Posts Tagged ‘Colombia’

The day I was looking forward to it began, and we were excitedly waiting with a bag full of mangos for Manuel’s driver to give us ride. It appeared, we had another traveler share the trip with us. He was a friend of Manuel who was in a business trip from Australia, very pleasant guy.

Parque Nacional Tayrona was on the jungle covered coast east of Santa Marta. It took around an hour to get to that Majestic Beauty. The admission supposed to be US $9 and no surprise that we had to pay much more because we were not “locals”.

Oh boy! It was totally worth it to come to Colombia just for those coconut palms shading the beaches, awesome wood smell, fogs covering mountain, and a massage bed right in front of the ocean (luxury at a bargain).

The driver showed us to a beach which, as he said, was hidden from Tourists. It was unbelievable. A scene from heaven!! Too bad we couldn’t swim there since two armed guys guarded the place and warned us not even thinking about swimming there. I heard from driver and several tourists that Tayrona was the loveliest yet most dangerous part of Colombia. (I leave the reason to your imagination.)
Riding with a jeep in the bumpy road, wild nature, and forewarning of the driver to leave before dark made me feel inside one of the Indiana Jones movies. I was not into horse ridding but there was an option to rent horses and wander around the jungle. We finally found a beach that we could swim for awhile. With perfect water temperature and an awesome view it was heartbreaking to leave the beach.
At the end, I was glad for leaving the best part for the end.

A million thanks to beautiful Katrizza and nice Manuel.



We are getting close to the best parts of the trip: Taganga and Tayrona park!
Most of the guys that we talked at Andres Carne de Res voted Taganga as the best part of the trip. I voted for Tayrona but still agreed with them. Who could resist the relaxed fishing village lured by sun and sand?
I loved the village’s beach which was packed with boats and open-air restaurants. I’ve noticed there were more tourists than locals, so I guessed Taganga WAS a backpacker hideaway. We walked around the village and then got to our friend’s boat and headed to the beach. The place we went for swimming, reminded me of “The beach” movie. Although I know that movie was filmed somewhere else, the view of the beach and the ambiance was kind of resembling. For lunch, our friend recommended one of the open air restaurant next to the beach. A local woman showed us a big tray with different type of fishes to choose from. My sister chose a flat golden fish (it was kind of big) and I chose one small white one. Apparently, none of our choices was good since we ended up both eating a big pinkish fish. (I don’t remember any of those names, but I’m sure the pink one is not Salmon)

Santa Marta

Santa Marta

Finally cool Caribbean blue view! That was close to my idea of a great vacation!

The long road that leaded us from Cartagena to Santa Marta was pretty scary. And I don’t think I want to bring back that memory by writing about it. (In case you are wondering, just let me know)

Although getting there was a challenge, as soon as we got there, the warm hospitality of Katrizza lift our mood right away. She had an apartment next to the ocean with a pool. Her neighborhood was a heartbreaking beauty and her Caribbean style apartment added a vibrant cultural scene.
First night we were exhausted so we went straight to our rooms where clean neat towels and coffee cookies from “Eje Cafetero” were waiting for us on our beds. The day after, we went to pool and then got prepared to explore the area with one of Katrizza’s friends who volunteered to be our tour leader for the rest of the trip. We just had one day to explore the city before going to Tayrona Park and Taganga. I loved the city as most tourists did too. We checked out the hairy status of Carlos Alberto “El Pibe” Valderrama Palacio, one of my favorite football player, and also visited the oldest school in the country. And … I had my first mango, I mean real first time mango of my life. After that I was eating mango pretty much every 2-3 hours for weeks until I got tired of it.

