Adios Cartagena: Colombian Adventure Day 12

*Disclaimer: Though written during the COVID-19 crisis, this trip took place in the middle of 2019 and therefore did not violate any travel restrictions. Stay safe and enjoy some virtual travel until things are back to normal.

We woke up and had breakfast at our hotel outside in the already warming sun. Fresh fruit and various other delicious foods.

After finishing our breakfast we took off into the heat. We had opted to do a walking tour to start off our time in Cartagena and get an overview of the city.

Our guide led us through the old town, showing us various features of beautiful Cartagena. We saw some of the traditional dancers, and lovely historic buildings. Our family was particularly taken with the unique door knockers, which were used to symbolize people’s status and position, for example sea creatures to show off members of the navy. The whole city was so colorful and vibrant.

It was very warm though, and extremely humid. Our guide thankfully stuck to the shade as much as possible. We had some fresh lime juice midway through and that helped greatly.

Once done with the tour we were still hot and tired, so we opted to go grab some lunch. My brother had actually done the restaurant research and so we ended up at a tapas place called Caffe Lunatico.

We had a variety of different foods as well as a pitcher of delicious sangria.

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We left feeling much more refreshed, though we did opt to head back to the hotel and get a swim in since it was getting to be the warmest part of the day.

After a swim and some relaxing, we headed back to the city walls to try to catch the sunset. Our tour guide had recommended a certain place on the walls to catch a good view.

Sadly the sunset wasn’t great that evening with too many clouds, but we still enjoyed people watching while we waited.

After that we wandered a bit more, waiting to get some dinner. We particularly loved the views of one of the churches in the evening light.


At a small local park we took a seat on a bench, and to our surprise a dance performance started up. We enjoyed watching the dancers perform for a while.


We also made a quick stop for my brother to pickup a local delicacy he’d been wanting to try: Ants.

I’d been brave a few times during the trip, but I drew the line at eating bugs. So sadly I didn’t get to experience it. But I really loved being the photographer so I suppose it wasn’t a total loss. My dad tried them as well. He made some funny faces, but in all seriousness thought they weren’t too bad.

Finally, it was time to go grab some dinner. We went to a restaurant called Don Juan. I had a shrimp risotto which was amazing, and then shared several different desserts, which were delicious.

From there it was back to the hotel.

Now, technically… there was a day 13 to our trip. But I’m not going to write a post about it.

I’d mentioned in earlier posts that my immune system is terrible. As a result I had been given some anti-malaria medicine by my local travel medicine clinic. I’d started taking it as we headed down from the mountains into lower elevations, where malaria is more common. However, no one bothered to warn me that the medication can have some nasty side-effects.

I spent all of day 13 in bed with stomach trouble and fatigue. Sad to say I missed out on my last day in Cartagena. My family climbed up to the fort overlooking the city and also went to the Museum of the Inquisition. Here are a few photos of their last day

All in all my trip to Colombia was pretty amazing. Being sick definitely was pretty terrible, especially having to spend my last day in bed the whole time, but other than that it was a great experience.

I actually would love to go back some day, especially to maybe do a hiking trip to the lost city, or maybe to see the beautiful Caño Cristales, the river of five colors when algae blooms and creates a rainbow within the waters.

But for now I’m just going to be hanging out at home, dreaming of my next big adventure.

Hope you’ll consider subscribing to catch any future posts when I can actually go back out and explore the world once more, or maybe review some older trips.

Read the other posts about this adventure here:

A Colombian Adventure: Bogotá Day 1

Out of the City: Bogotá to Ibagué Day 2

Journey Through the Andes: Salento Day 3

Powering Through: Popayán Day 4

Along Ancient and Wild Roads: San Agustín Day 5

On the Road Again: Colombian Adventure Day 6-8

Immersed in Nature: Colombian Adventure Day 9

Birds and Waterfalls: Colombian Adventure Day 10

Into the Volcano: Colombian Adventure Day 11

Into the Volcano: Colombian Adventure Day 11

*Disclaimer: Though written during the COVID-19 crisis, this trip took place in the middle of 2019. Please stick to local guidelines in regards to the virus, but enjoy traveling virtually with this post.

