Sunday, March 3, 2013

Discovering Montevideo: Ciudad Vieja

Friday, my Spanish coursemates and I went on a city tour with two Uruguayan students who showed us around „Ciudad Vieja“ (old city). We first went to Plaza Independencia (independence square) by bus and visited the mausoleum of José Artigas which is underneath the statue in the picture. It was a little bit creepy down there because it was like this dark and gloomy atmosphere with only very little lighting and there were two soldiers just standing there motionlessly.

Plaza Independencia

After leaving the square we went to Teatro Solis which is Montevideo’s main theater. It was pretty neat and there were some very cool rooms with chandeliers and two staircases that were surrounded by some sort of art exhibition showing pictures from past plays. It was nice to walk through it but I would liked it better to see the stages or the area where the audience sits which we didn’t get to see. But since I enjoy going to the theater a lot and tickets are supposed to be pretty cheap here, I decided to go see a play sometime anyway.

Teatro Solis

After that we went to an art museum in the hope that it would be free of charge. But since we would have had to pay for it, our tour guides decided it would be better if we went on with the tour and the ones that are interested should come back on their own to check it out. It was all about the work of a Uruguayan artist named Joaquín Torres García and from what I’ve seen in the entrance area, the art lover in me decided to add that onto my “Monetvideo bucket list”.  

Joaquín Torres García artwork

Back outside we saw some street musicians. Amongst others there were a jazz guy and a man dressed in a “scream”-attire who danced slightly awkward and tried to flirt with Brianna.

I love Brianna's face in this picture!

After that we continued to the Plaza Constitución (constitution square) where we  visited a cathedral the name of which I forgot. It was catholic and very similar to catholic churches and cathedrals in Germany. There were lots of adornments and figurines and for my taste it was slightly too kitschy. But that’s because I prefer very plain churches without any figures of saints.

Cathedral ar Plaza Constitución

After that we went to some sort of green patch named Plaza Zabala where we waited on one of our classmates to join us. After a little wait we all went to a place named Palacio Taranco which is a mansion that initially served as the residence of two brothers named Taranco. Today you can visit the rooms and the small but very beautiful garden. I think there was also a museum in the basement but we didn’t visit that one. The main rooms were equipped with old wooden furniture and were extremely classy. The bedrooms weren’t as elaborate but still really pretty. My favorite was the garden with a fountain and the balcony with a view of Plaza Zabala. Isn't it pretty?

I sure wouldn't mind living there!

Abby and I definitely enjoyed that place! [Picture courtesy of Abby Hegland]

Hello MTV, Welcome to my Crib! [Picture courtesy of Abby Hegland]

After that we went to the museum of national history. It was interesting but to be honest it was one too many museums and without much knowledge of the country’s history it wasn’t as exciting. Just lots of old books, weapons, equipment and art. 

Following that we went back to Plaza Constitución and decided to have something to eat. After all the culture and so we sat down and enjoyed some nice conversations. Afterwards some of us decided to have some icecream at a stand nearby. Since the Uruguayans had recommended me to try “Dulce de Leche Split” ice cream I of course decided on that flavor. It is Dulce de Leche flavored ice cream with Dulce de Leche mixed into. So that makes it twice as delicious! I always had a weak spot for good ice cream so I guess that makes me some sort of connoisseur. And I have to say this one is by far the best of all the ice cream I have ever had. Including some very delicious Italian Gelato.

Plaza Constitución

When we were all well-fed we went back to the University. Well Sebastian Z. (gotta distinguish because I have two Sebastians here  with me in Montevideo) went with me to a phone store where I had gotten a simcard for my phone in order to have it set up for mobile internet access. So now I will never ever get lost again in Montevideo because I can access google maps. Finally! To justify my excitement I should probably mention that I got lost the other day and instead of a 20 minute walk it took me about 50 minutes to get to Sebastian H.’s place. Internet access would have sped that up immensely.

And at the end of the day, I went home.

Well, it wasn’t exactly the end of the day. Becci and I were having a party on our rooftop so the end of the day was quite a bit away.  But more about our first rooftop fiesta in my next blogpost. Stay tuned!

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