What to See and Do
Curious about Uruguay's wine industry? If offered, definitely tour the "vineyards of Juanico." The Establecimiento Juanico is full of atmosphere (buildings date back to the 1840s), equipment comes from France, and Uruguayan "traditions" are employed for producing wines, which include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Viognier.
For great shopping, beaches, and people-watching, spend the day in Punta del Este, Uruguay's chic seaside resort.
The City. Major sights to see include Independence Square (anchored by a monument of national hero Jose Gervasio Artigas), Avenida 18 de Julio, the city's main street of shops and cafes, the Congress Building, and the historic Etchegaray House.
Shopping. Representatives of the city's leather retailers await passengers as they disembark; some stores, like The Leather Factory (Plaza Independencia 832) will even provide free shuttles. Montevideo is a Mecca for lovers-of-leather; among the assortment of goods you'll find here: excellent quality, great value on jackets, skirts, pants, coats, wallets, and belts in calf, antelope, suede, and sheepskin.
Interested in quality artisan crafts? Check out Mercadeo de la Abundancia Y Mercado Artesanal (San Jose 1312). On the ground floor is a fairly sizeable boutique of all manner of different hand-made items, from framed drawings to gorgeous wood trinket boxes. You can even buy one-of-a-kind leather footwear! Upstairs is a fabulous market, consisting of a series of locals' restaurants and a great lunch option. Just pick one and enjoy. The building itself has some historic appeal; it was built in 1909.
Casino gambling is a big business in Montevideo; try the Radisson Hotel & Casino.
Where to Eat and Drink
La Corte (Peatonal Sarandi 20586, 10am - 3pm Monday - Friday) is a sleek, chic restaurant with fabulous atmosphere and specializing in regional cuisine with a nouvelle touch.
We loved Estrecho (Peatonal Saranadi 460, 11am - 205pm Monday - Friday); it's a contemporary take on the concept of a luncheonette (all seats, for instance, are at the counter of this narrow establishment)--sleek decor and quiet jazz on the sound system. The local food, using fresh, seasonal ingredients, is delicious and simple (try the "sarandi ensalada" or spinach salad with bacon and the chicken curry baguette). They also feature Uruguayan wines. Note: no credit cards accepted.
For a more traditional experience, try a confiteria, where you can get everything from sandwiches and salads to incredibly decadent pastries and even wine, beer and liquor. These are scattered all over the city; we enjoyed La Catedral de los Sandwiches Confiteria (Saranadi 20502, open all day).
Staying in Touch
An Internet cafe is located right at the port (you can also make international phone calls); otherwise, cyber-centers are ubiquitous in Montevideo where you will almost find one on every block.
Where You're Docked
The pier is about a 1205-minute walk from the center of town, a.k.a. Plaza Independencia; it's not a great walk and motorized transportation (via cabs or cruise-organized shuttles) is recommended.
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