A Travellerspoint blog

Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu

lonely-pla..-peru-62962.jpg

From Iquitos we flew to Lima, the capital of Peru. We stayed in a hostel in the Miraflores district which is known for its shopping, gardens, flower-filled parks and beaches. We had only planned on staying in Lima one night and had a flight booked to Cusco the following day.We thought our flight was in the afternoon when actually it was at 9am so when we woke up at 8am we realized we had missed it! Our First missed flight of the trip but luckily we called star Peru airlines and it only cost USD 17 each to change it to the next day, which isn't too bad!
The hostel was full for the second night so We found a Starbucks and spent time doing admin there and booked more accommodation. you can never turn down a good coffee while traveling, it's such a treat plus Starbucks usually has the fastest wifi!

Lima has always been known as the Garden City, And The Miraflores government has spent years improving and adding to the green spaces, with a special emphasis on El Malecón, a lovely stretch of parks situated along the cliffs high above the Pacific Ocean. its the perfect place for jogging, So we went for a lovely afternoon run followed by dinner at a pizza place that was such a rip off!

The Next day we got to the airport with plenty of time and caught our flight to Cusco which is a city in southeastern Peru, near the Urubamba Valley of the Andes mountain range. Cusco was the site of the historic capital of the Inca Empire and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1983. It is a major tourist destination and receives around 2 million visitors a year.
We had pre-booked a hostel in the San Blas area which has lovely little cobbled streets on the hill. When we arrived at the hostel we were met by a lady who we thought was the hostel owner but she turned out to be from a tour agency and we were trapped listening to her for ages trying to sell overpriced packaged tours, good way to tout but didn't work with us!
Cusco's elevation is around 3,400 m so the hotel gave us coca tea which is recommended for travelers in the Andes to prevent altitude sickness.
Because of the high altitude and lots of rain it was freezing ( around 7 degrees in the day). We spent the afternoon exploring the town, bought train tickets and machu picchu entrance tickes for the next day and had a lovely lunch on the pain plaza.
I didn't think the altitude would affect us but I had a splitting headache and was quite dizzy so we cuddled up in bed and watched a movie which was lovely for a change. That night we went out for some dinner, it was raining very hard so we stopped at the first place we saw and it turned out to be great. One of the typical peruvian meals is guinie pig (fact. 60 million Guinie pigs are eaten in Peru each year). it is baked and served whole with the tail and head in tact. We saw people having this but we went for delicious alpaca meat instead and a local 3 man band played for us while we ate (we bought their CD).

streets of san blas
IMG_6475.jpg IMG_6455.jpg
IMG_6454.jpg IMG_4688.jpg
IMG_4692.jpg
typical peruvian woman and the alpacas
IMG_4683.jpg IMG_4684.jpg
cusco - beautiful catherdrals
IMG_4699.jpg IMG_4701.jpg
IMG_4697.jpg
starbucks in cusco - yay.
82F5B0D82219AC6817C2DC4BBEB652D8.jpg

After a good nights sleep, I was feeling a lot better. It was sunday so all the agencies in town were closed so We ran around trying to buy bus tickets to Bolivia which After a while we managed to get. We then set off trying to find the bus to Písac which is a village in the Sacred Valley of the Incas on the Urubamba River. The village is well known for its market every Sunday and the inca ruins. Everyone gave us different directions to the bus stop, we were about to give up looking when a old man named franco asked if we wanted him to drive us. It was more expensive than the bus would have been but we had our own driver for the day and we only paid him 100 peruvian pesos (about £20) to take us an hour away to the town, then up the hill to the ruins about 8kms away, then to a lovely restaurant for trout then wait for us at the market then drive us back to Cusco. We had a lovely afternoon and bought a painting at the market. That night we met up with Vicky & Dave (we met them in Iquitos) for a few drinks.

