A Travellerspoint blog

March 2016

Colombia: Day trip to Villa de Lleyva

A short stop in a stunning, romantic and amiable town.

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Villa de Lleyva is a stunning cultural centre, with very romantic setting and atmosphere.
I imagine it's very busy for Valentines day!

There is a myriad of amazing restaurants, with lovely outdoor / formal indoor settings, and plenty to see and do!
It's quite apparent that many US and European expats moved here to open restaurants and guesthouses, giving the place a very international feel.

Transport

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It's a fairly long, but vey scenic bus ride (4 hours) from Bogotá...
Many buses leave from the main road alongside Terminal de Norte... ask anyone with a bus company jacket to direct you :-)

Lodgings

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There are a flood of really nice hotels and B&Bs to choose from here....

My friend and I arrived without bookings, and found a great little hotel for only 70k pesos per night.
This is significantly less than any rooms available online.
It pays to note that the Colombian hotel offerings aren't totally comprehensive online yet.
So, searching via the old school method certainly pays dividends.

Sites

Casa Museo Antonio Nariño

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Antonio Nariño was instrumental in liberating of Colombia; from both a military and idealogical standpoint.
He is regarded as a national hero alongside Simón Bolívar, and is prominently mentioned in Colombia's national anthem.

His leadership and strategic governance in many battles against the federalists are well documented here, plus artefacts from his personal and political life.

Colombia has a fascinating history, very unique within the region!

Plaza Mayor

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It's an enormous square and the centre of activity in the town.
There are many nice restaurants lining the square, however we found even better ones in the surrounding lanes, for much better value.

Couvent ecce homo

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We hired a private driver for 40k pesos for a return trip to this amazing place....
Roughly a 20 minute drive from the town, and through interesting desert (conjuring images of Breaking Bad).

The convent itself is fascinating with lovely gardens, and gorgeous displays!

Strolling the streets

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This is the perfect peaceful getaway!
The attracting here isn't really activities...simply strolling the streets and stopping for the awesome food offerings is a unique, serene, and tranquil experience...

Food

There is no shortage of amazing food options.
Traditional Colombian, Peruvian, Mexican, even French restaurants line the stunning cobblestone streets.
There are also many stunning bakeries and cafes at every glance; plus grande courtyards with many small restaurants and vendors..... like an ye olde food courts!

...entonces

An overnight stay is probably long enough for Villa de Lleyva, but it is absolutely worth the long bus trip from Bogotá!
I had a great time here, and prepared for a busy time in Medellín...

Posted by SkinnyFists 16:42 Archived in Colombia Tagged colombia romance villa_de_lleyva Comments (0)

Colombia: Day trip to Zipaquíra

A very short tale about visiting Zipaquíra and the amazing Catedral de Sal; plus Colombia's passion for fresh juice and a gastronomic interrogation from curious students

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Zipaquíra and Catedral de Sal

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This was one of my most interesting stops in Colombia.
At some stage the salt mines in the mountains just outside of Bogotá were converted into an enormous church complex for Christian worship; Catedral de Sal.
For the religious and not-so, it is fascinating, immense... and beautiful.
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From within Bogotá I took the infamously crowded Transmilenio to terminal del norte and changed over to a van bound for Zipaquíra; arriving in just under an hour.
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Salt Cathederal

I walked through the gorgeous town, finally arriving at the complex ticket office atop a hill with amazing views of the town
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I then descended many metres into the depts of what was once a salt mine, and now a cathedral complex.
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The halls are really impressive; huge, serene, spacious, complete with calming hymn like music echoing to every corner with stunning acoustics, plus gorgeous lighting fit for dedicated worship.
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There are many paths, lined with impressive, calming displays.
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Main halls, are truly awe inspiring!!
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It is very difficult to describe the immense space, lighting and atmosphere.
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You can opt for tours in English or Spanish, but I chose to wander in.... quiet contemplation.
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Within the complex there are many shops and a couple of small theatres playing films about the history of the mine and cathedral.

