Friday 21/9/18 - First day of Spring in Argentina. Seasons begin on 21st of the month, today is a student holiday.
Up early for breakfast and a 40 min taxi ride, and catch the ferry over to Uruguay to visit the ancient city of Colonia del Sacramento. Guessing that we were in the correct queue for ticket confirmation, (the people of Argentina are quite short so Rob is enjoying being "tall" and able to see over heads when standing in queues), then with passports stamped twice and having to pass through two immigration lines (didn't quite understand that), we boarded the ferry for the 1½ hour trip across the Rio De La Plata. Getting off the ferry, bags are scanned and we asked how to find the correct bus? The answer being "it's easy!", well maybe if you speak Spanish!! However, it was pretty simple. So we hopped onto a bus tour of the city, followed by a walking tour of the old part with an English speaking guide. Then we had 3 hrs to ourselves before the return trip to Buenos Aires with all the immigration queues repeated.
Uruguay is the smallest Hispanic country in South America and Colonia del Sacramento being one of the oldest towns in Uruguay. First settled by the Portuguese in 1680, then the ruling was tossed between Spanish and Portuguese over the next 120 yrs. The evidence of this is portrayed in the Portuguese houses being simple small clay buildings, usually red in colour, with short door ways, square windows and tiled roofs, then next door you see a Spanish house of larger flasher proportions, brick walls and flat top roofs, and generally white. The main industry for Colonia today is Tourism, and the biggest exports for Uruguay are beef and wool, apparently there are more cows in Uruguay than people! We past the "Plaza Real de San Carlos" bull fighting stadium built 1910, but the bullring was open for only two years and during this time there were 8 official bullfights. The last one to be recorded took place in February 1912. These kinds of events were banned in all the country by the Uruguayan government. We continued on past the most unimpressive soccer stadium, considering Uruguay have a would class team, past some beaches and back into town for the walking tour. The walk took us around the UNESCO site (declared in 1995) of the old city which showed characteristics of the Portuguese and Spanish buildings, part of the city wall to protect it from invasion. The Basilica of the Holy Sacrament a very understated and simple Cathedral. The parish was established on 2 February 1680, being the oldest in the country, the first church was a humble mud ranch. The present church dates back to 1810, when it was built, soon afterward a lightning storm destroyed the building, which was restored between 1836 and 1841. Finally, in 1976 a full refurbishment took place. The guide gave us a good account of the history of the town, after showing us where to meet to return the ferry we wondered off the explore. We found a nice little cafe in the old square for lunch. It was a lovely day to sit, eat, drink and watch people wonder past, and many dogs just lazing around.
A fantastic day which ended with a pleasant ferry ride back across the river, and us mastering our way to the subway after getting off the ferry and arriving home about 7.45PM.