When I hit South America, for the very first time on my entire trip I realised that IŽd dramatically underestimated the time I needed to spend in a place. I could easily have spent another 2 weeks in Chile and probably another 6 in Argentina and Uruguay ..... well I could probably have afforded the place a little more time than just 24 hours, but thats all I had to play with. It made me feel a little better when I read that a lot of its visitors only do it as a day trip from Buenos Aires, so at least I was going to spend a night there. And so the plan of attack for Uruguay, firstly take the 1 hour ferry across from Buenos Aires to Colonia - The ferry was very plush incidentally with nice seats, bar, restaurant, duty free and even satellite television. Secondly on arriving in Colonia find a place to stay and work out how to get to the capital, Montevideo and back in a day. Instead of going south to Montevideo I had considered traveling a few hours north to the town of Fray Bentos (surely the birth place of the famous pies in a can) but I had to convince myself that the only reason IŽd be doing that was to get a photograph of the town sign.
Anyway on arrival in Colonia it was very dark with very little street lighting about, but luckily one hostel had been kind enough to lay out a load of road signs from the ferry terminal to the hostel so we just followed them until we got to the place. Another successful Spanish conversation later and weŽd got a dorm for the night. After a little walk around the town I retired to bed setting my alarm for 7am in the morning so I could catch the 8am bus to Montevideo. The travel agent bloke who booked our ferry tickets at the hostel very kindly informed us of the useful information that Uruguay was 1 hour ahead of Argentina, so the old mobile phone clock was changed so I wouldnŽt be caught out. 7am the next day I got up, quick shower, packed bags, got ready to leave,,, hang on a minute there was no-one about and it was still pitch black outside. After several minutes of head scratching we googled the time (thank god for google) and it was only 6.30am and there was no time difference at all. I went back to sleep for 30 minutes and dreamt about throttling the travel agent who gave us duff info.
The bus to Montevideo took 2 hours, or 10 minutes of Anton awake time as I continued to catch up on sleep. In Montevideo we made our way towards my personal number one attraction for the place, the Estadio Centenario. This was the ground where the very first world cup final was held back in 1930 so quite a sacred place (for footy fans). There was a great museum there too which had such things as Pele and Maradonas world cup shirts and various bits and pieces from the 1930 world cup. There was also a short film on the world cup and you could go up a tower bit to get a great view of the stadium. I probably spent too long in this place but it was enjoyable all the same.
After the stadium we made our way back into town and towards the Plaza Independencia along the very long Avenue 18 de Julio. It seems to be the done thing in South America to name their streets after dates, and IŽve found myself previously taking an afternoon stroll along the 14th June Avenue, 8th November Street and the 23rd September Road. Plaza Independencia was nice but nothing special, the spinach and ricotta crepes I had in a fast food shop near the square were very special though. After filling my belly it was time to head back to the bus station but in a taxi rather than walking the 5km back (it probably wasnŽt 5km but thats what it felt like). Montevideo was quite a nice city and I reckon probably had more to offer if I could have stayed that little bit longer.
Back in Colonia with 3 hours to kill till the ferry back, we went for a wander around the old town, on which Colonias tourism is built on. Its a very beautiful place with lots of old buildings and restaurants and a very nice place to chill out with a pizza and a beer by the sea. I came to the conclusion that sunsets are much better with pizza and beer. In no time at all it was time to get the ferry back having had a nice taster of Uruguay. IŽd like to come back again, if only to get that Fray Bentos picture.