Traveling with friends Mary Lou and Robert in Colombia for 3 weeks.
  • Day21

    Colombia Day 20

    August 15, 2018 in Colombia ⋅ 🌧 25 °C

    Last day for me in Colombia. ML and Robert left for Minca about 10:30 this AM. It is about a 5 hour drive from here on the other side of Santa Marta. Wish I was going there as it is pretty much jungle and good hiking. They are also doing a full day of bird watching. Everything is done with a guide. I waited for the gal to come at noon to check us out of our place and take me to where can store my bags for the day as my flight back to Bogota is not until 8:15 tonight.
    Out to walk around Cartagena one last time. Got cigars for Mark and did a little shopping. Then lunch and off via cab to the airport. Had a long wait but busy with E-mail and computer games. Cartegena to Bogota flight on Latam on time. Final flights from Bogota to Mexico City and Mexico City to SF uneventful. Did not sleep much. BART to Joel's to pick up my car and home by around 5PM. End of a successful and very interesting Colombian experience.
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  • Day20

    Colombia Day 19

    August 14, 2018 in Colombia ⋅ 🌧 28 °C

    An overcast morning but off we go for our "beach" day to the islands. There are tons of boats that do beach trips every day but Flavia helped us find one that was less expensive than some and sent us pictures of the location which looked lovely. Took a taxi to the port and joined the hundreds of other vacationers off to the island beaches. "Our" island was a small island, Islabela, about an hour speed boat ride away. Got there by 10AM and it was lovely. Our boat held about 40 so we had the entire island for the day. Lovely setting with our own cabana and chairs and a lovely spot in the Caribbean to swim right in front of us. We were waited on for drinks as well. I had forgotten how much I like Mojitos which I had not had since I was in Cuba. They are excellent here as they are made with yerba buena instead of mint for a more subtle flavor.
    They had massages, snorkeling, and other activities as well. Lunch of grilled fish and rice included. Just lounged around, took a nap and swam whenever we wanted. A great relaxing day. Back to the mainland by 4PM and back to our bnb. Some catch up time and out to the plaza about 100m from our place for our last dinner together.
    A lazy day and my last in this wonderful spot in the world.
    I leave tomorrow night for home. ML and Robert going on to Minca, a town outside of Santa Marta in the jungle with great bird watching and jungle hikes. Wish I was going there as well but time to get home for camping next week - maybe depending on the fire situation.
    A walk after dinner for ice cream, coconut for me. Their coconut ice cream is chock full of coconut - coco palms everywhere around here.
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  • Day19

    Colombia Day 18

    August 13, 2018 in Colombia ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    Last move day for me. Yeah!! (Except for going home that is). Only booked this place for 3 days and decided to stay longer so off today for another place in historic Cartagena about 5 minutes away. Packing, pictures and breakfast filled the morning. Valentina came to pick us up a bit before noon and we took our luggage to the new place.
    I like the new place better. On 2 floors with a rooftop terrace. Lighter decor and not as cluttered as previous place. Had to leave right away as they were still cleaning so out to walk the City - back to Getsemani for ML and Robert. Still very hot mid day, stopped for a lemonade in the shade. Shopping along the way at the dozens/hundreds of artisan and souvenir shops along the way Back to the condo for a "feet up" hour. Planning to go to the Modern Art museum and it does not reopen until 3PM. Robert and ML doing some planning for the rest of the trip and we are getting things organized for our beach trip to the islands tomorrow. Flavia, the manager of the last place, has been extremely helpful. She knows everything and everyone to make things pretty seamless. Off to the Modern Art museum. Some interesting things but not air-conditioned so our attention span was limited. A stop for groceries in the way back and then the 2nd shower of the day and dress for dinner. Robert and ML invited Flavia to join us to thank her for all she has done. Had some wine here and then to dinner - Juan del Mar - just a couple blocks away. Lovely restaurant and very good food, we all shared various dishes and enjoyed Flavia's company.
    Very tired tonight - between a queasy gut all day long and the heat, glad it was an early night.
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    dorcas walton

