Culture/Stuff about there: It is a smaller city, the people are friendly. However, there is not too much to do, I’d recommend exactly what I did. Stay for one or two days, see the Ciudad Vieja, which translates to the Old City. It is actually very fun to see, and like a relaxed European looking city. However, at the time where it starts getting darker, and the sun begins to go down, get out of here, it looks very dangerous, and I was told to not be here late in the night. The other areas are semi neat, but nothing special.
A shot of the old city streets when it was a non-busy time
Language: Spanish, besides Brazil and some of the French owned countries up North, everywhere in South America speaks Spanish. It does change from location to location, just like how people speak differently in California than New York. It was nice to be able to try and recall some Spanish from high school, and attempt to start learning again. I did a little Rosetta Stone here, but knowing the key verbs such as:
Have - tener
Like - gustar
Am I able - poder
How do you say… …in Spanish - Como se dice… …en Espanol?
What is this - Que es esto?
By using these you can build upon your language skills.
Is very important. The best way by far to learn it is to understand the basics, and just attempt to ask questions and talk to people in Spanish. People are very willing to try helping once you show an effort to try. As I type this, it is difficult for me to type in English, because I am trying to learn Spanish, so some of my English vocabulary is not coming as easy to me, and I find myself speaking broken English here.
Safety: The normal areas are fine at night, but do not be in the Old City when it begins to get dark. Everything begins to shut down and more homeless people start to the line the street. It certainly is not the safest during the day time, but is worth a visit, and is fine if you are not aloof to your surroundings.
Transportation: Cabs were not too expensive, but everything you want to see is within a decent walking distance. Therefore I just recommend using the feet here instead of being like an American. If it is dark in an area and you are lost, hop in the cab like you would anywhere else to be safe, but that’s just common sense.
Population: ~1,400,000. However, with your location and what you see, you won’t experience it as a city with this many people living in it.
Currency: Uruguyan Peso. It is about 20 pesos to 1 USD, however USD are commonly accepted here. However, when they convert the price for you if it is listed in Uruguyan pesos, they typically make an extra 5% or so off of you. Therefore, I’d recommend carrying both currencies on you.
Place Stayed at: El Viajero Hostel (Ciudad Vieja), it was a nice hostel near the town square. The location was ideal for site seeing, although the sites here were nothing special at all. The rooms were tight and cramped, but the bathrooms were nice and clean with hot water. Also, there was a very nice rooftop terrace to drink and relax on. The staff were also very friendly and willing to give good advice on where to go and what to do/see. I certainly recommend this place.
The tight bunks at the hostel
Food: I ate more American style food here like burritos, so I did not experience the food for the area. However, common dishes ARE
Here is a random dish with cheese, it is commonly found in South America and was good
Beers/Drinks: Pilsner, Patricia, Zillertal – they were all decent, but nothing special
Entertainment: We went to a decent bar, myself, the Brazilians and the Chileans, it was fun and one of their better bars. It was chill and people can hang outside. A huge side note, the Brazilians brought a bottle of vodka, you can just simply mix and drink outside the bars to save money and go in, brilliant to know this, especially for anyone trying to stay on a budget.
My Brazilian and Chilean friends on the rooftop before we headed to a bar.
Internet: It seemed decent, but I couldn’t do anything very fast as I expected. It was not suitable for downloading/uploading, or doing anything where speed or connection was important, such as using Skype.
Sites to see/Things to do: A casino, but it’s pathetic compared to the US ones, about 20x smaller, with no loud music, and you pay for drinks, so with this on here it becomes obvious why it makes no sense to stay here for long. La Ciudad Vieja is very cool to see the rustic old buildings and cobble stoned pathways. They also have a theatre which was not impressive, as well as their tallest standing building, at only 26 stories. They also have a crappy small casino. They also have a nice little town square that is peaceful to hang out at, this is where there few sites are to be seen.
Town Square #2, myself at the entrance to it
Town Square #3, a neat black and white shot w/ what I believe is the tallest building they have in Montevideo, standing at a non-impressive 26 stories high.
Teatro Solis a popular old theater here, it was not impressive or anything though.
Said crappy casino
Recommendation: Stop here on a connection between Punta del Este and Buenos Aires to relax for a day and see the old city, no more than this is needed, you can do much more fun stuff at other places.
Graffiti #1, this girl is famous cartoon character in South America
Graffiti #2, almost like a fat buddha
Racy Maxim cover, I bought it in Spanish to learn some more. However, when I began to read later on I found out that it was more pornographic than Playboy in the US, who knew?
Random Statue #1
Random Statue #2
Rating: 6/10, it is a neat little city to stop in, but there is not much to do, and you are better off getting to a more happening city.