17. Colombia

IMG_5357.PNGThank you, G Adventures, without you this trip wouldn’t have happened as soon as it did!  I honestly look back and can’t believe I won the Colombia Express trip through an Instagram contest!  Best hashtag I’ve ever used #theanswerisColombia.

For all of you who have messaged me, asking me how I can afford to travel so much, asking me to teach you my secret …. here’s your answer 😉 Win trips! 😀

Colombia has a pretty bad reputation and a rough past, but that’s exactly what it is …. its past.  Medellin  (pronounced Meda-jean) was once the most dangerous city in the world with up to 25 murders per day, but it is now rated South America’s safest city and was awarded the title of “Most Innovative City” in 2013. Things change, and I think tourism in Colombia will skyrocket very soon! It’s an absolutely gorgeous country with a little bit of everything and is the only South American country that has both Caribbean and Pacific coastlines.  It has beautiful beaches, mountain ranges and rainforests to explore. The people are very friendly and the food is AMAZING! I seriously gained 6 lbs on our 10 day trip! Yikes!

Upon entering Colombia …. or trying to …. we were ushered to a special customs line, just for Canadians (it even had a Canadian flag on it).  As it so happens, Canadians must pay a special entry fee of $160,000 Colombian pesos ($66.70 CAD) per person! I called it the “for being so awesome fee” 😉  Why? you ask …. because we charge Colombians a fee to enter Canada …. and fair is fair, right?

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Me on top of Bogota, enjoying the view from Mount Monserrate

Bogota is the capital of Colombia and was the first city we explored on this trip. It’s a very large city of almost 8 million people that has an “eternal spring” climate.  It’s a beautiful city …. but it was my least favorite of all the cities we visited.  Maybe it’s because our time spent there with the group was short.  In Bogota we admired the street art (a big thing in every Colombian city), took the funicular up to Mount Monserrate  at 3,152 meters (10,341 ft) above sea level and rode the teleferico (cable cars) down. Definitely a sight to see while in Bogota! We also checked out The Quinta de Bolivar which was the residence and gardens of Simon Bolivar and the Gold Museum . It was a super busy first day and we hadn’t even met our G Group ‘O’ Goodness yet!

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The worlds largest underground cross in the Catedral de Sal de Zipaquira

Day 2 in Bogota started out with a visit to the Paloquemao Market ….. I love visiting markets.  Colombia can grow anything! They definitely don’t need to import any food in … like I said earlier …. Colombia is good eating!  After the market we were on a bus to the Salt Cathedral …. I honestly didn’t expect what I was about to see!  It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen!  Within the Salt Cathedral is the worlds largest underground cross, 180 meters below ground.

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Dad and I in the Plaza de Villa de Leyva

Our second night was spent in a lovely little colonial town called Villa de Leyva.  The focus of the town is the 14,000 square meter plaza, making it the largest square in Colombia and it is believed to be the largest fully cobblestoned square in South America.  It was huge! 😀  While in Villa de Leyva our amazing guide took us to see the Guinness world record holding, Casa Terracota! The Casa Terracota holds the record for worlds largest piece of pottery and is a fully functional home with power water and sewer …. yet nobody lives in it.  I think it was featured on Extreme Homes as well (one of my most favorite shows).

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Casa Terracota, Colombia

After our one night stay in Villa de Leyva we were back on a bus to Bogota airport to catch a flight to Armenia …. Colombia 😉  It was a short flight over the Andes that we all survived … Alive.  LOL!  Anyway …. we arrived at our destination of Armenia and we were greeted with 2 topless Jeeps (racy).  The Jeeps would be our main mode of transportation for the next two days …. I felt like such a badass.

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Me and one of our Sweet Jeeps!

The next 2 nights were spent at the same place, which is rare on a fast-paced, go-go-go G Adventures trip.  We arrived at our traditional hacienda in Armenia and were able to just relax and take in its jungley awesomeness.  The temperature in Armenia was a lot hotter than Bogota and Villa de Leyva … the high on February 16th, 2016 was 32C!  Lots of Club Colombia was consumed 😉

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One Red Bean, Recuca Plantation

After awakening in our hacienda we had breakfast, which usually consisted of scrambled eggs, arepas, and plantains ….. oh … and Colombian coffee, of course!  Then we were back on the bus, this time to Recuca coffee plantation for a tour.  We spent the day learning all about the coffee plantation and even picking some beans …. we weren’t very good at it …

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Bean Pickers at Recuca Plantation 😉

Next up was Salento. Before checking into our rooms in Salento, we went on a hike in the Cocora Valley.  I had a really hard time with the elevation on this one …. so I refer to it as the Hike of Hurt! 😉  We hiked steadily uphill for hours … it was a little crazy, plus I was having a hard time breathing at 2800 meters.  Eeeekkkkk!  Ballistic yet beautiful …

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Our G Awesome group, starting to ascend on the Hike of Hurt …. Cocora Valley

When people spoke of Colombia …. Salento is what I pictured in my mind.  Salento was the most Colombian of Colombian towns.  While in Salento, we got to try our hand at playing Colombia’s national sport, Tejo.  I’ll break it down for you …. throw a rock at explosives and hope for an explosion! Yikes! It was brutal to watch …. there’s nothing more anxiety causing than random explosions! LOL!  It was like being in a small room full of toddlers with balloons ….. not good.

