April 19, 2006
This morning I went to the tourism office to find out what to do in Montevideo. When I was here during my cruise, I basically just walked up and down the shore for a few hours, so today I wanted to do some more touristic things. I was given a nice map of the city and shown a few museums to check out. I also found out that there was a building somewhere in town with a panoramic view of the whole area.
The first museum I went to had a collection of ancient art. There were lots of Egyptian burial masks and mummies, Greek statues, clothed Roman statues, and even a few relics from the ancient cultures of the Americas. I was really impressed at first by the scope and importance of the artifacts on display. However, I later found out that most of what I saw were mere replicas. The caption for almost every exhibit said something like "Replica of a Greek statue. The original is on display at the Louvre, of course." Still, I think the mummy was original, and seeing the rest of the stuff sparked an interest in seeing the originals, at least the ones I haven't seen yet.
This afternoon, I figured out where the building with the view was. Asking locals for directions to such a thing is always frustrating because they have never actually been to the place themselves. I would state everything I knew about the place: "It's a big, modern, blue building somewhere in the city that has an observation deck," but I would get nothing but puzzled looks. Eventually, I asked someone who seemed to know what I was talking about and pointed me in the general direction of the building.
From about six blocks away, I could tell that I was on the right path. Although the building was only about thirty stories tall, it dwarfed everything else around it. In this city, it's not only A modern building; it's THE modern building. It was shaped like a sail, had several other smaller buildings and an amphitheater attached to it, and lots of people in business suits working in it. When I walked in, I was pointed to an elevator that took me to the top floor. The view of the city was nice, although I wasn't thoroughly impressed. To me, Montevideo is yet another big South American city. The model of the complex, lightning rods, and nearby structures like the old train station were nice to see, though.
While at the viewpoint, I was told that the building was used for telecommunications in Montevideo and that there was a museum in the complex that I should check out. After going back to the ground, I walked over to the museum. It had lots of key figures in the telecom industry like Morse and Bell. There were also phones from various times and places including some "Zach Morris" cell phones from the early 1990's. I was impressed by the whole setup.
Tonight I went to a restaurant to try some Uruguayan steak. I ran into the same problem I frequently had hit in Argentina: How to order my steak to be cooked. In the US, we have a 5-point system for cooking steaks (well, medium-well, medium, medium-rare, and rare), but in Argentina and Uruguay, there are only 3 levels (I'm not sure because I've never asked for "well," "a punto" or medium, and "jugoso" or juicy). I like my steaks a little rare, but not so rare that they could get up and walk right off my plate. Unfortunately, there's no way to order such a thing here. I've found that they usually overcook steaks here, so in the past, when I have ordered a steak rare, it's come back medium, which works for me. Not so this time. I got a two-inch-thick cut of beef that was bright red in the middle. It couldn't have been on the grill for more than two minutes. I thought about sending it back, but I convinced myself that it probably wasn't so bad. Having a liter of beer in front of me helped to wash it down, but I think from now on I'll stick with the medium setting with my orders. I'm assuming that charcoal tastes better than salmonella.
The photo albums for this entry is here.