Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Somewhere in Uruguay: Colonia del Sacramento

Or: Muchas gracias por un día hermoso, Jorge y Brenda!

So many events have happened and I only have so little time to write about them… and sort through the piles of photos that have been taken (and believe me there are a loooot of photos!). I am kind of busy looking for and applying to internships right now so that is kind of important. Not that I don't think blogging and keeping you up to date is important. But I kinda really need to get an internship. That said, if you have any helpful tips/ideas on internships in international companies, feel free to email me or leave a comment ;)

Anyway, in this post I'll go on yet another detour from my Semana Santa adventures and tell you about the last weekend when two friends, Stephan and Laura, who are currently spending their semester abroad in Buenos Aires were visiting Sebastian H. and me in Montevideo.Of course we had to come up with a tourist program that would show them the most of this great city in only a weekend’s time!

So I was thinking up things to do and ways to entertain them when Pablo invited me to go on a daytrip to Colonia del Sacramento with his family. After consulting Sebastian whether or not it was ok to leave him alone with all the tourist guide duties on Saturday I decided to go on a trip to Colonia. I wanted to go there for a while now anyway and it was the perfect opportunity.

Early on Saturday morning after a very brief breakfast we started out  towards Colonia. On the way there we stopped for a second breakfast/”elevensies”  and continued on to visit a place called Colonia Suiza Nueva Helvecia. Pablo’S dad explained to me that there used to be different settlements from all kinds of different origins. And the one we visited was the swiss one. Which is comes pretty close to being German. Well… Southern German. Which as we all know is the best part of Germany, so well done Colonia Suiza!

So we were greeted by a big entrance thingy that was built to look like a traditional Swiss/German house. Next we saw a “Maibaum” (=maypole) with the emblems of the different Swiss cantons on them. On top there were the flags of Uruguay, Germany, Austria and of course Switzerland and in the center there was a giant loaf of (artificial) cheese.


Having me some Swiss cheese

We also went to a place where they sold homemade jam and cheese. Of course I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get me a filling of raspberry jam.

We also got to see a church with lots of inscriptions in German and a German Bible on display. Though that place was slightly creepy because it was kind of foggy/cloudy and the church was rather bare with very few adornments (unusual for such a church), some of the windows were barred or had shutters and there was one of those tiny kids’ merry-go-rounds outside in the courtyard. Pablo’s sister Lucía fittingly noted that the only thing missing for a horror movie would be if the merry-go-round were spinning in the wind and making squeaky noises.

Lucía, Pablo and Lucía's mom Brenda, me and Pablo in front of the spooky church

German Bible 


Pablo making a new friend

After that we were finally headed for Colonia, where we first went to see the Plaza de Toros which was a bullfight arena back in the day. It kinda looks like the colosseum in Rome. Unfortunately we could only see it from the outside because due to danger of collapse it’s forbidden to enter it which makes it kinda boring. But only a little bit because it's still pretty cool architecture with Arabic infulence (or so I'd say).

Plaza de Toros (what's left of it)

Right next to the arena however there is a super cool steamtrain museum/restaurant. We didn’t eat there because it was crazy expensive but the old wagons were just so pretty that we took lots and lots of pictures. But then again we did that the whole day.

Choo Choo!

Waiting on a train to come

It's German porcelain mates! 
I didn't even know such thing as a mate exists in Germany. 
I also didn't know what those porcelain mates had to do with the train museum. 

Judging from the size, this was supposed to be for kids to play with...

...but then again, aren't we all still kids?

Ringing that bell

Afterwards we drove along the Rambla of Colonia until we came to the point where it ends and where we found a super cool tree. And the monkeys that we are we of course didn’t pass up the chance to climb it.

Lucía and I under the tree

Pablo being a gentleman and helping me get up in the tree...

...and then launching himself up there with an elegant upswing

Monkeys in a tree

Our facial expressions say it all

Romeo and Juliet gone monkey

Brenda and Jorge
(Pablo and Lucía's parents)

Since we were all kinda hungry we decided to have something to eat and because Colonia is one of Uruguay’s most expensive cities (and the country itself is pretty expensive as well) we went to one of the many “carritos” or food trucks and had some “milanesas” (=schnitzel). Somehow we got to talk with a guy from the Netherlands and a girl from the US who were behind us in line to get food. We found out that the guy was was called Misha and works at the Dutch embassy in Buenos Aires. He was only gonna be in Montevideo for the long weekend (Whitsun!). The girl was called Quinnen and she is travelling around South America and visiting Uruguay before heading towards the waterfalls of Iguazú. Long story short we made new friends and invited them to join us and our friends that were visiting from Buenos Aires for a city tour the following day.

