Sunday, June 12, 2011

I went to Uruguay yesterday

Yesterday, I went on a trip to Colonia, Uruguay. Colonia is right across the Rio de la Plata from Buenos Aires, though "Right across the R de la P" is a little deceptive because the Rio is huge and vast, really more like a sea at times, and you actually have to take a ferry for like 45min to get from Bs As to Colonia.

Taking the "BuqueBus" (ferry) from Bs As is more involved than the usual ferry trip because it technically involves international travel. The station for the B-bus is elaborate and really quite beautiful. You have to go through customs before boarding the B-Bus, and both Argentine and Uruguayan immigration officials stamp your passport, which is quite exciting if you're a fan of passport stamps as I am.

The BBus itself is enormous and fancy, like a really big living room on the water, and there's a big duty-free store as well as wi-fi. I was tempted to buy much-needed sunglasses in the duty-free area (having lost my brought sunglasses within .03 seconds of arriving in Arg), but decided against on cost grounds.

I did, however, purchase and eat a duty-free Snickers. It really satisfied, as the old ad campaign justifiably promised.

We disembarked in Colonia, and officially set foot in Uruguay. I could see signs there of what I've heard differentiates Uruguay from Argentina (and certainly from Buenos Aires): It's more rural and there's more of a native influence. Possibly related, yerba mate consumption is enormously common. I lost count of pedestrians strolling around toting the telltale gourds with steel straws.

Colonia itself is small and quaint and lovely. There are cobblestone streets with dazzling flowers, and old, low houses dating to colonial times (many of which have names rather than street numbers). I found myself stopping to take iPad pixes, with differing degrees of success, constantly.

We ate lunch at a parrilla right by the water. I had all manner of strange grilled meats: kidney, blood sausage, ribs, and some other kind of non-blood sausage. It was delicious and so plentiful that I could not finish it.

The weather was perfectly temperate, which, I'm told, is borderline-miraculous for winter. The sky was clear and cloudless, and the air was cool but so not-cold that I walked around jacketless, even along the shore, for much of the day.

After lunch we walked around the town square and occasionally looked into arts and crafts shops. There were more sun-dappled views of squares and sparkling ocean vistas than my iPad can do justice to. At one point I sat on a stone bench outside and read for like an hour, though I may have been asleep for part of that time.

Not being a fan of arts and/or crafts, I wasn't tempted to buy any of the aforementioned (and pictured). I did, though, want to pick up a Uruguay soccer scarf as a souvenir. They (as well as pale-blue Diego Forlan jerseys) were on sale everywhere around the time we arrived because the Uruguayan national team was playing Penarol in a friendly match (apparently--I can't find a report of the game anywhere).

But when I was walking back to the BuqueBus terminal later in the evening, the game had ended and all the scarves were gone from the stores on the way back. So I didn't end up getting a Uruguay soccer scarf after all.

That was my trip to Uruguay.