Uruguay was always in the plan, even if I often neglected to talk about it; I knew I was going to spend a decent amount of time in Buenos Aires so I could do a quick side trip across the river. A quick side trip is exactly what I did, and I had mixed feelings about it.
This was a result of the time of travel to time in location ratio. I left BA on Tuesday morning on a ferry to Colonia del Sacramento. This trip took the better part of the day: cab to ferry terminal, check in and passport stamps in the terminal, 1 hour ferry ride, then customs on the other side. By the time I got to my hostel in Colonia it was 2:00 pm and I was starving. The following day I left Colonia on a noon bus, which took over 3 hours to get to Montevideo. Again I arrived starving and this time it was nearly 4:00. The next day I left on a 1:00 bus back to Colonia to get the 4:30 ferry back to BA (when I purchased this trip back from Montevideo to BA I was not told it was a bus to a ferry but led to believe it was a direct ferry to BA; I was obviously not pleased when I found out I had to redo the entire bus to ferry journey). This meant that in the two and a half days I was in Uruguay most of it was spent on some sort of transportation.
If I was to do this part of my trip again, I would have either spent more time in Uruguay, with at least a day allocated purely to travel to Montevideo and one back to BA, or not gone at all. This doesn’t mean I regret going though.
Colonia del Sacramento is a quaint coastal town. It’s tiny and nothing is open on a Tuesday, but that’s fine if all you want to do is wander around adorable streets and watch sunset on a dock with a Patricia (the Uruguayan beer of choice). There is also a pretty fantastic wine and cheese bar that makes for a decadent dinner and a welcomed break from South American food.
Montevideo I feel like I can’t really give much of an opinion on. We got in around 4 in the afternoon, had lunch, walked along the water, took an unecessarily long bus ride into the center of town to see a statue in a square, had a few beers at 2 bars, cooked dinner at the hostel, and left the next morning. Is that enough to judge a city? Not really. I will say that the walk along the water was really nice, with lots of active people playing soccer in the lawns or biking along the road. I will also say that I got the impression that I didn’t really need a lot of time there.
From my experience, I give Uruguay a mediocre review. What I can give a great review though, again, is solo travel. I was in my hostel in Colonia less than a minute when three fellow travelers walked into my room, and we spent the whole of our whirlwind Uruguayan adventure together. One of my favorite moments was checking into the hostel in Montevideo: the receptionist asked for our passports and after receiving them looked at us and said, “United States, Canada, France, and Australia – how did that happen?”
Even months into this experience I am still constantly amazed at the quick bonds that can be formed with people I encounter (a topic that will feature heavily with BA and NZ posts to come). So when I say that I had a few beers at 2 bars in Montevideo I really mean that we played a made up drinking game that involved push-ups and personal questions, something that is just as or sometimes more enjoyable to me as any city touring. And cooked dinner at the hostel means the four of us went grocery shopping, cooked and ate as a group, something that is easy to miss when you’re traveling alone. These people moments mean just as much to my trip as any new site I encounter, so even with mediocre location reviews Uruguay will remain a fond memory.