With our new friends Misha and Quinnen

After that we went on to explore the most historic part of Colonia – the Ciudad Vieja (=old city). And since Colonia is one of the oldest settlements in Uruguay that part is really really reeeaaaallllyyyy old. At some points there were still the original cobbled streets and you could see how the houses weren’t built with stones that were all the same size, but with stones of all different sizes and shapes that were cemented together. In between there were all kinds of colorful flowers and old cars. And by old I don’t only refer to the old Volkswagen bugs but also really antique models. Some of which belonged to a restaurant which had equipped them with tables and other props. Pretty neat!

Cobbled street romanticism

Pretty streets, pretty houses, pretty flowers, pretty Lucía

How rad are these?!

Meals on wheels

Slug Bug!!

At Ciudad Vieja we visited the lighthouse which gave us a nice view of Colonia but it soon started raining so after goofing around a bit we went back down and went on towards the old city gate.

Colonia's Lighthouse

The View

We were convinced that those pigeons spend their day flying back and forth between the walls of those ruins and poop on tourists that want to take pictures


The old city gate was “guarded” by a mime who gave us a nice little show for a few pesos. And since Colonia’s Ciudad Vieja is not very big we met some old acquaintances: Misha and Quinnen from the food truck. After taking some pictures we parted again and Pablo, his family and I continued our tour of Colonia.

Lucía and the mime

Fire at will!

Let's pull up the drawbridge so the enemy stays out

The next stop was “Calle de los suspiros” (= street of sighs) where Pablo and Lucía kept telling me I had to take a picture because it’s so famous and iconic. I didn’t really know why but I figured my good friend google might be able to help me out on that. So I took the obligatory pictures and we went into one of the houses that accommodated an art gallery. It also had one room equipped as if it were a kitchen of former times which I found pretty cool. I also really liked how some of the walls of the street’s houses were wonderfully colorful. And of course by now I have consulted with good old google and found out that is a remainder of the colonial times and part of the UNESCO world heritage. And also that there are quite a few legends ranking around it involving death row criminals, sailors and prostitutes, the noise of the wind blowing through the street and a love story with a tragic end.  I’ll leave it up to you to pick your favorite.

Very iconic: the white and blue tiles that are used to indicate street names

Just like in the good ole days

Jorge on the outside looking in

After that we made our way towards the church square where we had a little coffee and “panqueques (crêpes) de dulce de leche” break. Again very delicious. And the café was one of the cutest I have ever seen. Think rustic stone walls and antiques meet pastels. We then went to see the church before heading back home and spending a slow evening looking at the pictures and recounting our stories to Pablo’s uncle and aunt.

Note that thing I'm standing on is a wine cellar!

I loved how they un-matched their cups and saucers

Revenge for the lighthouse "accident"

Altogether it was a very fine day with very fine people and I got to scratch Colonia off of my “Places I want to visit in Uruguay”-bucket list.  

And yes, I am going to tell you about our Montevideo city tour next and only after that I will continue with my Semana Santa stories. Sorry for all the confusion but it really makes more sense to throw in this weekend trip now that it is still hot and crunchy in my memory. 


  1. Ok, bin noch nicht dazu gekommen, den Text zu lesen. Aber ein Bild sagt mehr als 1000 Worte und es sind viele viele viele schöne schöne schöne Bilder. Ich sag nur eins, der Neid wächst mit jedem Eintrag ein Stückchen mehr!! :D Und hier bei uns regnets und schneits und es ist dezent kalt - 8°. Aber heey, mia san mia und mia san Meister UND mia san Champions und ab nächster Woche san mia a no Triple-Sieger. Da hilft auch das schönste Uruguay nix mehr - Bayern bescht! :D Hoffe du trägst das Trikot bei den Urus in allen Ehren?! :) Kussi aus dem Ostblock my dear!

    1. Wenn ich ganz ehrlich bin war das Wetter an dem Tag gar nich mal so super ;) Aber Schnee gibt's hier definitiv nich.
      Na dann rock du mir mal ordentlich weiter den Ostblock. Besonders und umso härter wenn wir das Triple gewinnen ;) Hab mein Trikot leider daheim gelassen, weil ich nix mitnehmen wollte, was ich nich im Zweifelsfall hier lassen würde. Keine Ahnung was ich mir dabei gedacht hab.. Und bald gibts noch nen extra Bayern-Lobeshymnen-Blogpost ;)
      Besoooos in den Osten