My second time around in Buenos Aires, having ticked most of the tourist boxes successfully on my first visit, I found myself with some time to explore the surrounding areas. I visited Tigre for the day on one occasion, and on another I thought, “Well, why not be a bit cheeky and add Uruguay to the list of countries I’ve visited?” after all, it is only across the river (the mighty Rio de la Plata).
The two most famous destinations are the capital, Montevideo, and THE beach, Punta del Este; instead, I chose the old (since the 1680s), small city (less than 30,000 people) of Colonia del Sacramento. The barrio historico (historic district) is a UNESCO designated world heritage site. I have visited a few of these protected colonial historic districts in Latin America, such as Old Havana, Pelourinho in Salvador, Cartagena in Colombia, Sao Luis in the north of Brazil, the Centro Historico in Quito, etc., but Colonia’s rivals the best of these in terms of how well it has been preserved.
If you are fortunate enough that your 3-day weekend in Buenos Aires turns into a 4-day weekend, I recommend a short excursion north by train to the quaint community of Tigre. The train from Retiro Station in Buenos Aires covers the 30km trip north in just under an hour.
Despite the appearance of the run-down house in the cover photo to this post, Tigre is a beautiful town that in appearance is not unlike parts of the Northeast United States. Quaint picket fences and manicured lawns encircle pretty houses, each with their own pier. Why is a pier necessary? Well, a significant portion of the town is networked not by roads but by canals and so the way to get around is by boat–either your own or by using the ferry service. Fortunately for visitors, the ferry service is a great way to get around the area and have a pleasant cruise among the waterways and nice houses. Below is a brief cruising tour via photography.
Tigre, named for the panthers (“tigers”) that used to be seen in this Rio Parana delta town, is very much worth your spending an afternoon away from the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires.
Upon wrapping up a quiet hour at the Recoleta, I head for the Centro District for a late lunch. Here, I might opt for a visit to Cafe Tortoni, a bit of a cliche perhaps, but it ticks a tourism box if you have never been. It’s the most famous old cafe in Buenos Aires, and it has a nice classic feel to it with high ceilings and old posters and photographs. The food is okay, but you aren’t really visiting here for a gourmet experience anyway.
After lunch, I stroll along the grand, Parisian-style avenues of Centro, including Buenos Aires’ own obelisk on Av. 9 de Julio (one of the world’s broadest avenues, incidentally), and looping in the Evita theme, I pause to snap a few pics of the Casa Rosada (Pink House), and the balcony where Perron once stood to speak to her people. The streets nearby are covered with the sky-blue-and-white flags of Argentina while many signs of protest are posted next to them. Political and economic protest is very common here. I spend a couple of hours walking around and admiring the architecture I head back to my hotel in Palermo Hollywood in the late afternoon to shower again, change, and prepare for the evening.