A Toast to Colonia

Trip Start Apr 15, 2009
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Trip End Jun 17, 2009


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Flag of Uruguay  , Colonia Department,
Monday, May 18, 2009

Hungry and pulling two suitcases over rough sidewalks and cobblestone streets, my first impression of Colonia de Sacramento, Uruguay was not wonderful. For forty-five minutes after leaving Buenos Aires, we had enjoyed the pleasures of an enormous ferry -- spacious seating, snack bars, and views of the 45-mile wide Rio Plata.  But upon arrival in Colonia, we learned that all the taxis were taken by the first (smart) people off the boat.  The four block walk to our hotel turned out to be more difficult than we thought.

An hour later, my impression had changed.  By then, we had enjoyed a great steak lunch at an Italian-inspired restaurant in the heart of a beautiful historic city. 

Colonia was established by the Portuguese in 1680.  Because of its strategic location near the point where the Uruguay River joins the Parana River to form the Rio Plata, and therefore, its ability to control access to the vast areas to the north, Colonia was the site of on-going battles between the Spanish and Portuguese.  Remember that in 1494, the Spanish and Portuguese had signed a treaty, ratified by the Pope that divided the entire non-European world between these two titans of the Age of Discovery.  But for almost 150 years, they fought over control of this town clearly located within the Spanish half of the world.

Today, Colonia is a UNESCO World Heritage site.   The historic city sits on the end of a peninsula that was formerly protected by a huge stone wall.  Within these boundaries, the built environment is very much as it was 200 years ago; small buildings located around plazas and other open spaces connected by cobblestone streets. 


Several buildings have been converted to museums celebrating everything from the city's history to the culture of the local indigenous people.




For two days, we enjoyed the pedestrian scale and historic atmosphere of Colonia --  and some excellent food.  On our first night, which had turned cold, we enjoyed dessert and coffees in a cozy restaurant while listening to a musician play beautiful guitar music. 










The next morning was also cool, but by noon, it was warm enough for a barefoot walk along the beach.

For lunch, we enjoyed another Italian-inspired restaurant.  I had ravioli stuffed with butternut squash, and Barbara had a meat dish with portions of beef, pork, and chicken.  And, of course, more dessert.

As a farewell gift, Colonia delivered a gorgeous sunset.

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