Across on the other side of the Rio de La Plata, a wide stretch of river that separates Argentina from Uruguay, Colonia del Sacramento was taunting us. Flaunting its world heritage status, quaint colonial architecture and another stamp on our passports how could we resist. It wasn’t easy though. Rejected credit cards, ticket issues and stomach problems almost derailed us.
Puerto Madero Waterfront
Several ferry companies make the daily crossings to Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay, which is an easy day trip from Puerto Madero (Port) in BA. We tried to purchase tickets online with Buquebus ferry service but as per usual for us our credit cards were rejected and we had to make payment over the phone. Problem solved, right? When we called to confirm our order we got a story that our credit card was rejected and tickets were not issued. It all didn’t make sense since we saw a pending charge (though for a different amount) on our online statement. So thinking there was a communication mix-up on their part, we decided to take our chances and show up at the terminal anyway hoping that there were tickets waiting for us. As it turned out, it didn’t matter as G was up most of the night dealing with a slight stomach problem. We decided not to risk it and delayed the trip.
That meant we had a free day and decided to go check out Puerto Madero, where coincidently the Buquebus ferry terminal was located as well. Not only can we see Puerto Madero, we also can buy our tickets in person and resolve the pending charge at the same time. Of course our credit card magically worked in person and we were booked for the next day.
Off The River
By the time we were done purchasing the tickets it was lunch time and we were famished from all the filling out of forms and stuff. D had read about a “food truck” area on a stretch of riverside called La Costanera not far from where we were. This is the best area to try some classic Argentine street food like choripan (sausage sandwich), bondiola (pork shoulder), churrasquito (grilled steak sandwich) and hamburguesa (BA’s version of a hamburger). The food stands (not really trucks) seemed to stretch along the entire riverfront and we became overwhelmed with all the choices. Based on a reco from the food blog site PickUpTheFork, we grabbed a couple of sandwiches from one stand called El Puestito del Tio. D got the bondiola and G got the churrasquito. The sandwiches were out of this world delicious. Both were outstanding. Maybe this will be our last meal in BA.
Afterward we walked through the Parque de Mujeres Argentina and crossed the Puente de la Mujer (Women’s bridge). A number of streets in Puerto Madero are named after women thus giving the bridge its name. This is an odd-looking, asymmetrical footbridge that rotates to allow boats to pass. It’s supposed to make you think of a couple dancing the tango. Sure, why not.
Crossing the Rio de la Plata
Next day we boarded the ferry and headed to Colonia del Sacramento.
Originally founded by Portugal in 1680, what’s now called the Barrio Histórico is a cute mix of shops and restaurants set among preserved old buildings that are mainly used as museums.
We explored the whole historical section fairly quickly. The old harbor and the remnants of the city wall with its intact drawbridge were the highlights along with the ruins of the old convent.
All the streets are cobblestone built so that rain runoff runs down the middle.
We finished the day with quick visits to four museums. The museums ranged from preserved furniture and home layouts to a regional history museum complete with native relics and fossils.
The shopping wasn’t very successful, though. We combed through most of the old town shops at least twice looking for our preferred souvenir, a Christmas tree ornament but wound up buying a keychain instead to hang on our tree. Not the first time we converted a keychain to an ornament and probably not the last time.
We boarded the 4:00 pm ferry back to Buenos Aires satisfied that we got one more stamp on our passport.
El Puestito del Tio
One of the many food stands that lined La Costanera where you can get all types of Argentine classic street food such as choripan and bondiola. Don’t miss out. This was the cheapest and best meal we had in BA.
Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay
A small Italian restaurant with outside seating tucked away in a charming alleyway. We got their pasta picada, which had three separate pastas that you dip in three sauces. We also got a chivito, the iconic Uruguayan steak sandwich with fried egg, mozzarella, bacon and dressing. Decadent and good.
Had trouble buying online with an iPad and when I was able to make the purchase our credit card was rejected. Followed-up with the telephone sales but there was a mistake in the amount she charged and for some reason it showed that the transaction never went through. Had to go directly to sales office to make purchase.
The ferry was nice, comfortable and on-time. Has a duty free shop and snack bar.
Leaves from Puerto Madero