We got to Colonia del Sacramento around noon on Sunday February 16th after the 2.5-hour bus ride from Montevideo. It was a short cab ride from the bus terminal to our hotel, the Radisson and we were able to check-in right away. The Radisson is located on the water in the historic district and since this was a summer weekend in Uruguay, many families were staying at this hotel…. lots of kids!
We would stay one night in Colonia before taking the fast ferry across the River Plate to Buenos Aires. In Buenos Aires we would close out our amazing South American journey after being away from home for 28 days, our longest trip so far.
Hot Summer Afternoon
After getting settled at the Radisson, we were hungry so decide to walk down to the area near the marina where there were many restaurants. All the restaurants had outdoor seating, but it was so hot and humid, we chose a place that had indoor “air conditioned” seating. It turned out the A/C was not very helpful, it was quite hot inside, but we powered through and had our Chivitos.
After lunch we took a brief walk along the marina pier area, but the hot sun and humidity got the best of us. We headed back to the hotel to cool off and rest, along the way walking the shaded tree lined cobblestone streets and taking in the beauty and charm of this old town. Our plan was to go out to the waterfront later to watch the sunset.
Lunch and a brief walk on a very hot afternoon
Rio de la Plata Sunset
While doing some Google research about Colonia long before our trip, one attraction that is mentioned by many is the beautiful sunsets. So we wanted to make sure we caught the sunset on our one and only night in Colonia.
The weather forecasts indicated that thunderstorms were approaching from the northwest and late afternoon we could see the big clouds building on the horizon over the Rio de la Plata. This probably would make the sunset more dramatic.
With camera and phones in hand, we headed to the riverfront and it seems that everyone else was doing the same thing. As it turned out, watching the sunset was a nightly ritual here in Colonia, and we were treated to a spectacular sight. The lighting was constantly changing as the sky started to glow a fiery red. The clouds enhanced the effect and the distant silhouette of Buenos Aires high-rises on the horizon added to the dramatic scene. At the point when the sun disappeared below the horizon, the onlookers broke out in applause. What a way to spend our last night in Uruguay!
Final sunset moments as the sun disappears behind the silhouetted Buenos Aires skyline 28 miles away (45 km).
Dramatic sunset clouds
Sunset Audience Approves
After that beautiful sunset, the skies were filled with brilliant lightning as the thunderstorms moved into the area. We decided to get back to the hotel for dinner so we wouldn’t get caught in any downpours. That night some heavy T-storms passed through the area.
The next day, February 17th 2020, we went out for an early morning walk around the old town. It was still cloudy but the rains had stopped and it was very quiet and tranquil around town, it seemed we were the only people out and about. The storms overnight provided a bit cooler air mass, but there was still high humidity, this is common in the river delta area during the summers.
The historic old town section of Colonia is very picturesque, with its old colonial structures, big Sycamore trees lining the cobblestone streets and plazas, the brilliant pinks and reds of the Bougainvillea trees. Colonia was originally founded by the Portuguese in the 17th Century and it changed hands several times between Spanish and Portuguese rulers. The old town is designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Several original colonial buildings still stand including the Church of the Holy Sacrament, and the old gate and drawbridge, once part of an early fort. A prominent lighthouse from the 1850's, built on the ruins of an old convent, is another famous local landmark. Colonia del Sacramento is a photographer's paradise.
Walking around the old town you see many vintage cars, some in pristine conditions, others more rustic. Many of the old cars are European built, you don't see old American cars like in Cuba.
After the morning walk we returned to the hotel for lunch, finished packing, then checked out of the hotel early afternoon to get to the ferry terminal for trip across to Buenos Aires. We left Colonia to spend our last two days in Buenos Aires. Our long amazing trip is coming to an end, but we still had a couple of days to explore Buenos Aires.
Scenes from Colonia, a photographer's paradise
Interesting vehicles around town