Trip across Rio De La Plata to Colonia
03/21/2017 - 03/21/2017 76 °F
Okay, I admit one of the primary attractions of the day trip from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Colonia de Sacramento, Uruguay, was the fact it would be yet another country I've visited. Guidebooks praised it as a cobblestoned gem, and UNESCO had named it a World Heritage site. So, I wasn't being totally cheesy in going for country #85! Plus, it meant a boat trip across the famous Rio de la Plata that separates the two countries (and incidentally, is near where the British finally cornered and sank the German battle cruiser, the Bismarck).
I was in Buenos Aires for just over a week, and looking for interesting sights to fill my schedule, so I booked a one day return on the Buquebus -- which is a fast ship making the crossing in about an hour. I left on the 9 am departure, scheduling the 7:45 pm return. Colonia is a former Portuguese colony town that is a popular weekend or day trip for Portenos (as residents of Buenos Aires are called). It has a number of tiny museums, but the main attraction is the historic Old Quarter. I am a sucker for historic towns -- the more atmospheric, the better.
Some guidebooks recommend an overnight to truly experience the town. After spending a day there, I would say that is a mistake. My ship docked at shortly after 10 am, giving me a good 8+ hours to see Colonia's sights. That is way, way more than enough, in my opinion. In fact, around 4 pm, I began to wonder if there was an earlier departure I could change my ticket to, possibly. There was. At 4 pm - so much for that idea!
I had seen pretty much all of the Old Quarter's sights by then. I had climbed the lighthouse for a view of the town bathed in the late morning sun. I had threaded my way through all of its streets, stopping at each numbered spot on the map the tourist information agency had given me. I had seen all four of the museums that were open on a Tuesday -- several were closed. I had taken pictures of the historic buildings, some framed by bright bougainvillea. I had enjoyed a lunch in a streetside cafe, and dozed on a bench by the shore, as the afternoon sun made my eyelids heavy.
Whenever I encounter this feeling of "Is this it?", I begin to wonder if I am the victim of my own experience. I know I am comparing Colonia in my mind to, say, last Spring Break's destination of Dubrovnik. Or the walled town of Obidos, Portugal, or Segovia, Spain, or Assisi, Italy. But is it fair to every new destination to judge it by the standards of all the other historic towns I've visited? Colonia definitely pales in comparison to those sights. I worry about this feeling. Will it crop up more and more as I've visited a higher percentage of sights around the world?
I noticed that Colonia has more than its share of dogs wandering its cobblestoned streets. Most of them seemed to spend the day napping in the sun. I managed to befriend one at lunch. They were well behaved, and did not beg for food like most dogs in the U.S. would have. Most seemed indifferent to visitors, and would only come to be petted with coaxing. If I needed a relaxing day after the hectic 2-3 weeks at school, leading up to spring break, I received it today.
Eventually, it was time to walk back to the port and check in for the ride back to Buenos Aires. The customs officials for Argentina and Uruguay sit side by side. Crossing this border is a breeze, and took less time than the last time I drove from Canada into the U.S. Was Colonia the highlight of my spring break? No. Was it an interesting way to spend the day -- and a simple way to chalk up country #85? Absolutely! So, I recommend it if you have an extra day to spend while in Buenos Aires -- or need to rack up another country!