Return to Colonia
Jan 13, 2011
|Wednesday January 12
On Tuesday I took the fast ferry to Colonia, Uruguay. This ferry is a large catamaran where the seating ressembles that of an airplane. Fortunately, we were crossing a river (a large one, Rio de la Plata) and not the open ocean, so there was no sea-sickness inducing motion. It took only an hour ($50) and I chatted with the nice woman sitting next to me (a Colombian-Canadian) so we got taking about Colombia, and about internet marketing, since this is her field of work, as it so happens.
I arrived to an overcast Colonia. This little town with a beautifully preserved historical centre from the 17th century, has been one of my favourite places in the world since I discovered it in 2005. This time though, the old centre seemed overrun with tourists. I didn't remember it being so busy. It definitely seems "discovered" now, which made me a little sad. On top of that, I had the hardest time finding an affordable place to stay. Ended up in a $55/night hotel about 10 mins walk from the old centre, which is over my budget. My budget for this trip, if you're curious, is $70 a day. I try not to put more than $40 toward accommodation. Private rooms in hostels are not any cheaper. So I booked here at Hotel Rivera for 2 nights. It's a fine place, with ok rooms, clean bathrooms, and some nice little terraces (like the one I am writing from right now).
Walking around the town on Tuesday afternoon, things all looked rather familiar (as one would expect). A thunderstrorm moved in though, and I had to hide in a little passageway leading to some shops. The wind picked up and and big waves of rain lashed the town. It just didn't want to stop. Finally, a bit after 6, the shops were closing and I had to get out and make a run for it. I got back to my hotel pretty wet, but not completely soaked fortunately.
Wednesday morning, after breakfast on the hotel's terrace (same as in Argentina: coffee, medialunas and tang-tasting orange juice), I joined a guided walking tour in the old town. It was in Spanish, so was a good opportunity to practive my listening skills. Then I had lunch and climbed up the lighthouse for a view of the town.
Talking of Spanish, what I learned in Panama last winter must have been percolating in my brain ever since because although I didn't feel like it had stuck back then, I now find myself using past tenses quite often in sentences, which I didn't do before. Sometimes I am quite surprised to hear it come out of my mouth!
Thursday January 13
Just walking around the old town can be fun, even if the sun is really hot during most of the day. I started wearing my hat (and getting "hat hair"). Some things haven't changed: weird old cars cruising the street or just parked by the side of the road, crazy stray dogs barking and running after cars, and of course the milk chocolate river that surrounds the town on three sides. The colour is not due to pollution but to sediment.
New things, beside the increased number of tourists, are those golf carts that people can rent to drive around town, and the tiny aquarium showcasing local fishes (they're rather dull and not very colourful).
Last night I had a late dinner at at parilla (grill steak house). The Uruguayans, just like the Argentinians, don't start dinner before 10 pm. What appeared in my plate looked like half a cow! I didn't expect it to be so big since the price was only about $7. Oh well, live and learn.
This morning I moved to a much cheaper room at La Casa de Charo. This is the place I stayed at in 2005. I wasn't sure it still existd because I couldn't find it online or in my guidebook. But yes, the place is still in business! My room is large, dark and windowless, but costs only $17. The shared bathroom is also very large.
This morning I visited a few museums, displaying a variety of objects from the 18th century, from maps, to bowls, to furniture and weapons. Most are housed in buildings from the same period, often with original walls and floors. I had lunch at this cute little hole-in-the-wall restaurant showcasing local products, mostly cheeses and wines. I sat around there munching on cheese and quiche for over an hour, doing a sudoku. Hit my head a couple of times on the 18th century (read "very low") doorways.
Bought my bus ticket for tomorrow (where am I going? It's a surprise!). Then had a nap. And I'm now writing this from the grassy terrace of a restaurant overlooking the river. It's amazing the number of places that have WiFi these days!
After this, I will probably go watch the setting sun from the long wood dock with its wood benches and potted flowers. The sun sets around 9 pm here. Ah the long days of summer. :)
There is no internet, where I'm going next, so I will be out of touch for a few days. Take care everyone.