One of my goals on The Atlas Heart is to break down travel misconceptions or judgments about places and ideas. Perhaps it could be that destination that everyone warns you not to visit because of how dangerous it is, or maybe you yourself had preconceived notions that were proven wrong once you arrived to where you were going.
My aim is to present a variety of different opinions and experiences through the eyes of other travelers. It’s important to hear travel stories from all different perspectives in life, I call it seeing the world through a kaleidoscope lens.
So, I’m starting my first ever guest posting series about these travel misconceptions we find throughout our lives and epic journeys. I’ve asked a few writers to talk about their own misconceptions and perhaps how they were proven wrong in their travels.
Without further ado, I’m happy to introduce my first guest poster on this blog – Molly Green from Molly on the Road – talking about how Montevideo, Uruguay surprised her. Take it away Molly!
It didn’t take very many sips from my glass of Medio y Medio for me to let out a long-awaited sigh of relief in the middle of the Mercado del Puerto in Montevideo’s Old Town. The bubbly champagne-wine combination was exactly what I needed after several months in Buenos Aires, and seated at the bar of the parilla, a sort of barbecue cafe, I finally found the balance I had been searching for all that time—and who knew it was just a ferry ride away?
The Portenos of Buenos Aires told me that a visit to Montevideo wasn’t worth the trip. “Go to Punta del Este, or Colonia del Sacramento,” they said. “Montevideo is dull, expensive, and there is nothing to do.” I took their opinions into account, but with a grain of salt.
I only had one weekend left in the Rio de la Plata region to travel, and a round-trip flight to Iguazu Falls was far out of the budget. I found myself scanning a map, realizing Montevideo was my most cost-effective option, and booked a ticket for a ferry ride and bus transfer to the Uruguayan capital with nothing but the information tucked last-minute into the final pages of my Lonely Planet Guide to Argentina.
What I found in Montevideo was everything that had been missing for me in Buenos Aires. This calm, coastal city has a small-town feel despite the fact that it is home to over half of its country’s population. It is historic and cosmopolitan, but it isn’t overwhelming. Some of the best-curated museums I have ever visited are located in the Ciudad Vieja, and unlike Buenos Aires, the beaches are clean and swimmable—and the gorgeous pathway lining the river, called La Rambla, is an incredible place to bicycle, run, and wader your thoughts away.
Public transportation in Montevideo is a breeze, and although I appeared the stereotypical confused tourist with my map out and my guard up, the locals made me feel not ashamed but welcomed into their city. On a bus ride from my hostel to the Pocitos neighborhood, I was offered assistance by not one but three Uruguayans who willingly directed me to where I wanted to go—one even offered to show me around the city later in the day. I found prices to be comparable to those in Buenos Aires and other parts of Argentina, and I enjoyed the same incredible grilled delicacies that are the typical dish in both cattle-producing countries at the same cost.
While Montevideo may not be an adventure hub or an urban playground for the energetic traveler, it was a fantastic escape from the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires, and it is riddled with things to do if you are in the mood to slow your rhythm and take your time enjoying the ride. The pace of life is unhurried, but many aspects of Argentine and Rio de la Plata culture, art, and architecture that could still be seen.
Montevideo as a whole is really a friendlier, happier, cleaner, and calmer version of Buenos Aires, but with countless colorful perks of its own. Like its signature drink Medio y Medio, Montevideo is the perfect bubbly balance of tranquility and vibrance. I was so surprised to find my perfect urban oasis only a few hours from my temporary home—and I know that if I return to the area, Montevideo may just become my new base.
Molly is a Minneapolis-based travel blogger, adventurer and South America enthusiast. She has written for College Tourist and Travel Young OA, and one of her all-time favorite books for travel inspiration is On the Road by Jack Kerouac. Make sure to check her our on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and her blog, Molly on the Road.
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