With its sleepy old town, unshowy bars and unique music scene, Montevideo is a capital city like no other. And that’s just how Vicky Baker likes it
A Saturday afternoon in Montevideo’s old town feels like the first scene of post-apocalypse movie 28 Days Later. The rows of 19th-century townhouses look abandoned, with some of the windows concreted up and plants growing through the balconies. You peer down an empty street looking for a sign of life, but all you get are glimpses of the rippling Plate river, which lies at the end of every street on this peninsula.
This is one of the first areas of Uruguay’s capital many visitors see, as they head for the Mercado del Puerto. Inside this cast-iron market hall, the city suddenly seems to burst into life. Silence is replaced by the singsong chatter of Brazilian tourists and the hollers of overworked waiters; the floor is densely packed with open-plan restaurants, all set around giant parrillas (grills), loaded with steak, blood sausage and peppers.