A cold sting brushes against my face. There’s a faint herbal smell wafting through the air and a gentle hum of traffic as buses and cars cruise down Calle 18 de Julio.
The sun peaks between the looming buildings providing a false sense of warmth. I push my scarf up to cover nose and watch people pass under the antique columns supporting huge european inspired buildings. Every third person is carrying a steaming cup of matte and supporting a thermal flask under their arm – the source of the herbal smell constantly accompanying my journey.
Crossing the road an unfamiliar tune reaches my ear and I watch as four elderly couples move to the rhythm of the music. I can’t quite decide what it is. Possibly a version of tango or a modern waltz. Sitting on the nearby bench I watch the pure contentment of the union of such long lasting love. The music stops and the couples disperse. An elderly man in a top hat and dancing shoes approached me.
I really don’t know what steps they are following.
“No preocupes. Yo te llevo.”
A little flustered, I drop my bad and take his hand.
We’re the only ones in the centre for this dance but I simply follow his lead. With a simple 1-2 step it doesn’t take long to accommodate to the rhythm.
As the song is coming to an end I ask him what style of dance we are doing.
“Valtz” he replies with a smile.
I smile back and thank him for the dance.
Picking up my bag, I continue on my way.
The road opens into a broad plaza and a marble man on a steed stands tall in the centre, blocking an old stone archway. If I look far enough through the archway I can see the ocean and once again pull up my slipping scarf as I sense the salty air of the coastal breeze.
I’m clearly feeling quite inspired by this capital city. I’m actually sitting in a dainty cafeteria down past the archway into the Old city, feeling snug after a cup of rich Belgium hot chocolate, a risotto cake and a chocolate biscuit I shared with Hannah. The beauty of this city is in its coastal location and the modern and old fashion contrasting architecture that reaches high into the sky. Hannah and I spent our time recollecting the city by either walking through the streets or cycling along the coastline, stumbling upon whatever came our way, and with that we experienced Montevideo.