We couldn´t get over just how polite the drivers were in Colonia. After 2 weeks in Buenos Aires we had become very careful crossing roads; in Colonia, however, there's was no need to be careful as most of the cars went very slowly and they always stopped to let pedestrians cross. I wish there more places like this! Despite the huge crowds of tourists who visit, Colonia remains a very relaxed and tranquil town, and provides a nice contrast to the experience of Buenos Aires.
Colonia's geographical and political location caused more than a century long struggles between Spain and Portugal. As a consequence of these conflicts, the city changed its owner several times. The result is a distinctive architectural blend of Spanish and Portuguese culture.
Lined with cobbled streets in Portuguese style architecture, Barrio Historico, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is reminiscent to Alfama district of old Lisbon. The colonial Portuguese style of buildings, those stone houses with typical roofs of those times, mixes up with brick houses and the classical flat roofs of the Spanish architecture.
The historic district of Colonia looks like a city frozen in its colonial past. Different from the Spanish colonial sites, this charming Portuguese settlement with its winding cobblestone streets and colourful homes is a delight to explore.
Colonia, a jewel of colonial time, is today renowned for its windy cobblestone streets, with the names of them written on tiles, and lined with colourful houses, from which hang old street lamps.
Night-time becomes pure magic simply by walking around this quaint town which is even more enchanting in the moonlight and the ambient dim light of old street lamps. These picturesque colonial style lamps certainly give the tree lined streets a special glow and evokes the atmosphere similar to that 200 years ago.
Bougainvillea, native of South America, is perhaps the most popular and one of the most widely grown tropical vines. It is an evergreen plant which is just as happy spreading horizontally or hanging downwards as it is climbing upwards, it makes itself at home in almost any situation. Bougainvillea is ideal for bonsai. The colours are found in tones of purple, lavender, carmine, scarlet, pink, red, orange, yellow and white.
Ancient bougainvilleas are popping up from the side of buildings almost everywhere in Colonia and add a lot of colour. They climb the white and brightly coloured walls. Strolling down alleyways adorned with the scent and colour of red, pink and purple bougainvilleas in the hot sun, with the waterfront only a few steps further, you quickly get the impression of the Mediterranean.
more pics in the Travelogue
In colonial times azulejos were widely used to decorate walls, windows, floors and even ceilings. Most often they are made from glazed ceramic. Azuejos, the beautiful blue and white Portuguese tiles, appear everywhere in Colonia. Instead of metal signs, even the streets are marked with ceramic tiles. It's delightful.
The names of cafes, restaurants and art and craft shops are written on azulejos and the insides of these places are sometimes adorned with vibrant tile works. You also find several bigger wall decorations around the city, as an old plan of Colonia and Rio de la Plata.
more pics in the Travelogue
Yerba is a tea like drink that is drank from a gord with a silver straw. Most of the women put sugar in it but the men do not. I had to had to be a girl and put the sugar in it because otherwise the taste is intense.
We decided to drink a bottle of wine over our meal (sleep well on the bus, Andrea?). I had never tried Uruguayan wine, but Andrea assured me it was good, so we gave it a try. I was really pleasantly surprised and impressed with the wine and it complemented our parrilla lunch very well.
The top grape in Uruguayan wine making is called the tannat and I can now attest that it was really good.