We left Buenos Aires for Uruguay on our first ever boat border crossing. It’s only an hour trip across Rio de la Plata to Colonia in Uruguay. Buying the tickets was as straight forward as any bus tickets we’ve bought, we opted for the company Colonia express as they were offering the cheapest ticket at $648 Argentinian pesos (£28pp). The coastal city of Colonia, or rather Colonia del Sacramento, is known for its quaint cobbled streets with decorative street signs written on tiles in blue ink. The historic quarter is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Colonia was colonised by the Portuguese in 1680 and used as a smuggling cove to Buenos Aires, though ownership changed hands between Portugal and Spain throughout the years. Colonia turned out to be one of our favourite cities so far in our 8 months of travelling.
Colonia is a really popular weekend getaway, particularly for Argentinians, so we’d been warned accommodation could get booked up quickly. It wasn’t even peak season, nor a weekend, yet there was fairly limited choice. We ended up staying by the beach rather than the old city, so it was a 2km walk every time we went to and from town, but it meant we got to see the beach side of Colonia too, so no complaints.
All we really did in Colonia was wander through the narrow streets in the sunshine, watch the sunsets and eat great food. I had the best ice cream of my life, bold statement, I know, but it was at an ice-cream shop called Bortolot, according to their shopfront, established in 1896. I had Dulche de Leche and chocolate and it was heavenly. Another day, we stumbled upon the most beautiful seaside teashop called Queriendote, with a beautiful little garden with multicoloured bunting that looked out on to the sea. Dave got a fancy tea which came with instructions and even an egg timer so you know exactly how long to brew it for. I got a dulche de leche cappuccino which makes me salivate at the thought. It was just perfect, relaxing in the sunshine with such a picturesque view.
Apart from eating, we also went up the old lighthouse for only $20 Uruguyan pesos (50p). It was actually a lot more steps than we’d anticipated so it was really windy at the top but it gave a lovely view over Colonia and the water. The lighthouse and the church are the only tall structures in the entire UNESCO site as it preserves how it was when it was first founded. Round the corner from the old draw bridge, there is the most photographed street; Calle de los Suspiros (street of sighs). Apparently this famous street has three different legends as to why it is called the street of sighs, known throughout Uruguay. For example, one of them is that a woman was waiting there for her lover, but was unexpectedly stabbed and all that was heard was a farewell sigh…
Oh and we also saw some of the nicest sunsets we’ve seen in a long while in Colonia! I think they rivalled Fiji!
Thanks for reading, join us next time as we head to the capital, Montevideo!
Sophie & Dave