With half an eye on our timetable, New Year plans and flights that need to be caught, we don’t have much time at all to explore Uruguay. Our plan is to catch the ferry from Buenos Aires to Colonia de Sacramento, to spend the day there and the following day to catch a bus to Uruguay’ capital Montevideo and from there an overnight bus across the border into Brazil. It’s a quick visit but one that does not disappoint.
The ferry terminal at the docks of Buenos Aires is busy and hectic: there’s a fair bit of elbowing going on in queues and lots of people with bags and shrink-wrapped packages. We head to the check-in hall and watch as our rucksacks are whisked off down conveyor belts then run upstairs to immigration to get our passports stamped out of Argentina and into Uruguay.
On the top deck of the ferry we watch Buenos Aires fade into the distances, the dull water looking more like a huge river than a sea. Though it’s only 10am, there are lots of Argentinians on the beers with their tops off; we under-represent as Brits with our cups of coffee and alfohores (tasty chocolate biscuits had for elevenses) and Davo and I settle down for a couple of hours of ‘book club’. Poor Moz.
The three hour crossing takes us to Colonia de Sacramento, one of – according to the guidebook – the prettiest towns in Uruguay. We drop our stuff at the hostel then head off to explore. Colonia was first founded by the Portuguese in the 17th century and, due to its good strategic location close to Buenos Aires, has changed hands between the Spanish and Portuguese seven times until it was finally owned by the Spanish.
It’s a town of cobbled streets and colourful houses, trees left to flower and vintage cars rusting in the sunshine. We come across a little cat curled up in the back of an abandoned car where plants had been left to grow through the backseat.
We head to the lighthouse and climb the steps to look out at the peninsula and the sweep of beach to the right, down beneath us to the huge dog that barked at us when we passed.
The afternoon is spent very happily: City are playing Newcastle and we walk past a bar where they’re showing it on screens outside. Moz settles down to watch; Davo and I order pitchers of wine and resume book club.
That night we head down to the waterfront to watch the sunset, a beautiful splash of gold across the water.
The next morning isn’t so great – my stomach is a bit odd and we didn’t get much sleep due to a snorer in our dorm room. How some people can make so much noise in their sleep without waking themselves up I will never know. We have a travel day ahead so get some lunch then head to the station. At Montevideo Moz heads off for a wander and Davo and I sit and chat for a couple of hours then we find something quick to eat. It’s a bit of a rush and a stress printing our tickets and sorting immigration stuff, but we manage to find the bus and get our stuff onboard. One day in Uruguay is nowhere near enough, but I’m excited for Brazil and what it has in store!