We were booked in El Viajero hostel (The Traveller) for one night. So after checking into our four bed dorm we didn't waste any time and headed out to explore the town. We walked to the main street and headed down towards the water.
There is really not much to Colonia, but I would recommend to anyone taking a ferry from Buenos to stay here for one night. The old town is small, you can probably cross it in 10-15 min on foot. All the streets are laid with crumbling old cobalt stones. There are a few nice restaurants, although beware that they are on siesta from 4 to 8pm. Colonia has a lovely marina with two piers and some benches where you can bath in the sun or snack on some fruit from the corner shop. We got us plums, which were absolutely delicious. The best plums I had in South America so far! We had late lunch in one of the small cafes overlooking the marina, and wondered the streets of the old town. Found a few galleries and nice gift shops. Overall Colonia is a great place to relax after the buzz of Buenos.
The next day we caught a bus to Montevideo. It was a nice 2.5 hour ride thru Uruguayan pampa. From the bus terminal which is pretty close to city center we took a taxi, as usual :), to our hostel - that was located in Pocitos neighbourhood. Originally we were going to stay in Cuidad Vieja (The Old City), but after reading some reviews and blogs we changed our mind, which turned out to be the right thing to do - that day we went to the old city and were very disappointed. The glamour of old colonial buildings was ruined by piles of garbage on the streets, homeless and drunk. We literally spent less than half an hour walking around before we took a taxi back to Pocitos.
Our hostel was nice and clean, 3 min walk from the beach. We had two nights planned in Montevideo which really gave us only one full day. Before our unfortunate visit to the old city on the first day, we walked on the beach and decided that tomorrow will be a good day for working on our tan. Walking the streets of our neighbourhood we found a nice healthy bakery where Jenn got a tasty slice of quiche, and I had some ice-cream from gelateria down at the beach.
Something has to be said about Montevideo. It is not a tourist location that can be explored in two days. You need to do your research and explore a lot if you want to find nice places to eat or hang out. It is not like Buenos, where you head to Palermo Soho or San Telmo and find street after street full of restaurants, cafes and lounges to satisfy any taste. Since we had only a day or so we didn't get a chance to find our corner in Montevideo, it felt more like a checkpoint on the way to the beaches.
Our next destination was Punta del Diablo - a small beach resort 30 km down the coast from Brazilian border. We were excited to get some proper sun and ocean. The water in Montevideo was heavy with sediment from Rio Blanco, that gets carried up the coast by strong currents. We took an early bus hoping to arrive to Punta del Diablo in time for some sun-bathing and it worked out well, minus some drama at the terminal...
I love my wife, but her lack of sense of time can make me climb the walls. We frequently bicker about time, I like to have time to spare when we go places while Jenn usually leaves no time to spare making every bus, train or plane trip a race against the forces of nature called traffic and delays. Usually, all ends well - minus the stress... Not that morning! That morning we had a little argument about Jenn not calculating the time properly and/or me being too bossy. So grumpy and slightly late we got into taxi and headed to the terminal. We got there 20 min before our bus, which is enough time to buy water, get cash and go to the toilet. While Jenn was at the toilet the bus pulled into the platform, a bit delayed. I loaded our packs into the cargo hold and stood outside the front door waiting for Jenn, and surprisingly here she was coming back. After asking me if i was getting mad already (you have to give it to her - she knows me well), she said she wants to get some orange juice from the hole-in-the-wall place at the platform. I said I will be waiting on the bus and asked her not to walk inside the terminal, but buy the juice through the hole which was five meters away from our platform...
Jenn frequently decides she wants something at the latest moment possible, like when we already left the grocery store or when we are about to board a flight. And this was a great example... If your bus is late to leave, sitting at the platform, all passengers are aboard, luggage loaded, and only the driver is missing - then you should probably be on board too :). At the least, if you decide to be outside and smoke a cigarette or buy some juice, you should keep an eye out to make sure the bus doesn't leave without you... I think you're getting the picture.
Talking to my lovely wife later I found out that no one was paying attention to her at the hole, so she went inside the terminal. 3 min later the driver got on the bus, closed the doors and started pulling out. I darted to the front, ripping my flip-flop on the way, asking him and the conductor to stop the bus cause my time-challenged wife is still outside. But Uruguay is unlike any other country in South America - time tables and rules matter here. So the bus driver shook his head, said no and pulled out of the platform, despite my loudest protests. At that point all the possible scenarios were running thru my head and it was clear that Jenn and I will have to meet at Punta del Diablo because getting off the bus with two backpacks at the next stop is not really an option. As the bus was going up the ramp and out of the terminal I saw Jenn standing at the edge of the platform like a lost child, wondering where did the bus disapear. I started waving thru the window and when she saw me she started running across the grounds towards the bus, but there was a two meter wall between the bus and her, and the bus was clearly not allowed to stop in the middle of the ramp.
I guess the driver felt bad for the stupid tourists, so he motioned Jenn to run around through the terminal exit, pulled to the curb before the first set of lights, and told me to go and meet her... Two minutes later she was on the bus. After a long silence all I could say is "That's why I don't trust you with times!".
The upside was a box of pear juice she got for me. Thanks love! xoxo