The Buquebus ferry terminal is all modern glass and steel, and with tickets pre-printed and in hand, all I have to do is check in. After that we are escorted through security and onto the ferry – a behemoth of a transport, complete with fairy lights and duty free shopping. It is the fast boat to Uruguay, and in about an hour and a half I disembark – at Colonia de Sacramento, a World Heritage Site.
The city is tiny, anchored by the Plaza de Mayo. There are a few interesting museums showcasing the way of life in colonial times. Colonia was a Portugese settlement before it was wrested into the Spanish crown, and the houses follow the Portugese style – there are no internal courtyards of fountains of the Spanish-Moorish type.
The streets are atmospheric, cobble stoned. The prices are steep on this side of the Rio Plata, and things are far cheaper in Buenos Aires, so I merely window shop. There is an old lighthouse and a windy promenade that winds its way by the river’s curves. The only thing that remains of the ancient fort that guarded the walled medieval town is the moat and a reconstructed gate.
Colonia is a fantastic day trip from Buenos Aires, away from the hustle and bustle of the big city, the town feels quaint, homely and comforting. There is not much to do here, so I wander around, exploring plazas and parks, dropping in and out of the stores on the main boulevards. Everywhere I see vintage cars parked and in the residential streets, old hand painted signs and house numbers add vibrant colour and design to the view.
Catch a ferry (express: 1 hour) from Buenos Aires from Darsena Norte, the docks at Puerto Madryn. A round trip ticket on the express ferry cost US$86 and can be bought online. You will need your passport to check in. Arrive at least half an hour before your ferry departs.
You can walk to town from the port on the Colonia side. From the building, walk one block north and then head west for the historical heart of Colonia. For intrepid explorers, anothe option would be to rent a scooter. The town itself is easily walkable and navigable on foot, but a scooter will give you access to the beaches of Colonia, perfect on a hot summer’s day.
Good to know:
You can obtain Uruguayan pesos at the port in Colonia. Uruguay is an hour ahead of Argentina time. There is also a helpful information desk in the building with maps and tips on where to eat, shop and drink. Prices in Colonia are far more expensive than those in Buenos Aires so I would suggest to keep your souvenir buying to a minimum here.