Gastronomic Interrogation

Running between the cathedral and main town is a tourist bus.
The driver explained all of the main points of interest in the town as we passed them.
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I got talking to a couple of students from San Augustin on the train.
They hadn't met any foreigners before, and were pretty intrigued.

They, like many Colombian's ask what I thought about their country, about Australia, plus the other two key topics... food and music.

They of course had no idea about AC/DC, Tame Impala or pavlova, so thanks to smartphones and 3G we were able to have something of a cultural exchange.

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Unimpressed with the amount of traditional Colombian food that I had tried, my new friends invited me to lunch.
We went to a traditional restaurant for a full on almuerzo starting with soup, then a huuuuge main with steak, dried pork ribs, potatoes, beans, plantains, rice, chorizo... and more.

One thing that I love about Colombia is their passion for fresh juice!!!
Packaged, processed, concentrate juice is a sin in Colombia!!
They are very particular about it, and any eatery worth it's salt will offer freshly made mandarine, mango, passionfruit juice or limonada natural (homemade lemonade)
You cannot walk very far and without seeing juice or watermelon/mango vendors!

Roaming Zipaquíra Town

Zipaquíra is a really nice town to ramble through.
It is one of the nation's oldest settlements, and still as many buildings and remnants from Colombia's formative years.
It's certainly a nice reprieve from Bogotás chaos!
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The long road back....

Patience is definitely required on buses in Colombia, particularly around Bogotá, and especially around peak hour(s!) when the population/traffic is so dense.

On the flipside it gives you time to chat with new friends...

Villa de Lleyva next...

Posted by SkinnyFists 10:11 Archived in Colombia Tagged zipaquirá salt_cathedral catedral_de_sal Comments (0)

Colombia: Santander (Bucaramanga and San Gil)

Paragliding, white-water rafting, trekking, visiting old friends, eating traditional food (including fried ants) and enjoying the wonderful region and culture of Satander.

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Satander

To get you started, here is a video of my highlight in Santander:

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The state of Satander is marvellous!
The capital, Bucaramanga has the highest employment rate in the country and is very well organised, safe and interesting.
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I also had a really super, adventurous time high up in the adventure capital, San Gil
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Long bus journeys…

I woke up early in at my favourite hostel in Colombia ‘Chocolate y Candela’, Santa Marta…. at a weary 5am.
The night man, promptly organised my taxi and I arrived just in time for my bus to Bucaramanga.
Copertran buses as ace!
They have huge reclining seats, strong wi-fi toilets and have new release films (though overdubbed of course) playing.
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It was roughly a 10 hour journey, climbing significant to altitude; from the beach of Santa Marta, to over 2500 metres at Bucaramanga.
Buses in Colombia are perfectly safe, efficient and comfortable though time-saving intercity flights are also very affordable and easy these days through Avianca.

Bucaramanga

My friend German invited me to join he, his girlfriend and parents to visit a few sites and enjoy some Colombian food!
We went to Ecoparque Cerro del Santisimo with amazing views overlooking the city, and impressive statue of Jesus Christ keeping a watchful eye over the town.
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We also went for a traditional Colombian lunch which was seriously a mountain of food!
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Bucaramanga is also famous for it's delicious oblea!
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...an also famous for hormigas culonas (or fried ants)... I tried some and they were delicious!
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I didn’t really check out the nightlife, but my lovely hotel was on the cusp of Zona Rosa with many venues blasting various forms of music.

I’d definitely visit Bucaramanga again.
Some people told me it’s a great place to teach English.