Sacred Valley - Pisac
82F6F2012219AC68173AB801F8289CCA.jpg
IMG_4711.jpg
IMG_4714.jpg IMG_4717.jpg
IMG_4719.jpg IMG_4721.jpg
IMG_4723.jpg IMG_4736.jpg
IMG_4738.jpg IMG_4740.jpg
IMG_4741.jpg IMG_4739.jpg

At 6am the next morning we set off for Machu Picchu... Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca site located 2,430 meters above sea level. It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley, which is 80kms northwest of Cusco. Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472). Often referred to as the "City of the Incas", it is perhaps the most famous icon of Inca civilization.
The only way to get there is to hike or to go by train. The inca trail is about $1000 per person and booked up 6months in advance but there are other 4/5 day treks you can do but I wasn't keen for another trek in the rain so we decided to be lazy and take the train. The train is very expensive, we paid USD$ 120 each for a return ticket to Aguas Calientes (sometimes referred to as Machupicchu Town) and that was the cheapest ticket possible but it was a lovely journey and we chatted to other travelers for the 3hr journey. the train arrived in Aguas Calientes at about 10.30am.
Dressed in our heavy winter gear we decided then hike up from the town to Machu Picchu. The walk up was extremely steep and the weather had become humid and it was raining so By the time we got to the top we were sopping wet! We bought a very expesive bottle of cold water and cooled off before entering the site. We were not expecting much, it's very touristy and expensive BUT Machu Picchu is amazing! The ruins are so impressive but also the geography around it is incredible. We were so lucky with the weather, lots of people we met only saw clouds but we had a clear day.
Ater spending a few hours walking around the site, we took a bus back down to Aguas Calientes. this town is the main access point to the site and due to the huge influx of tourists, it is so overpriced. There wasn't much accomodation left so we stayed at a horrible hostel which was dirty and had no hot water. It was so cold so I decided to skip the cold shower that night and the next morning... The joys of a wet wipe bath!

hike up to Machu Picchu
IMG_4744.jpg IMG_4754.jpg
IMG_4757.jpg IMG_6472.jpg
Machu Picchu
IMG_4776.jpg IMG_4774.jpg
IMG_4782.jpg IMG_4783.jpg
IMG_4790.jpg IMG_4796.jpg
IMG_4787.jpg IMG_4779.jpg
toiletries for the night ( a lot less than normal)
IMG_4803.jpg

We got the 8am train the next morning to a town called ollyatambo which is about 2hrs away from cusco. It was cheaper to do this and we thought we would spend some time in the town however the ruins there seemed random after Machu Picchu so we decided not to spend money on entrance fee and head back to cusco. We got a shared taxi back And Killed the rest of the afternoon in an Italian restaurant. Then after fetching our bags from the hostel we headed for the bus stop for our first 11hr overnight bus in South America that left at 10pm and was bound for copacobana in Bolivia.
Our time in Peru went so fast. The poeple are friendly, its much cheaper than colombia and we really enjoyed every part of our few weeks in this beautiful country.

Posted by karenandbyron 17:29 Archived in Peru Comments (1)

Amazon

Bogota, leticia, Iquitos, Amazon Basin

rain 30 °C

lonely-pla..-peru-62962.jpg

Hung over and tired we had an early start on New Year's Day to catch a flight back to Bogota to carry on our trip in South America....
Bogota was like a ghost town and not much was open. We stayed at a lovely little place near parque 93and spent a lot of time catching up on admin and downloading photos. That afternoon we decided to start 2013 on a good note and go for a run but we forgot that we were 3000mts above sea level so feeling the effects of the altitude it turned into a walk.
We found a crepes and waffles that we love for dinner and had an early night.
The next day we went up the cable car to the museratte cathedral which had lovely panoramic views of the city. we walked around parts of the city we hadn't seen yet and had Another crepes and waffles for dinner, ha ha!

Bogota
IMG_4518.jpg824F38052219AC681782B0A53054AFE1.jpg

We had a good hotel breakfast and headed back to Bogota airport to fly to Leticia. Leticia is Colombia's southernmost town and one of the major ports on the Amazon river. It is located at the point where Colombia, Brazil and Peru come together in an area called Tres Fronteras. It is 860 Kms to the nearest road, it can only be reached by boat or airplane.
The flight there was awesome, it was a small plane and a very cool view over the dense amazon forest.
After getting a colombia exit stamp, We got a taxi from leticia airport to our very average hostel. We dropped the bags off then the taxi driver took us over the boarder to brazil to buy tickets for the boat to Peru the next morning. We were so lucky, we got the last 2 tickets for that day ( some people we met waited 5 days to get a boat out). Then we took a boat over to the Peru side to get our passports stamped. We went to 3 countries in one day, don't think we'll ever get a chance to do that again!
The town of leticia is not great and it poured with rain so we grabbed a quick road side dinner, bought food for the next day and had an early night.

