We sailed towards Montevideo into a gorgeous sunset, the horizon exploding into streaks of pink and gold. Is there a better way to be greeted into a new country?! By the time we docked and disembarked, the sun would have completely set and we would be met by a gust of crisp evening air.
We follow our host, Greg, as we walk from the Buquebus terminal to our apartment for the next month, wheeling our luggage over the cobblestone streets. We walk through quiet deserted streets, dark storefronts, and restaurants that have already closed shop for the day. (Sounds familiar?) We walk past a park. Empty swings gently sway back and forth, and unused park exercise equipment sit forlorn in the dark. We walk past little sidewalk cafes whose only diners are the invisible kind.
I pull my phone only halfway out of my jacket pocket to take a peek, a habit that I’ve picked up here in South America, but not that it mattered right now since there’s hardly anyone else in sight.
Just past 7:00 pm. How is it possible that it’s so early and yet, seems like that the whole world has already tucked in for the night?!
“Um, is it always this empty around here?” I ask Greg, running a little to catch up with his long strides.
“Yes, the restaurants here close after lunch. There are more people during the day.”
Hmmm… that’s kinda weird. I’m used to light streaming out of stores, lighting the streets after the sun has gone down. And cafes swirling with lively chatter and cigarette smoke. And cheerful noise from street performers and vendors. Anything but this strange ghost town. During prime evening hours, no less.
Ok so Montevideo Old Town isn’t really a night life sort of place. I can live with that. As adventurous as our lives seem, we spend most of our evenings curled up with Netflix anyway, believe it or not.
“Don’t worry,” he adds and points. “You see the video cameras? There’s very little crime.”
It’s true, even though the streets are dark and lonely, I don’t feel bad vibes. Maybe it’s because I’m a (slightly) more seasoned traveler now, or maybe it’s because we’re guided by a local, but I don’t feel scared. In fact, I feel like this is exactly where I’m supposed to be.
And even through the dark, it’s not hard to see that the old buildings are absolutely gorgeous. During the brisk 10 minute walk to the apartment, D chats to our host, but I’m transfixed on the architecture around us. Through the dim glow of the streetlights, I see ornate carved doors and intricate wrought iron balconies. I can’t wait until the next day to start photographing everything around here!
Greg explains that Uruguayans used to have a lot of money, so they built elaborate buildings. As I look around, the building facades are now fading, but I can still feel the old-world glamour of an era already long gone. I see it in the sophisticated details and, as we enter our building, the completely marbled spiral staircase.
We reach the apartment and are warmly greeted by his wife and the most adorable baby girl ever. They tell us about Montevideo… of daily farmer’s markets, wineries on the outskirts of town, beautiful beaches, honest taxi cab drivers, friendly locals…
“Oh, one more thing,” they add right before heading out the door. “Greg loves to bake, so you’ll find a freshly baked loaf of bread for you in the oven.”
Seriously?? We open the oven door, and there is it. A fluffy loaf of olive bread. I was wrong… this is the best way to be greeted to a country!
When the door shuts behind them, we turn to each other in excitement and both declare ourselves Uruguayan-slash-Montevidean people. It took all of 30 minutes.
That night, we would hungrily devour almost the entire loaf of bread.
The next day, we would wake up to the vocals of a guitarist singing Nirvana songs. We would stroll the pedestrian streets of Old Town, and I would take dozens of pictures of the gorgeous old colonial buildings. We would celebrate D’s birthday with a delicious meal at a hole-in-the-wall French bistro. And we would relax in the evening as violin music serenade us from below.
We would experience a city so pretty and warm, that it exactly reaffirmed my first impressions.
This post is part of the #sundaytraveler series with Pack Me To, and don’t forget to support all the other participating blogs (links at the bottom of post)!