San Gil

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San Gil is a small town surrounded by seriously amazing and jaw dropping terrain, and as such is an adventure sports capital.
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You can abseil down through waterfalls, raft level 5 rapid, bungee jump, go paragliding over the amazing Chicamocha, and so on.
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The town itself is simply stunning. It has an ‘amamble’ formal and courteous atmosphere with lovely parks, nice restaurants and great accommodation options.
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The message I got from most operators here was “tell your friends….”
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The manager of the rafting company I went with told me that five years ago they only have 10 customers per week… now they have around 15 per day… and hopefully this rate increases more ….rapidly ;-)

Paragliding

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This is a truly awesome experience.
I tried it for the first time in Nepal with awesome views of the Himalayas, and the views and exhilaration of flying over Chicamocha was equally amazing.

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We flew high! ....over the canyons, swooping in many directions.
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The views and experience was a definite highlight of the trip!!
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I’ve tried bungee jumping and skydiving also, and have to say paragliding made me the most nauseus…
The advantage though, is that you can really take in the views… and Chicamocha is an amazing example of mother nature at her most epic!!
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Rafting at River Suarez

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Having rafted in some pretty gnarly rapids in Borneo in the past, I thought I was prepared for the rapids here… no way!
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River Suarez has level 5+ rapids that are seriously... BUSY!
The highest level we traversed we level 5.
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My boat worked really well as a team, with very good instruction from our guide, and we managed traverse the rapids unscathed and full of enthusiasm.
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In the briefing we learned about safety, positioning within the boat for different situations, plus rescue.
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...and we ended up really needing these skills during the tricky parts.
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In the quieter, calmer spots, we practiced our safety and rescue routines.
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It’s worth noting that the canyon that the river passes through is seriously gorgeous terrain too.
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Altogether it was a seriously fun, challenging and adventurous day... one of the best in Colombia!
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San Gil is a stunning small town with a tranquil, quiet, yet adventurous and friendly culture.
It is surrounded by stunning, jaw dropping nature. ...
I had a blast; rafting the level 4 rapids of Suarez River and paragliding over astounding Chicamocha.... and had the good fortune of meeting some of the loveliest people encountered this trip.
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Villa de Leyva and Zipaquira next...
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Posted by SkinnyFists 09:27 Archived in Colombia Tagged rafting adventures paragliding colombia san_gil bucaramanga Comments (1)

Colombia: Parque Tayrona

Trekking through one of Colombia's most beautiful national parks set upon astounding coastlines; where many a music video was filmed.

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Parque Tayrona

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....is a stunning, well preserved national park with awesome terrain; stunning beaches, and a chance to camp under the stars amongst other intrepid travellers and local families alike.

Ask any Colombian for advice on where to visit, and they will undoubtedly mention Parque Tayrona amongst their very long list of places to go.
The gorgeous landscape and coastline features in many, many Colombian music and tourism videos:

Including this:

...and this amazing video from my favourite new band, Bomba Estéreo from Bogotá!!

Entry

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Before you can enter the park, visitors have to have to attend a briefing on rules, the tracks, accommodation, safe places to swim, etc.
There is a nice video (in Spanish) that goes with this.

You can book a tent / hammock at the entry point, though if you want alternatives (and there are a few), you can probably wing it (with one exception... mentioned later)

Security

Police take everyone's details upon entering the site and inspect ID's / passports.
They also thoroughly inspect all bags.
Drugs and alcohol are very sternly prohibited.
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My friend with a few tattoos was given very special attention by the police; though we both agreed it was more out of genuine intrigue.
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Trekking

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The walks are stunning in Tayrona, but be warned it is extremely hot and can be a bit of a challenge, so drink water!
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The hills aren't too steep though...
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You can also get around by horse!
Thankfully there are many breathtaking beaches to cool off in....
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Sleeping

You basically have three choices... hammocks or tents... or outrageously expensive cabins.
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Cabo San Juan is the most popular site camp site because it is set at the one of the best beach coves I've ever had the pleasure of chilling at.
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Tents and hammocks go very fast here, and most trekkers end up missing out.
The office starts registration at 1:30 or 2pm - you'll probably need to arrive an hour ahead to secure a spot.