Peru immigration
82571DD32219AC6817365DCDF258A2E2.jpg8253D7692219AC68175022A75353861F.jpgIMG_4528.jpg

At 2am the next morning our taxi driver picked us up and dropped us off at the port so we could catch a 12hr speed boat to Iquitos. the 60 seater boat had a Volvo jet propelled engine. traveling along the amazon in the pitch black dark....it was rather nerve racking as we hit quite a few logs along the way. each time we hit a log the noise got louder and louder and we wandered how 60 people would get out of this boat before it sank if there was a problem. Luckily at about 4 pm we arrived safely in Iquitos and I wasn't about to complain because the people 3 seats in front of us had a leak above them and the rain dripped onto them for 12 hrs! After paying $80 I wouldn't have been happy.

Boat
IMG_4538.jpg

When we arrived in Iquitos it was still raining ( had been the whole day) and when we got to the hostel we discovered that our backpacks clearly weren't under cover the whole boat trip, every thing was SOAKED and was not going to dry any time soon. So, not in the best of moods I went out searching for a laundry who would save our clothes from stinking like damp. When we found some where to tumble dry them, I cheered up.
We then went to the office of the lodge we were going to the next day, paid and hired gum boots and then met up with a English/ Irish couple we had met on the boat for a lovely dinner on the melecon.
Iquitos can be reached only by airplane or boat, with the exception of a road to Nauta, a small town roughly 100 km south. It is the largest city in the world which cannot be reached by road. There are half a million people living there and 80 000 tuck tucks that are shipped in. It also has a massive drug trade and we had been there 5 mins when we got offered coke.

Dinner. Camu camu juice and Mano salsa
IMG_4541.jpg

The Amazon Basin is the part of South America drained by the Amazon River and its tributaries that drains an area of about 6,915,000 km2 or roughly 40 percent of South America. The basin is located in the countries of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, and Venezuela.
Most of the basin is covered by the Amazon rainforest, also known as Amazonia. With a 8,235,430 km2 area of dense tropical forest, it is
the largest rainforest in the world.
After lots of research we decided to pay a little more and booked a 4 night stay at Muyuna Lodge which is located 140 kilometers from Iquitos, up the Amazon River. It is a small lodge that holds about 20 people and there are no other lodges around it so its lovely and secluded.
The next morning at the muyuna offices we were introduced to our guide, Jorge and 2 lovely couples of a similar age to us from the US who we spent the next few days with. The muyuna speed boat then took 3hrs up the river to the lodge.
Muyuna was awesome. Our room was basic but very comfortable and luckily covered in mossie netting and so was the dining area.There is no electricity in the lodge so at night they lit candles in the rooms and the dining area had solar lights. We had cold showers for 5 days but it was so hot that it didn't matter.

Muyuna lodge
IMG_6008.jpgIMG_6009.jpgIMG_6056.jpgIMG_6112.jpg

Every day, we had a wake up call at 6am to be ready for the first excursion at 6.30am, then breakfast, then another excursion, then lunch, then another excursion, then dinner then another excursion... So we were kept very busy and slept so well at night.
The excursions varied, these were some of them : piranha fishing, jungle walking at night and in the day, trips on the boat, canoeing, swimming in the river and looking for pink dolphins.
Every time we went out we spotted something new, we saw all sorts of amazing wildlife including.... snakes, all types of monkeys, pink dolphins, sloths and many species of birds.i have listed a few of the amazing things we saw below....
My favorite were the pink dolphins, they are indigenous to the amazon and so much bigger than grey dolphins. they are so difficult to get pictures of so we will have to get one off the Internet. Our guide was so knowledgable and brilliant at spotting wildlife for us. It was quite similar to being in the bush back home!
Personally I enjoyed The boat excursions a lot more than the walks solely because of the MOSQUITOS. I have never experienced Mosquitos like that, we covered ourselves in 10O% deet constantly and wore protective clothing from head to toe and still they murdered me, even through my jeans.The deet Is so strong that it ate through my nail polish and even ate into Byron's watch strap, I don't think it's very good for you. It was so incredibly hot in the jungle, so wearing thick clothes and sun cream and deet made t rather hard not to pour with sweat, but it was all part of the experience! On the last day one of our American friends lent me her head net, it was a brilliant and I really regretted not buying one on the first day.

We had an incredible time in the jungle, it was a once in a life time experience!

