How we started the day:
- Woke up before the sun rises and went Darsena Norte (North Port).
- Took a boat and cross the waters to another country like illegal immigrants.
Difference between us and illegal immigrants:
- We were legal entrees. Ticket? Check. Passport? Check. Visa? Not required. Yup, very much legal.
- We were not immigrants. Merely adventurous tourists from a faraway land.
Uruguay, here we come!
Before going off, we bought some Uruguayan pesos from a Uruguayan bank branch at the port. RM 1.00 = USD 0.33 = UYU 6.45. Made me feel so rich!
We took a Buquebus boat from their terminal at Darsena Norte in the north of Puerto Madero.
Our destination was Colonia del Sacramento (simply known to locals as Colonia), a small town across Río de la Plata facing Buenos Aires. Buquebus operated two types of boats to Colonia, the fast boat and the slow boat. The fast boat would take 1 hour, while the slow boat would take 2 hours. The price difference wasn’t that significant, so we took the fast boat so we could spend more time in town. Buquebus also had boats going to Montevideo, another town in Uruguay a bit further away.
Taking the Buquebus was like taking a flight. First we had to check-in and get our boarding pass. Those with luggage could check-in their bags. Then we went through immigration and got our passports stamped. Visa wasn’t required for Malaysian entering Uruguay for social visit. However the Uruguayan immigration officer wasn’t sure how many days of stay to give us so he had to check with his colleague, who then told him to give us 30 days stay. That showed how few Malaysians ever been to that country!
Waiting for the boat at the boarding plaza.
Time to board!
The boat was equipped with café and a big flat screen TVs.
After an hour of boat ride, we reached Colonia!
A bit about Colonia - during colonial era, the city was disputed between Spain and Portugal (it changed hands between the two several times), from which it acquired its name. It was then incorporated into Brazil before gaining its independence as part of Uruguay. The oldest part of the city, called Barrio Histórico, had been declared as UNESCO Heritage Site.
We got a map from the tourist information desk at the port and started walking towards Portón de Campo, the city gate of Barrio Histórico decked with wooden drawbridge.
First we needed to eat. We didn’t have any breakfast and was really hungry from travelling from one country to another though all we did was sleeping on the boat. So we went to the first restaurant that we saw after entering the gate. It looked like they just started business for the day, fortunately their kitchen was already open.
We enjoyed our brunch while watching people passing by, noticing that almost everyone stopped to snap photos of the cobblestoned alley next to the restaurant. We wondered what was so special about it, because when we passed by the alley earlier we didn’t see anything fascinating except some small shops on the sides. So after brunch, we decided to check it out. That was when I realized that the alley was Calle de los Suspiros, the original road built by the Portuguese when they colonized the city hundreds of years ago!
The uneven cobblestoned stretch of Calle de los Suspiros leading towards the waters of Río de la Plata.
We then went to El Faro, a lighthouse constructed in 1857 from the ruins of Convento de San Francisco next to it.
The entrance fee was UYU 15.00 or ARS 3.50. In this town both Uruguayan and Argentinean currencies were accepted.
We climbed the spiral staircase to the top of the lighthouse...
...and enjoyed a bird’s eye view of the city. Dyanna, the pretty rooftops reminded me of your dream wedding. Maybe you would want to add this place to your list ;-)
Colonia’s trademarks were yellow lamps along the streets...
...and signage drawn on ceramic tiles. That was the map of Colonia in 1762, almost 250 years ago.
A Buquebus boat from afar. The one we took was similar to that.
At the other end of the city there was a jetty where people park their yachts ...
...and go fishing!
Do you want to sshh or shower?
Fiza was determined to find this old car that she saw in many articles about Colonia. So we searched up and down the streets, checking out one old car after another, until we finally found the right one!
Iglesia Matriz, the oldest church in Uruguay.
Such a pretty, quiet and peaceful little town.
We spent the rest of the day wandering around, doing some shopping and eating ice cream. We had to return to the port to catch the return boat at 7pm Uruguayan time or 6pm Argentinean time. Though the two countries were next to each other, Uruguay had daylight saving but Argentina (with the exception of one province) didn’t have it. Hence time moved one hour faster in Uruguay.
The departure hall at Colonia port.
How we felt at the end of the day:
- Happy to have explored the historic little town.
- Happier to get our passports stamped by Colonia’s immigration.
- Even happier to get another stamp by Argentina’s immigration - the second stamp in a week!