If you have a silk sleeping bag liner and wondered when you're ever going to use it... this one of those rare occasions.
It was pretty apparent that the linen in the tents were not changed each day; and if you opt for a hammock, it'll fend off mosquitoes.

New Friends

Tayrona is really socially conducive without being too busy.
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We spoke with an Argentinian couple; the lady is a nuclear physicist who designs the complex systems that operate nuclear power plants.
She helped build a prototype for a proposed station in Australia, and was training Australians how to operate it (hope I haven't blown her cover)... interesting!_trek.jpg

Food and Supplies

The first night we stayed at the main camp site, where there are posh bungalows, etc - which is really nicely laid out and has a very nice restaurant.
I had this little beauty for lunch (fish and veggies cooked in banana leaf with salad thrown in)... seriously good!
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There is an awesome bakery on the beach about half way to Cabo.
They make their goodies in a wood fired oven, and have fresh orange juice and Colombian coffee on offer.
Their arequipe infused buns are muy rico!!

I'll be back

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With 19000 hectares, Tayrona is immense.
I hardly skimmed the surface, and will be going back to explore the more remote areas by boat next time...

The great state of Satander next...

Posted by SkinnyFists 09:13 Archived in Colombia Tagged beaches trekking parque_tayrona colombia_caribe colombia_beaches Comments (0)

Colombia: Barranquilla Carnaval

Who lives it, is who enjoys it (Quien lo vive, es quien lo goza)

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En Barranquilla me quedo...

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Just outside of Barranquilla's main stadium is an enormous statue of Salsa legend Joe Arroyo..
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...forever keeping time with his claves and just one symbol of Barranquilla's dedication, passion and appreciation for their homegrown music.

Barranquilla is the fitting home to the second biggest Carnival on earth!

Carnaval

To get you started here is a video I put together of snippets recorded in Barranquilla and surrounds during carnival time

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Barranquilla's Carnaval is second only to Rio's... Google the stats ;-)
It's a wonderful, welcoming, boisterous and enormous festival spanning the many flavours and variances of Colombian music and dance.

WELCOME

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As soon as landed at Barranquilla airport, I could hear drums!
A huge welcoming party of drums and dancing awaited new arrivals... and certainly got you amped!

Music

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Music is a hugely important part of Colombia's culture and identity - especially in Barranquilla and Cali.
Both cities share similar characteristics.... I have no idea if they identify with each other - but to this visitor they are similar in their fervent passion for home grown music.

La Troja is one of the best, rawest, and boisterous Salsa joints on earth - optimising the revolutionary, reactionary, anti-establishment roots of Salsa that came out of the Bronx 50 years ago.
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Barranquilla celebrates the wondrous cultural diversity of Colombia through music and dance of maily Cumbia, Vallenato, Champeta, Salsa and some Reggaeton.
We also saw international representation; Chinese, Brazillian and a variety of European floats
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In Barranquilla music is played LOUD... everywhere, in restaurants, bars, loungerooms...everywhere.... and especially during Carnaval.
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Lodgings

It's very unwise to decide on Carnaval in the week leading up to the event. You need to plan ahead!!
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Prices quadruple for this week and rooms sell out months ahead, and so it's essential to book in a timely fashion.
My friends and I were lucky to be offered a room at a family house, which was a true blessing.

Parades and Activities

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The wikipedia entry sums everything up perfectly
here

The different floats, choregraphy and music was incredible.
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The atmosphere is really special, with countless numbers of people gathering along the very long road, either paying big for seats in the stands, a bit less for non tiered chairs or standing in limited free spaces.
Seats for the stands were quite pricey, but we managed to find roadside seats for a reasonable 20k pesos.
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Everyone makes an effort to dress festively, and has a great time, enjoying food and drinks.
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We saw some really remarkable showcases!!
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Carnavalada

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This is the main point for evening festivities and showcases!
We saw many awesome Cumbia performances and others
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Calle 84

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This is Barranquilla's party street, with a myriad of venues to choose from.... all blasting Vallenato, Merengue, Salsa, Champeta and the occasional Bachata tune.
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The music is turned up to 11 t every joint so music can blend in from next door.
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Nonetheless the atmosphere was awesome to the max!
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Food

Barranquilla has seriously amazing food, both during Carnaval at the stall, and also very interesting restaurants.
We went to Totumazo for traditional soup... it was the best meal I had in Colombia!
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Riomar

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We found a magnificent train ride that leads out along the coast with seriously amazing views and tranquility.
The marvellous little train carries you along the 7km slither of land that separates the beach facing the Carribean Sea and Magdalena River
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It's an awesome day trip!!

