top!
I’d stumbled upon (and into) Palacio Salvo – although its towering, grand presence in the middle of downtown makes it less of a secret find and more of a “can’t miss” site. Built in 1925, the work of art was designed by the architect Mario Palanti, an Italian immigrant living in Buenos Aires, who used a similar design for his Palacio Barolo in B.A. Finished in 1928, Palacio Salvo stands 100 meters high with the antenna included. It was the tallest building in Latin America for a brief period.
Watch the video below, as I decided to “let myself in.” There are five quick videos included in the playlist, so don’t scroll away until I get to the top – it’s worth it!
RAMBLIN’ TIP: See a neat building you want to explore? Give it a try! Of course, always use common sense, and proceed with caution – but about 75% of the cool buildings I’ve wanted to explore, I’ve been able to, just by wandering in. Be careful doing this in government buildings though – although, they usually always have security guards who you can always ask permission from. Don’t be afraid to explore, just be respectful and smart about it! From my Google search today, it looks like they now offer official tours of the building:
This was one of the first times I tried something so different and exotic as goat! I stopped into a really cool diner named La Pasiva and grabbed a table to enjoy a tasty Uruguayan lunch. I don’t remember if I knew it was goat ahead of time, but I ordered and devoured one of their famous El Chivito sandwiches. It was delicious! I just checked, and La Pasiva is still in business. Check out their menu, HERE.
MonteVideo Killed the Radio Star
It’s hard to explain just why I loved Montevideo so much. It was clean, calm and safe. This was one of the first times I used a public bus in a new city and I really enjoyed the ride. I was surprised at how chill it was: not crowded, dirty or rushed. Tranquilo. I loved all the buildings – the classic architecture and the old cars. But most of all, I think I really enjoyed Montevideo because was one of the first “lesser-visited” cities I’d ever explored. While it doesn’t necessarily qualify as an “off the beaten path” destination, Montevideo is certainly not a major tourist spot. At the time, I didn’t know a soul who’d ever been there – nor who planned to. I didn’t realize it the time, but I experienced a sizable dose of euphoria simply by experiencing a city so many have not been to, nor will ever go. I’d later realize and identify my love for this specific travel niche, as I’d go on to take trips to more lesser-visited places like Timor Leste, Suriname, Nauru, Lesotho and countless other places none of my friends had ever heard of.
I had a few hours left before my flight on to Buenos Aires, so I’d pull a Clark Kent and turn into The Taco Inspector. I was actually a food vlogger back then and had a pretty popular taco review video series. I’d go all around town in search of the perfect taco. Sometimes my quest would lead me out of state; it was even more exciting to do international reviews. As chief Taco Inspector, how could I not try the tacos in Uruguay?!
I’ll be Bach
Thanks for checking out this very late post on Uruguay. I was glad I took so much random video – these are happy memories to watch. Not just because the country was good to me, and I enjoyed the Montevideo so much – but it was cool look back on my very early travel days, when everything was so new and kind of a bigger deal to me. Not that I don’t see new and exciting places now, but I have fond memories of being so naive and inexperienced, with such childlike wonder of going somewhere so far away from home for the first time. When I finish all 193 countries, Uruguay is somewhere I will definitely return to and stay a while. Maybe I’ll get airbnb at Palacio Salvo, stroll The Rambla, grab another taco at Roma-Tijuana and hopefully run into Artilio again.