While Uruguay wasn’t at the top of our “places to visit” list it seemed silly not to make a day trip over since it’s so close to Buenos Aires. The ferry only takes an hour and crosses Rio de la Plata which is actually the widest river in the world. The problem was the only day we could do it there was a torrential downpour. So with thunder, lightning and sheets of rain pelting our ferry, we arrived in the small coastal town of Colonia. Colonia’s past is pretty unique with it changing ownership and rule 12 times since 1680 as Portugal, Spain and Brazil couldn’t seem to let it go until finally Uruguay (including Colonia) declared its independence and has ruled since 1828.
The town of Colonia is quite small with less than 27,000 residents and is mainly known for its historic district which is a UNESCO heritage site. Small cobblestone streets are lined with colorful buildings and shops, classic cars and trees. It was raining so hard when we first stepped off the ferry we had to find somewhere dry quickly. So we ran into the first restaurant we saw, an Italian spot where we could eat our feelings in the form of pizza. Afterwards we roamed around town and had a few dry periods but mostly downpours where we would have to run from eve to eve.
The true gem we found was a little café, Ganache. We walked in and immediately knew the place was special as it had a different look and feel than any of the other places we’ve been to in South America. The decor was very quant, almost like you were sitting in a café in Italy, and they had board games and good music. Being the only patrons on a slow off-season day, we spent quite a bit of time speaking with the owner. She told us it is the first “real” café in all of Uruguay as they actually roast their own beans and try to make a true, quality coffee. She explained the uphill battle she faced as Uruguayans have never prioritized coffee as a luxury drink but instead just a simple and cheap part of life. So over the past four years she has been trying to teach locals to appreciate it just as many of the tourists visiting already do. The coffee and food were great but our favorite was the homemade Alfajores, a delicious cookie with dulce de leche sandwiched inbetween shortbread and rolled in coconut. Don’t worry, we only had four……teen. Uruguay out.