Woke up early for a walk on the beach. 8 am and it is already 41 degrees - ay caramba!
This city is pretty eclectic. It's colourful, loud, tropical and city like all at the same time. You get constantly hassled while walking the streets or at the beach but you learn to tune that out and carry on - it does add to the character of the place though ;-). It's a lot cheaper than Bogota and we both love seafood so we are in heaven right now! We are liking it very much here!
Lazy morning and then off to the old city in the afternoon. What a beautiful part of Cartagena! We walked and walked till late afternoon when we headed to Cafe del Mar to have a couple of drinks and watch the sun go down. It's the perfect spot in Cartagena to do this. Dinner was at a very cool little restaurant called El Bistro. The food was amazing!
Yuri in Cartagena's old city.
The walled city.
Drinks at Cafe del Mar
Playa Blanca - amazing!
Picked up at 8:30 am and transferred to the port which was absolute chaos! People everywhere trying to get onto a boat to take them to Playa Blanca or Isla Rosario. We were VIP for the day which meant that we were being taken to a secluded part of Playa Blanca - it was worth the extra pesos! We had the most peaceful, relaxing day on a stunning white sand beach with turquoise water. We had the place to ourselves and it was simply amazing!
Yuri swimming in the Caribbean sea
Lazy day. After a late start we headed out for lunch then coffee. We then had an afternoon siesta (I'm beginning to get used to those) ;-). In the evening we headed to the old city (love, love, love it there) to wander the streets and soak in the culture. We had dinner in Plaza Santo Domingo and watched some traditional dancing which was loads of fun. We then wandered around for a couple of hours before grabbing some ice cream and heading home.
Last day in Cartagena. We have loved our time here (a little too much) and we are a little sad to leave. We spent our last day in the old city because it's our favourite place here. We walked for hours in the scorching heat chomping on green mango, then watched the sunset over the wall one last time (just breathtaking). We headed back to Bocagrande to have dinner at our favourite restaurant and then took a final walk around our "hood". I really hope to come back here one day. Cartagena gave me a tan which I am forever grateful for ?!
We are in Medellin and already we are in love! We are staying in a suburb called El Poblado and have a view from our apartment which I have no words to describe. Pinching myself as I type!
View from the balcony
We are staying in the beautiful suburb of El Poblado where it's safe to walk around. I think I was a little naive to think that all of Medellin was like this... We jumped in a cab to take us to a tourist info centre that we had found on the internet. Once we left El Poblado, everything was not so nice anymore and it was a little scary. The cab couldn't find the tourist office so we asked him to take us to Plaza Botero (there was no way we were getting out of the cab to try and find the tourist office)! Plaza Botero was a lot nicer than what we saw from the cab... Anyway we walked a fair bit and saw the sights of El Centro and had a great day!
Another great day in Medellin. We headed to the bus station to book tickets for Saturday. We are heading to the coffee region! We then booked a Pablo Escobar tour for Friday then spent the rest of the afternoon walking around La Zona Rosa.
Tomorrow we are heading out for the day to the town of Guatape!
What an amazing day! I say that a lot don't I?
We got up mega early and walked to Parque Poblado to meet the tour bus. We promptly fell asleepwhen we got on the bus until we got to our first stop for breakfast. They have chorizo for breakfast here! We got chorizo, chips, an arepa, fried banana and a hot chocolate for breakfast. Weird to be eating that so early but so yummy! After that it was back on the bus to head to the pueblo de Marinilla which was just a super cute town. Not much to see but so glad we got to visit! After tht we drove to the highlight of the tour, La Piedra del Peñon. A massive rock in the middle of a gorgeous little town called Peñol. 740 steep stairs take you to the top and the views from there are just magnificent! We had lunch in Peñol and then headed to the amazing town of Guatape for a walking tour. This gorgeous little town is just so beautiful! Each house and building in the town is individualised with a 'logo' as you can see in the photos. In 2012 the council provided each home and business with the paint and an artist to design their logo for them. The results are amazing. A really beautiful place to visit if you are ever in this part of the world.
The last stop on the tour was a boat ride in Guatape reservoir. A man made reservoir, created in 1978. This reservoir provides electricity not only to Colombia but also to Peru, Ecuador and Venezuela. The town of Guatape was where the reservoir now is so they moved it. It's actually really beautiful and the mansions along the side of this reservoir need to be seen to be believed. Pablo Escobar owned an enormous property here as well as a night club. The property which was bombed in 1990 still stands there in ruins.
