From Buenos Aires to Colonia: A Day Trip to Uruguay
Last weekend I joined the masses of gringos on the ‘Buquebus’ to Colonia in Uruguay, to escape cars, concrete and all the bustle of Buenos Aires. After a three-hour boat trip across the Rio de la Plata (main river through Buenos Aires) which included a fairly cheesy tango show, I arrived at Colonia. It is a beautiful historic town lined with cobbled streets, a deserted railway and plenty of character. The quirky winding lanes lead you to the charming centre that although it is now almost a pure tourist zone it still retains much of the sleepy old town feel. Climb a lighthouse, dip your toes in the river, eat ice cream or take a nap under a tree seem to be the things to do. And best of all, without any raging cars or shouting vendors of the capital of Argentina.
If you come looking for excitement in Colonia, then I am afraid you will be left a little disappointed, but for a tranquil, soft and relaxing weekend break from the city which just never sleeps, it would be a fantastic choice. The most excitement I’ve found was a 70-year-old man singing in the plaza about his dog that had died.
I would warn that Colonia is very touristy, so be prepared. When I was there, there was a gang of fairly brash Brazilian tourists drunk and dancing around some bongo drums. However, if you can look beyond the obviously touristy nature of the town, it is still quite charming.
One interesting thing about Colonia is that you can spend almost any currency that you can think of; Argentine Pesos, Euros, Dollars and Reals are all accepted in most restaurants and shops, highlighting quite how many tourists the town receives. Also, as a result of the number of rich tourists in the town, the prices are a little more expensive than in Buenos Aires, but you can still find some tasty and reasonable restaurants and cafés and best of all, there is fish!
The town receives a lot of visitors from expats of Buenos Aires that come to get a passport stamp at the border, it seems like the number of expats that are looking for those all important passport stamps is funding a whole micro-industry of boats and transport across the Rio de la Plata. Whatever the purposes of visits are, it will be a great break from the hectic city of Buenos Aires and you will get to discover a little about Argentina’s smaller neighbour, Uruguay.