Life, Love & the Pursuit of País Número 7 (Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay)

Buenos Aires is quite lovely with its European air and delicious food but it is still a large capital city after all and sometimes a respite is needed away from all the hustle and bustle.  And I know the perfect place that will be a complete 180 from that and to boot will provide another stamp in the passport!

Water feature at the Buquebus terminal in Puerto Madero

So across the Río de la Plata from Buenos Aires, Argentina is Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay and there is an incredibly easy option of getting there by ferry.  There are multiple departures & returns during the day so it is possible to make it a day trip by choosing the faster 1 hour 15 minutes (and only slightly more expensive) option.  I may be letting go of some of my controlling tendencies but I still appreciate (and savor?) efficiency and especially when it deals with immigration/customs and for two countries!  The control agents for Argentina and Uruguay sit right beside one another in one booth and hand off your passport from the former to the latter.  It was by far the quickest and smoothest process I have gone through and then we boarded a comfortable ferry and were on our way.  Luggage/bags are X-rayed in Uruguay (I would venture a guess because of sovereignty rules) and the same fast process occurs when leaving Colonia for immigration/customs.  So if you go, remember you will need to arrive to the terminal about 45 minutes-an hour before the departure time because of this. It becomes apparent right away that it was a good decision to visit this Portuguese founded city.  L: The lovely tree lined, cobble-stoned streets have hardly any cars on them as the main historic center is quite compact and easy to explore by foot.  And we find that Colonia exudes a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere R: We want to venture further (and our legs are tired from all the walking in Buenos Aires) so this was our ride for the day that my uncle nicknames “Banana” – it has a bright yellow exterior, white interior and electric engine that may have briefly hit 45 kph only because we were going downhill but it did its job and got us around and I chuckle every time I think of it stillTL: Lunch – my uncle goes with the waiter’s recommendation for what he calls an Uruguayan national dish.  Chivito is a plate of of beef, ham, french fries, eggs, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese.  Though my uncle orders it in the unorthodox way with bread as he follows some fellow (Canadian) diners’ lead and and I go with dessert first.  And we find out chatting up the Canadians that it is true that Colonia is often used to make a visa run AKA a way to extend your stay in Argentina as that is the exact reason for their trip TR: And when in Uruguay, you go with Patricia, the local beer  BL & BR: Views from the top of the restaurant El Torreón (Means the tower and can imply military significance and that would make sense since Colonia was a strategic port city due to its location and was battled for and exchanged hands between the Spanish and Portuguese)Absolutely beautiful flowers abound and set off nicely the colorful architecture with Portuguese and Spanish influences-you can tell the history by the buildings in Colonia TL & TR:The lighthouse TM: There is a small fee to enter and allows access up these stairs to the top BL: The literal light in the lighthouse BR: Looking down at the banana, town and out to the water Due to it being the highest vantage point (even though it really isn’t that tall), the lighthouse offers a lovely view over the compact historic center and over the Río de la Plata – I imagine the sunset would have been spectacular from up here. A bit out from the main historic center, you can bike, drive or walk (~5-6 miles) to the Plaza del Toros and there you will find the abandoned bull fighting ring.  It has a rather sad history:  It was built in 1910 as the only bull fighting ring in South America and to hold 10,000 spectators.  But two years later, the Uruguayan president outlaws bullfighting with the arena having hosted only 8 events and now just sits foreboding and looming over the landscape.Just cruising around Colonia and we encounter TL:  I love this ‘camouflage’ tree’s unusual bark TR: My picture I term as the homage to Uruguayan Gaucho (Cowboy) life BL: The map we are given and the woman at the rental shop told us to go to the ‘Shopping Area’ though it turns out not to be what we expected ~ a touristy place for kitschy ‘Uruguayan’ things…it’s a just a mall.  But I see this sign and love the reminder about what’s important ~ peace. love. magic. happiness. laugh every day. believe in dreams. live with passion. enjoy every moment.  BR: Along the water, we come to a long decayed pier and find ourselves alone.  It is nice to have this solitude and calm after the chaos of BA…looking back I realize how much I just relaxed as I didn’t take very many pictures- none of either of the ferry rides or of the many stray dogs or much of the architecture or buildings.  Guess I just wanted to do nothing for a bit…just explore and take in the moments But the day is ending and so unfortunately is our time in Uruguay.  We witness a beautiful sunset on the ferry when it hits me that I have a friend studying in Montevideo so there is still a chance that I will return soon…

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