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Uruguay's capital Montevideo guards the mouth of the River Plate, and is one of the most relaxed and European feeling cities in South America. It was the first city to host the football World Cup in 1930, and has perhaps more in common with Madrid than its more local neighbours. It was maybe for this reason that it felt much closer to home than its seven thousand miles distance would suggest.

We stopped for two nights in Montevideo after flying through Buenos Aires from Puerto Iguazu in the north of Argentina. Our hostel was right next to the government buildings in the city centre, and was the cheapest one we stayed at for the whole trip. Uruguay itself was in fact very light on the wallet, so we dined out in style.

Here comes the equestrian statue

Plaza Independencia is overshadowed by the Palacio Salva, once the tallest building in South America and twinned with the Palacio Barolo in Buenos Aires. Most evenings you can go inside and watch some tango dancing, which we certainly did, but we didn't brave the dancefloor ourselves.

Avenida 18 de Julio runs from Independence Square east to our accommodation at Red Hostel. The place looked and felt a bit like Madrid, but was still strangely different.

La calle

La plaza

A small square in the old town. It rained most of the time we were there, and wasn't warm - June is not the time to visit Uruguay.

An old town street, still slightly shabby having not yet been regenerated at the time I visited.

Ciudad vieja

The River Plate

A view along the sea front, where the River Plate was battering the coast like the North Sea does to Aberdeen. River Plate is itself a misnomer, as Rio de la Plata translates literally to "Silver River".

The central market area was not particularly busy on a Wednesday morning, but a very nice restaurant here did an excellent steak and cheese.

El mercado


South American people like their meat, and Uruguayans are no exception. Here all sorts of meaty treats were being barbequed to perfection.

I didn't expect to see Michelangelo's David standing outside the government buildings, and I wasn't to see him again until my visit to Florence several years later. There was also a replica of the statue of Romulus and Remus near to the bus station.

Michelangelo's David

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