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Uruguay

Polaroid of the week: Going back in time in Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

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polaroid of the week uruguay colonia del sacramento
Leave it to us to be contrarians. While most people start their Uruguayan adventures in Colonia Del Sacramento, we saved this little gem for last.

Just a quick 1-hour ferry ride across the Rio de la Plata from Buenos Aires, Colonia is often a short trip, sometimes even a day trip, from Argentina, but it couldn’t be more different to the rest of sleepy, spread out beach and river towns of Uruguay. he little colonial town was our last stop before returning to Argentina. The Portuguese first settled here in 1680 and while the city has expanded considerably since then, parts of the old town look as though nothing has changed since back then. Old wooden horse carts parked out front of rickety colonial houses with faded facades lining centuries-old cobble stones transported us back in time.

This week we feature the most famous of these historic heritage streets in Colonia: La Calle de los Suspiros, or ‘the street of sighs’. There are many legends about how it got its name. One legend has it that this street was lined with brothels in the 17th century, and the sighs came from sailors arriving in port sighing and fainting at the sight of pretty girls offering their services.  Another more romantic (and tragic) tale talks of a young girl who was waiting for her lover and suddenly stabbed, her farewell sigh heard throughout Colonia. An even darker version of the name’s origin comes from prisoners condemned to death being led along this street to be drowned in the river.

Sounds like there was quite a lot of trouble on this street centuries ago, but today it’s a simple cobblestone street perfectly preserving a bit of architectural history in time and the ‘sighs’ come from the tourists gasping either at its beauty or at how difficult it is to walk on the jumbled old cobblestone road!

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Polaroid of the week: A beach stroll with friends in Punta del Diablo, Uruguay

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polaroid of the week uruguay punta del diabloSpring has now officially arrived in the northern hemisphere and we are starting to feel the chilly autumn weather south of the equator. Hoping to catch the tail end of beach weather in Uruguay, we headed out to our first stop on the coast, Punta Del Diablo, a little bohemian beach town near the Brazilian border.

While it was raining occasionally and too cold to swim in the ocean (for us – there are always those crazies swimming when we have jeans on), there was plenty of sunshine for pleasant strolls along the miles of empty beaches. Our lovely hostel, Hostel De La Viuda, came complete with a pack of friendly dogs who enjoy beach walks as much as we do.

It was as though they all just knew how badly we miss our two furry Santiago friends from our housesit. These hostel dogs adopted us and took us for walks everyday along the beach, ‘protecting’ us from other dogs (they were just jealous!) and even meeting us right at our door every morning to greet us. Our favorite, a massive yet graceful mutt called ‘Novio’ (boyfriend) even walked us the five blocks to the bus stop in the rain and sat stoically with us to see us off to our next stop, La Paloma. We miss them all already!

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Polaroid of the week: Surprised by Montevideo, Uruguay

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polaroid of the week uruguay montevideo horse carriageWhen we arrived at Montevideo’s sleek, modern airport two days ago, it felt like a completely different world to the Patagonian experience we left behind that morning. Standing outside the bright, spacious new terminal with cars whizzing by on the highway almost felt like being back in North America or Europe, so we were prepared for a modern capital just like Santiago filled with glass office towers and shopping malls.

Imagine our surprise, then, when we saw dirt roads and horse carriages from the bus windows when we entered the outskirts of the city limits. This was definitely not how we envisioned Montevideo! Even after cycling past rows and rows of modern apartment buildings along the city’s famous Rambla coastline for 16 miles today doesn’t change our surprise at the vibe of Montevideo. Horses are not rare in the city center, and not the kind with tourist lined up for a trip around the park, either. Instead the poorer working class use them to collect and carry garbage or other heavy items, and it hard to believe we are in a 1.3 million person capital city. Our next stop is a bohemian beach village and we can’t wait to see what the rest of Uruguay is like!

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