Museums

Carnaval Museo

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We stopped by for an interesting peak at the history and artefacts of the Carnaval.
This is an informative stop for any Carnaval goer!

Museo del Caribe

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This impressive building, has some seriously impressive displays and activities within it.
It really shows how unique the Carribean region of Colombia is, and when contrasting to the rest of the country; how amazingly diverse Colombia is in terms of culture and terrain

The holographic music showcase is tremendous and worth the visit alone!

♥ Barranquilla

When you go to Carnaval, graciously accept being doused in corn flower and sprayed with foam... and do your best to keep up!
Barranquilla is a friendly Carribean City of Colombia, proud of their city and significance of Colombia's diverse, rich cultural tapestry.

Sad to leave, but see you next year!
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Parque Tayrona next...
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Posted by SkinnyFists 10:31 Archived in Colombia Tagged barranquilla carnaval_colombia vallenato salsa_colombia Comments (0)

Colombia: Bogotá

Discovering the vast capital!

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Bogotá

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Bogotá is the third biggest city in South America after Sao Paolo and Lima.
... and it feels vast!

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Colombians in the Carribean, Cali and Sandander all warned me about how cold and aloof Bogotanos are.

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Perhaps tourists are immune to the city's frio...
I found Bogatanos to be very friendly and welcoming... though certainly not as cheery as those from Colombia's sunnier towns.

One thing is for sure, Bogota is big, diverse and full of character.
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Safety

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Many will tell you that Bogotá can be dangerous... though no more so than any other big city.
Having lived in London, I feel that Bogotá is actually safer.

In Bogotá there is a very visible, comprehensive and formidable police force.
In London I had to calm an unarmed officer down as she fearfully mistook me for a Yardie gangster.... but that's another story ;-)
Colombian cops are well armed, high in numbers, confident, controlling and alert.
Many buildings also have armed private security, and the posh suburbs even have military patrols.

Activities

Cycling

It's a very flat city, and perfect for cycling!
As such it is very bike friendly, with many dedicated bike lanes.
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Freeways are closed off to cars on Sundays so that people can enjoy the day cruising by bike (hear that Australia?!!)
The famous bike tour that leaves from La Candelaria, is an absolute must!!
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Not only because it's a great way to explore the vast city, but it's also very informative and a lot of fun!!
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Graffiti Tour

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Bogotá has a LOT of amazing street art!
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Graffiti artists from all over the world have contributed to some of the many amazing pieces around the city.
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The Graffiti Tour that departs from Simon Bolivar Sq is amazing and was a genuine highlight of my time there.
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Monserrate

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The grand hill of Monserrate overlooks the city, with incredible views.
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You can travel up the long and steep hill via cable car, or walk!
There is also a lovely garden to roam around.

Tejo

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A local friend took me to a Tejo centre to learn the game.
Tejo is an ancient and traditional pre-Colombian game, still recognised and supported by the national sports association... and a lot of fun!!
The aim is to throw weighted discs at gun-powder infused targets, wedged into clay....so they explode.
Hitting a target and getting it to ignite is very, very difficult, but when you do, the payoff is excellent!

We also played Rana... a similar game, and still popular with Uni students.
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Nightlife

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As with any large city, there are many great nightlife options.
Zona Rosa is jam packed with bars, discotheques, restaurants and everything in between.