Tourists in the jungle
IMG_4639.jpg
IMG_4609.jpgIMG_4607.jpgIMG_4558.jpg
IMG_6107.jpgIMG_6068.jpg
Piranha fishing
IMG_4580.jpgIMG_4574.jpgIMG_4578.jpg826FDA732219AC68177D49E8AF4A52E8.jpg
Breakfast on boat and swimming with piranha
IMG_4603.jpgIMG_4604.jpg
Amazing sun set
IMG_4644.jpgIMG_4647.jpgIMG_4649.jpgIMG_6390.jpg180_IMG_6393.jpg
Hiding from mossies and rain
IMG_6164.jpgIMG_6144.jpgIMG_4620.jpg8288DA322219AC68174793048CE16025.jpgIMG_4588.jpg
Sloth scull necklace
IMG_4619.jpg
Deet ate through my nail polish
IMG_4624.jpg

After 4 nights at the lodge we returned to Iquitos for the night. We spent the afternoon doing laundry, catching up on Internet time and sitting at our favorite cafe drinking camu camu juice along the river.
The next day we flew to lima. It was not a Good start to the day . While we were packing our things we discovered both Our cameras were broken, we had lost a credit card (think it was stolen from lodge), our other bank cards were blocked cards due to suspected fraud and we had no cash and Byron's clippers broke ( now he has an excuse to grow his beard).

Some of our Sightings in amazon...
Coral poisonous snake
water snakes
caimans ( small crocs)
Taranchelor
owl monkeys
night monkey
marmasole monkey
howler monkey
grey dolphins and pink dolphins
sloths
lots of different beautiful birds ( trougan, prehistoric shansho, black hawk, brown hawk, pied king fisher, macaw parrorts, amazon kingshisher, horned screamer, red crested wood pecker, woody creaper, fly catcher, yellow swallows, yellow headed vulture, toucan, fishing bat, owls)
IMG_4568.jpgIMG_4569.jpgIMG_4573.jpg8277B1402219AC6817CA1CE1D066EF5E.jpgIMG_4584.jpg827F5E992219AC6817044B9D95412C3A.jpgIMG_4611.jpgIMG_4623.jpgIMG_4626.jpgIMG_4660.jpgIMG_4659.jpgIMG_4665.jpgIMG_4673.jpgIMG_6019.jpgIMG_6020.jpgIMG_6033.jpgIMG_6087.jpgIMG_6109.jpgIMG_6140.jpgIMG_6148.jpgIMG_6158.jpgIMG_6256.jpgIMG_6261.jpgIMG_6295.jpgIMG_6317.jpgIMG_6360.jpgIMG_6371.jpgIMG_6392.jpgIMG_6376.jpgIMG_6318.jpgIMG_6222.jpgIMG_4610.jpgIMG_4591.jpgIMG_4556.jpgIMG_4547.jpg

Posted by karenandbyron 17:59 Archived in Peru Comments (2)

Florida

Punta Gorda, Disney world and Miami

BF507E462219AC68173F7A5E00B24CED.jpg

It was time to meet up with the Gove family for 2 weeks in Florida, we were so excited!
From Bogota We flew to Fort Lauderdale, picked up a rental car and started our mini road trip to meet the family at Tampa airport the next day.
We drove towards Fort Myers and stayed the night midway at the travel lodge which was next door to waffell house!! The next morning we cruised along the beach front of fort Myers and then went on to punta Gorda.
The house we rented was situated in a lovely quiet neighborhood in punta Gorda. Most the houses are on canals and nearly every house has a boat. The house we stayed in was awesome, it had a heated pool and outside area and a lovely kitchen/lounge where we spent a lot of the time!
We dropped our bags off, opened the house up and then went to publix for groceries. For the first time in 7 months I was able to take a trolly and buy food that I felt like eating, I never thought I would be so excited to do a grocery shop! After packing the fridge we drove an hour and a half to fetch everyone from the airport. By the time we arrived back, everyone was exhausted and jet lagged so we had some dinner and all hit the sack.

Our house
270_BED02A8B2219AC68174AA4B837FC56A8.jpg

We had a great time exploring the nearby areas in the next few days. We went to boca grande which is a small residential community on Gasparilla Island. The beach there is beautiful and secluded. boca grande It is one of the most expensive post codes in the states, the houses are beautiful.
We also had a lovely day at Engelwood beach where it is a bit busier and more sheltered. We also spent a great day out to sanibel island near fort Myers.
James had so much fun playing in the sand and coming from winter in the UK everyone else was so happy to be in the sun. We had a few delicious braais at home and went on some good walks/runs.