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Salento, the most Colombian of Colombian towns 😉

Day 6 of our tour was spent on a bus, 8 hours, Salento to Medellin. We definitely got to see a lot of the Colombian countryside. Medellin was my favorite part of the whole trip! I honestly don’t think I can describe this city effectively …. it was a fun, vibrant city filled with people who loved every second of living in it.  The street art was unreal and everything touched me in some way.

Fun Fact: I drank the tap water in both Bogota and Medellin and had no issues 😀

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Medellin Street Art

We took the public transportation while there, metros, buses, cable cars, escalators … yes, the cable cars are part of the public transportation …. there were even two stops on the them. The cable cars and escalators were put into the very steep hills in the poorer neighbourhoods to help the residents out.  The escalators are covered and have music playing in them …. I don’t remember what that music was though …. oh! and there’s slides beside the stairs, in case you want to slide down instead of walk down!  It’s just an all around amazing city! I loved Medellin 🙂  While in Medellin we also checked out the free Botanical Gardens and walked through the amazing Parque de Las Luces (Park of Lights).

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Dad and the escalators in Medellin

After 2 nights in My Medellin we were back on a plane to Cartagena (pronounced Carta-hey-na)!  Once again we were blasted with heat …. Medellin, while we were there, was 26C and Cartagena was 33C. Cartagena is a super cool city in that it has the old walled city portion and then the new condo/high-rise portion they refer to as the “Miami of Cartagena”. Once again, Cartagena has it’s fair share of street art and beautiful colonial streets. It falls on the Caribbean side of the Colombian coastline, but had a very rocky beach (where we were).  We explored the coastline and markets … I bought a little silver coffee bean with an emerald in it for $10 USD! I love it! There were horse and carriages clip-clopping on the old cobblestone streets and it was like travelling back in time.

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Cartagena, Colombia

Our last day in Colombia was spent on a boat tour to the Rosario Islands.  We were taken on a speedboat to our own private island to spend the afternoon lounging in hammocks, drinking Club Colombians, eating and splashing around in the warm, clear, turquoise water. It was wonderful 🙂  I took lots of underwater shots and ended up burning every square inch of my body …. apparently my sunscreen was not waterproof 😦  Not good.

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Dad and I enjoying our drinks off the Rosario Islands

Anyway, after a few hours on the island we had to leave because the water was getting too rough. What we experienced next was something out of my worst nightmares! LOL! The boat ride back was like an unapproved roller coaster ride that lasted 1 hour and 45 minutes!  I’m actually still shocked that we made it back without capsizing!  The water was so rough, it was like being sprayed in the face with a pressure washer! I even prepared for capsizing …. first of all …. I’m so glad I left Elsie (my Canon) safe at the hotel …. I just stripped her of her SD card and stuck that in Mommers’ underwater camera. But I had my backpack, with my new iPhone in it … I accepted losing it … but I took the underwater camera, with all my pictures and put it around my neck between my chest and lifejacket for safe keeping.  I totally didn’t think I’d die with those images around my neck …. I’m a fairly confident swimmer …. ridiculous … I know … LOL!  Whatever happened to me, I’d have my pictures with me and that was all that mattered 😀 Eeeekkkk!  Well …. most of you know that I did indeed make it home safely …. but I will never go on a boat ever again!  Just kidding …. maybe?

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Underwater somersaults off the Rosario Islands

After getting off the Nightmare Boat, we returned to our hotel, showered in our guide’s room and were off to the airport for our flights to Bogota-El Salvador-Toronto-Edmonton.  All our flights were through Avianca and were amazing.  They’re always on time and feed you lots of food and drinks ….. even alcoholic ones!  The onboard entertainment is entertaining and the staff is very friendly and helpful. Definitely a great airline.

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G Peeps on a Jeep!

 Fun Fact: Our G Adventures group consisted of 7 Canadians, 3 Brits, 1 Dutchman, 1 German, 1 Ecuadorian, 1 Swede, 1 Swiss and 1 American …. some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met!

I realized on this trip that I was travelling with real travellers …. Colombia is nobody’s 2nd or 3rd country …. in fact, I’m willing to bet it doesn’t make it into most people’s top 20 countries.  Colombia was my 17th, but it wouldn’t have been if I hadn’t won this trip … I hate to admit that.  I was probably the one on the trip who had been to the least countries … but I’m so, so grateful I was the one to win it …. getting to experience Colombia’s gorgeous beauty.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

THE END.

Philippines is up next on my blog post list so please be sure to stay tuned by subscribing to my blog!  😀  Show me some love and support by clicking on the upper right sidebar (white lines) or scrolling all the way to the very bottom to follow me!  Thank you, All! xoxo

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6 comments

  1. Lois · March 19, 2016

    Great story……

    Like

    • maRiOn · March 19, 2016

      Thanks, Mommers 😍

      Like

      • Joan brown · April 4, 2016

        Really enjoyed your trip. Looking forward to the next leg of you journey.

        Liked by 1 person

      • maRiOn · April 4, 2016

        Thanks, Joan! I’ll be posting about Philippines next! Stay tuned! 😃

        Like

  2. SaraRozic · March 19, 2016

    That terracotta house is amazing!

    Like

    • maRiOn · March 19, 2016

      Yes! It was super cool to walk through! 😃

      Like

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