We are adding another country to our list. Still in Buenos Aires we Already get our Argentina-out and Uruguay-in stamp in the airport-like ferry terminal. Once docked in Colonia del Sacramento, we only have to pick up our backpacks at the baggage claim. The terminal is near the center of the small town, so within half an hour we check out three hostels eventually pick the first one. We get a bunk bed in a dormitory room that remains completely empty for the rest of our stay. Colonia del Sacramento creates a big smile on our faces only after a short walk. The contrast with Buenos Aires is enormous. The small center consists of wide cobblestone avenues with large old-timers on every street corner. From a walk to the Plaza de Toros we learn that Uruguay has banned bullfighting since 1912, only the large dilapidated amphitheater remains as a silent witness. When the sun slowly sets on the other side of the Río de la Plata, a beautiful glow appears on the pastel-colored façades of the old buildings and the large white lighthouse that overlooks the town.
Of course we won’t be skipping the capital of liberal Uruguay. In the hostel, a large piece of graffiti artwork of the eccentric ex-president José Mujica is displayed on the wall. We decide to do a city walk based on a map with all the interesting places and buildings in and around the center of the city. Although Montevideo keeps up the image of a capital city, there is little to be noticed about the crowds and intensity that we experienced in Buenos Aires. A number of museums, including the historical museum in the old town hall are worth a visit to get a better insight into the history of Uruguay and its capital. Where virtually every comparison with Buenos Aires is flawed there is one important resemblance: Montevideo also houses a football temple that we really have to look at: the Estadio Centenario housed the first football world championship in 1930 thanks to the top performances of Uruguay in a number of Olympic games. The Olympic gold medal at the 1928 Games in Amsterdam give name to the Amsterdam stand in the gigantic stadium. When we are on our way to the Tres Cruces bus station to continue our journey towards Punta del Este we notice that the roof of the city hall serves as a viewpoint. Fortunately, we have enough time to check the view of the city before our bus leaves.
Punta del Este is the Ibiza of Latino America, the place where especially the Argentinian rich and famous spend their holidays to see and be seen. The small town is characterized by almost countless apartment buildings along the coast and lots of big hotels and villas. The high season has not started yet, but the prices for a bed are more than twice as high as in the rest of the country. We receive a warm welcome with a great sunset and enjoy the beach, for the first time on this side of the blue Atlantic. Quite a difference to the brown water of the Río del Plata! After a long stormy beach walk we begin to think carefully about our plans for the next weeks. When Skyscanner pops up an offer for a flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, we grab our credit card. A few clicks later we are sure that we will continue our journey in Tierra del Fuego.
We still have enough time in Uruguay to relax for a few days at a very nice campsite in Piriápolis. An hours drive west of Punta del Este and with a large beach, but a lot quieter. We camp among the eucalyptus trees, cool down in the sea or in the pool at the campsite and secure a pile of firewood every night to prepare meat and vegetables on the asado. Down the road there is a large cross at the top of the Cerro Pan de Azúcar, the Sugar Loaf Mountain. An ascent, of course, can not be missed. The short climb is rewarded with a beautiful view of the coastal area, after which we visit the Nature Center on our way back to get acquainted with the wildlife we can stumble upon in South America. A visit to the small Castillo Piriá and two bus rides later, our travel in Uruguay comes to an end. We are back in Colonia del Sacramento, stamp out Uruguay, enter Argentina and sail back to BA where after a night’s sleep at the Aeroparque a flight to Ushuaia awaits us.