Colonia del Sacramento was the first ever town in Uruguay. It regularly changed hands between Spanish and Portuguese colonialists, which means today it offers an interesting mix of two colonial styles and some really beautiful streets to explore and corners to hide in. The mix of influences have left a truly beautiful town. Colonia faces south too, so every evening anybody visiting this beautiful place is also treated to a spectacular sunset.
So, Colonia has beautiful buildings, is on the coast, gets beautiful sunsets, and is within touching distance of two capital cities. This all adds up to a booming tourist trade. As tourists ourselves, it’d be hypocritical to complain about this, but it can be frustrating when everything beautiful you’re looking at has a group of other people looking at it too, and potentially standing in your way or blockng youe shot. Plus, everything is way more expensive.
Colonia is worth it all though and for a couple of days it really did feel like we were living in a dream. The cobbled streets, and sun-bleached and faded colonial era buildings really catch your imagination as you take as long as you possibly can to get to wherever it is you need to be. As well as the buildings, Colonia del Sacramento has fantastic trees everywhere. On their own they add something special to the place but as the roots push and move the cobble stones, and branches colonise the walls of the colonial buildings it almost feels like the town itself is alive and shaping its own image as it leans towards the sunsets that bless it every evening.
We had two nights in Colonia and we made sure we squeezed out every last drop of both the sunsets we were lucky enough to have the chance to touch. The first night we enjoyed some delightful local wine and beer on one of the many gorgeous terraces Colonia has to offer and let the the warm amber glow of the setting sun wash over us. The second night we aimed for the towns old bull-ring, which lies 5km out of the city centre. To get there we had to walk across beach after beach before final cutting inland towards the unused amphitheatre that now lies in ruins. We timed our walk perfectly, which meant we spent a good hour walking into one of the most spectacular sunsets both of us have ever seen.
Our walk along the coat also gave us an opportunity to see how local people also appreciate the natural splendour that Colonia del Sacramento is blessed with. As we walked along the endless beaches, we saw car after car, each filled with a family or two, parked up and with picnic tables and chairs set up to soak up the gentle beauty of the final moments of the day. Once we landed at the bull ring and purveyed its crumbling majesty, we had to head into a local university to find out about the local buses and ended up riding back into town with a load of students.
On our final night in Colonia, and Uruguay, we went to bed early. From Colonia we had a ferry journey back to Buenos Aires and then an 18 hour coach to Puerto Iguazu so we wanted to make sure we were in good shape for our first proper days travelling, since getting off the 14 hour flight into South America from London.
Just four days for us in Uruaguay then, and four days that came before we’d really had a chance to find our feet travelling wise. We’re happy with our experience though and feel like, for the places we went to, we managed to see a lot. In general, though, we never really made any connections like we did in Buenos Aires. Being able to speak Spanish still made a big difference to our experience, but in Argentina it seemed to open up the people we were talking to much more than it did in Uruaguay. Long may that continue then as we head back into Argentina with many days exploration lying between us and the final time we’ll leave South America’s second largest country.