While backpacking you are often presented with an interesting challenge. What do you do when you have only one day to explore a place?

You may choose to scurry about, ticking off landmarks as you see them, shuttling around the city always mindful of the ticking clock. You might pick one spot and spend your limited hours absorbing as completely as possible this one particular microcosm. You might lie in bed for the majority of the day, trying to recuperate from an arduous journey and find that you now associate an entire country with memories from inside a hotel room. Somehow our one day in Montevideo embraced all of these alternatives.

We took the BuqueBus ferry service from Puerto Madero in Buenos Aires to Colonia, Uruguay connecting by bus to the capital city, Montevideo. The journey was at times luxurious (the ferry resembles a miniature cruise-ship) and at times irritating (our cheap ‘tourist-class’ fares meant we would be repeatedly subjected to TV commercials while we tried to sleep) but the ferry and bus cost us only $30, so we had to stifle our few complaints.

We arrived in Montevideo at 6:30 in the morning and had breakfast right in the bus terminal. A quick note to fellow vegetarian travellers, “huevos revueltos” more closely resembles scrambled bacon than scrambled eggs. We took a taxi from the terminal to our hostel, ‘El Viajero’. Taxiing in Montevideo is extremely economical and a cab split 4 ways will almost always trump public transit.

Once at our hostel we stored our baggage and went exploring. We were able to do a quick lap around the city in less than two hours. John and Jill found a small unmarked vegan bakery that sold really tasty dishes at incredibly low prices and I finally found a guitar strap for my acoustic guitar that I liked.

We got back to the hostel just before a torrential downpour, and used the next few hours to do absolutely nothing but sleep, eat, read, repeat.

The rain persisted throughout the afternoon, but we decided to venture out anyways. We wandered to an inconspicuous contemporary art gallery called ‘Museo de Arte Contemporaneo’ on Av 18 de Julio, but not before walking past it three times.

The art was much more playful (if not overtly erotic), than what we were used to seeing in Argentina.

We ended off the night by wandering, drenched by rain, through the city to the Market near the port, where earlier in the day we found a building packed with restaurants, each with its own wood-burning barbecue preparing savoury meat,vegetable and seafood dishes. We ended up sharing an amazing seafood plate which reminded me of my Nonna’s “Zuppa de Pesce”.

In summation, Montevideo is a beautiful colonial city worth more time than we gave it. The people are friendly, the culture is intriguing, the food is delicious and everything was astonishingly economical. Plus, since it is a port-town, it has that “rough around the edges” feel that Calina is particularly fond of.

We headed home at the end of the night fully satisfied, and with our piggy-banks fully in-tact. Ready for a good nights rest in preparation for the next leg of our journey.

Not bad for one day.