BF09E0B82219AC6817711AA929C2FF1B.jpgkb_191.jpgkb_192.jpgkb_193.jpg kb_196.jpgkb_195.jpg

5 days later we drove in our huge 7 seater car/bus to Orlando to check out Disney world. we stayed at a raddison hotel for 2 nights which was 10 mins from most of the parks, it was a brilliant hotel and such luxury for us!
With 3 days to explore there we chose do see Magic Kingdom, Epcot center and sea world.

Magic kingdom was amazing... I am a chicken, Colleen is pregnant and the ques were so long so We didn't go on any scary rides but we went on Winnie the poo, dumbo, tea cups, Racing cars etc. James just loved it! After Queuing for 40 mins for Winnie we learnt that we needed to get fast passes for the rides first but they only issue a certain number of fast passes a day so you have to get them in the morning then you get given a time.

Magic kingdom
BEE99B232219AC6817FDFE8030EC18F1.jpgBEE8CC632219AC6817F1E38868B722B6.jpgBF2A12EB2219AC6817BAF22EE3127689.jpgkb_131.jpgkb_129.jpgkb_123.jpgkb_120.jpg

Epcot was also awesome ... We got fast passes as soon as we arrived and went on a great nemo ride which James loved and a brilliant simulator ride called soring which we all loved. The highlight of the day though was a new racing car ride called Test Track where you go from zero to 104.6 km/h making it one of the fastest Disney theme park attractions ever built.
Around a central lake you can visit a number of different countries. they have buildings and restaurants like you would get in the particular country, it's very impressive. we checked out Japan, morocco and china Then grant, cols and James had their pic taken with Santa and mrs Claus. It was entertaining watching the people Que up in their matching outfits and pose for the picture, so American and cheesy!
The fire works that night were spectacular over the lake, they really did put on a good show. It was so loud that you could feel your chest vibrate. As they finished it started to pour down with rain so everyone made a run to the exit.

Epcot
BF0BBDF82219AC68174DEF030E2C3E3C.jpgkb_138.jpgkb_137.jpgkb_135.jpgkb_134.jpgkb_119.jpg

The following morning we went to Sea world. We went to see shamu the killer whale which was my favorite, we saw the manatees, polor bear, a turtle 3D film, beluga whales and lots more. Once again James had the best time and so did we!

Sea world
kb_203.jpgkb_208.jpgkb_205.jpgkb_213.jpgkb_210.jpg kb_201.jpgkb_198.jpgkb_200.jpg

I went to Disney with my family 19 years ago and the Goves went 18 years ago so it was a different experience seeing it as an adult but it is the most impressive place and has so much to offer. It's packed all year round and so efficient and loads of fun for all.What a great few days.

In the following week it was Byron's birthday and Christmas. We spent time on the beaches, spent an afternoon at a huge outlet mall shopping for Christmas presents and went to port Charlotte shopping mall to catch the post Christmas sales.
We had a great breakfast at waffell house ( had to do the American thing) and tried gator bites at the fishermans warf. We also took a speed boat out for an afternoon which was brilliant fun. James drove the boat and all he wanted to do was go "fast".
On Byron's birthday we watched the punta Gorda boat parade where boat owners put on a great display of Christmas lights and cruise the canals.
We had a lovely Christmas dinner and everyone got very spoiled, especially me and James with all his new Disney favorites.

Christmas
kb_214.jpgkb_216.jpgkb_224.jpgkb_222.jpgkb_189.jpgkb_190.jpg90_BEB42F3F2219AC681721CECD43FFB56E.jpgkb_219.jpg

Boat parade
BEEAFF852219AC681721166D6A1F6129.jpg

James driving the boat
BF2944212219AC68174743B4BF83C131.jpgBF0ADA8D2219AC68176FFE123D6C5869.jpg
After a brilliant holiday it was time for the others to go back to the UK and us to continue on our travels. We were spoiled so much by everyone and it was such a special time with family. Thanks to the Goves for everything!

