We took the 8.15am, one hour ferry crossing with Colonia Express from Buenos Aires to Colonia de Sacramento in Uruguay. We went straight to the bus terminal and purchased our tickets on to Montevideo. We only stayed for about 4 hours as we had to get to Montevideo but that was plenty of time to explore. You can store your luggage in the bus terminal (2 hours: UYU30, 4 hours: UYU50, 6 hours: UYU60. UYU50 is about $2.50). Colonia’s historic quarter or Barrio Histórico is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has quite a few sights to keep you entertained for a couple of hours. The city was founded by the Portuguese in 1680 and changed hands between the Portuguese and Spanish quite a few times (and the Brazilians once) so it has a lot of history! It’s very popular with Argentinians who pop over from Buenos Aires to get their hands on USD (which are given out at all ATMs in Uruguay) so they can save or get the blue dollar rate back in Argentina. I’ve heard that ATM queues can be ridiculous in Colonia (Argentinians bringing their friends ATM cards and the like) but we went at the bus terminal and had no wait. We actually got a good enough rate at the bus terminal for exchanging the Argentinian Pesos we had left too.
We wandered around the city for a few hours, taking in the colonial architecture, grabbing overpriced coffee and trying to dodge the hoards of tour groups. There is a beach here but it’s anything but pretty. You can walk all along the water and you’ve circled the historic quarter and pretty much taken in all the sights so that’s quite handy! One of the nicest things to check out is the lighthouse and ruins of the old Convent of San Francisco. The trees around it are beautiful and you can go up the top to take in the surrounding landscape. The drawbridge or Portón de Campo is also worth checking out. There are plenty of souvenir stores near here to help you while away some time. We stopped for ice-cream at Cali next to the drawbridge ano that’s definitely worth a stop. Calle Suspiros is one of the oldest streets here; it’s quite dilapidated but that’s really the beauty and charm of it. The Basilica del Santísimi Sacramento is a lovely whitewashed church with some ruins right alongside it. You can sit on a bench here in the shade and do some people-watching, lovely!
Next stop: Montevideo, Uruguay