We’re drawing to the end of our adventure. My family had a leisurely morning at our hotel on the beach, enjoying breakfast and then strolling along the water.

At long last we packed up and headed off on the road towards Cartagena, where we would be spending the last few days of our trip.

However, we did have one last little stop to make on the way there.

We had to go to El Totumo, the volcano.

Okay, well admittedly it’s not a real volcano. Not even close. I’ve seen a few real ones in my life, most dormant of course, and this is actually probably a man-made structure, though there are of course all kinds of legends surrounding it.

However, Totumo is in fact a large “mud volcano”, a huge mound of earth with stairs up to the top, and inside is this thick gooey black mud that they claim is good for the skin.

Now, I have plenty of people tell me I’m brave, but I’ll admit I can be kind of a coward in some situations. I initially was determined NOT to do the volcano. It sounded way too out of my comfort zone.

However, as we got closer, I began to realize that if I didn’t do it, I’d probably end up regretting it. And the last thing I wanted was to look back on the trip and have regrets. I didn’t know if I’d ever be back to Colombia. This was probably my only chance.

We pulled up and parked and headed towards El Totumo. We got changed into bathing suits before starting up the stairs towards the top. My mom waited at the bottom to take pictures.


I watched as my dad climbed down a rickety ladder into this huge pool of dark mud. There was already a couple in there, along with a local man who was rubbing mud all over them.

I took a deep breath and headed down into the mud.

It was surreal, like nothing else I’ve ever experienced.

I flailed at first, freaking out a little when my feet didn’t connect with anything solid, worried I’d begin to sink, but when my dad told me to let go of the ladder and relax, I realized that I in fact floated. I felt somewhat weightless.

We stayed in the mud for just a short while, all enjoying the strange sensations. The man rubbing mud on the other people tried to convince us to hang out so he could massage us as well, but I HATE having strangers touch me, so I insisted on leaving, and my dad and brother were willing to go with me.

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The scariest part of all was going back down the steep steps. We had tried to scrape some of the excess mud off, but unfortunately it still clung to us and made the path very slippery. We hung onto the rails as we hobbled back down to the ground.

After getting safely down we headed over to a nearby lagoon to try to wash off. A large group of school children were playing in the water having come from the volcano. After dodging some local women who wanted to help wash the mud off of me, I headed deeper into the lagoon, sinking into the mucky water. To my surprise, the children soon were swarming us, practicing a bit of English and marveling at my brother especially who is 6’4″ (193 cm) and very pale (our family is pretty much entirely of northern European descent).


I just wanted to wash the mud off, and was not pleased with the attention, so I slunk off to the side and let my dad and brother get the most of it. My dad chatted a bit in Spanish, and my brother just laughed at all the kids gathered around him.

The water was shallow, dirty, and filled with reeds. It didn’t make for much of a bath, but we did our best.

Thankfully we soon managed to get a good amount of the dirt off and were able to head back to the car in our wet suits. We then took off for Cartagena.

We arrived in the late afternoon. I was still feeling pretty filthy and felt a little embarrassed as we turned up at a lovely little hotel housed in an old colonial house just outside of the old town called Casa Bustamante.

Thankfully the owners were very gracious and told us we should just jump into the pool to clean off.

We all headed to the back garden area and into the small pool. It felt very refreshing after the mud bath and the ride in the warm and humid car.


After some swimming we all cleaned up and then we headed into the old town to explore some and look for dinner.

We had some time to just enjoy the beauty of Cartagena since the restaurant we wanted to eat at wasn’t open just yet.

We enjoyed the historic buildings, the walls, and of course more fun street art.

At last the restaurant we wanted to eat at opened up, and we headed in to get something to eat. It was called La Cocina de Pepina and offered a number of local foods. I enjoyed some beef in a rich and flavorful sauce.


The food was delicious and we all enjoyed trying bites of one another’s plates.