So after a sad goodbye we rented another car and drove to west palm beach for the night. Went palm beach is unbelievable... The houses are the biggest mansions I have ever seen (puts Beverly Hills to shame). i have never seen so many bentleys and rolls royce's in my life. apparently Oprah, rod stuart and other stars own places along the famous A1A road in west palm. After driving around with our mouths open looking at the houses, We spent the afternoon walking on the lovely wide beach and pretending to be the rich and famous in the fancy shopping street called worth road.
The next morning we hit Miami for new year and our 1 year wedding anniversary. We stayed in a awesome hotel on south beach in the Art Deco area. The buildings in the Art Deco area haven't been rebuilt so you get a great 70s feel. It was a little windy but we still spent a lovely afternoon on Miami south beach people watching. We cruised the shops and had some brilliant meals and the massive cocktails they serve on the beach front. Miami is just like you see in the movies, the people are very interesting to watch and you get all types.. From the typical plastic surgery barbie dolls to the crazy people walking rabbits on a leash, it's such fun sipping cocktails in the sun and watching people go by.
Miami is a very popular destination for New Year's Eve and the streets were swarming. Out hotel was right on the main strip so we could see all the action starting from our room in the afternoon. We had champagne on the balcony and then headed into town for a lovely dinner in a bustling area. At about 11pm, along with loads of people, we headed down to the beach front to find a spot to watch the fire works. We settled in to a restaurant on the promenade for the next couple of hours and sipped yummy margaritas while getting into the vibe. The count down was great and everyone was in party mode. The fire works were amazing! They set them off at either side of the beach and we were sitting in the middle so we had the best view.
What a fun couple of days and perfect way to spend our anniversary!

Miami
kb_142.jpgkb_143.jpgkb_144.jpgkb_145.jpgkb_148.jpgkb_149.jpgkb_150.jpgkb_151.jpgkb_152.jpgkb_153.jpgkb_155.jpgkb_147.jpg

Posted by karenandbyron 19:37 Archived in USA Comments (2)

Bogota and Mariquita

all seasons in one day 22 °C

map_of_colombia.jpg
My cousin Terri and her boyfriend Jose live in Bogota.Jose has a place in Mariquita which is a town in the Tolima provence about 150 km north-west of Bogotá. We arranged to meet Terri and Jose at 12am at the bus stop in Marquita. When we asked about how long it would take to get from Manizales to Marquita the guy told us 30mins but after an hour in the car we realised he had told us the price (30 000 pesos each) not the distance and the taxi ride took 4 hrs so we were 3hrs late to meet them.
It was great to see Terri again and meet Jose when they fetched us. After buying some cold beers We then went to Jose's family House which was incredible and something we had definitely not expected. It was like being at a 5 star hotel, so beautiful.

BBF17E282219AC6817D97C30599F93F0.jpgkb_182.jpgkb_180.jpgBB8DF89A2219AC68179F666A4B5B1457.jpg

The house is situated on a Mangostin farm just outside Marquita town. Mangostins are a delicious Colombian fruit that look like a granadilla on the outside and a lichi on the inside. They are known as a miracle fruit that have antioxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer activities. Jose's family export them to Germany and the Netherlands. The bowl in the center of the dinner table was constantly full of mangostins that we ate constantly!!
The house is huge with a gorgeous pool and we had a beautiful room, it was a real treat! We spent 2 great nights at this awesome place, chilled at the pool, spent time catching up and ate like kings. One morning we had a delicious traditional tomale filled with pork, chickpeas, rice for breakfast. A tamale is a traditional dish made of masa (a starchy dough, usually corn-based), which is steamed or boiled in a leaf wrapper of plantain.
Everything we ate came from the farm (avos, tomatos, fish from their talapia fish farm nearby, plantains etc) except the booze! We drank lots of rum and a delicious Colombian drink which is similar to oozo but not as strong!

kb_188.jpgkb_187.jpgkb_183.jpgB9CAAB362219AC6817DE7752323549FC.jpgB9C9219F2219AC68179A7EEEEE699FA9.jpgB9C755D52219AC6817E7F6F90F37F270.jpgB9C613192219AC6817E2B5AE1598AFF0.jpgB9C4C8872219AC6817B8B9BF6D5E6856.jpgB9C388E92219AC68173EA5CFA7D2506F.jpgB9C2602C2219AC681786523BAEB68AA9.jpgB9BF6D7C2219AC68177BE2762388AF30.jpgB9BE26D72219AC68172497CA85E2CE8E.jpgB9C0E6EF2219AC6817187EDD2E0C2408.jpgB9BD02012219AC681727BE9989A9CAF9.jpgB9BB678F2219AC6817A785028469DCB4.jpg

After a really fun, relaxing time we drove through the windy roads with beautiful mountain views to Bogota.
Bogotá is the capital and largest city of Colombia and had a population of 10,000,000 in 2005. In terms of land area, Bogotá is the largest city in Colombia, and one of the biggest in Latin America. It figures amongst the 30 largest cities of the world and it is the third-highest capital city in South America at 2,625 metres above sea level, after Quito and La Paz.

