Blogs from Colombia, South America

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South America » Colombia July 16th 2019

La Candelaria is Bogota's historical quarter; it is where you'll find the cheapest accommodation, the quaintest narrow cobbled streets and the best street art. You can sample chicha (fermented maize), grab great street snacks (welcome back the empanada), patch up a child's head, have your pockets picked and witness singing soldiers... Bogota had previously suffered from the worst forms of graffiti with random, repetitive, unskilled tags adorning any accessible surface. That was until someone, somewhere, had an inspired idea: now an aspiring artist may ask anyone for permission to paint on their property and, if the owners are agreeable, they simply nip to the local government office to be provisioned with all the paint and equipment required (for free). The results are impressive: drab grey facades are lifted, really amazing art is created and thus-inclined individuals ... read more
Hummingbird at Valley de Corcora
Sleeping on a boogie box, Cartagena
Jardin church ceiling

South America » Colombia » Cartagena June 11th 2019

“Our” bus driver Jorge picked us up for a tour of Getsemani. On the way we passed the estate of the Roman family. Manuel Roman came from Madrid around 1800s. He was a rebuscar, or a hustler and married a woman from Cartagena. His family originated the Roman Pharmacy and created Cola Roman (a cherry flavored drink similar to coca cola) before Coca Cola came about. Sam told us some people added lime to enhance the flavor. This drink became a cure for everything. Refajo, (Cola Roman with beer), is traditionally the first alcoholic drink for young people. Cola Roman later merged with Coca Cola and now the real Cola Roman can only be found in Cartagena. We drove by the imposing Roman family house owned now by the matriarchal leaders of the family business who ... read more
Getsemani mural
Mural painting of Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Umbrella street in Getsemani

South America » Colombia » Cartagena June 11th 2019

With only hours left in Cartagena I wanted to make the most of what I could in such a short time. After an early and fast breakfast at the hotel I began to walk the now quiet streets (the tourists were gone or still in their beds) and watched as Cartagena begin to come alive. Shops were still mostly closed but the street vendors were beginning to set up their stands or wagons filled with fruit, coconuts and other edibles. Men walked with towers of hats on top of their heads, and some had large woven basketshanging from their necks and shoulders, but the fruit selling-photo-selling ladies in their colorful bright dresses must have been sleeping in. I never bought a “Panama hat” in Panama and knowing that the origin of the hat is from Ecuador ... read more
My Ecuadorian-Panamanian-Colombian straw hat!
The street is quiet in front of our hotel this morning

South America » Colombia » Cartagena June 10th 2019

We enjoyed a self serve breakfast at hotel (after we figured out it was self serve) in the open air eating area. Floor to ceiling windows opened up to the sidewalk and street. Local fresh fruit was cut and displayed such as passion fruit, all manner of melons, oranges. A variety of breads, ham, cheese and hard boiled eggs, cooked sausages, and scrambled eggs were also on the buffet. Surrounding the orange and pineapple juices was a delightfully painted mural of a tropical island with palm trees and other tropical greenery while flying alligators…wait, what?! Yes! And pink flying dolphin-flamingoes, and a flying rabbit-seagullfloated on the walls while a rabbit-frog hid in the foliage below. What wonderful art with a sense of humor…. Sam came to announce that we were to walk to the end of ... read more
Secret tunnels at Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas
The Colombian flag flew proudly above the fort
Dave learns to make jewelry at the Emerald Museum

South America » Colombia » Cartagena June 9th 2019

Our 8am pickup arrived at the Hotel Central Panama to take us to the airport for our COPA airline flight to Cartagena. We were pleasantly surprised to see that jovial Roberto (“familia!”) was our bus driver. Most of our group of 21 OAT travelers were heading home, or had already left, but eight of us were heading to tour beautiful Cartagena, Colombia as an extended three day excursion. On our way to the airport we passed now familiar old buildings and were able to enjoy the contrasting modern skyline on our way to the Panama City Airport and our COPA airline flight. After a short, comfortable flight on COPA, maybe my favorite airline now, we actually had breakfast (a delicious ham and cheese sandwich with fruit and coffee) for that two hour flight! After collecting our ... read more
Spanish style open air balcony (pool is below)
Hotel pool looking down from our balcony
Cartagena: Photographer's dream

