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Colonia, UY

by dan.kronstal on December 29th, 2011

Many things about Uruguay have been better than expected. The view from the bus isn’t really one of them. The scenery here looks pretty much just like southern Alberta, with a few more trees, so doesn’t match up with some of our past rides.

Our host was kind enough to offer us a ride to our bus station, four or five kilometers out of town, where we caught the COT bus to Montevideo. I read, Christina slept, and five hours later we arrived. Once again, we saw no more of town than the bus terminal, and just grabbed some McDonalds (yes, again) in the station before the connecting two-hour ride to Colonia.

Streets of Colonia

Streets of Colonia

We checked in to our hostel here and headed out immediately to find a bite of dinner, though it was early, since we had eaten nothing but our fast food en-route. Colonia is a small place, but very nicely appointed, with cobbled streets, gentle slopes, a scenic promenade along the waterfront, and a very charming little Old Town district with historic landmarks and buildings.

Old town door

Old town door

While eating we amused ourselves by watching the staff at the next establishment (much less busy than our chosen venue) dancing to their loud latin music and attempting to drag passersby into the fun. The sunset was enjoyable, and we strolled along the waterfront looking at the old homes and shops until dusk. On the way back to the hostel we encountered a group of drummers, accompanied by dancers and a crowd of spectators, marching around the central square.

Classic Car Flowerpot

Classic Car Flowerpot

In the morning we had breakfast at the hostel, then set out for more exploration around Old Town. First order, however, was procuring our ferry tickets for the next day, which involved a few trips back and forth between the port and our room, but was eventually accomplished.

More Classic Cars

More Classic Cars

We had a pretty thorough look around Colonia, and decided that it is a very nice compromise between the small towns of South America and the polished, historical refinement of Europe. We enjoyed seeing the vintage vehicles, so common in both Argentina and Uruguay, and the ample supply of coffee shops, cafes, and heladerías (ice cream shops).

Cultural Center

Cultural Center

At the Paseo del Sol, a combination cultural center, artisan market, and restaurant strip, we explored yet more cobbled streets and alleys.

Lighthouse

Lighthouse

Just one day to spend here felt like it left some of the sights un-seen, but still was enough to get a good taste of the core. We had lunch on the promenade at a spot we had noticed last evening, and I greatly enjoyed my dish, called “chivito”, which was a stack of meat (steak, ham, cheese, egg, and bacon) piled on a mound of fries.

Ñoquis (Gnocchi) Day

Ñoquis (Gnocchi) Day

In the evening our dinner was Ñoquis (Uruguayan for gnocchi), a national tradition for the 29th of each month. This tradition recalls the old days of poverty, when citizens would be out of money at the end of the month, and resort to eating Ñoquis, since it was the cheapest thing around. We didn’t find it to be overly cheap, but it was fun to partake anyway. We ate at the restaurant with the dancing staff from the previous evening, though they weren’t quite as “footloose” on this occasion. The food was good, but I don’t think that Ñoquis will ever by a favorite for me.

Last Uruguayan sunset

Last Uruguayan sunset

Having slipped in an extra night’s stay just on a whim, we are very glad to have spent the time here. It is a very nice little city, and felt like a piece of Europe. Tomorrow we return to Argentina for a last visit, so for now we say “adiós” to Uruguay.

 

 

One Comment
  1. Mom and Dad E. permalink

    I wonder why you didn’t drop by Montevideo Central…
    I guess you have to go by your instinct… It serves you well so far…
    I’ve checked out Mar del Plata… seems a descent place… As usual simply be street smart…

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