I spent most of my very first day in Argentina… in Uruguay.
That’s right. One May morning many years ago, I arrived in Buenos Aires. A very early May morning it was. I found a hotel, deposited my pack and was back out on the streets before 6 am, looking forward to watch a new city wake up. In Buenos Aires, however, the locals took their time. It must have been near 11 o’clock by the time the porteños were out and about. But it happened quickly. From zero to thousands of busy bees in a matter of minutes.
Walking away from the city centre, I suddenly found myself at the port. And practically before I knew it, I went through passport control for the second time that morning (Argentina and Uruguay sat at adjacent, rickety tables in the ferry terminal – easiest and friendliest border crossing ever) and was on my way across the river to another country. To Colonia.
Colonia is a former Portuguese colony at the mouth of the Rio de la Plata. The town was strategically important in the battle against the Spanish, and passed back and forth between Spanish and Portuguese hands for a few centuries. Today, Colonia is the oldest town in Uruguay and the city’s historic quarter was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 1995, because it
bears remarkable testimony in its layout and its buildings to the nature and objectives of European colonial settlement, in particular during the seminal period at the end of the 17th century.
I adored ambling about the cobbled streets of this sleepy little town, such a different feel from the big city across the river. Colonia has pretty beaches, a sweet, compact little town centre, with quirky artisans’ shops (I still have gardening equipment I bought from Almacen La Carlota – wonder if the shop is still there), …
…colourful little cafés, indoors –
… and out
And the lighthouse. Wherever I walked, I always saw Colonia lighthouse, a beacon and ever-present guide, for sailors throughout centuries – and for this jetlagged Scandinavian.
When I landed in Buenos Aires that morning, I didn’t know this little treasure of a town existed. By nightfall I was sad to leave. Next time, I’ll stay the night.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I love lighthouses. I’ve even slept in one. But that’s a story for another time. How about you?
Do you like lighthouses? Where is your favourite one?
The Historic Quarter of the City of Colonia del Sacramento is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
I’m totally fascinated by lighthouses – both literally and metaphorically – and I’d love to visit one in Argentina.
Lots of great ones in Denmark too, Mette 🙂
I love lighthouses too. There was a beautiful one that a family lived in for years on an island in Lake Superior – a lake known for its’ killing storms – so I can only imagine what that family witnessed over the years.
I’d love to live in a lighthouse for an extended period.
I was there about 3 weeks ago!!! Did you climb up to the top? We did and I got cramps on my legs on the way down 🙂
Colonia is such a lovely little town. I absolutely adored it.
No, I didn’t. Wasn’t aware it was possible. I’ll do better next time 🙂
Very beautiful, I like lighthouses too…
Thanks for stopping by, Muza-chan 🙂
I adore Uruguay – one of my S American favs!
One doesn’t really hear much about Uruguay. I’m curious to see more of the country.
I enjoyed the cobblestone streets and bright colors in Colonia.
Glad to hear it, Stephanie.
One lighthouse which got stuck in my mind is one from Netherlands. Not sure why. Maybe because I was not alone and me and my friend were cycling for quite a long time until we got there. Or maybe because I had very positive feelings in that day and I associate the emotions I had with the image of the ligthouse… Who knows? 🙂
It makes a big difference to how we remember a place, I think, the feelings we have at the time and the people we’re with.
Such a beautiful picture! I really like lighthouses… A friend of mine, who is a photographer, and his hobby is to shoot lighthouses around the world. If I’ll find it I’m going to share his stunning gallery;)
Would like to see it, Melinda.
What a beautiful lighthouse it is, too. It’s funny the places you end up when you don’t mean to. An intended visit to Newport once left me wandering the countryside of Virginia amongst stately old manors I had never even thought to see but I’ll always cherish the memory of.
Know what you mean. Love surprises like that.
Many years ago, we crossed the sea-Iike river from Buenos Aires to Montevideo, and found the Iatter charming enough, but I didn’t know of CoIonia before reading this interesting post of yours, Sophie. We do plan to return, and this time, Colonia’s on the Iist, for sure.
And yes, I’m fascinated by lighthouses. My favourite is the aIways the one I’m standing in front of at the particular moment!
What a nice surprise, this little town and lighthouse. I wouldn’t have expected it so close to BA. Would love to spend a little time in one of those colorful cafes.