Villa de Leyva

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South America » Colombia » Villa de Leyva
September 24th 2013
Published: October 1st 2013
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Our trip to Villa de Leyva started with a taxi ride to the main bus terminal. We finally managed to find the right booth and purchased our tickets to Tunja which is about 3hours from Bogota and a 45minute minibus ride from Villa de Leyva. The bus was due to leave in 10minutes so we grabbed some empanadas to go and headed over to the bus hoping that we hadn’t missed out on seats… Turns out we didn’t have to worry as we were the first people on the bus. In fact we were still the only two people on our very comfy very large bus when the driver and ticket sales man boarded and drove away…

We spent the first hour of the trip making our way very slowly out of Bogota picking up passengers from random spots beside the road as we went along. This seemed like a very inefficient way of collecting passengers, imagine if you could arrange it so that everyone went to one spot (say a bus terminal) at the same time and hopped on there! By the time we were done our bus was almost full and we set off towards Tunja at a slightly more reasonable pace. The scenery along the way was gorgeous, green lush rolling hills covered in farms.

We managed to find out minibus at Tunja without too much trouble and after about a 10minute wait we set off…only to stop at a few more stops to pick up other passengers. As we crossed over the top of the mountain and headed down the other side the scenery changed dramatically. The rolling hills were still there, but everything was incredibly dry and dusty.

As we drove into Villa de Leyva we were pretty sure we’d actually caught the wrong bus and had been taken to a film set for a western movie. After we hopped in the taxi and headed off towards our hotel we became more convinced – the architecture of the town combined with cowboys in cowboy hats leading horses along the side of the road, lots of cactus and even more dust definitely gave the town a certain charm!

Our hotel was about a 20 minute walk from the Plaza so after checking in we wandered down to check out the town. All the buildings in Villa de Leyva are whitewashed and the central part of the town has cobblestone streets which makes it looks really quaint. It was lunch time by the time we reached Plaza Meyor, which is 120m by 120m wide making it one of the largest squares in South and Central America, so we wandered around looking for somewhere to eat. We eventually found a bakery in one of the back streets and ordered some pastels de pollo which were absolutely delicious and quite possibly the favourite ones from the trip!

After lunch we grabbed some ice-creams and ate them in the plaza before heading back to our hotel to settle into the hammocks with our books. Unfortunately we couldn’t get out of the hammocks until dinner time.. For dinner we wandered back into town hoping to go to Mercardo Municipal, a restaurant which gets really good reviews on Trip Advisor and in Lonely Planet. Unfortunately it was closed so we strolled around for a while looking for an alternative place and eventually settled on a pizza restaurant just near the plaza. Our dinner was quite yummy but very expensive for what it was; Villa de Leyva is definitely a tourist town with prices like that.

The following morning we had grand plans of a long walk through the countryside around the town, however it was incredibly windy which wasn’t so pleasant given it was also very dry and therefore dusty. We decided instead to wander around the town which was fairly empty as the weekend tourists from Bogota had all headed back home! We wandered around for a while before heading to the Plaza, finding a spot in the shade and settling in for some people watching (fortunately some more people had actually appeared). We then grabbed some pastel de pollo (and a brownie with arequipe) from the same bakery as the day before and a pineapple and walked back up the hill to our hotel and returned to our hammocks. Scott went inside to grab something from our room at one stage and by the time he came back I'd picked up the cat that had strolled past and had him curled up on my lap purring.

For dinner we again headed to Mercardo Municipal, but it turned out that when the man the previous night said they open at 12 he meant they open at 12, but close after lunch and don’t open for dinner! We ended up at a Mexican restaurant which shared a courtyard with a number of other restaurants (most of which were closed which was not surprising given how quiet the town was). We had a yummy dinner complete with a lulo cocktail!

The following morning (following a cuddle with Raul, the cat from yesterday, in bed) we went looking for cowboys to try and take a photo! Unfortunately they were all in hiding, but we had a nice stroll around nonetheless. We then headed back to the hotel for some more hammock time before packing up, checking out and making our way towards the terminal to catch a bus back to Bogota for our final night in Colombia. This time we had caught the direct bus, which actually meant it followed the same route we’d taken on the way to Villa de Leyva but that we didn’t have to change bus in Tunja and we got to experience the joys of being stuck in a Bogota traffic jam!

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