South America » Colombia May 13th 2019

Trip almost over. Before returning to Cartagena found a small place about 50 kms South of it to relax. Small hotel is just at the exit of San Basilio de Palenque. This is a small city founded by escaped slaves. They are proud of their heritage and there are many opportunities of visiting this culture if you are interested. Hotel was fine, located on a small farm but only problem was ......the road!!! In this part of the country, no major highway to connect major cities, so there are tons of trucks on the road...annoying! About 35kms from the hotel, found a small nature park near city of San Juan Nepomuceno. That's the greenest part of the region for kms around!! There are howler monkeys to see if you haven't seen any elsewhere. Little problem with ... read more
Los Colorados park
country side
view from balcony

South America » Colombia » Barranquilla May 8th 2019

Actually, not Baranquilla itself, but Puerto Colombia, 16 kms West of Baranquilla center. This is a small city with almost no tourists in view, with beach front and a long "malecon", (boardwalk along the sea). This city is a getaway for families of big Baranquilla. The atmosphere is relaxed and it's quite safe with all the families and children around. The ocean color is not Caribbean turquoise but it's okay. Along the malecon, many artists painted benches and other objects. The small animated center is one street inland of malecon. The hotel we stayed was Hotel Boutique Porto Bello. It's by far, the nicest hotel around! We arrived on a Sunday afternoon, and all weekenders left the hotel, so we were alone for 2 days! With all the personnel to ourselves, we felt like movie stars! ... read more
puerto colombia
art on malecon
airplane on malecon

South America » Colombia May 4th 2019

Nochmals freue ich mich über eine weitere Reisebegleitung: Beate, eine gute Freundin begleitet mich durch Kolumbien und Panama. Gemeinsam schauten wir uns in den ersten Tagen Bogota an, eine zwar etwas gesichtslose, aber doch auch wieder spannende Stadt auf ca. 2.600m Höhe. Vom Hausberg Cerro de Monserrate, der nochmals fast 700m höher liegt, hat man einen schönen Ausblick über die Stadt. Klassischer Weise fährt man hier mit der Seilbahn oder der Zahnradbahn hoch. Wer Lust hat, kann auch 1h hoch laufen. ;-) Wir fuhren gemütlich hoch, schlenderten durch das schöne Altstadtviertel Candelaria mit seinen vielen Graffitis bis hin zum Plaza Bolivar und erkundeten schöne Bars und Cafes. Und wir planten unsere Touren und Ausflüge. Meine geliebten Free Walking Tours werden auch hier in Bogota angeboten. Und es gibt sie zu verschiedensten Themen. So erfährt man viel ... read more
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South America » Colombia » Santa Marta May 3rd 2019

After 7 days straight in baking hot temperature, it was time for a relief! We took the road. From Tayrona, we headed to Santa Marta, and then , took small road to Minca. You're going up all the way. At some point there are a couple of very tight 180 degrees curve so watch yourself! Minca is a very small city but it's quite compact. There are many accommodations but for peace and quiet, choose one out of the village. i chose one on Cerro Kennedy road named "tierra adentro private reserve". It's advertised as having free parking, but the road to get there are really really rough! I made 85% of the small road but had to abandoned and return to Minca. There, I parked my car in a private parking and took a jeep ... read more
bird
pet macaw
trail

South America » Colombia » Santa Marta » Palomino April 29th 2019

Still staying in hotel Kantawa, decided to do a little ride to explore east side of the region. At first, I was supposed to go to RioHacha, explore a bit the desert and then go South to completely drive around Sierra Nevada mountain range. But I changed my mind soon after arriving in Colombia. Problem with Guajira and far East, is that the desert doe snot hold many interesting attractions for me, even after looking at some blogs and read about it. So, instead, I'll stay a couple of nights in Minca after Tayrona. The drive. Road is smooth and with not too much heavy traffic. I passed succession of banana plantations, forests, little villages and coastline. About the coastline, at one point, the road is on a cliff with many nice views, but there's no ... read more
farm
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