Before writing nasty things in the comments and telling Gringos to go home, please read Colonia Del Sacramento is Great. Why You should go to Colonia. This article is tongue-in-cheek, don’t take it too seriously.
It’s impossible to live the expat life in Buenos Aires for very long before becoming aware of the existence of Colonia del Sacramento, commonly referred to as simply ‘Colonia.’ That’s mostly because it’s a short boat ride from Buenos Aires that offers the opportunity to renew your three-month tourist visa (it’s across the Río de la Plata in Uruguay).
Colonia is not just a ‘visa run’ destination for perma-tourist expats though. It’s also a popular tourist attraction in its own right. This popularity is not surprising, as its old quarter has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and sources including Lonely Planet heap praise such as “its charms attract visitors from all over the world” upon it.
So there’s no doubt that Colonia has good marketing. But is it actually as interesting or fun a destination as they’d have us believe? Let’s take a look at what you can do in Colonia:
• Walk around the old quarter and thrill to sights such as cobblestone streets, a pile of rubble that used to be a convent, and one small, old church;
• Hire a golf cart so you can slowly drive around the streets of the old quarter instead of walking
• Eat at a touristy, mediocre and overpriced restaurant serving exactly the same food you get in Buenos Aires;
• Take photos that will make your friends back home think that maybe they aren’t so jealous of your jet-setting ways after all;
• Read a novel that you brought with you (a very good idea);
• Go to the ‘beach,’ a long stretch of river sand fronting a flat, brown expanse of water containing the poo of literally millions of Porteños;
• Get charged far too much for accommodation;
• Try to avoid the mosquitoes, which at various times of the day number in the trillions and settle on anyone moving at less than a full sprint like a thick, black cloud;
• Think for a moment you are in a small boring town in the middle of Iowa before realizing no, you are in the famous Colonia, a must see destination
• Lose money playing slot machines at the Casino which are specifically designed to suck the money out of desperate tourists who are so bored they don’t mind losing money for 4 hours straight
• Purchase some tourist tat you’ll unquestionably throw away when you leave Buenos Aires; and
• Climb to the top of the lighthouse, where you can marvel at a view of some cobblestone streets, a few houses and a large, flat, brown expanse of water containing the poo of millions of Porteños.
Excited yet? Given its skull-numbing dullness, the strange thing about Colonia is that if you ask other expats what it’s like they’ll invariably talk it up, if mildly. “Oh yes,” they’ll say, “it’s…very nice.” “Quite good.” “Really not bad at all.” “Cute, with places to eat AND places to sleep.” “It has…erm…golf carts and stuff.”
So why is this? It’s because they were told Colonia was worthwhile, and because it doesn’t suck quite enough for them to return to Buenos Aires and confront people they probably don’t know very well about it (“Hey you! You jerk; you told me Colonia was interesting! I demand satisfaction!”), they feel that they have no choice but to fall into line and perpetuate the Colonia,-really-it’s-quite-interesting myth. Like robots. Dare to be different.
What are your thoughts? Is Colonia worth going to? Feel free to leave a comment below and let us know!