In 3 words: Colonial, cozy, picturesque
Personal Highlight: After all of the meat and bread in Buenos Aires, I walked into much of the same in Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay. When I asked the gentleman working at the B&B where to find a good salad, he laughed at me. He said, "We eat meat here! No salads! You may find some lettuce somewhere, but you must eat meat."
But I was determined. My body was craving some colorful foods. I walked all around town, and he appeared to be correct - the only salads on the menu where small side plates of sad looking lettuce.
I walked into one final place, feeling defeated as I looked up at the menu: meat and empanadas. I looked at the two young guys working and said with longing "Necessito verduras, por favor! No mas carne, demasiado carne!"
They laughed. Then one of them said, "ensalada?" He proceeded to name a long list of vegetables and create a big salad of everything he had in the kitchen. I could have kissed him.
Halfway through my delicious salad, he said "Nicole (nee-cole), go outside."
"Go outside, you will see."
Just outside the door of the restaurant, there were 10-15 other people all looking in the same direction. I looked down the other streets and saw more people doing the same. They were locals, most of who carry their mate mugs and thermos full of hot water around town. The entire town stopped to watch the sunset over the water. It was stunning - lighting up the sky with orange, pink and every other shade of red. (And damnit, I didn't have my camera!) But what I loved more than the view was the fact that everyone literally stopped what they were doing to appreciate it.
We spend so much time with our heads down, going through the motions - getting through the week so that we can enjoy the weekend; getting through the winter so that we can get to spring; getting through the next few months so that we can go on vacation. These folks stopped everything (at least) once a day to just appreciate the beauty around them, to drink in the moment, breathe it in. What an amazing practice.
Colonia Del Sacramento is an hour ferry ride from Buenos Aires and is one of the oldest towns in Uruguay. Apparently Uruguay was the target of a power struggle between Argentina, Spain, Portugal and Brazil for centuries as each country wanted a piece of it. It became independent in the early 1800s and is now (I'm told) ranked highest in South America in democracy, peace, lack of corruption, prosperity and quality of living. (This is what the man working at my B&B told me, and I only did a super quick and simple fact check.)
I only had two nights in Colonia, and I spent most of my days just wandering around. After being in BA for two weeks, where I got lost essentially every day - I was happy to be in a small place where it was nearly impossible to get lost. Even for me. I found some really cool street art and one place with thoughtfully prepared coffee. I also spent a lot of time talking with the guy in the B&B, as he loved telling me about his country and he tried to help me with my Spanish!
The coffee: I found one place for a solid cup of joe, where the woman tried her damnest to tell me about the beans. I caught "from Ethiopia", and was just so happy that she knew and cared about the source of the beans, that I sat down immediately. It was a cozy place called Ganache with cool decor and outside seating.
The food: I cannot remember the name of the place where the guys made me a salad and I can't even find it on TripAdvisor. I found another great place on my last night called Charco with healthier options, delicious coffee and an amazing view on their terrace overlooking the water.
Accommodation: Le Vrero. Highly recommended. Ask for the room in the back, upstairs and you have your own private deck perfect for some morning reading.