Thursday, December 20, 2012

An Interesting Excursion from B.A.

If you are visiting Buenos Aires and feel you have exhausted its somewhat meager sights, consider a trip across the river to Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay. The river crossing can easily be done in a day, and offers in addition to a view of a UNESCO World Heritage sight, the chance to travel on the Rio de la Plata, which looks almost like an ocean at this point.
Buquebus ( runs daily ferries from the Puerto Madero in Buenos Aires to Colonia at reasonable prices. The slow ferry costs as little as around $72 for a same day return. Add a scanty on-board lunch and a sightseeing tour of the historic district for an additional $10 or so.
The faster ferry is more expensive, with a basic day return for about $110, and a luxury day trip for around $135. The latter includes lunch at a restaurant and a longer sightseeing tour.
Colonia is a pleasant town dating from 1680, and boasts Uruguay's oldest church as well as a lot more buildings from the colonial period. It was originally a Portuguese settlement, and is now a favourite haunt of portenos looking to escape the heat, noise and traffic of the city.
I visited Colonia by Buquebus more than a decade ago, at a time when the regional economy was in dire straits and Colonia looked as it had changed little since its founding. Our tour included a trip to a nearby estancia, where it seemed that the inhabitants were bored silly. One of the collections of the owner of the estancia was of match books from various parts of the world.
The crossing was my first by hydrofoil, and I was disappointed to learn that this type of transportation meant not going outside to enjoy the breeze off the river.
From reports I have seen, things have picked up a lot since then in Colonia, as they have in Argentina. In any case, the trip is an easy way to add another country to your itinerary.
Inccidentally, I do not intend to slur B.A. by saying its sights are few. In fact the city is huge and appealing, but mostly modern and business-oriented.


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