    Just looks fantastic! Safe travels home

    8/15/18Reply
     
  • Day18

    Colombia Day 17

    August 12, 2018 in Colombia ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    A morning of planning as we only have this place one more night. ML and Robert have 2 more unplanned weeks so they are thinking about where to go. They have decided to stay in Cartagena until I leave on Thursday. Our host has a friend with a place 5 minutes away so we will rent that place for the next 2 nights. In our discussion with our host, Flavia, Robert asked her about the beaches. She said she was going to a local beach today and asked if we wanted to go along. ML and Robert off to the beach with her, I missed some sleep last night so opted to stay here and do some things on my own. Have been wanting some "alone time" anyway. They are off around 11 and I am off to the store for dinner supplies as we will cook in tonight.
    Groceries in, food is very inexpensive, and by, Bay area standards, restaurants as well. Just nice not to have to go out to dinner all the time.
    My stomach is "talking to me" today so taking it easy. ML as well, we think from the cerviche last night as that was the only thing she and I ate that Robert did not. Strange as we have had cerviche almost every night that we were out to dinner.
    I went out to walk the Getsemani neighborhood not far away, of the walled city center. Lots of wonderful street art and more colonial architecture. Back to bnb to meet ML and Robert when they got back from the beach. They had a good time, said it was beautiful, we will go out to the islands and their beaches before we leave.
    We have been wanting to go to one of the clubs - late night music, dancing and drinking. Flavia gave us the name of a more non-touristy club close to us. So instead of going to bed at 9PM, we went out!! We did know that most of the clubs do not really get going until around midnight and it is a Sunday night as well. The club was on the main plaza of the central area of the city and we sat outside on a small balcony of the club sipping beers and waiting for something to happen. Lots of music but the recorded type. One Latin couple dancing and encouraged ML and Robert to join them which they did. Fun pictures. Around 10:30 we decided to leave, having had a bit of the experience.
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    dorcas walton

    Beautiful!

    8/14/18Reply
     
  • Day17

    Colombia Day 16

    August 11, 2018 in Colombia ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    Some AM laundry at Casa Pilar, our home for three days. Then out into the heat of Cartagena for a walk around town. Temperature in the 90s and humidity in the high 80s. This is typical of the city weather - pretty constant year around as all of Colombia is not far from the equator. (Equator runs through Southern Colombia). The historic, center district of Cartagena is very beautiful. Full of old Spanish Colonial architecture in all colors. We walked out to the ocean and wandered through the streets at random. Stopped twice for something to drink - learning to love coco lemonade - made with coconut milk and lemonade - very refreshing and yummy. Afraid to find out how many calories. :-( Lemonade is big here - you can also get it with yerba buena and it, too, is delicious. They also make the mojitos with yerba buena (instead of mint) and they are really good - have not had a mojito that good since I was in Havana.
    Robert went to a museum while ML and I walked the streets, taking pictures and a little shopping. I still have not bought very much but this is the best shopping area we have been in. Back to the bnb for a shower and some "feet up" time.
    Out for dinner - Peru Fusion - for a very good dinner of cerviche, poke bowl for me and pisco sours. :-) A lovely restaurant about a half mile from us through the narrow streets crowded with people, stores/artisans on both sides of the street and some on bicycles selling as well. Warm and sultry and just fun to stroll the streets in any direction. The historic center of Cartagena where we are staying is not real big, everything is walkable, with the Atlantic on one edge and the wall circling the city, on the other 3 sides. This city is alive with party goers, lots of clubs and bars, even saw a gal protesting that the street to her home was closed due to a wedding - she was pretty much lying on the hood of a taxi and had traffic stopped for 4 directions as far as one could see. :-)
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  • Day16

    Colombia Day 15

    August 10, 2018 in Colombia ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    OK So this text disappeared into cyber space so this will be a shorter note for the day.
    A travel day but not until late afternoon so ML and I off via walking and metro to the Flower show at the Medellin Botanical gardens. We finally found the "real" flower show!! A huge botanical gardens with an open air exposition center in the middle. Flowers of every kind with the focus on orchids - hundreds of different types. So beautiful and fun to walk around. Last year Illene and I atteneded the world's premiere flower show, the Chelsea Flower Show in London. Some of the designs and displays here rivaled those in Chelsea. Around the perimeter of the grounds were all types of artisan stalls with more upscale goods. Unfortunately we did not have more time to really look around well as we had to get back but it was a wonderful couple hours.
    Back to hotel to check out, Uber to the airport and a quick one hour flight to Cartagena - my last stop on this trip.
    Interesting feeling when I stepped out into the sultry, warm, humid air of Cartagena. I said to myself - "this feels like the Caribbean". Now I have not been to the Caribbean for about 35+ years but that was my first thought. What makes that happen?
    Our bnb is great, right in the center of the historic district. We can walk anywhere from here. A quick trip to the local Exito - super market - for essentials and then out to dinner- La Mulata - at a place recommended by our host close by. More cerviche and fish for dinner - cerviche very good, dinner just OK. Back to bnb for an early evening.
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    Kay's Travels

    Dorcas You would have loved the flower show!!

