Although completely gutted about leaving BA (again) and Argentina it was time for the journey to continue. We had booked the boat across the Rio del La Plata to Colonia a few days previously and we turned up that morning hung over and in need of about 5 hours more sleep. We boarded and after we sat down more or less immediately fell to sleep. When we woke up an hour later we were approaching land already, which left us confused as it was supposed to take 2 hours and an hour time difference. We were pretty confused but after a very straightforward entry into the country we went in search of our hostel, which after a good walk in the heat turned out to be a nice small place just outside the UNESCO historic quarter. Founded by the Portuguese in 1680 on the Río de la Plata, the city was of strategic importance in resisting the Spanish and it is the colonial architecture with its cobbled streets, which attracts visitors.
At first we were quite surprised at how small the actual historic quarter was, as the town is spit into old and new sections; the new bit isn't that interesting apart from a load of closed banks. In the old town the streets, buildings and general tranquil atmosphere is starkly different to the hustle and bustle of BA, and we began to enjoy not being in a huge city and relaxing in the heat. The architecture is mostly well preserved but there are parts of the town where the colonial style buildings are decaying, some with trees growing around the walls. I actually preferred these buildings; the historic quarter is stunning but is constantly full of couples on romantic breaks and tour guides showing groups of tourists around.The more rundown parts give you more of a sense of how the town would have been like years ago.
The greenery is also a contrast to the city; everywhere you look there are trees heavy with blossom as well as palms, fruit and flowers. The whole town really reminded us of Valencia in southern Spain. That evening we sat on a tiny beach surrounded by stray dogs (it's a nicer experience than it sounds) and watched the sun set over the river.
We hadn't initially planned on visiting Uruguay, but the more we saw of it, the more we realised how very different the country is from Argentina. The place is so much more relaxed, the pace of life is slower and the people are so kind and welcoming to travellers.
That night we took advantage of the one million fruit shops and bought about 3 bags of pineapples, melons, bananas, strawberry mangoes and peaches and made a huge fruit salad in our little house at the hostel. Señora Teresa looked after us really well and gave me a chance to practice my Spanish on a non-English speaking person. Uruguayans speak a little slower than the Argies so I found it a lot easier.