Our first stop in Uruguay was Colonia del Sacramento, both because, this is where the boat arrives, and because as is one of the oldest towns in Uruguay, it is renowned for its historic quarter, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. All in all, it seemed to be the perfect place to relax for a day and ease into Uruguayan culture.
Colonia is much smaller than I expected it to be, especially coming from Rosario and Buenos Aires. The Barrio Histórico is just a few cobblestone streets built by the Portuguese in the 17th century around the tree-lined Plaza Mayor, but it’s charming—in a way that cities like Antigua or Granada are. You feel like you stepped into another world, the streets are quiet, the façades colourful and everything is picturesque. Old cars and murals add to the “time travel” feeling, and for all I knew, I could have been in Italy, Spain or Portugal.
The rest of the city is more “normal”, with several long main streets, a fútbol stadium (there was a fairly important game the night we were here), parilla restaurants and souvenir shops. Still, despite the influx of tourists from both Brazil and Argentina, Colonia was less tacky than I thought it would be, which is a good thing.