The Slow Boat to Uruguay and the First Snow on Buenos Aires

Colonia del Sacramento Travel Blog

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Erin and I board the Buquebus.

Well I’ve yet again failed to write for some time, but fortunately the past two weeks have made quite an impression on me, so I don’t think I’ve forgotten much. On Friday morning Hao, Erin, and I set out to board a Buquebus (a great name) ferry to Colonia, Uruguay.  Since we had been warned against taking the slow boat I expected that we would be put directly to work shoveling coal in the bowels of a ship that had been out of commission since the Spanish American war. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the boat appeared more like a cruise ship, as it offered a cafĂ©, duty free shop, bar, and arcade, and the comfiest seats my seat has ever known. On the ship we met up with five other students from our program and enjoyed the view of the harbor.

The Uruguayan flag flies over Buenos Aires.

            After three hours on the boat and passing through the most ridiculous immigration procedure I have ever seen (I ended up registered as Nicole Pfiffer, an Argentine male missing a digit from his passport number), we enjoyed our first taste of Uruguay.  Colonia was an extremely scenic old town right on the water with beautiful panoramic views of the Rio Plata, cobblestone streets, and quaint cafes.  After enjoying lunch at a small restaurant, we headed to the Barrio Viejo where we walked around the remnants of an old fort and where Hao took much pride in clobbering me in an old fashioned and slightly nauseating game of rolling down the (extremely steep) hill.

            Although severely depressed by my defeat, I somehow mustered the will to pick myself up and explore the neighborhood for another few hours before we decided to head out to the Plaza de los Torros, an old bullfighting ring that was heavily advertised in Colonia’s little tourist center.  However, the good people at the tourist agency failed to mention that the ring is about a 20 minute bus trip out of town to a completely rural area with nothing else to see. After getting off the bus, we were truly impressed by the size and architecture of the old building, only to find that the entire area was closed off to the public.  However, a large hole in the fence conveniently solved that problem and we took a quick spin around the place, which was pretty impressive on the inside.

Getting on the bus.
  Delighted that we did not have to spend the night in a Uruguayan prison, we walked back to the bus stop. However, our relief was somewhat short lived as after more than a half hour we seriously began to wonder if the public transit was still running. Fortunately, just when the sun had set in a wonderful display of fuchsias and blues, a bus came by and brought us back to town.

            Shortly thereafter we walked to our small guesthouse that was clean, friendly, and quiet, but also intensely cold. After watching an episode of Nightrider (El auto fantastico!) in Spanish and deciding that David Hastlehoff was indeed not enough to keep us warm at night, we went out to eat, ironically enough, at a small Mexican restaurant.  We decided to return home soon after as the nightlife in Colonia was about what it is in Dunellen, and spent the night shivering away.

Entrance to Barrio Historico.

            The next morning we headed out on our three hour and fortunately warm bus ride to Montevideo. After arriving in Montevideo we spent the afternoon in an interesting antiques market offering everything from license plates to old pairs of glasses. Starving, we eventually broke down and went to a McDonalds, which was shockingly expensive and elegant and advertised that it offered baby showers for expectant mothers. We spent the rest of the afternoon simply walking around the city and visiting the Museo de Joaquin Torres Garcia, an excellent and varied artist whose paintings appear both on the buildings and currency of Uruguay.

Plaza de los Torros at sunset.

            That night we met up with the five other students from our program and shared a room with them at a hostel where we ate a huge asado (barbecue) dinner that included amazing beef and possibly the worst wine I have ever tasted. We stuck around the hostel that night listening to amazing music and talking to a bunch of interesting travelers from all around the world (including three guys from Britain, a writer from LA, and an 18 year old girl who had spent the last year traveling the world by herself.)         

            We awoke before the crack of dawn the next morning to catch the bus back to Colonia, where we spent several painful hours freezing our asses off because everything including a museum housing the world’s largest collection of pencils was closed.

On the road to Montevideo.
 However, we eventually found a cafĂ© where we ate a good breakfast and warmed up over some coffee before heading back to Argentina.

            The day after our return, my family had a birthday party for Marcelo, which ended up being exceptionally enjoyable on account of, that’s right, snow!  For the first time in 89 years, it snowed on Buenos Aires, and while it certainly didn’t amount to much, I have to say there is really something magical about watching people see snow for the first time.  Everyone crowded to the windows to watch the snow and after about two hours, all the young people decided to have a snowball fight.

The first snow on Buenos Aires
I wasn’t exactly sure how they were going to accomplish this ambitious goal, seeing as nothing actually stuck to the ground, but when we all ran outside everyone began scraping off the inch of snow that had accumulated on the cars and throwing it at each other. It was my first snowball fight in July and the perfect ending to a great weekend.

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Erin and I board the Buquebus.
Erin and I board the Buquebus.
The Uruguayan flag flies over Buen…
The Uruguayan flag flies over Bue…
Getting on the bus.
Getting on the bus.
Entrance to Barrio Historico.
Entrance to Barrio Historico.
Plaza de los Torros at sunset.
Plaza de los Torros at sunset.
On the road to Montevideo.
On the road to Montevideo.
The first snow on Buenos Aires
The first snow on Buenos Aires
The oldest skyscraper in Montevide…
The oldest skyscraper in Montevid…
Buenos Aires sunrise.
Buenos Aires sunrise.
An interesting building by the har…
An interesting building by the ha…
Hill racing.
Hill racing.
Defeat.
Defeat.
Dilapidated Jesus.
Dilapidated Jesus.
A typical Colonia street.
A typical Colonia street.
Where the roots of love have been,…
Where the roots of love have been…
Hostel sweet hostel.
Hostel sweet hostel.
Feliz cumpleaños, Marcelo
Feliz cumpleaños, Marcelo