El t�nel del Ayer - Colonia del Sacramento - Uruguay

A few weeks ago, we ventured across the Rio de La Plata for a day trip to Colonia de Sacramento in Uruguay. We traveled via the fast ferry boat (one hour each way) that leaves from the centrally located Buquebus station of Puerto Madero, downtown Buenos Aires.

We purchased a tour package directly from the boat company Colonia Express. One can do it over the phone, like we did, the night before, by using your credit card and the price for the package deal was $332 pesos per person (about $100.oo each). This price included a round trip ticket on the "fast ferry" from Buenos Aires to Colonia, a guided tour of the historically preserved city of Colonia and a pretty decent meal in a designated restaurant in the old city (beverages not included).

The ferry schedule options were as follows: Departures from Buenos Aires were either at 8:45am or at 12:30pm and returns from Colonia were either at 7:30pm or at 11:30pm.

We opted for the 8:45am departure, which put us in Colonia right around the time the city's commercial venues opened their doors to the public. The ferry ride was comfortable and fast and the boat offered snacks and beverages plus items of duty free for sale during the ride over. The seats in the cabins were not assigned, but they were as comfortable as most airplane coach seats.

When we arrived in Colonia, the tour bus was already waiting to pick us up as soon as we got off the boat. The bus tour of Colonia was followed by a walking tour of the city with a guide and then we were led to the restaurant that served us our pre-payed lunch. After lunch, we were told we were free to explore the city.

Lunch was served in a restaurant on a main street of Colonia. It was pretty good and it consisted of a cold buffet salad bar for starters followed by a hot main course. There were about seven main course choices available - meat, veggies, pasta or fish. For dessert, we had cakes or ice cream plus coffee. Cold drinks, for some reason, were extra and a mineral water cost $40pesos Uruguayos - $2.oo USD.

After lunch, as we roamed the streets of Colonia, we discovered a fun photo studio that takes "staged" photos with bygone, aged backdrops named "El Tunel del Ayer" - It roughly translates into "The Tunnel of Yesterday". We had some photos taken there and the price for the initial photo was $16 dollars. Additional copies were available for $9 dollars each.

If you're interested in getting one of these photos made for yourself, it may be best to head to the studio right after lunch. It took me about three hours from starting point to finish to get the whole project done and I was not slow in choosing my props. (check out the photo enclosed for to see finish product). For more information on the Photo Studio "El Tunel del Ayer", please click on the following link - El t�nel del Ayer - Colonia del Sacramento - Uruguay

While visiting Colonia, we also had a drink at the "Torreon Bar" on the seaside walk overlooking the water. It was a very nice place with a lovely view of the water. While we sat there, we saw some beautiful "gambas" dishes (shrimp dishes) pass us by. The food looked delicious and tempting.

We also saw many vintage cars just parked around the historical city. We're not sure if they were parked as decoration, but they sure were worth admiring !

Colonia Del Sacramento has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and it was first settled by the Portuguese in the 17th century. If you visit, you may also want to see the lighthouse, the Portuguese Museum, the Municipal Museum and the Iglesia Matriz, the oldest church in Uruguay, built during 1695.

FYI - If you're visiting Buenos Aires as a working airline crew member, you may not be able to travel to Colonia on the ferry for the day. It seems airport immigration in Buenos Aires does not stamp your passport when you enter the country as a crew member, and you can not leave Argentina with out a stamp.

Story and photos by Beatrice Cristofari (FRASW)


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