After Buenos Aires, our way wayward travels took us to Montevideo. I'd been to Uruguay before, but never the capital. Montevideo is one of those cities that everyone, upon hearing that you're on your way there, immediately tells you is lovely, a chilled out version of Buenos Aires. People are friendly and attractive but don't look (or act) like the just walked out of a Ralph Lauren ad, and the city is clean, breezy and generally safe. Coming from Buenos Aires, Montevideo is like dating the down to earth girl next door after getting fed up with the bipolar supermodel.
It's a port city, and if I've learned anything in Rio these last few months, it's that living on the water makes me happy on a very basic level. I also appreciate horses who stop at traffic lights.
We didn't spend much time in Montevideo's old city, but I did wander into one of the most beautiful bookstores I've seen in awhile. They had a restaurant on the second floor, and a piano. Is it weird that I kind of want my house to look like this, I mean in my other life as a countess? (I've been watching too much Downton Abbey, sorry guys.)
And although the food is similar to what you find in Buenos Aires, we generally found it more homemade-ish and less finicky (as I said, you can tell people like to eat here, in a good way). Uruguay also has its specialty, chivito canadiense: a big mountain of fried egg, ham, cheese, bacon, beef filet, French fries, lettuce and tomato salad. The myth behind the name “chivito canadiense” is that a Canadian was in Patagonia (Argentina) and he tried chivito (goat meat) for the first time. He loved it, and so when he went to Uruguay he asked for “chivito”. Not being in chivito-country, the parrillero (grill dude) took a piece of beef and covered it with everything he had in reach to disguise the taste. Obviously it tasted nothing like goat, but I guess the resultant food-coma creation was so delicious it stuck.
All in all, if you're going to be in the middle of a bureaucratic nightmare, Montevideo is not a bad place to be (I'm not trying to be coy so I'll just tell you what was going on: the Brazilian consulate in Buenos Aires didn't want to give us visas to reenter Brazil, so we had to go to the consulate in Uruguay. I met an Argentinean girl this week who had the same thing happen to her. WTF Buenos Aires, WTF.) In fact, I think it would be an especially nice place to be, especially minus the bureaucratic ridiculousness, that is to say: I highly recommend it. It'd even get along great with your mother.