La Piedra del Peñon
View from the top!
The town of Guatape
Last day in Medellin.
Today we went on a Pablo Escobar tour. It was a pretty heavy day emotionally as the Escobar history is still too recent and the scars haven't healed for most Colombians. Especially those like Paula who live in the cities affected. Our tour guide was 5 when Escobar was killed but still remembers feeling terrified and not being allowed to play outside after a certain time. The tour was in your face and to learn that drug trafficking is more successful now than ever here in Colombia (now run by the Army and Guerrillas) was a bit of a shock (call me naive). Having said that, drug trafficking and coffee exportation only accounts for 2% of Colombia's economy. This is a country that really has no need to import any product. They have clean water which flows from the mountains (you can drink from the tap here which is rare in South America).
I thought I knew a bit about Pablo Escobar before going on the tour but I've walked away with a tonne of information that made me quite sad.
7 hr bus ride to the coffee region today. What a ride full of twists and turns. Pretty modern bus with wifi and tv screens on the back of each seat like in planes. I was able to plug in a USB and watch a movie which was nice. We got dropped off on the highway close to Armenia as that bus didn't go direct to Salento. We waited on the side of the road for a little while with 3 other gringos till the chicken bus to Salento arrived.
Salento is just beautiful and we are staying at a lovely posada. The town is incredibly hilly so we'll be getting lots of exercise while we're here :-).
4km hike to a coffee finca (farm) today. Such a peaceful walk in beautiful, beautiful surroundings! We walked into Finca de Don Elias which we had read about in a couple of blogs. As far as I'm aware this is the only organic coffee farm in Salento - all the work is done by hand and no chemicals used. Don Elias is such a cutie! The coffee was delicious which was to be expected!
We did the coffee tour with 2 Swiss girls (Leah and Annabelle) an a guy from California called Steve. We all got a long so well that we decided to have a beer together after the tour.
1 beer together turned into several and we learnt how to play the Colombian game Tejo. The game consists of throwing a metal puck/disc, weighing approximately 680 grams, across an alley at a distance of approximately twenty metres, to a one metre by one metre board covered with clay and set at a forty-five degree angle. This metal puck is the "tejo" itself. A chief characteristic of the sport is its use of small exploding targets that contain gunpowder, commonly known as "mechas". These usually triangle-shaped envelopes with explosive material inside are set on the edges of the pipe where on impact with the tejo explode loudly creating a sound similar to the one created by a small revolver upon firing.
It was loads of fun! I was terrible but we all managed to explode the target at least once!
The Swiss girls went a little nuts after we left the finca so we ditched them and spent the rest of the night with Steve and Juan Carlos who ran the bar at the finca and taught us to play Tejo. Such a fun day!
The view on our walk to the finca.
Yuri with the owner of the finca Don Elias
Amazing, amazing day hiking through Valle de Cocora with Steve (who we met the day before) it took us 4.5 hrs and it was pretty tough but we did it and it was so freaking worth it! Traditional food for dinner and then a few drinks with Steve.
Valle del Cocora hike
We made it!
Amazing wax palms!
Up early for horse riding to Cascada Santa Rita. I totally shit myself to start with as I thought I was going to fall off! I eventually gained a little confidence and managed to enjoy the ride! Yuri jumped into the freezing cold water when we got to the waterfall just like a big kid ;-).
Yuri had a ball and I did too but will only ever go horse riding again if it is on a flat terrain!!!
Yuri swimming in Cascada Santa Rita
Last day in Salento which makes us sad. This is definitely a favourite place and has made us fall in love with Colombia even more. What a magical 5 days we have spent here! Out bodies are aching from the hikes and horse riding but we have really big smiles on our faces!
We spent all day on a bus from Armenia to Bogota. The buses here in Colombia are super impressive and comfortable. Each seat has their own tv and the bus has wifi - I don't think we have that in Aus do we? We finally got to Bogota around 5 pm.
Last day in Colombia which makes us so sad. We didn't expect to be so enchanted with this amazing country. What a whirlwind of a month here but we have enjoyed every single second and I would come back in a heartbeat! The food was simply amazing as were the people and the coffee! Colombia gets a bad wrap but they are rebuilding and working really hard to make tourists and locals feel safe again. Did I mention we loved the food ;-). We have spent today eating our favourite foods ;o)
Next stop El Salvador where we will be reunited with some very special people - Yuri's parents!