    8/11/18Reply
     
  • Day15

    Colombia Day 14

    August 9, 2018 in Colombia ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Up and about early this AM. Robert cooking breakfast - eggs and veggies. A short walk after breakfast, settled account with the hotel and off via taxi back to Medellin with Alex, our driver. Arrived back at the hotel we stayed at previously and they did not have the reservation that Robert had made - and they were full. :-( !!!! Back to Booking.com and quickly made another reservation in another hotel - The Art Hotel - about a mile away. Uber to the new hotel, short "settling in" period and out for wine. Busy area and nearby a park with all kinds of street entertainment going on. Salsa and tango dancers, mariachi, clowns, juggles, break dancers. violins, and most anything else you can think of. There were small stages set up in the streets all around the park. Surrounding the streets were restaurants and bars on all sides. Lots of places to sit and watch the entertainment. Each group would perform for about 20 to 30 minutes and then all the stages would change. It was a cacophony of sounds and lots of fun. We stopped for a drink at one of the bars and enjoyed the vibrancy of the neighborhood.
    Got to be late enough to go right to dinner from there. We had been talking about having sushi and there was a Kabuki (Peruvian and Japanese restaurant) near by. A walk through the very busy streets to an extension of the same neighborhood and a "restaurant row" area. Lots going on here as well and we had good sushi, cerviche, and sashimi.
    A walk back to our hotel through the entertainment area now transformed into multiple venues of dancing and music. All VERY loud!!! We were "done" for the day and decided to let the rest of the evening to the younger folk. After the hotel fiasco, made lemonade out of lemons. We would have never had the experience of this lively neighborhood from the other hotel. Another one of the joys of travel.
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    dorcas walton

    Go with flow like it!!

    8/11/18Reply
     
  • Day14

    Colombia Day 13

    August 8, 2018 in Colombia ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Breakfast and out for a walk before we sit in a car for a couple hours getting to Guatape. Have hired a taxi to take us to our next stop for a couple nights. It will be nice to be out of a big city - Guatape is an hour and a half east of Medellin and known for its very large lake and architecture of the small town - population 5,200. Walked about a mile and a half from the hotel to a large shopping center which is one of the venues for the flowers. A huge display in an atrium of the 2nd floor with flowers in a semi circle on the floor and a colorful display of birds in the center. Hard to get the entire picture due to space.
    Off for Guatape via taxi - cost $100 US dollars for a good size taxi that holds all our luggage, most of the cabs here are quite small and accommodating 3 folk with luggage can be an issue. A nice ride through the Colombian countryside, lots to see and nice to have our cab driver for questions. Robert enjoys practicing his Spanish. Arrived at our hotel by 1:30P and check in not until 3 so we spent the time enjoying the lovely restaurant deck by the lake and having a cerveza and a snack. Our cabana is terrific. Large space with living room including kitchen, 2 bedrooms and 2 bath. Deck is terrific with sofa and chairs as well as table and chairs and replete with fireplace. However the best part is the view - the"rock" (more on this tomorrow), this part of the lake and surrounding green hills.
    Today is a holiday in Colombia so restaurant is closed. We decided to eat in so Robert and I off to town via "motochivas" (see picture below) - much fun - to get groceries for dinner. Town is about 2 miles away - what a cute place!! Will explore more tomorrow but saw a multitude of street vendors, dozens of colorful building, narrow streets and lots of people.
    Cocktail hour with music from Robert's play list and good conversation on our deck. ML and I made dinner of trout, rice, peppers and onions with avocado as a salad. Tasted good and nice not to have to go out for dinner. Some computer time and off to bed to watch another episode of "The Crown".
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    dorcas walton

    So idyllic!!!!

    8/8/18Reply
    Elizabeth Lang

    Sure does sound like you are having fun.

    8/8/18Reply
    Kay's Travels

    All is well and, yes, a good time. Off to Cartegena Friday.