After a bit more wandering we headed back to our hotel for the night. We were all excited to get some good sleep to be ready to explore more of beautiful Cartagena in the morning.

Birds and Waterfalls: Colombian Adventure Day 10

*Disclaimer: Though this post is written in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the travel was done earlier in 2019. Please follow the advice of your local government and health organizations and stay safe!

We woke early the next morning because we had decided to go on a birding tour. We did one in Costa Rica and really loved it, so it seemed like a good thing to try.

After a long drive up into the nearby mountains, we ended up in a small town called Minca where we met up at Jungle Joe’s a place that did local tours.

Our guide met us and a few other people and we headed up a steep and muddy hill.


Our guide tried to help us spot a number of different birds. We did see a toucan and got to see another bird perform a courtship dance down in the brush.

Halfway along our tour we stopped at the top of the hill and enjoyed some coffee from a local school. We also got to see these beautiful nests hanging from a nearby tree.


We headed back down the hill and over a makeshift bridge and back around to where we’d begun the tour.

After we were finished with our tour we decided to a place called Marinca where there was a waterfall pool where you could swim. It was another wild drive along a bumpy dirt road. We were all a little worried after the last time nearly getting stuck on a rough hill. Thankfully we made it to the parking area with very little trouble.

We walked a ways and soon were at the beautiful waterfall. There was a second one higher up as well which my brother and dad went to see, but my mom and I were too exhausted and opted to stay and soak instead.

It was very cold, but felt refreshing after so much walking in the heat during the day.

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After we had done enough swimming, we finally headed back down to our hotel.

We spent the rest of the afternoon just enjoying the pool and the beach and our lovely hotel. We had some more delicious fruit juice and just enjoyed being in such an amazing place.

After a while of lounging, we finally cleaned up and headed into the nearby town of Santa Marta to grab some dinner.

We ended up at a place called: El Balcón de Ouzo. I think I had lamb with some pita bread, but I can’t quite remember and failed to write it down. My mom had the empanadas which were really good and we split some yummy appetizers.


We walked around just a little before heading back to our hotel. It had been another long and tiring day and we were ready for a good night’s rest.

Immersed in Nature: Colombian Adventure Day 9

We woke up in the Eco Hotel Chayrama. Our cabin let in a lot of natural light, so we were up early. My brother and I walked around the place, and he got some photos of a giant grasshopper on our cabin porch.

Soon enough my mom and dad were awake as well and we went to get breakfast by the pool. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed our breakfast outside.

We also particularly loved the wild scarlet macaw that apparently just hung around around the hotel. I think he was hoping to have some of my fruit.

After we finished eating we took off for Tayrona Park, a beautiful natural preserve along the coast.

We got our tickets and headed in. We parked and started off hiking towards the beach. The weather was hot and humid, and there was a bit of a climb up and then back down towards the beach. Thankfully on one of our little rests we did see a long string of monkeys making their way through the trees. I have to say, after a trip to Costa Rica the year before I had really anticipated seeing more wildlife, but sadly a lot of the animals in Colombia are more shy and therefore not as easy to see. I was just glad we got to see this one little glimpse of jungle life.

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The park was beautiful, and though we were pretty warm and tired, we enjoyed the walk down to the beach. We reached La Piscina–a natural enclosed ocean pool where we stopped and had some fun swimming, laying on the beach, and even snorkeling! We saw some very beautiful tropical fish in the clear waters.

The hike back was the really exhausting part. The weather had become almost unbearably hot, and with how humid it was being damp didn’t really help. In fact if anything my wet swimsuit was very uncomfortable to hike in.

We arrived back at the car hot and exhausted. On our way to our next hotel we stopped and grabbed a grocery store lunch before driving on our way.

Our next hotel was just outside of the city of Santa Marta. It was called Casa Verano, and was absolutely gorgeous. After such a long and exhausting hike, it was nice to just have a relaxing afternoon by the pool enjoying some fresh tropical fruit juice.

After resting for a while we headed out to grab some dinner. We went to an Indian fusion place called Babaganoush. The sunset as we drove there was lovely!


