One day, just to escape the busy city streets, David and I decided to go across the river to Uruguay. It is about a 3 hour ferry ride. The boat was lovely. We were able to get a seat in the enclosed upstairs part so we could enjoy the view. Actually, there wasn’t much to see but water….it is a wide river.
We could have gone to the capital of Montevideo which has nice beaches, but we weren’t really interested in visiting the beaches and it would have been another big city. Plus, a longer ferry ride. So, we opted for Colonia, which I am so glad that we did, and on a week day!!! Our Lonely Planet guide book said that the quaint and charming street of Colonia are crowded on the weekends with hundreds of Argentines. They flee to Colonia to escape the city heat of Buenos Aires.
Once off the ferry, we walked up a small hill to the main street where there was an information booth. From the information booth, it is another short and pleasant walk to the Barrio Historico founded in 1680 by the Portuguese. Colonia was a strategic position in early years as it is almost right across from Buenos Aires. The main importance were the smuggled British goods that made their way to BA undercutting Spain’s monopoly on trade in BA.
The Puerta de Campo is the restored gate and entrance to the city. Part of the old wall and canons are still standing near this gate, as well. It is very easy to understand why this is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. The streets are narrow and made of cobblestone. Some of the streets are lined with full leafy trees or flowering bougainvillea bushes.
Of course, there was a plaza in the center of town – Plaza Maunel Lobo or also known as Plaza de Armas….which tends to be a real common name for the main plazas down here. This plaza had the ruins of an old Portuguese house and the Iglesia Martriz – the oldest church in Uruguay built in 1680. It really is a pretty church on the outside with it twin white spires against the blue sky. The church has been completely rebuilt twice…the inside was rather sparse.
There is a lighthouse in Colonia that one can walk to the top of and see the view of the port. The lighthouse is built inside of the ruins of San Francisco convent.
At the end of the historic center, there is a lovely cove where people were swimming. We ate dinner near this area, under a canopy of bougainvillea. We had a wonderful meal of paella and a so-so glass of wine. I guess I was spoiled by the Argentine wines on this trip.
We caught the ferry back to Buenos Aires. In a way, I wish that we had been able to spend one night there. It was such a nice break from the fast pace and noise of the city.