Friday, 10 January 2014

Relaxing Uruguay

So after Iguazu we waved goodbye to David and popped back over the border to Argentina, finally with Cat's bag and caught a night bus down to Concordia. From there we had to wait 3 hours for a connection over the border to Salto in Uruguay - sitting in the bus station with wifi and coffee we were happy!

At Salto we left our big bags at the luggage consignment office - we found lockers that would have been cheaper later, but to be frank getting my bag into that locker would have been a mean feat!!

The ladies at the tourist information office suggested getting a bus to the Termas de Damyan - but given we had about 3 hours before our next bus on to Colonia we decided to taxi it.

10 minutes later we were kicking ourselves for not having negioated the price - made the cabbie's day though lol! He even came back for us later...

We were dropped outside the entrance for the Acuamania water park - right next door to the public hot spring baths that we were aiming for - so we went with the water park! It still had hot water and lots of grass to sit, sunbathe or have picnics on - some families obviously came for a full day and brought everything.

The added bonus of the water parks was the rides - Cat and Natalie made it down the steeply dropping one (which I wimped out on!) and we all tried the other tall one - with wedgie results lol - and the more kiddie winding ones.

The chance to chill out and then get a shower before an 8 hour bus ride made the whole experience worthwhile - so we didn't just have a travel day!

We arrived in Colonia at midnight and checked into our hostel - a welcome caprinha wasn't required to help us sleep that night, but was still good!

The following day we headed out of Colonia to Carmelo for a day trip. As we only left at 2pm we headed to the main square in Carmelo and grabbed some lunch, some wifi and some tourist information. The bodega we were aiming to visit hadn't responded to my email and the tourist information lady told us they closed in the afternoons (this is contra to all the public info that was available - but perhaps they just had a function that day?!)

So instead we got a taxi for the 2km ride out of town to Bodega Cordano where Diego, a 5th generation wine maker, greeted us and took us for a tour around the winery. The Cordano's were Italian immigrants who started a local grocery store for the community. Hence the winery has lots if antique original fixtures from the old days of the store. It also retains an affinity with selling the local produce - not just wine.

We tried their Dulce de Leche, the blackcurrant jam, a local cheese as well as the local variety of wine - Tannat. This is the variety that Uruguay is famous for. We enjoyed trying the Chardonnay, the Muscatel rose, the Tannat rose as well as the traditional red Tannat.

On the drive back into town to catch the bus to Colonia our taxi driver was effusive at showing us the local area and explaining - mainly in Spanish, but I think we got the gist of most of it! We saw farms, horses, different birds - including one which I think is typical Uruguayan - but I didn't catch the name.

That evening we had a cheese and wine party on the sheltered balcony of the hostel whilst a storm raged around - a great way to spend our last night in Uruguay.

The following day we headed into the old town of Colonia starting at the old gate and town walls. We then headed to the lighthouse or Faro for a view of the town from up high. The old town is all cobbled streets and quaint little houses with colourful plaster work on the outside. We also saw the oldest church in Uruguay. Colonia was founded by the Portuguese in 1680 as a smuggling port in response to that at Buenos Aires and has changed ownership several times.

You don't need long to see the town - especially when some of the museums and attractions were closed over the holidays - so we stopped for final chivitos and beers before heading to the port to make our way back to BA.

1 comment:

  1. Forgot to mention the precocious 9 year old - Nicole - who went one stop on our bus and chatted away to us in a mixture of Spanish and her junior school English (way better than our Spanish - we learnt some more numbers and how to introduce ourselves!)