The food was really good. We had some crab cakes and pumpkin soup as starters. My brother and I both got cocktails, a strawberry daquiri for me and something different for him. We even had some dessert to treat ourselves after our long and exhausting day.

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It was a pretty fantastic day all in all. We headed back to our hotel to get a good night’s rest, ready for another adventure the next day.

On the Road Again: Colombian Adventure Day 6-8

*Disclaimer: Though this post was written during the COVID-19 crisis, the traveling itself took place back in 2019. I’m merely using my time while isolating to finally blog about this amazing trip.

I decided to just combine three days into one post, mostly because a majority of those days were spent driving. And while it is interesting to look out the window in a foreign country, it doesn’t make for much of a great story.

We drove for nearly twelve hours on day six. We were heading up to the coast next, and therefore would need to get all the way back up towards Bogata and then some.

Now that’s a long drive already at 574 km (356 miles). But on top of that as we had discovered Colombian roads could be pretty wild. Places where traffic was bad, one lane roads through the mountains, and various other things to slow us down. At one point we noticed cars turning off onto a dirt road rather than taking the main road, clearly running into some kind of problem. We drove along this crowded dirt road until we basically ran into a river that we ended up driving through. My mom got some awesome pictures to capture the craziness.

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Around Bogota we had areas that were just ridiculously busy. Pedestrians just walking into the road without a second glance. Motorcycles and cars and all kinds of traffic.

Thankfully, after such a long time in the car we at last arrived in Zipaquirá where we would be staying the night. Our hotel was Estacion de la Sabana. It was kind of mediocre, but at least we didn’t spend much time there.

We set out to find some food. Unfortunately it was getting late into the evening, and several restaurants were already closing up. One that we went into to check if they would feed us recommended a burger place down the street. So we ended up at La Carretta Parilla Burger Bar. The burgers actually ended up being pretty tasty, which we were very glad of after such a long day in the car only stopping briefly to grab some snacks.


After eating we went and wandered around a nearby square with a beautiful church. We took some pictures and then headed back to our hotel to get some good rest.


The next morning we awoke and had breakfast at our hotel. Then we did a quick walk around the square we’d seen the night before and enjoyed the beauty of that.

After packing up we stopped at a grocery store to get lunch materials and then headed to The Salt Cathedral, an amazing salt mine that has been turned into a stations of the cross and actual cathedral, all carved out of the salt.

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I think we were all pretty tired and maybe didn’t get to enjoy the place to the fullest. I in particular was struggling because on the antibiotics I was taking, I wasn’t allowed to take some of my normal medication, which definitely didn’t make me feel very good. Still it was a pretty impressive place.

After that we hit the road again, trying to make it up further north to get to the coast.

We stopped in Floridablanca for the night. We stayed at another Sonesta, which we were very excited about after enjoying our stay at one in Ibagué.

We ate at the hotel restaurant, which wasn’t all that exciting, but was at least filling and easy. We also really enjoyed the views over the city. Then it was off to bed again and ready for one more day on the road.


The next morning we woke up and grabbed a quick breakfast at our hotel. We enjoyed the views on the patio eve more in the light.

Our last day driving was also pretty unexciting. We did stop at one point to do a photo shoot next to an anteater crossing sign. I had really been hoping to see one, but sadly we never did spot one while driving.


We stopped for dinner at a McDonalds. Which I know sounds slightly ridiculous. But honestly, we just didn’t have much time for a long dinner in order to get to our hotel at a good time. And besides, there is something fun about trying different countries versions of fast food.

After our quick meal we headed off to drive the last stretch before reaching our destination. We had made it all the way to the coast after three days of travel!

We stayed in a cute hotel called Eco Hotel Chayrama. They had cute dogs and even a scarlet macaw that we initially took for a pet, but later found out from the owner just liked to hang around the place and was actually wild. Rather than an actual hotel building, the place had cute little cabins tucked into the jungle.

We had a quick swim in the pool before heading to bed. The place didn’t have any AC and it was pretty ridiculously humid, but somehow we ended up falling asleep with the fan on.

