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Published: September 27th 2006
For the second time on our trip, we found ourselves in Colonia, this time Colonia del Sacramento, an attractive old colonial town on the River Plate, just 55km from BA. After finding a lovely place to stay, Posada del Angel, we stumbled upon a big parade of schoolkids, all dressed up to represent different countries and cultures. We worked out it was for the Dia de la Primavera, a sort of May Day parade, but seeing a cardboard version of the South Park school bus stumble up the cobbled streets much later that evening ranks up there with surreal moments of this trip.
Colonia has a lovely, compact old town, where its past as partly Spanish and partly Portuguese owned is reflected in the buildings and cobbled streets - apparently those with a gutter in the middle are Portuguese, those with gutters at the side are Spanish. Its proximity to Buenos Aires means that the city seems to attract large numbers of day trippers (and those on visa renewal runs), with tour groups all over the centre during the day, but it's fairly quiet in the evening.
Arriving on a beautiful sunny afternoon, we settled down for lunch just off one of the main plazas, but were dismayed when a bunch of englishmen on a rugby tour came round the corner, instantly recognisable by the fact they were swigging from beer bottles, rather than sipping mate like the uruguayans and argentineans who seem to be born with a flask in one hand and a mate gourd in the other. However, for a rugby tour, at least they were pretty sedate.
We thought we'd really got lucky when we saw posters for the 1st Colonial Gastronomy Festival, having visions of stalls where we could sample lots of local produce, but upon wandering down to the venue found it was only open for a few hours each evening. Almost exactly at the same time it opened, a tremendous storm struck the town, at which point we decided staying in to watch 'El Imperium Contraataque' (I'm sure you can work out the translation) was far preferable. Afterwards, we wandered up to a local parilla, where, despite our initial scepticism, we were treated to a very tasty meal for about the same cost as the enforced service charge and tax added to our bill elsewhere the previous night.
The town is very picturesque to wander around and has numerous museums etc if you're into that sort of thing (all with odd opening hours apparently) and lots of decent souvenir shops. Beware however if you want to send a postcard - you can only post it at the post officer, which is shut all weekend and there are no external postboxes. A new high in the weirdness of south american bureaucracy!
From Colonia to Buenos Aires takes only 1 hour by the fast seacat, so for almost the last time we packed up our rucksacks for the short journey back to our favourite city. Just over a week left in South America.....
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