Popayan and Cali - The first taste of Colombia


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South America » Colombia » Popayan
July 19th 2018
Published: July 23rd 2018
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County number two and the one I've been most looking forward to visiting....Colombia!
Firstly let's dismiss the bad stigma from the past and look forward to an increasingly popular place to visit with incredible scenery and diversity (landscapes and people). A country where the people are full of life and are proud of where Colombia is headed.

An early morning rise to cross the border (from Ecuador for us) should be considered at the moment due to the situation with Venezuela. Many Venezuelans are camped out in order to cross and their lines are long meaning crossing the border can take a while.
We got there at 6 am and it took us an hour and half.

First stop was Popayan after a 6 hour bus ride from Ipiales through some amazing valleys. We didn't know what to expect in Popayan but it turned out to be a very nice place to visit. The main center and surrounding blocks are all white colonial buildings, some going back to the 18th century.
We decided to do the free (donation based) walking tour as we were not sure what we were going to do. It turned out to be very interesting and we would recommend it.
We went to places and buildings that one wouldn't think to visit as from the outside it looks like a personal business or a place not accessible for a traveller. We also tried tasty local food and drinks and our guide was nice and knowledgeable.

Our hostel, Parklife, right next to the cathedral was great. Lots of hostels in South America have kitchens and we enjoyed cooking for a change which also has the added benefit of saving money too.
One day in Popayan is enough. Some people may head onwards to San Augustin or as we did to Cali.

Cali is well known for its salsa. Again we didn't know what was there to see and do. We decided to do the free (donation based again) walking tour with Adventours based in San Antonio (San Antonio is a safe area to stay in as opposed to some areas in Cali that you shouldn't go near)

Again we would recommend this tour as we learnt a lot about Cali and our guide was very knowledgeable and had great English.
We only stayed one night in Cali but other people may find it has more to offer.

Colombians also eat a huge Almeurzo (lunch) and portions are big. It includes soup (always with coriander, each mouthful a struggle if you're like us and don't like it) followed by a plate of usually rice, chicken and chip and beans, sometimes veggies. This means you only end up spending around £3 for the both of you for lunch, a bargain if you ask me!

So far we were really enjoying Colombia and there is still much to see. A good base of Spanish is recommended as many Colombians don't speak English.



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