All good with Buenos Aires, but we were somewhat tired of the unavoidable noises of the big city, the smog, buses, taxis, metros and pedestrians... why keep going at it? We only wanted a bit of calm. So we decided to cross the pond (actually the Plata River) and visit Colonia del Sacramento (reffered to just as Colonia), at the neighbor country, Uruguay.
We took the ferry which departs from Buenos Aires and takes about 60 minutes at a value of approximately roundtrip USD 50 and we escaped the city for a weekend, to Colonia, which in terms of amount of time to discover, we believe that it is sufficient.
The majority of visitors go to Colonia to spend the day, they arrive in the morning have a two hour City Tour, lunch and take the ferry back to cross the 50 km that separate the city from Buenos Aires or climb on a bus to travel the 170 km that separate it from Montevideo, depending where they come from.
The more adventurous or even more "slow" choose, as we did, to spend the night and enjoy the delicious cuisine and the silent evening streets.
As soon as we arrived we went directly to the B & B we had booked in the historical district of the city, walking distance from the Ferry Port. As soon as we arrived, washed up and left what little we had as luggage and went straight out the door again for a walk, always with cameras in hand.
Colonia as it is known regionally was founded in 1680, it is the oldest city in Uruguay, and it was disputed both by Portugal and Spain, for nearly 100 years. Therefore, the city passed hands several times, leaving a trace of both colonial architectures, Spanish and Portuguese.
The city still retains a defense wall with a large gate, known as Gate of the Citadel, which once protected the city. The city is located on a headland (has River on both sides) which made its defense quite easy. It is currently a small (20000 inhabitants) and very picturesque town, but the highlight of it is the very well preserved historic town which was declared a World Heritage Site by the Unesco in 1995.
Walking the cobbled streets, breathing a pure, clean, fresh air and enjoying a quiet town, surrounded by mates (herbal tea cups), hugs, kisses, because if there is anything we can say about this city, is that it is a romantic alternative and better enjoyed by twos. We don't want to say that alone or with friends you would not enjoy it, but the truth is that everywhere you look you'll find a couple walking, holding hands or having a snack.
Slow walking through the streets of the old town is a recommended experience because you can go, come, stop, photograph, feel, observe, go by again... but for the more lazy ones, there is a fun alternative that is to rent a golf cart from a USD20 per hour and you can slowly drive through the cobblestone streets, at a still slow pace, enjoying every street and corner.
One of the most famous streets, and clearly the most beautiful and visited, is the Calle de los Suspiros, a street with typical houses of the 18th century with tile roofs and adobe walls painted in warm pastel colors. Known in the past also as Street Alsina and Montevideo Chico, today is reffered to as the street of sighs, Calle de los Suspiros, which according to the tour-guide you get, it owes its name to a different explanation.
Most serious historians say that it is named as Suspiros, because the slaves and prisoners who were brought to the coast, right across the street to serve their death penalty sentence and thus their sighs rose back up to the city through this street. The old settlers and chroniclers of the time say that its name is due to that the bars and prostitutes abounded in this street which left many of their sighs in the air. The most romantics and poets say that when the Southeast wind blows in the city, the air entering this street striking against the cobbles generates a sound similar to the sighs... Honestly no matter their true origin, visit it is much worthwhile and we do not know if it is possible to heard sighs, but instead you hear thousands of "clicks" since it is without doubt the most special street of this city.
It was noon and our body asked for food, so we went to a local waterfront restaurant
and got some rich squid rings and the traditional "Chivito Uruguayo".
After a huge lunch with our bellys full, we couldn't do anything else, but a nap made it possible to then enjoy a nice sunset on this warm city.
Before sunset, we went out to the terrace of the B & B and feeled we are invaded by hundreds of sailing boats that came from the coast of Buenos Aires on a traditional Plata River race and many of them, as we did, spent the night and the next morning they sailed again.
Sunday we woke up with a slight rain, but that didn't prevent a last lap of farewell around the city...
And for a little fun, we were transported in time, in "Midnight in Paris" style.