Our first Ferry Ride!*
Our ferry ride is today! I’m excited like a child going on a merry-go-round for the first time..it’s a bit weird I know..but I do like big boats. Couldn’t get enough during my 6 month stint as a yachtie in the Mediterranean a few years ago.
We say goodbye to sweet and kind Mauricio and Jimena at 6:30am (soooo early, yawn) so we can catch our bus to Colonia from Tres Cruces. It only departs at 7:55am, but check-in starts at 7am so we want to get there early. We make it to the very modern and equipped bus station in 10minutes without any hiccups…until we see the check-in line.
People are lined up like sheep and it is the slowest line I have ever waited in. I am already so hungry that I could eat a whole Uruguayan cow, but I will have to settle for an Olympic sandwich on the bus after we get our passes stamped. An Olympic sandwich is a huge triangle, about 3 normal half sandwiches, with ham and cheese on the one side, another slice of bread in the middle, and boiled egg, tomato and lettuce on the other side. Breakfast of champions!
We make it to the ferry terminal in Colonia in about 2 hours, just a stone’s throw away from the bus terminal. It is very crisp and clean and feels like an airport. Once again we are ushered into a queue and we wait for what seems like forever just to find out at the front that we have already been checked in for the boat – I forgot my own rule about not being a damn sheep. We move on to customs where we get stamped out of Uruguay and into Argentina, and wait to board the boat.
The ColoniaExpress is not a huge boat. It has two levels, a duty free shop selling ciggies, alcohol and sweets and chocolates in bulk, and a small counter selling coffee and sandwiches for slightly ridiculous prices. The river crossing takes about an hour which is pretty fast considering that you cross a river that seems as wide as an ocean.
We arrive at the ColoniaExpress Port, which is separate from the Buquebus and Seacat port, in Buenos Aires – the city of Good Winds, which is a bit ironic as the city is built in such a way that there is almost never a draught sweeping through the place. We will be in the city for three nights before going to our next host in the northern part of the greater Buenos Aires area.
First we have to find our way to 1111 Ave de Mayo, The Ritz by Hostel Inn, our home for the next 3 days. We have thoroughly researched this, we know we have to take a short walk up the road, make a left and catch a bus – simple as that. The only problem is that the buses in BA only accept coins (a whole lot is needed at a time) or a rechargeable card, and of course we have neither of these at this time. So after two buses pass us by because we can’t pay them our only option is to take a taxi cab. They are all over the streets and we see more black and yellow cabs than any other cars on the road. They are reasonably priced – an initial 11 pesos the 1,10 for every 200m and an extra 1,10 for every minute of idling time..not really fair as you can’t really control what traffic is like or for how long a light will stay red. It costs us about 35 pesos to get to our destination – not too bad.
111 Avenida de Mayo is a very old, historical building set in the centre of downtown, built in a Parisian style as Buenos Aires is the Paris of South America you know. With the original wooden floors, high ceilings and a spiral staircase it has a bit of a spiritually sinister feel to it. The city is gripped by a heatwave at the moment and the aircon in the room is most definitely necessary. It is a decent place and will do for our stay.
We settle in to our room, exhausted we decide that we need food before sitting down for too long. It has been 6 hours since breakfast. From our hostel we walk 1 block down Avenida Lima to Restaurant Almeda where we enjoy the set menu for a steal at 82 pesos each. It includes a starter, main, desert and a glass of wine. Always look out for these (usually lunch) deals – great value for money. We couldn’t even finish our mains! We took half away and enjoyed it for lunch the next day.
After a wonderful meal it was most definitely time for an afternoon nap. We are exhausted! No sightseeing for these two travellers today – we’re going to get our relaxing on!
As darkness creeps in we hear loud noises coming from afar, and we soon realise there is a protest going on and it is making its way right past our window. I’ve never seen an actual protest up close before, but we soon realise that this is common in the city and that protesters very rarely get rowdy and violent.
Exhausted, we drift off to sleep. Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve!