the low down
(colonia del sacramento)
Disclaimer: We did *not*
explore much of Uruguay; all we did was take a ferry from Buenos
Aires across the Rio de la Plata (which is the widest river in
the world or a finger of the Atlantic Ocean, whichever you prefer)
to Colonia del Sacramento, a cute little seaside town in Uruguay.
Originally, we were planning just a daytrip, but after reading
more about it we decided to cut our stay in Buenos Aires a little
short and stay a few nights. To be consistent, we should name
this whole section "Colonia del Sacremento," but most
people (including us, previously) would have no idea where that
is, so we’re calling it "Uruguay."
What we did: 4 days, 3 nights
exploring the Old Town (a Unesco World Heritage Site) on foot
and the surrounding area (little towns and beaches) on moped (no
helmet or experience required).
Overall: The old part of the
city looks like a town from a fairy tale: a scant number of people
walking on well-worn cobblestone streets, a stray dog running
around from here to there, pink and purple bougainvilleas blooming
from the side of buildings, and soft music playing from an unknown
source in the central plaza somewhere. Yes, there are tourists,
but not too many; it remains a charming, unspoiled place. Small
shop owners seem like they really do care if you have a nice day.
Though we've only seen a sliver of Uruguay, we've learned enough
to know that we'd love to come back and see more someday.
Essentials: Although most
vendors here speak a little bit of English, knowing a bit of Spanish
will help you out greatly. Be ready to relax here – there
are a few sights, but mostly you’re here to simply enjoy
Food: Parilla - mmm... the
grill. They throw everything they can think of into wood-fired
grills and most everything comes out juicy and delicious. If you
want fish, try to ask for whatever is fresh that day. It’s
Friendliness: In general,
every interaction we had was positive. People were patient with
our slow and rusty Spanish.
Cost of living: Very reasonable.
A meal for two including a steak, chorizo sausage, bottled water,
a large appetizer, a fresh squeezed juice and a jug of the house
wine will set you back about $12 US. FYI - house wine is good
and cheaper than bottled water or juice!
Daily budget: Ours was about
$85/day, including lodging, food, and a scooter for one day.
Exchange rate: $1 US = 24.5
What's fabulous: The feeling
of being put back in time, the scenery along the beach and, of
course, the food. Also, we’ve seen some of the *most* incredible
sunsets here that the locals claim happen every night. We also
found some of the local art and craft to be not only great quality,
but also very affordable (usually, we feel that we can’t
afford the nice stuff, but we bought a few things here).
the Faro (lighthouse)
in old town
Weather: We're here in winter
and we had 3 nice, sunny days and 1 that poured rain and gale
Getting there & around:
Walking around is pretty easy as everything in the Old Town is
close together. Renting a moped was tons of fun and enabled us
to explore more of Colonia and the nearby towns and beaches. You
can take the Buquebus
ferry to Colonia, Urugauy to/from Buenos Aires. They have a fast
ferry or slow ferry, both are about $40 USD/person. Their website
(when it works) also wins the award for the absolute worst theme-song
ever, but somehow we kept humming it anyway.
Major difficulties: Nothing
really except for avoiding stray piles of dog poo in the street,
but after Buenos Aires, we are experts in long-range poo-spotting
|Specific places we visited/things we
||- Barrio Historico (founded in 1680): Mainly walked and
relaxed around this beautiful part of town which is a UNESCO
World Heritage Site. We feel like we could have stayed here
a few months. Walked through the fort entrance called Puerta
de Campo and visited the Faro (lighthouse) within the Convento
de San Francisco, and Plaza Mayor 25 de Mayo.
||- Plaza de Toros: Our trusty rental moped got us out of
town to visit the Plaza de Toros, a 10,000 seat bullring built
at the turn of the 20th century. Unfortunately, the ring is
closed down and fenced in so you can only take a look from
the outside, but it’s still worth it. And the ride or
walk along the beach to get there is nice, too.
||- Playa Ferranda: A pretty beach in the opposite direction
of the Plaza de Toros. The locals will tell you it's the best
beach around. It's good for a day of lying around or taking
a long walk. Watch out for the mosquitos in the shade though.
Drove through Parque Ferrando and down several random streets
in the outskirts of town, all having a much more rural feel
than the areas closer to the center.
Recommended accomodation: Posada del Angel <<
phone: +598 52 24602; address: Washington Barbot 59
Cost was $45/weeknight and $50 on weekends but we stayed
for 3 nights for $120. It has very nice owners, with
a decent breakfast and an excellent 80’s one-hit-wonder
cd. You can checkout as late as you like, so we stayed
until 4:30pm, right before our Buquebus ferry ride back
to Buenos Aires.
Recommended restaurant: El Asador <<
Wonderful (and cheap) family-run restaurant serving
grilled meat (steaks sausages etc), flan and (dessert)
pancakes and home-made wine.
Check out the uruguay
gallery for pix of all the above!