Published: July 30th 2010July 29th 2010
The Dutch team according the Colombians...
A bit late, but still fun.... Guess they were impressed...
Ok, Colombia is good. It's actually too good to leave on a short notice, so we're still here. The funny thing is that fellow travellers have the same issue: They also just keep on extending their stay here. It's really remarkable, but Colombia has it all: Mountains, beaches, deserts, jungles, cool cities, nice people and enough stuff to see without other loads of tourists (and yes, you can still manage it on a small budget).
But before we kick off: still a small picture of the Dutch soccer team, according the Colombians. Got this pic from Facebook from a Colombian friend. Ok, enough b#llshit: the Colombian story continues... Medellin.
The town of Pablo Escobar - Medellin
From the north we headed down to Medellin and guess that the most (in)famous inhabitant was Pablo Escobar. There are cool trips in Medellin to show you where he blew up buildings, where he was shot and where he was buried. All cool, but really too expensive and we knew that this buzzing city is vibrant and growing, so in case anybody told us that Pable was shot on that
particular roof, then we would have believed him. Pictures from
Cementerio de San Pedro
A cemetery/museum in Medellin. Amazing how much decoration they use, including flowers, stickers, football jersey´s.
more that 15 years ago do not resemble the current city. So no tour for us, although meeting his blind brother would have been cool, including sitting on Pablo's Harley while wearing his fur hat (For the ones in the know: and are interested, just contact Tiger Paw). We just took off to his grave and found it actually pretty basic. And for the curious ones: No traces of white powder....
But Medellin is a cool town. Nice vibe and finally a Colombian city with a decent public transport system! But the people do show off and like to show they have good life. Nice place to hang around for some time. But nice cities are not really our thing so we moved on to Rio Claro, off the (foreigner) tourist trail.
¿Where the hell is the path and the bl##dy waterfall?
Loads of tourists there, but 97% Colombians, so a nice change. It's a beautiful river embedded in a canyon. The riverbed is often whitish due to the ´marble´rocks. Really pretty. We camped there with our little tent. No licor allowed, but nobody checks :) But anyhow, really nice river beaches, perfect walking paths, zip-lines all
At Cementerio de San Pedro in Medellin.
around and loads of nice spots deeper in the valley.... Ok, until you actually go too deep in the valley, cause then the path disappears, but there are still approx 3 sights to go, including the fabulous waterfall at the end. We quit and return when we met others who guessed that the path might actually continue on the other side of the river. They thought they saw a sign pointing in that direction... Brave as we are, we chickened out (and saved our camera and wallet from soaking), went to a private river-beach and chilled. We didn't see the other guys anymore. No clue whether they made it or not.
Being off the tourist trail is fun, but also annoying, especially in case there are no buses to your next destination. But ok, after some hassle we made it to Manizales. Manizales, we never heard of it before we came to Colombia. But for sure we knew the product for what it's famous for COFFEE!!!
Koffie, koffie, lekker bakkie koffie!
We spent 3 nights in Manizales. The first 2 nights in a no-name, boring hostel, the last night in a fabulous one, but later more. We
Wanna buy a taxi???
A "taxi shop" in Medellin. Funny...
spent our time in Manizales just lingering around. Figured out that the most efficient public transport there are cable cars. Enjoyed the free music in front of the cathedral FYI: Colombia is independent for 200 years this year, so activities are held all around)
. Had a beer on the streets and enjoyed the views from the city down into the valleys around. The following day we did our tribute, our pilgrimage, our mekka: we visited a Coffee Plantation: Hacienda Venecia.
We started with 2 decent espressos from freshly grounded coffee and already felt our efforts to arrange this trip were being paid off (the day before we spent 3 minute´booking´this trip and had to be ready on the day itself at 10 AM). Got a tour on the plantation and had more coffee. What more can you wish for? Not for more coffee, cause after our 6th cup our hearts were racing like hell....
Relating accomodation in Manizales. Most hostels in the 'Zona Rosa´, the typical going out area, are basic and not special, but our last night we spent in the Basecamp Hostel: wooden floors, roof top terrasse with views, cheese croissants with scrambled eggs for breakfast,
Our favourite local bar in Medellin: grey-hair DJ´s spinning vinyl from times long before we were born...
French press coffee and dormitory rooms just for ourselves. Guess this doesn't sound too interesting to the average reader, but for the ones on the road, we think they will understand....
¿Salento has dwarfs sitting on toilets?
From Mani we took off to Salento. Nice, cobblestone village. Avoid it in the w-end as then the Colombian tourists flock in, but during the week: just perfect. Near Salento is a long, narrow valley where on the top of the hills tall, really tall wax palm trees grow. Below is just plain green grass. But the extra kicker are the clouds and the winds. The winds push the clouds in every direction. So you see clouds going from left-to-right, but at the same time you see other clouds going right-to-left. The clouds push themselves over the hill tops, through the palm trees. So you just sit down in the valley in the sun watching this weird miracle of nature. It really has strange mystical feelings, especially with some local magic mushrooms....
From our too short stay in Salento we had to go to Cali, in order to do some serious business. Cali is known for its
Me and my buddy
The grave of the (in)famous drug lord: Pablo Escobar.
Salsa and its nightlife. We arrived on a Sunday, so really almost everything was closed and other travellers in the hostel were just hanging on the couches watching movie after movie.... Guess they had a good night before. But for us: serious business: Diving. We were already from some time in contact with some diving companies, but the base for serious diving is in Cali. Serious diving = diving on an island 500 km west from the Colombian coast: Malpelo. We won't tell you what we hope to see there, but it better be good, because once we fixed it and paid for it, it really made a serious dent on our bank account. The stupid thing is that the dives will start mid August. Knowing our visa expires within a week, we're now heading to Ecuador and will return to Colombia mid August.... We fixed this on Agi's b-day, so therefore: Boldog születésnapot, Kicsim! But the travel continues and the same day Agi had her B-day dinner in Popayan. Again white washed walls with cobblestoned streets, but also an excellent Italian-Swiss restaurant. So we had our first decent pizza and cheese fondue in ages. Celebrated with a decent bottle
By Fernando Botero
of wine (read: WWOOHHHHOOOOO, no cheap wine from a carton box!!!!!
) and a coffee with rum for desert: Not bad!
As I'm typing this, we actually already in Pasto. Really the road between Popayan and Pasto is briliant: huge mountains and 'tsunami' cloud formations on top of them, but no pics from here, as this computer is infested with viruses and the pics that go along with this blog entry have been loaded up in Cali... Today we hiked to a ´sleeping´vulcano nearby, but not as sleeping as expected, as apparently there were still eruptions this year (and there is a military base as well, so mines all around...). So we didn't make it to the top.
Tomorrow Ipiales, to visit an old sanctuary which is actually a bridge over a canyon as well and then..... Ecuador. Let's hunt down some guinea pigs and roast them!!!!!
There are more photos below