From Uruguay To Argentina By Boat

From Uruguay To Argentina By Boat

 

This one’s easy.

Once you’re done with exploring Colonia, head southwest (about a 10min walk from the old city) towards the ferry dock along Rivera Ave. You’ll see the ferry station there; it’s quite obvious:

 

 

It’s also very nice inside. There’s a check-in counter immediately in front of you when you enter, so get your ticket there (or if you prepaid online, get a new copy of an official ticket). Afterwards change your currency at the exchange counter nearby and proceed to Immigrations, where they’ll stamp you out of Uruguay and into Argentina at the same time.

Afterwards, head upstairs to the waiting room where there’s free wifi for you to use.

Boarding begins about 10min before departure, so line up quickly; I found out the hard way that seats run out pretty fast and the boats are usually sold out to capacity.

 


Once you find a seat, sit back and try not to get seasick. The ride, especially at the beginning, gets pretty rocky.

There’s also a big duty free shop in the center of the boat if you get bored (or hungry). Things do slip and fall when the boat lurches, so don’t be surprised if you hear glass clunking (or shattering) every now and then.

 

After about an hour on the water, you’re in Argentina!

If you checked in baggage, be prepared for a long (30+ min) wait as they really take their time with baggage claims.


Take a look outside the window while walking towards Buenos Aires:

Welcome to Buenos Aires!

 

- At time of posting in Buenos Aires, it was 21 °C - Humidity: 64% | Wind Speed: 15km/hr | Cloud Cover: scattered clouds

 

Colonia “In 30 Minutes”

Colonia “In 30 Minutes”

The oldest church in Urugay just got served.


To give you an idea how small Colonia is, I went out to explore Colonia at around 7:30am and by 8am I was back at my hostel, having felt like I saw everything, twiceover. Even my hostel buddies told me I wasn’t delusional; it also took them “only a half an hour to see everything.”

 

This little fella from the hostel accompanied me the whole time!

Colonia is so compact I don’t even need to give you directions for you to know where to go. Just walk westwards from the city center towards the coast and meander as much as you like. Before you know it, you’ll be walking in circles looking for more things to see.

Green streets along the city center of Colonia


If you really need directions, walk towards Plaza de Armas and start from there.

 
 

To your left, walk down to check out Bastion de San Miguel and its cute little drawbridge:

 



 

There’s also the coastline:

 



Walk north towards the lighthouse; for $15 Uruguay pesos you can get to the top for views of the city (closed for some reason when I went):

 



Soak in some old colonial charm as you continue walking up north:

 



 

At the northwestmost point, you’ll come upon Puerto Viejo (The Old Port). Feel free to walk the length of the docks; nobody will mind you there:

Then walk northeast to Plaza del Carmen:


Plaza del Carmen, a little art gallery and museum
 

And then south towards Iglesia Matriz by Plaza de Armas, the oldest church in Uruguay.

It had burned down once, but was restored with its down-to-earth charm intact:


 

Annnnd that’s Colonia for ya. Off to Buenos Aires I go!

 

 

- At time of posting in Colonia, it was 21 °C - Humidity: 64% | Wind Speed: 15km/hr | Cloud Cover: scattered clouds

 

The Cheapest Way Into Buenos Aires: Montevideo

The Cheapest Way Into Buenos Aires: Montevideo


 

…is via Montevideo, Uruguay.

Compare one way flight from NYC to Buenos Aires for about $950 USD, to a one way flight from NYC to Montevideo for $400 USD (It’s that cheap if you buy at least 6 weeks ahead, but even if you don’t, the most expensive it gets is about $700-$800 USD). Then tack on $30 USD for the 2-hour ferry ride from Montevideo to Buenos Aires.

So for a whopping $430 USD I get to see 2 countries for probably the price of a third. That’s over $550 USD cheaper than if I had done the traditional direct route from NYC to Buenos Aires.

And Montevideo is probably one of the easiest capital cities to travel through in South America. All I needed was 3 hours to see everything of note in the city, and that was with me taking my time. Here’s how I did it.

 

Boarding my flight to Montevideo at Sao Paolo

 

After surviving a 16 hour layover in Sao Paolo, Brazil seeing nothing but an overcast night sky and everything being closed, I landed in Montevideo at 3pm. Its airport has been recently renovated (either that, or it’s completely brand new) and it was unusual in that you HAVE to walk through an entire massive duty free shop before you reach baggage claims. They even have immigration officer assistants hand you a booklet of discounts and coupons for the duty-free shop while you wait in line to get your passport stamped.

