At 6:00 am, I departed my hotel for a day trip to Uruguay. I spent the early morning at the Darsena Norte ferry terminal exchanging my online voucher for a ticket, going through immigration, and boarding the ferry. After enduring the long lines at the terminal, I was crossing the Rio de la Plata on a Buquebus fast ferry. During the hour-long ferry ride, I wondered if sightseeing in Buenos Aires with Wendy would be more fun than this trip, but these thoughts were fleeting. By the time the ferry docked in Colonia del Sacramento, I was excited to explore a new country.
Founded in 1680 as a Portuguese colony, Colonia del Sacramento is one of the oldest towns in Uruguay. The Portuguese built the port city on a peninsula that protrudes into the Rio de la Plata and constructed a wall across the peninsula for protection. Colonia’s historic district is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
I entered Colonia’s old quarter through Portón de Campo, an 18th-century city gate with a wooden drawbridge. Historic buildings and churches line Colonia’s cobblestone streets. I spent hours exploring the old city and taking photos. Notable landmarks are a lighthouse, the San Francisco convent ruins, and Basilica De Santisimo Sacramento, the oldest church in Uruguay. In the early afternoon, the smell of asados (BBQ) permeated the air, inducing me to feast at a parrilla (steakhouse) near the Rio de la Plata.
Later in the afternoon, I ventured outside the historic district and stumbled upon a farmers’ market with food, clothes, and artisan items. I continued wandering through Colonia and saw an impressive assortment of vintage vehicles parked on the streets. One car had plants growing out of it, and another had an inflated fish in the driver’s seat! Colonia has a quirkiness to it that appeals to me. At the end of the day, my return ferry crossed the widest river in the world, returning me to Buenos Aires.
On my last evening in Buenos Aires, I walked to San Telmo, the city’s oldest neighborhood and the birthplace of tango. Tango dancers perform in Plaza Dorrego on Sunday evenings, and I came to watch them dance. Argentine tango is an intimate dance, with the bodies of the dancers close together and a lot of movement below the waist. When the formal performance ended, the audience started dancing. As someone afflicted with beat deafness, I gave up trying to dance years ago, so I called it a night and walked to my hotel.
The next morning, I departed Buenos Aires for my next destination: Iguazu Falls.