One of the highlights of my time in Argentina was the two day trip a good portion of us took to Uruguay. We left Puerto Madero on July 4th and took a 3 hour ferry ride across El Rio de La Plata to the small historic town of Colonia, Uruguay. Upon arriving we basically wandered the city checking out old buildings and soaking up the small town atmosphere. We were amazed to find that cars actually slowed down or stopped for us while we crossed the street. Also, many more people carried around giant thermoses of mate, incluiding the Uruguayan customs officials. I laughed when I saw a sign in the ferry's bathroom that read "Please don't throw away yerba in the lavatories."
The city of Colonia has quite the interesting history. It is the oldest town in Uruguay and was a smugglers port for a long time. It was founded by Portugal, but then Spain claimed it, and it transferred hands between the two something like 9 times. It was even ruled by Brazil for a little while before 1828 when Uruguay won its independence. Part of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We cruised around the historic quarter of Colonia, climbed up a lighthouse near the ruins of an 17th century convent of San Francisco. We stayed at the coolest place called La Casa de Teresa, and the owner of the place (Teresa, of course) was super nice. We even celebrated the 4th of July!
The next day turned out to be absolutely beautiful: it was warm in the morning, and by midday the temperature was in the 80s. So much for wintertime! The majority of the day was spent down at this awesome beach where we goofed around in the sand and the water. Getting ice-cream and watching an amazing sunset perfected the trip. Then we took a hydrofoil ferry back to Argentina and arrived back in the city in an hour.
Uruguay is held in pretty high regard by most argentines, there was a consensus that it is a very nice, if small country. I was told that its government is very democratic and economy is stable relative to other countries in the region. Also supposedly it is pretty liberal, and same-sex unions are allowed and recognized nationally. Looking back I wish I could've traveled around in Uruguay a little more, because it did impress me. As it was, we got to see countless cool old buildings and enjoy some time away from it all (a vacation from our vacation, right?), which wasn't half bad. I hope the pictures capture some of the trips feel.
A good portion of the streets in the more historic part of town were cobblestone like this.
This graffiti reads: "Latin America United in repudiation of the genocide of Bush, the repressor and torturer." Nice to know that the US is loved everywhere in the world... This kind of graffiti was common in Buenos Aires too.