    8/9/18Reply
     
  • Day13

    Colombia Day 12

    August 7, 2018 in Colombia ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    A bright sunshiny day in Medellin. Temperature projected to get to 85 today. :-( Out by 11 after an AM of planning and relaxation. Off to see the first of the Medellin flower festival venues - North Park, which is also an amusement park. Also decided to take experience the Colombian rapid transit system. The city has a metro that is above ground. Wander from our hotel to the closest metro station about 3/4 mile away. Stations and trains are very clean and orderly. No transfer or day tickets available so, as a tourist, you need to buy a new ticket for each ride. A 20 minute ride North to the University area and North Park. In its "real" when it is not a venue for the flower show, life North Park is an amusement park. The flower displays are intertwined with the park rides and in the open spaces. A stop for cervezas for Robert and me, a walk around a large lake in the middle of the park - lots of birds and egrets nesting in the trees on an island in the middle of the lake.
    Next off to a park up one of the mountains surrounding Medellin. Medellin is in a basin/valley with mountains all around. The "suburbs" of Medellin are built up the sides of those mountains and many people live there so public transportation to those areas is essential. We took the elevated metro further north in the city. The main train artery runs North-South through the valley with a river alongside. We needed to transfer to a line that runs east and goes up the mountain, turns out that line is a cable car!!! Quite the experience going over all the housing that spans the mountainside. There are 3 stops on this line until you get to the top where we transferred to another cable car line that went another 15 minutes across the top of the mountain to get to the park!! Quite the ride. The park was wonderful - lots going on - focus as a nature preserve - you think you are in the middle of nowhere and then there is all of the very well planned park setting with tours, restaurants, more flowers on display and lots of trails to walk around. Quite fun and a highlight of Medellin for me.
    Back via public transport to our hotel and a walk across the street for dinner - Fiorella's, a cute outdoor restaurant, Italian with pastas and great eggplant parmesan. Loving the Argentinian white wines. After dinner I walked up to the main thoroughfare about 1/4 mile away to find some ice cream and watch some kids dancing in a park. A good travel day.
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  • Day12

    Colombia Day 11

    August 6, 2018 in Colombia ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    A rainy, cloudy day in Medellin. Awake early at our “hostel”. 😊 Its really quite interesting – the apartment is very nice, decorated well and with modern bathroom and kitchen amenities - on the 4th floor with a terrace at the top. It would be fine if we were there by ourselves. Oh well, another travel lesson learned. (Read the fine print)
    Decision made on a hotel to move to and out for an early walk in the rain to find a grocery store and a bank – both Robert and I out of money Got there by 8:30 and they opened at 9. Back to the hotel where I found 40,000 Colombian pesos ($15.00) so we could go to breakfast!! Found an outdoor “hole in the wall” local’s place near a large church (its Sunday) and had our empanadas and other meat filled pastries for breakfast. The apartment is in a “neighborhood” - so fun to see all the people there, lots of diversity and many children.
    Then Uber to our next hotel (Hotel Sites -very nice) to drop off our luggage and out to see downtown Medellin – a large city of 2.5-3 million people. An uber to city center where you find most of the museums and pedestrian areas to see the city sites. The city center has a large plaza named Botero plaza. Botera is a Colombian artist known for painting and sculpting very large (fat) figures. The plaza has probably a dozen of his sculptures. Lots of people there even with the cloudy, rainy weather. Also, a museum – Museo Antiquiro (the state of Colombia that Medellin is in) devoted to Botero’s paintings and his art collection with artists from all over the world that he donated to the museum. Three stars for this museum – well done and interesting.
    One of the primary reasons to come to Medellin at this time in our trip was to see the annual Medellin Flower Festival – a week-long event with flower displays at many places in the city and special events. One of the tourist police gals headed us to another plaza where she said there were flowers. A stop for a beer overlooking another large plaza filled with vendors selling handicrafts of all kinds. ML looking for a bag to carry her camera but could not find anything that would work. I would have bought several things but had no money !!! ☹ (Its Sunday and no banks, or their ATMs) open. And no flowers…….
    Back to hotel to do some wash – free laundry at our hotel. 😊 Cocktail hour on the top deck with a 360 view of the city. Very nice. A walk to another neighborhood to a pizza place, Zorba’s that we had been told about. It was a jumping, happening place – pizza was very good – dinner for 3 with food and drinks - $26. 😊 Back to hotel with a stop at an open ATM at a bank for some money for Kay!!! Yeah !!! Finish up on laundry and to bed.
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    dorcas walton

    Hopefully you’ll find the flowers- living through you and this trip!!!😉

    8/6/18Reply