Salsa, Vallenato, Merengue and Reggaeton form the musical core of Bogotá.
Some venues such as Cafe Libro are dedicated purely to Salsa, whereas the majority of venues are'Crossover'; playing all of the above forms.
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Malls

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It's pretty clear that Colombia's economy is taking off.
One of the many telling signs is the enormous malls scattered around the city.
These places dwarf the malls in Australia.

Take a look at Titán and Unicentro to start.
Upscale Zona Rosa has Adino Mall with giant flagship stores for Nike, Lacoste, Zara, in the surrounding areas.

Tale of Two Cities

As with many big cities, there are huge divides in wealth and quality of life.
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In the posh north, I walked past Maserati, Porsche and Ferrari dealerships, gated communities, with private security or cops on every corner.
You will also see high fashion, beautifully manicured gardens and professional dog walkers in toe with rare purebreds.
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The chain cafes (Juan Valdez) are better/fancier in the north, complete with posh folks with cashmere sweaters draped over their shoulders ;-)
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Alternatively in the south, it's rougher, and boisterous - full of vibrant colour, music and character.
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A local friend explained that there are six tiers of class in Colombian society, and Colombians in general are pretty class conscious.
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Of course Western visitors would be oblivious to this (including me).
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Accommodation

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Bogotá has a myriad of great hotels and hostels.
As I passed through on several occasions I wholeheartedly recommend:

  • 12:12 Hostel - like a hotel, with ace facilities, privacy curtains and chargers for every bed, etc
  • Hotel Regina - this would have been Don Draper's favourite. Old school service, 50's classic music piped in the lounge, where folks sip the free coffee on Chesterfields and late checkout times.
  • Hampton by Hilton - Another amazing part of this ace franchise
  • Casa Dann Carlton - 5* in every possible way. Best gym I've ever seen at a hotel.

Transport

You can fly almost anywhere from Bogotá airport.
The intercity bus system is easy to navigate, and the Transmilenio is pretty efficient (though avoid during peak hours).
The best and safest way to get around Bogotá (and any other city in Colombia) is with Uber

Farewell Bogotá

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Most other travellers I met didn't like Bogotá, but it became one of my favourite cities in Colombia.
It has great infrastructure, plenty of great places to eat and explore and is hugely diverse.
It isn't touristy, as say Cartagena or Medellin, which means you can immerse as a local.... and I was treated as such, and made many great friends here.

This afternoon I met friends for coffee in the north and took a taxi back to my lovely hotel in the south.
As I traversed the city, it really struck me how diverse and enormous it really is... it slowly changed, visibly flowing in character.
I'm going to miss this city... it certainly will be a melancholy departure.

Adios for now amigos!

Posted by SkinnyFists 19:05 Archived in Colombia Tagged graffiti bogota colombia south_america Comments (0)

Colombia: Cali

Journey to the world capital of Salsa!

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The Capital of Salsa

To get you started, here is a video I put together of snippets I recorded at concerts, conventions and Salsatecas in Cali:

Cali, Colombia is widely (and aptly) known as the capital of Salsa.
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Salsa is more than a pastime and interest for Caleños, it is an obsession, transcending many generations since the 1960's.

Many famous and popular Salsa artists from Puerto Rico and Cuba ended up moving to Cali, to be amongst it.
It's in the air and everywhere....in supermarkets, taxis, hotel foyers, air lounges, bars, discotecques, hospitals, family lounge rooms.

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My Salsa teacher in Cali told me that over 40 percent of Caleños are involved in the music/dance industry, and it's hardly surprising.
J Lo often calls upon dance troupes from Cali for her performances, and the bloke who invented Zumba is a Caleño.

Salsa dancing flows throughout Cali.
I even saw homeless folks dancing salsa caleña in the streets without music!

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I had the good fortune of arriving in Cali for the city's fair - Feria de Cali - the biggest Salsa festival on Earth... and it was amazing!!

