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Day Trip to Colonia del Sacramento

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A visit to Colonia del Sacramento is one of the easiest and most popular day trips you can take from Buenos Aires. Cheekily referred to by porteños as the city’s 49th barrio, Colonia actually belongs to Uruguay. We recently took the slow ferry across the river to check out this beautifully upheld colonial village.

Amazing Buenos Aires

The Rio de la Plata widens incredibly as it empties into the Atlantic Ocean, and our ferry needed three hours to make the journey. There are faster, more expensive boats, but we were in the mood for a leisurely ride. The seats were comfortable and, after a quick breakfast in the on-board café, we both fell asleep. At noon, we arrived in Uruguay, refreshed and eager to explore.

Founded by the Portuguese in 1680, Colonia is the oldest town in Uruguay. In the course of a tumultuous history, it’s changed hands eleven times, mainly between the competing powers of Portugal and Spain. Miraculously, its historic center has survived intact; colonial-era houses and charmingly irregular street patterns persist into the present day. Colonia has been included on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites, officially recognized as a global treasure.

After leaving the ferry, we walked into the old town through the Portón de Campo, a 17th-century drawbridge and gate. Sturdy white-washed houses, seemingly as old as the trees growing alongside them, line cobblestone streets with drains running down the center of them. Vintage cars putter noisily down the streets. There was just one modern sound that kept snapping me out of the trance of antiquity: Jürgen’s machine-gun camera clicking.

Colonia Del Sacramento

Our first touristy stop was the faro, or lighthouse. Despite being rather stunted for a lighthouse, it allows a perfect view over the Plaza Mayor. And the light exercise of climbing all those stairs certainly earned us a break, so we made a beeline for the cozy furniture of Lentas Maravillas, a chic casa-restaurante where we sampled Uruguayan wine while looking out over the river.

Nearly every restaurant and shop in Colonia accepts both Argentine pesos and US dollars. But the city’s museums don’t; rather than waste time hunting down an exchange place, we skipped on them entirely, figuring it’d be more fun to spend the afternoon poking around the town’s alleys and shops. Venturing outside the historic center, we encountered the beaches — Colonia has beautiful beaches running along the coast for miles — and later sat down for beers on Calle Comercio.

It was about as stress-free as a day could be. Activity-wise, there isn’t a whole lot to do in Colonia, which gives you ample excuse to simply settle into the town’s tranquil rhythm and enjoy being there. Before our ship left back for Buenos Aires, we had dinner at a cool pop-art themed restaurant called Blanco y Negro. It was too early, but the waiter was like, “Whatever, just grab a seat anywhere. No big deal”. I get the feeling that in gorgeous, quiet Colonia, nothing is ever a big deal. A great escape.

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May 1, 2011 at 4:20 pm Comment (1)

Dadá – Artsy Eating in Retiro

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For a restaurant named after a 1920s anti-art movement, Dadá turns out to be remarkably unpretentious. There’s a lot to love about this little place on Calle San Martín in Retiro: the decoration, the friendliness of the staff and, of course, the food.

Dadá Buenos Aires

Everything inside Dadá is beautiful to look at, from the paintings hanging on the walls, to the brightly tiled bar. There’s definitely a Parisian flair to the place. A huge mural inspired by Roy Lichtenstein hovered above our table, where we had sat down for lunch. Looking at the menu, I was mainly surprised by how affordable everything was. Dining in a artsy, hip bistro usually comes with a hefty price tag.

Our waitress took the time to explain all the plates, and offer suggestions. Great service is one of the most-praised attributes of Dadá in online reviews, and certainly was the case for us. More than just pleasant, our waitress was laughing and good-natured, and seemed genuinely happy that we were there. And when the food came out, a great experience got even better. The lomo steak was huge and perfectly cooked. All the portions were absolutely generous, and we left full and happy.

Check out Dadá if you find yourself in need of a great meal, around Plaza San Martín. They’re open for lunch, dinner and evening drinks every day except Sunday. Given the size of the place, it’s probably best to call ahead for dinner reservations.

San Martín 941
Tel: 4314-4787
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March 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm Comments (0)

Pedro Telmo – Good Cooking in San Telmo

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Great Pizza Recipes

We’ve been eating out a lot since we arrived, mainly at places which have come highly recommended by guidebooks or locals. Great parrillas, Peruvian cuisine, famous pizzerias. But that doesn’t mean we’re skipping the less well-known places entirely! This past week, after a long day of exploring the city, we sat down inside Pedro Telmo, on the western side of the San Telmo Market.

Madres Argenina

We ordered a couple empanadas, which were delicious, and also enjoyed their heartier meals, such as home-cooked lasagna and pizzas. With posters of Carlos Gardel and soccer teams on the walls, and wonderfully sweet ladies working both behind and in front of the bar, Pedro Telmo is the down-to-earth kind of establishment that abounds in Buenos Aires.

What’s your favorite neighborhood joint to get a quick bite, or take a short break?

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February 20, 2011 at 4:50 pm Comments (3)
Day Trip to Colonia del Sacramento
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