Jose and Terri live in a stunning apartment on the penthouse of the world trade center building in the chia area. Jose's dad who lives in Cartagena has a apartment next door and they kindly let us stay there. We were so lucky, such a beautiful apartment all to ourselves!
On our first day we walked through the nice neighborhood of chia to fetch Joey from his school then had a lovely lunch and a awesome dinner at a Italian restaurant on parque 93 which is a park surrounded by restaurants near Terri and Jose's home!

View from apartment
kb_094.jpgkb_095.jpg

The next morning we took the bus out of town to see the Salt Cathedral in Zipaquirá. it is an underground Roman Catholic church built within the tunnels of a salt mine 200 meters underground. It was very interesting and we learnt that the world salary comes from the Spanish word sal (Spanish for salt) because people got paid in salt.
After a busy day exploring Terri cooked us a lovely meal at home which was Foie gras then yummy fish soup followed by cheese.

kb_098.jpgkb_097.jpgkb_104.jpgkb_103.jpgkb_101.jpg

On our second day in bogota we went to the area of Usaquén which is a lovely residential neighborhood with quaint streets with shops and restaurants. We had some coffee there then headed back to meet Terri, Jose and joey to go to the country club where they are members for lunch. Jose treated us to delicious steak and chips for lunch then Terri and I got a great pedi and mani. It was another great day and awesome to see some local spots that tourists would never normally see.

On our last full day we went to check out La Candelaria which is a historic neighborhood in downtown Bogotá. It is the equivalent to the Old City in other cities. The architecture of the old houses, churches and buildings has Spanish Colonial and Baroque styles. We went to the gold museum and the Botero museum and had a tomale for lunch.
kb_108.jpgkb_107.jpgkb_106.jpgkb_105.jpg
That evening we had "pre drinks" with Terri and Jose before heading out to the famous Andres Carne de Res. There is one in chia outside the city and one in Zona rosa where we went. It was AMAZING,! It's a mix between a club and restaurant and is like No other place I have ever been to, what an awesome vibe. The food ( steak ) was incredible and the atmosphere is great. We finished off a second bottle of tequila for the night and then headed home! Another awesome night true Colombian style!

Andres Carne de Res
kb_109.jpgkb_110.jpgkb_111.jpgkb_114.jpgkb_116.jpgkb_117.jpgkb_118.jpg kb_115.jpg

It was a fabulous week with family and We had such fun spending time with Terri, Joey and Jose. They spoiled us and really showed us a great local side to bogota and Marquita. Thank you for showing us such a good time, hopefully one day we will be back!

We spent nearly a month in Colombia and really loved every Provence,It is a very unique country that exceeded all my expectations!

Posted by karenandbyron 16:00 Archived in Colombia Comments (2)

Medellin and Zona cafeteria

26 °C

map_of_colombia.jpg
A quick flight from Santa Marta and we were in Medellin. We took a bus into town from the airport and then checked into our hostel
( tiger paw hostel) which was in El Poblado, a very nice modern area. El Poblado is also known as "Las Manzanas de Oro" (The Golden Apples) because it is the main center of the industrial and commercial life of the second largest economy of Colombia ( bogota is the first).
That evening we walked the streets of El Poblado looking at the awesome Christmas lights and huge shopping malls then had a great dinner at kokoricos which is the Colombian equivalent of nandos!

After breakfast at the hostel we took the metro across town ( the city is in a huge valley so the metro is brilliant and covers a massive area) to ride the cable car to the highest point which is at 3000 mtrs above sea level. The veiw from the cable car is awesome! at the top we got a free bike to explore the national park but all the roads were closed so we decided to walk to the lake but after a very long stroll there wasnt anything very exciting to see so we headed back down and walked around the botanical gardens.
On the way back to the hostel we stopped off downtown to see the cathedral and iron statues. Downtown medellin is very very busy and When we got off the metro we were asked if we needed a police escort to walk around! we didn't feel the need although we weren't about to hang around for too long after seeing people spiking up under the bridge!

