Some countries seem to exist in the shadow of others. Little Uruguay, being just a stone’s throw away from giant Argentina, seems like one. Actually, since the countries are separated by the Rio de la Plata it is one heck of a stone’s throw away.
Most travellers who go from Argentina to Uruguay seem to take the ferry from Buenos Aires to either Colonia del Sacramento or Montevideo. The longer of these journeys is about 5 hours long so you will realise why this river is classed as the widest in the world.
First impressions upon landing here are that we might very well be in a small scale Buenos Aires. The local accent sounds exactly the same as the Porteño one in the Argentine capital. The city also has a find of rugged, faded glory which makes you think that it could easily be what Buenos Aires was like a few decades ago. However, after a day or so the real character of the place shines through. For example, the local music is unique, with candombe having a rich heritage going back to the days of African slaves in the region. You might still hear tango here but you are just as likely to hear lots of thumping drums and might even be lucky enough to see a street procession with candombe music. The food is also different. It is impossible to say how many non Spanish speakers have been caught out by the dish called chivito. If you trust your dictionary then this appears to be a little goat but it is really beef, and very nice it is too. The city’s laid back character makes is a relaxing sort of capital city and the city beaches are more than welcome.
Colonia del Sacramento
Your impression of this small town will probably depend upon when you go there. At the weekends and public holidays lots of Buenos Aires residents hop across on the ferry. If you go on a non-touristy day then you find a place so quiet that it almost seems like a ghost town at times. Despite being so peaceful this town is famous for its long and bloody history, as it changed hand between the Spanish and Portuguese a number of times. The impressive fortifications and cannons on display are about the only signs left of those bloody days. Nowadays, you are going to just want to eat a nice meal and maybe sit down by the water’s edge and contemplate the vastness of the river in front of you. It isn’t the kind if place to spend more than a day but it does has a unique, cinematic feel to it thanks to the cobbled streets and the vintage cars which roll along them. If you have the time to see both Colonia del Sacramento and Montevideo then you will see two different sides to Uruguay and start to feel as though you are beginning to know this county in its own right rather than as the poor little brother of its neighbour.
Photo by doug88888 on Flickr