Uruguay, a Very Friendly Place
-- Story by Erin --
October 10: It was a very
pleasant trip, only clouded by the fact that the bikes again didn't come this
weekend. Actually we had more sunshine in four days in Uruguay than in the whole two
weeks we were in Buenos Aires.
The 45km ferry from BA to the
town of Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay is not cheap, but then again nothing really is
here. The slow ferry cost us US$22 each (not including the bikes of course!) and
took 2 hours and 45 minutes. The fast ferry would have cost US$35 each and takes 45
minutes. (Compare this to the Staten Island Ferry in New York City which is free,
takes about 20 minutes and takes you past the Statue of Liberty and gives you a fantastic
view of the Manhattan skyline!)
All of our friends in BA said
that Colonia was a very nice little place to see and stay. I have to say they did
not overstate their praise for the place. It is indeed a very cute little town
(about 20,000 people), with a picturesque historical section complete with old cobblestone
streets. It's location on the Río Plate means the water is brown (not polluted, but
from the silt upstream), but the little green islands off it's shore make it scenic.
We walked off the boat towards
the old part of town to find a place to stay for the night. The first place we
looked at was quaint, but wanted US$35/night (breakfast included). A bit pricey for
our budget, we wandered a bit further. The next place we found, Posada Tita y
Carlos, we recognized from our tourist brochures. We inquired about a room and found
it to be more reasonably priced at US$20/night including breakfast. Carlos met us at
the door and made us feel immediately welcome. (His partner, Silvia, is a motorcycle
enthusiast and a local tour guide.) The room he showed us a bit antique looking (not
in a rich sort of way), painted bright colors, had a loft and was clean (most
importantly). We paid him for the night (it's common to pay in advance in these
little guesthouses), dropped our bags and went out to explore the town.
It was early afternoon and we
hadn't had our lunch yet. The first priority was to eat and then sightsee.
Chris found a little burger place on the main street that seemed to be popular with the
locals (we always try to eat where the locals do). For less than a US dollar, we had
enormous burgers with everything imaginable on them, including an egg, relish, cheese and
various vegetables on a big bun. Chris was very proud of himself for finding such a
We wandered around the old
section of town and made note of all the old, I mean really antique, cars on the road.
It seemed like the favorite pastime of the locals is to keep the golden oldies
The next morning we headed for
Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, by bus. The trip is about 200km, takes about 2
and a half hours, and costs US$7/pp. It was a good way to see the countryside, which
is characterized by fairly barren rolling hills and old estancias (ranches) here and
there. Montevideo is a large city, similar in architecture to Buenos Aires, but with
more beautiful plazas. The city juts out, like a small peninsula, into the
confluence of the Río Plate and the Atlantic Ocean. The old section of town has
winding cobblestone streets and ancient buildings with balconies decorated with wrought
iron and flowerpots.
We managed to find a cheap
hostel in the middle of town for only US$11/per night (breakfast not included). It
was small and had a window that looked out onto an airshaft, but who's complaining?
Again, Chris was very proud of this bargain. At least it was clean.
The next day we made the rounds
of the various sights the guidebook said we should see: the Plaza de la
Independencia, Plaza Fabini, the El Gaucho (the cowboy) statue, and the Palacio
Taking a break from all that
walking around, we were sitting in a big plaza (as you do). We had just got an email
from NZ that the bikes would not be coming this weekend either. Frustration and
despair descended on us. We have learned great patience in 2.5 years travelling, but this
was a bit much for us. You see, each week they told us the bikes MIGHT get on the
plane, so we had to stay close by, IN CASE they did! As we stared blankly past the
huge statue of the great warrior mounted on his mighty steed, a huge sign for the American
Airlines offices loomed in the background.
It was Friday, October
12th. We decided to walk in and see what kind of "deals" they were
offering. Twenty minutes later, we walked out of the office, booked to fly from BA
direct to New York City on following Tuesday night -- after 880 days on the road we were
finally going home (although for just 12 days.)
That afternoon we returned to
Colonia by bus, stayed again with Tita y Carlos and left the next day, Saturday, by ferry
back to Buenos Aires. The next two days were filled with making preparations (both
logistically and mentally) for our return home. It did not help that we both came
down with a bad cold the day before we left, but that did not dampen our excitement!
historic town of Colonia...
...complete with cobble-stone streets...
street lights, and hand-painted street signs.
in one of the many old cars parked in town...
... or maybe rent something a bit newer
About 3 blocks from the American Airlines office where we booked our
flight to NYC
|Lunch at the
famous Mercado del Puerto
All this for US$10