Very close to Buenos Aires you can find Uruguay. This country has a couple of interesting places, from which Colonia and Montevideo are the closest tot Buenos Aires.Â Because of this Uruguay is a perfect destination for a (weekend) trip out of town and for some students a good occasion to enlarge their tourist visas. The easiest way to go to Uruguay is by boat, but itâ€™s also possible to catch a 10 hour bus to Montevideo. But more easy is to go with the fast boat (only one hour) directly to Colonia, walk around for a day and take the bus to Montevideo.
Colonia del Sacramento is a little charming, idyllic place. Everything is very authentic; the houses are colonial and colorful and the streets cobblestoned and full of trees. A good way to discover the town is to rent a bike, but itâ€™s also possible to rent golf cars or scooters. The most interesting places you can find in â€˜Barrio HistÃ³ricoâ€™ which was named a UNESCO heritage. In this part you see a lot of influence from Spanish, Portuguese and post-colonial styles. You can find a lot of sights such as â€œThe Plaza de Torosâ€, a bull ring built in 1910, â€œPuerta de la Cuidadelaâ€, a drawbridge built in 1945 by theÂ Portuguese governor a keep the city in safety, â€œEl Faroâ€, a lighthouse contstructed from ruin stones of Convento de San Francisco and a lot of beautiful colonial buildings. Next to this, you can have great views of the sea with beautiful sunsets. And watch the cars here, you see a lot of typical old cars everywhere!
Â After discovering this charming place, you can take a 2,5 hour bus to Montevideo, the capital city of Uruguay. Although this is the capital city with a little more than 1 million people, the city is very laid back and â€˜tranquiloâ€™: a good destination to get out of the â€˜hustle and bustleâ€™ of Buenos Aires. The city has a beautiful long coastal line, with a â€˜ramblasâ€™ where people are walking, biking and skating, but mostly sitting and enjoying their ‘mate’. You see this typical drink a lot in Argentina, but in Montevideo almost ALL people are walking around with their mate and a thermos jug to refill their mate.Â Â A good idea is to rent a bike again here, and bike a part on the ramblas enjoying the beautiful view of the coastal line. At some parts, especially in the weekend, you see a lot of young people hanging out at the grassy parks between the beaches. If you want to walk around the city itself, itâ€™s nice to walk around in â€˜Cuidad Viejoâ€™, see the different plazaâ€™s with its statues and buildings and walk around at different markets and buy your own mate. And if youâ€™re lucky, you can see a drum parade of people practicing for carnival!
Some practical information:
You can book your boat trip to Uruguay with Buquebus (www.buquebus.com). It is possible to book your bus trip already to and from Montevideo, but it is also possible to arrange it in Colonia. For example, a fast ferry to and from Colonia, with a bus trip only from Montevideo back to Colonia, will cost you $ 280 Arg. Pesos. Â Buses from Colonia to Montevideo leave every hour, until 20.00. A cheaper way is to go with a bus from Bs. As. to Montevideo, but remember this takes 10 hours (www.omnilineas.com).
In Colonia itâ€™s almost everywhere possible to pay with Argentinean pesos, but in Montevideo you have to take some Uruguayan pesos out to pay in restaurants for example. Sometimes itâ€™s possible to pay the hostel with Argentinean pesos. Currency rates (approximately): 1 ARG = 7 UYU, 1 USD = 23 UYU, 1 EUR = 29 UYU.
Where to stay:
A hostel which I personally can recommend is â€˜Red Hostelâ€™ (www.redhostel.com), a youth hostel very close to the center, with clean beds, showers and toilets, computers with internet and a big roof terrace perfect to chill out in the sun or drink a cocktail at the little bar. The hostel also organizes â€œasadosâ€ on this roof terrace. Costs: $ 50 Arg. pesos per person per night.