25 Nov 2007

Colonia de Sacramento, Uruguay

In the present moment, Nov 2007
Last Wednesday was time for my visa run across to the border once more. This is my 2nd trip to Colonia, Uruguay. Both times I chose Colonia de Sacramento over the capital, Montevideo because its closer. The two visits can't be more different. The first time I visited Colonia, it was raining heavily. Gray, windy and freezing cold. We sought refuge in a restaurant and I saw nothing.

This time, the skies over Colonia were kissed by sunshine. Blue and clear, with the warm blue of your lover's eyes, the corners crinkled with a smile. It is simply, beautiful.

It took 3 hours from Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires to Colonia de Sacramento in Busquebus. The fast version makes the crossing in an hour. I took the normal vessel which is more than comfortable. Besides, there is no hardship in spending 3 hours on the waters on such a day like this.

The historical quarter of Colonia del Sacramento, located at the tip of a peninsular and surrounded by water on 3 sides, was declared as a UNESCO heritage site in 1995. The historic portion of Colonia is reminiscent of old Lisbon, built in the Portuguese style of houses and cobblestoned streets.

As I am writing this, "La Sirène rouge" (The Red Siren) is showing on telly. The quick glimpses of a small Portugual coast town was reminisence of what I saw in Colonia.

Colourful houses on winding streets.

The Rio de La Plata is so wide that the town appears to be coastal.

Colonia de Sacramento was founded in 1680. It was the only Portuguese settlement along Rio de la Plata and for years was at the frontline of the turf struggle between Spanish Argentina and Portuguese Brazil around the Rio de la Plata region. Similar to the British and Dutch squabble for colonial supremacy in South East Asia in my part of the world.

Understandably so. Who would want to give up land under your feet and skies over your head as magnificent as this?

Up the road. Just a normal weekday lunch with friends and family.

Beautiful day, beautiful people. MOUTHWATERing cars.

To me, bougainvilleas are the stunning visual extravaganzas of the Mediterranean.

It also reminds me of home. Of the bougainvilleas we have in our garden of this exact colour, in the house of my Papa and Mama.

A totally charming cafe restaurant slightly off the main section of the historical quarters.

I must try it the next visit.

My visit to the Museo Del Azulejo (Casa Portuguesa), The Tile Museum. Inaugurated in 1988, it is a typical Portuguese construction of the 18th century. The walls, a beam and part of the floor are original. The collection houses French, Catalan and the first Uruguayan tiles. The Museo is not big and the tile collection fits into 2 small rooms. Perhaps some visitors may be disappointed. But I enjoyed the visit. Look what I saw!

El Azulejo en la Arquitectura
Rioplatense en los Siglos XVIII y XIX (18th and 19th Century)

Pas de Calais

I was able to take photos of these few tiles because at first I didn't see the sign that photos were not allowed :P

Azulejo estannifero de archilla modelada, sellada, pintada con oxidos de estano, cobalto y/o managaneso, con plantilla calada, mano alzada y/o arista, Francia, 1840-1900.

Such tile decorations were all the rage during the era, used widely to beautify walls, floors, windows etc. I was told that the tiles were imported into the country through Montevideo and then to other cities and town. The winds of fashion changed at the turn of the 20th Century, and inevitably the importation stopped.

Here are the seals of the French tile makers.

I only got as far as the French tiles before I was caught with my camera. All the tiles shown above are French.

The tile plaque of Paseo de San Gabriel. You can see a prevalence of such tile works throughout town.

Other tile works showing maps of the town and the Rio de La Plata.

Colonia de Sacramento revisited
Colonia de Sacramento is a lovely place, a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires. Before I visited, some reviews said there are not much to see or do in Colonia.

Perhaps, if what you are looking for are a checklist of "sights" to cover. However if you just want to enjoy the feel of a relaxed Sunday afternoon by the sea free from the urban jungle, a day out basking in the sunshine dining with friends and family and enjoying life, this is where you can come, any day of the week.

The "riverview" proved too tempting, I spent the rest of the afternoon outdoors at the restuarant El Torreón relaxing with my cigarettes. Such are the pleasures of life.

Final note for the road

The day in Colonia was exactly what I needed to relax and take my mind off weightier worries. A old dance injury made a reappearance a month ago. The first time when it happened 2.5 years ago, I was out of action a good part of 6 months. Thinking of the slow recovery and struggle I had to go through to regain strength in my foot makes me shudder. To date, my foot has not recovered. I still can't wear heels.

I hope, like my experiences in visiting Colonia, my foot injury will once more see the beautiful sunshine after the rain.

free hit counter script