I am back at work now, so posts might not be as frequent, but I do still intend to finish up writing about this awesome adventure, so stay tuned for more!

Along Ancient and Wild Roads: San Agustín Day 5

*Disclaimer: Though this is being written during the COVID 19 crisis, the travel took place in 2019. I merely have the time to write about my past experiences now with the quarantine in place. I do not condone going against the regulations and advice currently in place during the pandemic.

If you read my last post you know I had a rough day of travel dealing with illness. Thankfully, the next day I woke up feeling much better. We had breakfast at our hotel before hitting the road to head down to San Agustín.

Our drives were often adventures, but this one in particular was memorable. We ended up on this small dirt road in the rain heading through a natural park. There were signs to watch out for Tapir and Spectacled Bears. Sadly we saw neither, but it was still quite the adventure heading through what felt like wilderness.


We stopped briefly at a canyon with a beautiful river running through it. We enjoyed taking some photos before getting back on the road again.

After enjoying the view for a bit, we continued on our way. At last we reached paved road again making the drive a little bit smoother.

We finally made another stop at a waterfall. This one we were actually able to see, unlike the one we’d tried to see on our second day. I believe it was Salto del Mortiño from doing a little searching, but don’t take my word on that for sure. I also don’t feel photos really can do it justice. It was beautiful and the canyon it flows into is impressive.

From there we made our way to our main destination of San Agustín. I, like many others, had never heard of this place before coming to Colombia. As it turns out, it’s a pretty impressive archaeological park, actually the largest collection of megalithic sculptures in Latin America. As someone who has a spent a lot of time in Europe, I’ve seen plenty of archaeological sites, but none of them were anything like San Agustín.

The park was spread over a large area of land, with various sculpture and structures as well as a museum and a sort of outdoor statue gallery. All of the sculptures were pretty amazing, though some were in better shape than others. One of the things I found the most impressive was a “fountain” which was where people had carved into the rock of a riverbed, with decorations and various channels and pools. It was beautiful and incredible to see, unlike anything I’d seen before.

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We really enjoyed our time at the park. Once we had seen everything, we were pretty tired, especially after climbing a large hill and enjoying the views. However, my dad mentioned there was a really cool carving outside of the park called La Chaquira.

We drove down an incredibly muddy and steep road until we could go no further as a small river was running over the road. We parked and started walking, but it was taking longer than we had expected. We asked a local how much further and he estimated maybe another kilometer.

As we were all pretty tired we opted to turn around and head back. We got in the car and began driving, but unfortunately our rental car had very little horsepower, and only about half way up we started sliding back down the hill.

My mom, my brother, and I all climbed out of the car, hoping a little less weight might make the car able to climb the hill. My dad tried a second and then a third time, with no luck.

A local man showed up trying to get down the road. He stopped and got out of his car to come help us. He gave some directions to my dad while me, my brother, and mom all tried to push the car.

Unfortunately, in the process of getting out of the way as it began to roll back down the hill, my mom slipped and caught her hand on some barbed wire. I pulled some bandaids out of my purse and patched her as best I could.

Two girls who were hiking ran into us next, as did a man on a motorcycle. They all stopped what they were doing and offered to help. My brother was getting a low blood sugar (he’s diabetic) and needed to step aside to rest. But between me, my mom (one handed), the two girls, the motorcyclist, and the local who had first stopped to help we managed to give it a good enough push to get up the rest of the hill.

We thanked our good Samaritans and then climbed back into the car all exhausted and muddy, but very glad to be off of that nasty road.


La Chaquira– the statue we tried to find but failed to actually see. Photo from Wikipedia

After all that nonsense we finally went to check into our hotel, a beautiful place called Hotel Estorake. The owner graciously gave us some towels to clean up with and some fruity tea. Once we were settled my dad went to find some antiseptic cream to put on my mom’s injured hand and some soda or juice for my brother’s low blood sugar. We rested and enjoyed the beautiful hotel in the meantime.