This article sums up Cali's Salsa culture perfectly:
How Cali’s DIY dance clubs keep the spirit of salsa alive

Cali Fair

Superconcierto

Some friends and I attended 'Superconcierto' at Pascual Guerrero Stadium, featuring the biggest Salsa, Salsa Choke and Bachata artists; Romeo Santos, Chocquibtown, Grupo Niche, Guayacan, Willie Colon, Oscar D'Leon, Binomio Golden and Daniel Calderó!

I haven't seen such a huge and emphatic music crowd since Glastonbury in the UK.

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All the bands and artists were on serious fire and blew the crowd away.

Hermanos Lebrón

The Lebrón Brothers celebrated their illustrious 50th year of creating music magic with an amazing show!
Even in posh theatres, Colombians bring their own cowbells and beat perfectly in time!!
This concert was a highlight of my trip!

Tascas

Cali's central park converts to the wonderful Tascas for the fair.
A huge expanse of food vendors, tables, stages and of course spaces for dancing which were constantly packed!!

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Canchas Panamericanas

Canchas Panamericanas played host to the biggest celebration of Salsa music for the fair.
It featured talks from collectors, venue artists, central figures and artists alike.

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There were many stalls and shops selling records, and artefacts from Salsa's rich history.
It was like Comic-Con for Salsa!

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Salsa Venues

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There are more salsa venues here than any other city, including Havana.
You are spoilt for choice! The most gringo friendly is probably Tintindeo... and it's excellent!
Unpretentious, with both beginners and local veterans dancing together. I had many a great night here and met new friends.
La Topa Tolondra is another cools place, but it is very narrow, and not really conducive to busting your new moves.

In the north east of town are the bigger clubs, some dedicated to Salsa and others play a mix of latin styles.
Take your travel buds with you to these places, and grab a table as the majority do; and dance between them or on the myriad of dance floors scattered around these vast joints!

Markets

Cali's downtown/market area has to be seen/heard to be believed.
Bustling, crowded and musical. Music blasts from every shop and stall with a view to attracting customers.

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Lodgings

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I stayed at three places in Cali:

  • Hostel Encuentro is a fantastic, tranquil family run place where you will be also welcomed and treated like family.
  • Hotel Granada Real is ideally located close to all of the action of Avenida 9, and super cheap.
  • Every city in Colombia now has Hampton by Hilton franchises... and they are excellent!

For approximately $60 per night, with 5* facilities and service you can't go wrong. Cali's is outstanding!

Transport

Cali doesn't have much in the way of tourist friendly public transport.
Uber is definitely the way to go. It's reliable, cheap, and all of the drivers I had in Cali (over 30 trips) had wonderfully immaculate cars and were amazingly professional.

Cali, The City

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In comparison to the other big cities in Colombia, Cali is a gritty town.
Once ruled by the ruthless Cali Cartel, it seems to be in the throes of recovery.
Though it's difficult to tell if they are keen to progress or fine as they are.

Medellin, by comparison, was hit even harder back in the day, but has now shaken it's torrid past off, and taken enormous strides to become arguably Colombia's premier and most friendly city, attracting the most foreign and local migrating workers in Colombia.

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Cali certainly doesn't market itself as a tourist centre; Caleños get on fine without tourists.
I read a quote in that famous travel guide... you need Cali more than it needs you... and it's so true.
Any visitors who arrive with a lofty entitled, tourist pedestal will be very quickly ignored... or worse.

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Don't expect to come to Cali and find tourist maps, museums, etc.
The attraction here is the very rich culture of music and everything that surrounds it.

Cali is just one example of Colombia's vast and varied musical tapestry; which is just one of the many marvellous factors that distinguishes Colombia from the rest of the region.

I had a great time in Cali, made many new friends, learnt some new dance moves and got a wonderful insight into Colombia's musical jewel.

I went to the capital next... boundless Bogotá!!

Posted by SkinnyFists 14:25 Archived in Colombia Tagged salsa colombia cali salsatecas Comments (0)

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