Aaah, it it still amuses me, which is especially self-obsessed considering it was a joke I put in Atlas, Schmatlas; that Montevideo “is soon to be renamed Montedvd to make it sound less eighties.” Well, in the “Discover Montevideo” booklet that I got from a tourist information place, the origin of the city’s name is looked into. Apparently, nobody knows for sure why it’s called Montevideo. There seems to be no agreement on its etymology. The one I like the best is that it makes the site of the sixth important high point head east to west from Punta del Este, and where fresh water becomes prominent in the Rio de la Plata. So that’s Monte VI de E a O – Mount 6 of the east (este) to west (oeste). The booklet says that despite the lack of certainty about the name’s origin, it “has a harmonious ring to it, and even allows for flights of fancy.” Isn’t that nice?
The city has a really nice feeling about it. It’s difficult to describe. It’s not particulary swanky or groovy, but it does have a certain charm; a bit like an old shopping arcade which seems a little bit stuck in the past, the kind with a cafe that old people go into, and hat and wool shops. It’s really quite lovely. Like a glamorous old woman who still dresses in clothes and make-up that she wore when she was young and caught all the men’s gazes. It also reminds me a little of some parts of Brussels, as that’s a feeling I’ve got from there, too.
One of the city’s main thoroughfares is Av. 18 de Julio (above). I’ve not strayed too far either side of this during my two days here. At one end is the Ciudad Vieja, the old town, with some nice fancy buildings and narrow-ish streets. I, err, didn’t take many photos, though.
This is the big cathedral…
… and this is the massive port building.
The old town opens up at its east end into Plaza Independencia where there’s a statue of the dude who did something or other for Uruguay…
And then there’s this: one of the prettiest buildings I’ve seen on my trip so far. I think it’s called Palacio Salvo.
Right up the other end of Av. 18 de Julio, a good 45 minute walk away, is the Estadio Centenario: the stadium where the first World Cup final was played. And inside there, under one of the stands is the Museo del Fútbol. It’s a nice little museum with plenty of cool stuff in there: a football used in World Cup final, shirts of several famous Uruguayan players (as well as Maradona and Pelé shirts), lots of photos, trophies (including what I assume must be replicas of two Jules Rimet trophies), old posters and flags. It’s pretty cool.
With some good fortune, I was there as a guide was about to give a tour. There was another English guy taking the tour. We had a nice chat about our teams’ fortunes (he was a Forest fan). We walked around the curve of the stadium. Stadiums always look cool when they’re empty, I think.
Then we went down below to the changing rooms. Pretty grim in there. Weird to think that this stadium is still in use, ’cause any team that plays there must think they’ve stepped back in time when they see the state of the showers and loos.
Then we got to walk down the (very long) tunnel that emerges from underground, so the players would run up some steps on to the pitch. We weren’t allowed on the grass, but we could stand right at the top of the steps on the concrete rim, and for a picosecond, I could pretend I was a proper football player and ev’ryfink.
Walking back towards the hotel, I passed lots of school children who were wearing long, white lab-coat type things, buttoned at the top with a massive black bow at the neck. It was funny seeing them playing football in these clothes in a schoolyard in Punta del Diablo a couple of days ago. I would’ve taken a photo, but you know, one doesn’t want to be taking photos of schoolchildren in this day and age, does one? Talking of schoolchildren, here’s a photo of a statue of the former leader of the Catholic church Pope John Paul II.
(I wondered if any wag has ever done a “John Paul, George and Ringo” t-shirt, with Lennon and McCartney replaced by the Pope. I’ve never seen one, but surely someone must’ve done it, right?)
A coffee and some bizcochitos; then back to the hotel to watch the Arsenal v Liverpool game en vivo on ESPN; and out again afterwards to have a nice walk around the sea front to watch the sunset at the port.
A rockin’ ham, mozzeralla, and red peppers-filled steak for tea; a nice saunter back through the old town; and I returned to the hotel to take me shoes and socks off to give my blisters some breathing room.
I’m half-tempted to stay a few more days here, especially because I’d quite like to go and see one of the city’s teams, Liverpool Fútbol Club, play on Sunday, but I don’t wanna push it. I’ve had a couple of very enjoyable days here, and I’m feeling up for moving on; so I’m off to the bus station shortly to get a bus (unsurprisingly) heading west along the coast to Colonia del Sacramento.