Last known location: London, England

Corpse and Robbers

From Buenos Aires we took the fast boat direct to Montevideo, which took about 3 hours. More boat dramas, I’m afraid. Turns out my constitution isn’t as strong as i thought! Nothing too horrific, just 40 minutes or so of unpleasant feelings of nausea. Still, I was very pleased when we arrived into Montevideo port! We’d booked a B&B which was close to the port and the old town so walked there from the boat. From the outside the place looked like a bit of a dump, it was a beautiful old building but not in a good state at all. We thought we must have had the wrong address because after lots of doorbell ringing and knocking there was no answer. Eventually someone did let us in and, once inside, the place was amazing. High ceilings, big rooms and a lovely patio garden. Our room was nice, although it looked out onto the street so was a bit noisy. We arrived at about 7pm and headed out more or less straight away.

The warning bells started ringing when our host warned us not to take anything out with us because it was a bit of a dodgy area. We did as we were told, and went out with the bare minimum. We walked to the old town, through some pretty squares, until we got to Plaza Independencia, the main square which is home to the old city gate. Everything was fine but the place felt a bit like a ghost town, there were hardly any people around and as far as I could tell we were the only tourists. We ended up getting dinner at a steak house, which was delicious, but we were the only people there for most of the meal. As we walked home for the night I did feel a bit vulnerable; there were quite a few groups of drunk, unpleasant looking men. But we made it home without incident.

The next day we explored the city; Montevideo is a relatively small place and we managed to cover most of it on foot in one day. It was a completely different place by day, and the tree-lined avenues and green squares made it a pleasant place to wander around. We stopped off again at Plaza Independencia, taking in the massive statue of Artigas, the local hero, and checking out his mausoleum, situated underneath the statue. There were the usual armed guards, as with every mausoleum we’ve been to, but we were allowed to take photos here. Hooray! The Plaza is surrounded by the former Government House and Palacio Salvo, which at 26 stories was once South Americas tallest building. We tried to get up to the top but were prevented from doing so by a rather brusque man who told us this was no longer possible! We looked at the beautiful Teatro Solis before walking along Av 18 de Julio and stopping off at the other squares dotted along this main path. All very pleasant.

As it was such a lovely day we decided to head to the sea and spent an hour or so watching some fishermen catch precisely nothing and soaking up the sun. Next stop was Mercado del Puerto, a bustling market filled with a gaggle of restaurants. We watched the world go by – mainly tourists on day trips – before heading back for a siesta.

We spent the evening reading and relaxing in the garden before heading back to the Puerto for a late dinner. Steak AGAIN for Dan but i had some rather tasty pumpkin ravioli. The Uruguayans, like the Argentines, have a lot of Italian influence. When we left the restaurant at about 11 the waiters suggested we take a taxi home but as it was only 5 minutes up the road we walked. Again, no problem. However, later that night, when we were asleep in bed, we were awoken at about 2am by loud banging on the front door. At first we thought it was another guest having trouble opening the door after a few too many vino tinto’s, but after while we realised that someone was trying to break in. Obviously massive panic. We scrabbled around, putting clothes on and whispering frantically. Neither of us actually did anything but we both eyed up weapons to protect ourselves. Dan grabbed his enormous jar of Marmite (perhaps it is good for something?!) and i went for the chair! At one point someone did rattle the door handle to our room but seemed to give up quite quickly. We didn’t really know what to do with ourselves but when i dared to peek out of the window i saw that the police had arrived so we opened our door to find out what was going on.

Lots of confused Spanish followed, but we did eventually find out that someone had broken into the house, but a neighbour had alerted the police (thankfully the station was less than 200m away) and they’d arrived and scared off the robber before he’d managed to get anything. They didn’t catch him though. Bloody scary, as you can imagine, and we were on high alert for the rest of the night. At one point Dan was on the phone to the owners because he thought he heard someone trying to get in again. Eventually the guy who ran the place set up camp for the night in the front hall. We were due to stay for another night but after a very restless nights sleep decided to check out and move west down the coast to Colonia.

The owners were very apologetic and said they’d look into getting a night security guard but we thought it would be best if we quit while we were ahead and still safe and sound with all our belongings. Please don’t take this as a suggestion that Montevideo is a dangerous city, I actually don’t think it is. We were just in a dodgy part of town and had a bit of bad luck. Otherwise it’s a lovely city. Probably won’t go back though!

1 Comment:
  1. Rose 19 Mar, 2011

    Very scary, but the city sounds lovely! Take care. Is it still the same jar of Marmite that I brought out for Dan and took up half my suitcase?!!! Glad it’s come in useful!


    Mum x x x

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