Our last few days in Punta del Diablo were mostly rainy. We did manage to get in a walk to the Sta Teresa Park along the beach, which was a nice hike, albeit one that resulted in mild sunburn for me. Apart from that we were mostly indoors and wrapped-up warm. When we left at the end of last week though, it was with mixed emotions: We were in basic accommodation in a remote town which was sometimes trying, but it had also been scenic and restful and the staff and other guests had all been friendly. Watching the flames in our fireplace on the last evening, a part of me wanted to stay longer.
Nevertheless, the next day we boarded a midday bus back along the coast to Montevideo and, from there, a second bus on to the resort town of Colonia del Sacramento.
There seems to be a lot of conflicting advice about Colonia; according to the Internet, it’s incredibly pretty and unspoiled but also overrated and not worth more than a day trip. We hedged our bets and only booked one night there. We made the right decision. The town has its picturesque spots, with cobbled streets, old houses and overflowing bougainvillea. It has a small yachting marina and there are a few ruined walls from an old colonial fortification, but that’s really it. The thing that sticks most prominently in my memory is that you could hire golf-buggies to drive yourself around the streets.
We covered the sights of the town in a morning and then had a lazy lunch (at the rather lovely Ganache Café on Calle Real,) idly watching the groups of Argentinian housewives, who seem to form the bulk of the day-trippers.
After that we headed to the ferry terminal to check-in for our crossing to Buenos Aires. I won’t say we weren’t nervous as we approached the immigration desks, but we had checked and double-checked US and UK entry requirements and we were fully equipped. As it turned out the border was extremely relaxed. The Uruguayan and Argentinian agents sat side by side. One stamped us out, the other stamped us in, while both continued chatting with their partners at the desk opposite.
We had made it across our first international border of the trip together! <phew!>
After that, the actual journey was uneventful; we didn’t want to buy food or duty-free and there was nothing else to do onboard, so we read and watched the Río de la Plata (which is much wider than I’d imagined) slide by.
Buenos Aires made a good first impression on us. It feels vibrant and diverse, with modern glass-and-steel jostling alongside historic stone and brick architecture. We walked from the terminal at Puerto Madero to the underground (Subte) station at Retiro, picking up cash and a cellphone SIM along the way, equipped ourselves with Sube cards (the BA equivalent of London’s Oyster cards) and headed up to Palermo.
After what felt like two days of solid travel though, I was exhausted so, after a trip to the supermarket to stock-up on basics, we ate a simple meal, fell into bed and slept extremely well.
We weren’t in any rush the next morning and spent a little while organising the apartment – well, actually, it’s a small studio, so good organisation will be essential to stop it becoming chaotic. After finding a home for all of our belongings, we took a stroll along to a the nearby Rosedal Park to enjoy the sunny day.
Being in a big city, we find we are bumping into familiar brands again. There’s a McDonalds just around the corner from our apartment. In the park we came across another McDonalds, a Starbucks and a CrossFit Box. We’ve started playing Brand Bingo, seeing who can spot the most. (Since then, we’ve collected Burger King, Subway, Milka, Le Pain Quotidien and TGI Fridays, too!) We avoided them all, however, and lunched at a popular-looking local spot.
To be fair though, all the cafes were busy; most of Buenos Aires seemed to be out enjoying the parks in the Sunday sunshine. The Rosedal has an ornamental lake with pedalos on. The road around the lake has a section reserved for exercise which was filled with joggers, skaters, cyclists and skateboarders. There were horse-drawn buggy rides and hundreds of people just out for a stroll.
The park is named for its extensive rose garden. The area is immaculately kept, with neat red gravel pathways and white-painted gazebos winding between manicured lawns and flower beds filled with colourful blooms. We are definitely here at the right time of year to see the park at its best. We managed to spend several hours enjoying all the little byways – and the Rosedal is just one section of a larger park (or possibly a group of parks) in the area. There’s a planetarium and a Japanese Garden to explore in other quarters!
We are in BA for a little under three weeks, so we should have plenty of time to explore.