Cable car
B8F3CFDB2219AC68174850C72FD75249.jpgB8F258A72219AC6817E3C54B48AB0A0A.jpgB8F115C82219AC681784A949565E319A.jpgB8F7BEB82219AC6817B7A608A91118C2.jpg
National park at the top of the hill
B8F541072219AC6817798D0C9E91C9EC.jpgB8F6A3902219AC6817523E511039ECF5.jpg
Square of bronze statues
B9062F302219AC6817E24136384B2A0F.jpgB9084E3F2219AC68170167EDE3CC070F.jpg

The next day, after collecting our laundry, we set off early to catch the bus to Salento via Armenia and via Pereira. The drive was beautiful through some really lovely mountainous country side although I did have to take a few valoids to stop the car sickness and there was a man on the bus carrying sick bags up and down which never helps! We arrived at our hostel in Salento which was run by a Dutch guy from Amsterdam and then had a lovely dinner in the town.
The main route from Popayán and Cali to Bogotá used to pass through Salento, but when the route was diverted the town became isolated and did not develop as rapidly as the rest of the region. For this reason it has retained more of its traditional colonial architecture than almost any other town in the region.
kb_059.jpg

After an early night we headed out early for a hike through the Cocora valley.
World War Two willie jeeps took us to the entrance of the national park where we started our 5 hr walk in rented gum boots which ended up being the best idea as it was extremely muddy! About half way through we stopped for a hot coco and sat watching loads of gorgeous humming birds. Byron had his big camera lense out and did a great job of capturing the very fast busy birds flying around us. we made friends with some lovely aussies and chatted to them the rest of the walk. there were lots of rivers and cool lookout spots along the way even though it was overcast. The best part of the day was coming across the Valley full of 40 to 60m wax palms, they are incredible.

Cocora valley walk
B90C0C312219AC681747C2253B779EB3.jpgB90EC6382219AC6817894F24CCA76963.jpgB9103CDD2219AC6817F0CBE600133A10.jpgB917BE812219AC6817F15C5006E7A80E.jpgB919E68D2219AC681759136CC8A0337F.jpgB91B31832219AC68175AD380E6FEB75F.jpgB91DDDD02219AC681708FC7F74A6A9D8.jpgkb_031.jpgkb_040.jpgkb_035.jpgkb_039.jpgkb_041.jpgB91CAC622219AC6817BC621B1B603C40.jpgB91612B82219AC68177C3C08CB033B00.jpg
Humming birds
bird_4.jpgBBEE429D2219AC6817302710A8FDD8B1.jpgBBEAFD772219AC68170B5CCDF8C4B27B.jpgBBEBBD122219AC6817FB65DBC4C8B7E5.jpgkb_161.jpgkb_160.jpg

After a pizza (not very Colombian) we went to play tejo. Tejo is a traditional sport in Colombia. It is played by throwing a metal plate or disc at a board spotted with gunpowder, named tejo, weighing about 680 g at a target so as to make it strike the "mechas" (folded paper). The noise is so loud when you hit the target and you only pay for what you drink, it's known as the sport of cervesa and noise! What fun and I was the winner!!

kb_045.jpgkb_051.jpgkb_043.jpgkb_048.jpgkb_047.jpgkb_046.jpg

The following day Byron set off on a horse ride at 6 am and was back by the time I woke up. We then got the Wellies on again and went for a walk to a local coffee farm. We got a tour in Spanish which was interesting and we were happy because we understood more than expected.Colombian coffee has been recognized worldwide as having high quality and distinctive taste, it was delicious! The main importers of Colombian coffee are United States, Germany, France, Japan, and Italy.

Byron's horse ride
kb_057.jpgkb_056.jpgkb_055.jpg

Colombian coffee
kb_064.jpgkb_065.jpgkb_061.jpg
Gum boots and skinny jeans!
kb_068.jpg

After a great brunch and some delicious maracuya (like granadilla) juice we took a bus to The town of Manizales. When we checked into the hotel the girl behind the counter spoke english which hadnt been very common up to that point and when she saw our passports she got so excited because she had studied english in cape town and loved South Africa. There isn't much to do in this student town but luckily our friend at the hotel told us that the lighting of the Christmas lights was on so we walked up the hill to the top of the city where they had a huge light festival going on. The Colombians go crazy for Christmas decorations, anything that is bright and colorful goes and people make a huge effort to light up their homes! We had delicious arepas for dinner and hit the sack!

Christmas lights in Manizales
kb_078.jpgkb_077.jpgkb_076.jpgkb_075.jpgkb_074.jpg

Posted by karenandbyron 16:18 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

(Entries 6 - 10 of 36) « Page 1 [2] 3 4 5 6 7 8 »