On Saturday I took a day trip to Uruguay. What can I tell you? It was an impulse purchase.
You can get a ferry from Buenos Aires to Colonia. There are a few companies that do it but I went with Burquebus, swayed by their promise of free internet for the journey (although the day I travelled this didn’t seem to be working for me. No biggie; it is only an hour).
The fast ferry takes an hour (there is a cheaper one that takes three hours, but that wouldn’t really work for day trips). It’s quite good because they check you out of Argentina and into Uruguay before you board, so when you get there you can just walk off the ferry, free to enjoy the delights of Colonia. This does mean you have to arrive at the terminal early enough to be processed and fingerprinted though.
Colonia (Colonia del Sacramento is its full title) is an old smuggling port. Founded by the Portuguese, it then bounced around between Spanish and Portuguese rule for a few years.
It’s a popular choice for Buenos Aires ex-pats needing to renew their tourist stamp for another three months. Be prepared to sacrifice a whole page in your passport though. Another good reason to go is because you can get US dollars from the ATM.
The walled city is now a UNESCO heritage site. It’s quite small and you can easily walk around it in a few hours.
There is also a bullring. Built in 1910, it hosted just 8 fights before bullfighting was outlawed two years later. Since then it has stood empty in an increasing state of decay.
I love abandoned buildings, however it is around 4-5 kilometres away and by the time I had wandered around the walled city and sussed out the transport options to get there it was getting a bit late and I was worrying about getting there and back in time for my ferry. If you have longer to spend then that would be a good option. Or you could just get the bus on to Montevideo, which is around 2-3 hours away.
The night before my trip I googled what to do in Colonia, which was a mistake because I came across a lot of people saying how dull it was. It’s a bit like reading bad cinema reviews before going to see a film (I usually never read reviews before I do something; I like to make up my own mind).
I guess if you’re going somewhere every three months, then it will seem very dull. Also maybe it’s an introvert/extrovert thing; some people seem to find everything boring. I’m not sure what they’re looking for. I’m happy enough that I got to ride in a boat, walk around a little town for a bit, have a nice lunch, sit in the sun for an hour, restock with US dollars and still get back to Buenos Aires in time for dinner. I could easily pass a weekend there (more than that would have been too much though, even for me).