Volcan de Lodo El Totumo:
Highlight of the trip! No surprise that I liked this particular adventure since I’m a spa girl. But this mud bath experience is totally different from what you can get in a regular Spa Salon. This volcano is the subject of considerable legend. The locals believed it once spewed fire, lava and ash but this was considered to be the work of the devil by a priest. He sprinkled it frequently with holy water and it slowly extinguished, drowning the devil in mud. I’m sure most of the tourists, including me, go there for a nutrient-rich natural bath rather than visiting devil.
The bus that took us there was very clean. The passengers were from around the world, Finland, Ireland, Australia, Costa Rica, and etc. While we were driving out to the mud volcano, driver was playing great Colombian hits. The view of the road was awesome. I couldn’t wait to jump to the volcano.
I was one of the first excited ones climb the volcano to the mud, and not to mention, the first one who got out of it. I loved it so much but after a few minutes, I felt uncomfortable and had an urge to leave. Well basically I got cluster phobia. The mud was so thick I could barely move my hands. If the local didn’t help me, it would be tough to move inside. And after a while the entire passengers got in, and it became jam-packed.
After wallowing in the mud, locals washed us one by one at the nearby lake. It was a little bit weird, since they asked us to strip while they were washing us. The natural bath worked and I had a very soft glowing skin after that. Finally we had lunch in a neat place with a beautiful view of Caribbean Sea.

Cartagena wasn’t the city that I imagined. Actually I can say that was my least favorite city in Colombia (among the ones I visited). Don’t take me wrong, some parts were unbelievable, but in overall it was not “a fairytale city of romance” that I expected to be. On the other hand, if you like photography, this can be a right place for you.

I liked the extreme change of weather from Bogota to Cartagena as soon as we took off from the plane. It felt very humid and very green. According to locals, usually the weather over there is hot or hotter. But while we were there, there were Tropical showers most of the time. Sitting on the cab and heading to our hotel. I found the city a little bit dirty with skinny hungry dogs walking around everywhere, and not very accessible beaches but I loved the sweet sticky heat in a city.We stayed in Caribe Hotel, which was next to the beach and close to the other well known hotels. The good thing about the hotel was breakfast buffet in the morning and also its hugs pool. Although the hotel was comfortable, I would prefer to go to hustle to meet and hang out with more tourists around our ages.

Historic center! Fine colonial buildings! That was basically the reason we came to Cartagena. We went to Historical center the day after our arrival. Apparently it was Sunday so there wasn’t that much visitors around and most of the stores were closed. Before I get to Cartagena I heard that the city air is addictive, and you never want to leave the city after that, but for me, it wasn’t like that. I couldn’t wait to go to the next destination.


Posted: October 25, 2009 in Catch me on the the road
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First night, we stayed at Hotel La Fontana Estelar. The hotel was nice, but the neighborhood wasn’t. We arranged a shuttle to pick us up from the airport, and later on we found out it was a bad idea since they charged us almost three times more than a regular taxi, but at that time we didn’t care since we were concerned only about the safety. As soon as we checked in we followed one of our friend’s recommendations and straight went to Andres Carne de Res. It was a party restaurant located in Chia in the far north of the city. The taxi rate is around 30.000 COP to get there. And obliviously we paid twice for going there, and 4 times more coming back. I don’t recommend going to South America or Central America for vacation, if you don’t know any Spanish. The place was very cheerful, with fancy drinks and loud music. It was a must see place in Bogota. The south amrican ambiance will hit you as soon as you walked in. The place put mostly Salsa music, some pop Colombian hits and also lots of 80’s dance music. Some songs reminded me of Cat Club’s Thursday nights in San Francisco. One thing about Bogota that bothered me was the pollution. It was extremely polluted specially around our hotel. In our second day, we check out Museo Del Oro and around it, and headed to Cartagena in afternoon. Bogota didn’t impress me at all at the first time, but I changed my mind on the way back when we stayed in Hotel La Boheme. At the last night of our trip we chose La Boheme to stay which was located in the Zona Rosa. It was in the high end neighborhood with neat restaurants, coffee shops, and fancy boutiques. We felt very safe over there, so walked around the neighborhood until around midnight. This neighborhood was more European like and doesn’t give you the feel of South America. Except Latin musics that were playing loud everywhere. We didn’t have that much time to stay in Bogota, but I could guess I would like it if I stayed there more.