We got the ferry from Buenos Aires over to Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay, the boat only takes around one hour and the crossing was smooth, much better than the New Zealand ferry experience.
Colonia del Sacramento is famous in South America for being a beautiful historic city, and it most certainly is, something that isn’t that common in Argentina and Chile, is any building older than the 20th century, some of the streets here look like they haven’t been touched since the Spanish arrived and built them in the 16th century.
We loved just walking around the old streets and admiring the stunning houses and cobbled streets, the centre is quite touristy, inflated prices for food and accommodation, but it was still a very nice place to be. We found an amazing bar with great wine and platters of cheeses and meats, in stark contrast to the majority of Uruguayan food, this was delicious.
The town has a small lighthouse, right in the centre that you can climb to the top of for a small fee, we went up around sunset and it was an amazing place to see the sun setting over Buenos Aires in the distance over the bay.
Most people only come to Colonia for the day, from Argentina, to see the town and get a stamp in the passport, so it has the strange culture of places being only open during the day, then at night, the town is mostly silent and empty. This makes it a beautiful place for an evening stroll, but after a couple of days you’ve seen it all and can move on.
We unfortunately, chose to move on, to Montevideo, Uruguay’s Capital city, where more than half the population of the country live. Montevideo, is as opposite to Colonia as is possible in the same country, very few tourists, terrible and expensive food options, and an unsafe historical centre that we were told repeatedly by our hotel not to walk around at night, despite the hotel being in this very area.
The lack of tourists here is apparent, by the fact that we could book a three star hotel for less money than hostels elsewhere, right in the centre, and they didn’t speak a word of English, not a one, it certainly tested my basic Spanish.
To complicate matters, we had booked three nights here, and had booked a bus and boat for three days time to return to Buenos Aires, but we hadn’t even been here half a day when we knew for sure, that was too long here, and we wanted to leave, immediately.
Montevideo is clearly not the worst city in the world, but we had loved Buenos Aires, and we couldn’t bring ourselves to waste three days here, when we could be in a city we loved. So we spent the entire day trying at least five different methods of contacting the boat company to change our tickets, eventually getting a public bus across town to the station at 8pm to speak to them, to be told they wouldn’t change it.
Not because they couldn’t, but because they wanted us to pay them a bribe to do it.
We stood in the bus station and made a spur-of-the-moment decision that we don’t regret for a second, we went to a different company and booked another bus and boat for the following day and paid the full price (about £50 for both us) again, just so we could leave Montevideo the next morning.
As it turned out, it was a great decision…
Less than 24 hours later, we had taken a three-hour bus back to Colonia, a one-hour boat over to BA, and we were back in Argentina and loving life once again, this is certainly one of them stories that makes travelling so fun, and we’re happy to have had the experience, but we weren’t thinking it was that great when we thought we’d be stuck in Montevideo for two more days.