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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.

Travel Unsurance

Ferry Terminal
God Is Watching
Raising the Flag
Puerto Madero
Container Buenos Aires
Lighthouse Buenos Aires
Modern Buenos Aires
Pier Buenos Aires
Bye Bye Buenos Aires
Uruguay Flag
Sailing Sailor
Morning Breeze
Colonia Welcome
Harbor Colonia
Modern Nature
Mate Water
Peace Horse
Porton de Campo
Calle Los Suspiros
Calle Commercio
Colonia Uruguay
Living Room Restaurant
Food Uruguay
Cute Colonia
Real Life Pac Man
Art Uruguay
Lighthouse Uruguay
Tree Line
Weird Tree
Colonia Church
Lonely Dude
Water Element
Sweet Darling
Fancy Dog
Weird School Kids
Uruguay Tin
Old Beetle
Old Cars
Day Trip Buenos Aires
Pedro Colonia
Spanish Moss
Spanish Moss Uruguay
Tree Cafe
Pilsen Uruguay
Uruguay Blog
Sleepy Dog
Sunset Uruguay
Night Car
Ghost Tree
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May 1, 2011 at 4:20 pm Comment (1)

Day Trip to Tigre

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Tigre Hotels and Hostels

South America’s second-longest river, the Paraná, begins in Brazil and flows south, etching out the border between Paraguay and Argentina. Before emptying into the Rio de la Plata, the river extends into a flood plain which reaches 200 miles in length and nearly 40 miles in width. The city of Tigre, with a population of 30,000, is found near the delta’s end.

Catamaran Tigre

Tigre is named for the jaguars that once lived in the area, whom settlers mistakenly pegged as tigers. It was founded in 1820 and was a small backwater port until the Buenos Aires elite moved in at the turn of the century, building mansions and establishing rowing clubs. Modern Tigre has retained much of its splendor from those golden days, which we saw firsthand when visiting one sunny weekend afternoon.

Reaching Tigre couldn’t be easier or cheaper. A train ride from Retiro takes about an hour, and will set you back about 50 cents. Upon arriving, we went straight to the water. Small taxi boats and larger sight-seeing catamarans depart regularly from docks near the train station, and we hopped on the first one we could.

The Paraná Delta is immense, and the hour-long boat trip gave us only the briefest glance at the winding waterways and stilted houses which border the river. People who live here have to use boats to get home. The alluvial scenery was so lush and serene, we could have spent the whole day happily touring the rivers and looking at houses. But the rest of the town awaited.

Tigre is small, and a tour through downtown, with its odd mix of impressive old architecture and ugly modern constructions, doesn’t take much time. Soon, we reached the Mercado de Frutas, which is Tigre’s main attraction aside from the delta itself. A literalist, I was expecting a collection of fruit stands. But it’s actually comprised of home, garden and crafts stores.

Tigre is an uncomplicated day trip from Buenos Aires, and we really enjoyed ourselves, especially on the boat trip. In fact, we were so taken by the beauty of the delta that we made plans to spend our final week in Argentina renting a cabin and relaxing by the river. A more restful place to get away from the city is hard to imagine.

Tigre Tourism (Spanish)
Location of Tigre on our Buenos Aires Map
Travel Insurance

Amusement Park Tigre
Tigre Harbor
Cute Boat
Isla Bonita
Shopping Boat
Stranded Tigre
Washing Machine Tigre
Tigre Boat Taxi
Tigre Gas Station
Lonely Boat
Casa Azul Tigre
Pots And Pans
Bamboo Boys
Rowing Tigre
Market Tigre
Rasta Dog
Villan Dog
Rowing Tigre
Mercado Fruita
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April 30, 2011 at 8:26 pm Comments (2)
Day Trip to Colonia del Sacramento
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