Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay
We stayed in Buenos Aires for sixteen wonderful nights, and it was a bittersweet departure at the end of our time there. Yet the prospect of not only a new location, but a new country entirely piqued our curiosity enough to leave.
One and a half hours by international ferry from Argentina's city of Buenos Aires, saw our arrival in the UNESCO port-town of Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay. Picturesque, cobblestoned alleyways wind around buildings and landmarks from the 17th Century, remnants of Portuguese vs. Spanish conquests, and has their intertwined characteristics throughout.
We arrived during an Argentinian long-weekend, and there were plenty of tourists on the boat with us, given its close distance and beautiful, beach-side atmosphere. It is an interesting reflection of one's self, when placed within a crowd of fellow tourists; actions and mannerisms such as posing for photographs, or being one of ten capturing the same image of the same subject, are all reflections of my own actions. I have caught myself watching others in awe of their obsession with an object, only to find myself aiming my own lens at it 10 minutes later.
Colonia is best navigated by foot, and on the west coast there is a 5km walk along the water's edge, which takes you to a slightly different area, a mix between rural and urban. We had beautiful weather while we were in town, and each day we walked for hours, exploring its nooks and crannies, finding plenty of quirky home-fronts and colour combinations, seemingly out of a Wes Anderson film.
Our accommodation did not have a kitchen for general use, only what you might expect in a motel room: microwave, kettle, and a selection of teas, which meant that we had to eat our cereal out of a mug each morning, and eat out for lunches and dinners - can't complain over an excuse to dine out!
Most of our restaurant picks were great, with excellent home-style burgers and craft beer at Bocadesanto, pizza at Il Forno, and tapas and amazing cocktails at Missfusion Colonia (a must-try if you visit this town!)
Unfortunately we learned our understanding of a few essentials were a bit off, when I believed I was ordering potato fries and received a side-plate of potato crisps, and my order for a cheap pizza was a pizza base with tomato paste... no cheese. I guess I received what I asked for, and my poor attempt of translating different ways of serving papas (potatoes) resulted in a few disappointing, yet humbling moments. I found myself saying to no-one in particular, "Hey, be thankful you can even afford to eat a meal at a restaurant."
We found ourselves in wonder at many of Colonia's homes, which are so full of individuality and vibrancy, an abundance of inspiration everywhere we shifted our gaze to, and many of the photographs we captured during our stay we were happy with, which is hard not to do in such a beautiful location.
Colonia has a couple of great perks, along with much of the country of Uruguay - cards are more widely accepted, and often rewarded with a tax-free transaction if it is a Visa or Mastercard. This is different to Argentina, which is predominately a cash-society, and tipping is usually expected in both countries.
An interesting advertising tactic we found hard to ignore in Colonia (largely due to the sound) was the use of huge speaker systems mounted on the back of utes, to broadcast the radio stations extremely loud. They are heard from many streets away, and they permeate every household rudely. For such a quiet little port town with UNESCO Heritage status, we were surprised that this was permitted - it alters the atmosphere considerably. Although, upon discussing this with the lovely Sole (whom we are currently volunteering for), she has informed us that this has been around from when she was a little girl.
We loved our retreat to Colonia, it was a great interim stay before we left for Montevideo, and we were able to relax away from the busyness of cities. I would return here in a heartbeat for a peaceful getaway, and to soak in more of the gorgeous alleys and buildings.
Uruguay in general is an underrated country, and not too many people would be able to point it out on a map (we couldn't before we heard about it), and the more we learn about it and encounter it, the more we are falling in love. We have been in the country for over a month, and will be here for up to another two, so keep an eye out for further posts about what we have been up to!