Santa Marta & Bogota: Family introduction 👧🏻 🇨🇴

Five days in Colombia flew past like a rocket. I met Laura’s family for the first time. Most of them live in and around Santa Marta, just the grandparents in Bogota. Thank you all for your great hospitality and the free spanish lessons 😉 I take away many memorable moments with me as well as my first tatoo 👧🏻 🇨🇴. Hasta la próxima!

Back in Santa Marta

Laura picked me up from the airport and we headed to the airbnb i booked. Presumably close to her house, but not really as it turned out. We spent the time organising a few last things such as doctor visits, injections etc, visited the Tayrona gold museum, Palomino beach, spent time with laura’s mum Deisy, sister Lorena and Mario – their quasi adopted son – and had also a little time for party in La Puerta for ourselves. Good to have Santa Marta nightlife back, be it just briefly. It is really good and authentic.

Tattoo time…

I had been thinking about getting a tattoo done for a while, but i guess never had someone holding my hand to see it through. When laura mentioned she will get a new tattoo done (a joint one with her sister), i figured it was the opportune moment. The studio is run by a venezuelan tattoo artist and was very clean. Tick. The design we did on the spot although i knew roughly beforehand what i wanted. The procedure lasted for about an hour and was a little painful, as the tatoo sits right on my ribs. One of those more sensitive spots. I like it a lot. Let’s see what mum thinks 🙄

Palomino beach

Palomino is one of the many possible destinations around Santa Marta. It’s a long stretch of sandy beaches and at times pretty aggressive waves. You can get there from Santa Marta by bus (1,5h) followed by a quick motorbike ride to the beach unless you feel like walking. Most of the beaches belong to hostels and make money of the associated bars / restaurants and accommodation. We spent half a day there playing with the waves.

One night in Bogotá

While Laura’s dad Mauricio usually lives in Taganga, a hippy beach spot near santa marta, we met him in bogota. He currently spends a lot of time there to take care of his dad and thus help out his mum – both 87. We opted to go by public transport, which means transmillenio bus in bogota. It’s a huge bus network with separate lanes and rather long buses. A bit crowded for my taste, but it works. Laura .

In the evening we relocated to an airbnb in chapinero – one of the best districts in bogota. Sushi dinner at Osaki’s and beers at Bogota Beer Company. Lore joined us and after a glass of wine quickly forgot her flu 😉. Great night… But then the Guiana’s were waiting 🛫

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Bogota: Don’t miss ‘La Nevera’

Bogota is probably the city in Colombia about which traveller opinions are most divided – should I go or should I not. Is it a really sh*thole? Don’t listen to the naysayers – Bogota is absolutely worth seeing. The historical centre not only of Colombia, but Gran Colombia (when Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama, northern Peru, western Guyana and northwest Brazil were one under Simon Bolivar) offers a super interesting city tour, beautiful graffiti art, amazing aerial views and a vibrant night life. For my part, I didn’t spend enough time there. But then I will be back, no doubt.

Chapinere & Candelaria are nice to stay in: The plane from Cartagena arrived pretty late though time passed quick as i had a great conversation with another passenger (one of the few also awake). She lives in Barranquilla and works there for the US peace chor. She speaks fluent dutch having lived there for 8 years. The transport to the hotel was prompt and after 30mins or so dropped me of in the area of Chapinero (a very affluent area in Bogota). There are several well known areas in Bogota, but the historical candelaria are probably best known – certainly to expats and tourists. The italian dinner, nice as it was, reminded of the non-local clientele price wise ;o)

bogota district

Monserrat – what a view: The next morning started bright and early. First up was a trip up the surrounding hills to Monserrat. The tramway (or cable car depending on the time of the day … or walk) takes you to the top of Monserrate at 3,152m. There you’ll find a church and amazing 360 views of the city. You can really see how Bogota is nested into the surrounding hills from there. Amazing. Be a little careful shen you get back down. Between the station and the centre (say Candelaria) is meant to be not the safest area to walk though it didn’t feel dangerous to me. If in doubt just take a taxi (but be discreet when using an uber – ordinary cab drivers are known to get physical as they trey to fend off competition).

Train Cable Car Cost
Monday to Friday from 07:45 – 12:00 Monday to Friday from 12:00 tot 24:00 14.000 pesos (after 17:30 17.000 pesos)
Saturday from 07:45 – 15:00 Saturday from 15:00 to 24:00 14.000 pesos (after 17:30 17.000 pesos)
Sunday from 05:30 – 18:00 Sunday from 09:00 to 17:00 8.000 pesos
Holidays from 05:30 – 18:00 14.000 pesos

La nevera – the fridge: Bogota, at 2,625m, is the capital with the 3rd highest altitude in the world (no1 is La Paz at 3,640m followed by Quito at 2,850m). As a result the temperature is around14-15 degrees throughout the year – pretty cold by Colombian standerds earning the city its nickname.

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City tour – super informative, miles ahead of Cartagena: I used Gran Colombia tours and have no regrets whatsoever! Already the meeting point (Chorro de Quevedo) is superb to get you off to great start. The main focus of the tour is the historical downtown, but also a local fruit shake, coffee & chicha experience. As you walk along, you obviously also get loads of historical facts, can admire the many graffiti’s and colonial builings.

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Coffee experience in Union cafe: Bogota is the key trading centre for coffee in colombia and nowadays you can actually buy some of the high end stuff there (that used to be exclusively for export while locals consumed the cheaper version called cafe tinto). The coffee was super strong and pretty bitter. In fact, a swiss lady outright refused to drink it and made some proper drama. Once the first bitter taste evaporates the aftertaste releases all sorts of flavours – really impressive. We were told that only strawberries have a greater number of tastes.

Day of the little candles: Its celebrated every 7 December and a traditional holiday. It is also the inofficial start to the christmas season. People literally place candles everrywhere to hionor the immaculte conception (free of ‘sin’) of virgin mary. In Bogota the evening also meant big fireworks and vibrant street markets, which was throughly enjoyable.