 

Arriving at Montevideo

 

The airport was also unusual in that there were no taxi drivers waiting to ambush you at arrivals (awesome). So I went straight for the buses, and I had my choice of bus routes 700, 710, 711, C1, C3, or C5 to get into the main Tres Cruces Bus Station. I needed to go here to get a ticket into Colonia, supposedly one of the prettiest places in Uruguay, and one of the main ports for the ferry into Buenos Aires.

 

One the bus towards Montevideo from the airport
 

Once I got to Tres Cruces, I checked in my big backpack at left luggage and looked for bus tickets into Colonia.

 

Everyone raves about Buquebus and Seacat Express (FYI they’re the same company; the latter is just a cheaper version to get more sales) for selling the combo ticket of bus + ferry from Montevideo to Buenos Aires (Montevideo -> Colonia -> Buenos Aires), but the problem is that their ferry for BA departs about 30min after your bus arrives in Colonia, so you don’t have any time to explore Colonia unless you want to pay extra. Since I had bought my ferry ticket separately ahead of time online (I wanted to stay overnight in Colonia as it’s more of a backpacker hub), I chose COT Bus instead for my separate ticket to Colonia ($12 USD). They have buses leaving almost on the hour, every hour from 6am to 11pm.

Afterwards I had my pick of choosing public buses CA1, 21, 61, 180, 187, or 188 to get from Tres Cruces into city centre of Montevideo. It’s costs $21 Uruguay pesos ($1 USD) to take the public bus and it’ll take you to the main part of Montevideo in about 15-20 minutes.

 

Plaza Independencia

Statue of Jose Artigas

 

Get off either at the Municipial Plaza or Plaza Independencia, and…walk around. This city has a reputation for the “most liveable city in South America” because it’s so walkeable, and everything is so easygoing. The people are also particularly friendly (except maybe the bus drivers who don’t care where you get off) and yet won’t pay you any mind if you seem to have the hang of things.

If starting at Plaza Independencia, walk towards the statue of Jose Artigas, revered for repelling the Spanish invaders and then engineering Uruguay independence in the face of resistance from neighboring Brazil and Argentina. Take a photo and walk from either side of his statues downstairs to a subterranean room in the back.

 



Probably one of the coolest surprises (and memorials) I ever come upon: It’s his urn on display with 2 soldier flanking it and on constant watch, barely moving a muscle. This spot closes at 6pm on the dot.

 

 

Afterwards, walk back up to ground level, bear south and walk westwards past the recently renovated Teatro Solis.

 

Keep walking west and you’ll be in Plaza Constitucion, where there’s free wifi (Ansel Wifi) for you to use.

 

You can walk south towards the coast.

 

And you can walk back north to Calle Piedras and then make a right to go even more west. Eventually you’ll hit the real Ciudad Vieja of Montevideo, where old colonial style buildings still stand, and car traffic is blocked off for a serene pedestrian path. Try to find the building that houses the Mercado del Puerto and Mercado del Carnival, which supposedly houses tons of great places to eat and some history about Montevideo.


A very closed Mercado del Puerto

 

Since I came on a Monday, everything was closed and very quiet, which added to the serene atmosphere for which Montevideo is already known.





 

After taking in your fill colonial-style architecture, walk back eastwards past Plaza Independencia towards the hustle and bustle of Avenida 18 de Julio, a huge shopping district filled with shops, clothing stores, and countless galerias — mini malls that open up randomly as you walk down the avenue, revealing scores of even more stores inside…

One of many galerias along Avenida 18 del Julio

 

Once you’ve done enough shopping, that’s it! Grab a bite to eat, visit a museum, or head back to Tres Cruces for the buses to Colonia, which is exactly what I did.

However, although my bus driver had affirmed to me when I boarded that our bus would pass by Tres Cruces, he neglected to specify that he really meant we were going to be close to it, driving on another street by buildings that would obscure the station and not really stopping by it at all. Therefore, I felt something was amiss when the bus ride was taking longer than usual and I wasn’t able to recognize the neighborhood. On a gut feeling I jumped out and hailed a cab, who confirmed my doubts by backtracking to the bus station (a 10min cab ride is only $3 USD! so no big loss).

With only 5 minutes to spare before my bus to Colonia was about to depart, I got my bag out of left luggage and sprinted over to catch my bus. Mini-screwup averted.

The bus from Montevideo to Colonia took about 3 hours. Since I left late, it’s now the middle of the night and nothing is open. And I’m hungry. Therefore the goal tomorrow is to wake up early, eat a huge breakfast, and see all of Colonia before boarding my 10am ferry to Buenos Aires!

 

- At time of posting in Melilla, it was 21 °C - Humidity: 77% | Wind Speed: 7km/hr | Cloud Cover: few clouds