Finally, all feeling slightly better after our wild day, we went to grab dinner. We went to a place called Altos de YerbaBuena. I had some steak, though it was a little under-cooked for my tastes (and I’m not usually opposed to pink). Everything else was amazing though, especially the fresh juice.

After we’d finished our dinner we headed back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep. We hoped the next day might be just a little less eventful, but at least we’d had an amazing adventure we would always remember.

Powering Through: Popayán Day 4

*Disclaimer: Though this post is being written during the COVID 19 crisis, this trip was taken in 2019. I’m merely taking advantage of having time now to post about my adventures. Please read and enjoy being able to travel vicariously while in the safety of your own home!

So this was without a doubt one of my worst days of travel ever.

I’ll go ahead and mention right now that I have rheumatoid arthritis, which essentially means my immune system is very confused and attacks my body rather than the proper things it should attack like germs. As a result I have to take medication that suppresses my immune system to make sure I don’t end up with permanent damage to my body. So, unfortunately that means I am much more likely to get sick.

Before going on my trip I had consulted a travel medicine doctor. All my immunizations were updated, and I was given some antibiotics and anti-Malaria medication (more to come on that). I’d recommend seeing one of these specialists if you plan to travel to places like Colombia, but I just wanted to point out that my experience won’t be everyone’s because I unfortunately just am not as strong as some people.

Needless to say, I turned in early the day before and was sick most of the night. Thankfully I took my antibiotics and by the next morning was feeling a little better, though still not at my best.

Anyhow, just thought I’d point out that travel comes with risks, and illness is unfortunately one of them. Just do your research and be prepared. But if the worst happens, just ride through it. My memories of Colombia are good overall, in spite of these minor hiccups.

I woke up in Salento after a very rough night of being sick. Thankfully, after having my antiobiotics I was feeling a little better so I had some breakfast. My mom opted to stay at the hotel and rest as she too wasn’t feeling well and my dad, brother, and I went off to a little valley where we had seen signs mentioning that there were Tapir in the area.


Sadly we didn’t see any animals, but it was beautiful and sunny. We enjoyed some time out in nature before heading back to pick up my mom and check out of the hotel.

Unfortunately, I started to feel worse again as we took off. My brother kindly let me take the passenger seat so I could recline. I took a good two hour nap feeling feverish again.

We stopped to pickup some snacks from lunch at a convenience store and then continued.

Before too long we arrived in Popayán. We checked into our hotel Casa la Plazuela which was in a beautiful old colonial home with a courtyard.


I went ahead and took a nap while my family went out to explore the town. I went ahead and put some of their pictures in here so you can see the beauty of Popayán, also known as The White City.

I was able to get out of bed for dinner. Unfortunately yet again I didn’t write down the name of the restaurant, probably because I was still not feeling great. I had some shrimp and rice, hoping the rice might help settle my stomach at least.

Thankfully I was feeling well enough to take a quick walk around the main square and get to enjoy a little of the beauty of the town before heading back to bed.

Journey Through the Andes: Salento Day 3

* Disclaimer: This post was written during the COVID-19 pandemic due to having time to do so, however the trip itself took place in 2019.

So anyone who really knows me is aware I have a bit of a coffee problem. I absolutely love it. I have it pretty much every day, and I love trying new types and going to new local shops when I find them. So, needless to say, being in Colombia I had to spend some time exploring the coffee region. Thankfully my dad was able to arrange our trip so that we had some time to head through the coffee region on our route.

We started our morning in Ibagué where we’d stayed the night to split up our travel time. Our hotel, The Sonesta, had a lovely buffet breakfast that we enjoyed before hitting the road.

That road was in fact a one lane steep windy drive through the mountains. Part way along we came to a dead stop and ended up waiting for maybe an hour. We never did quite figure out why… whether it was construction or an accident or something else. Thankfully it was beautiful where we were and we enjoyed some butterflies and nice views, as well as a funny dog who came car to car to beg for food.

Finally the traffic cleared and we continued our drive. We struggled to pass trucks going up hill, making our drive slower than we’d anticipated. Thankfully once we got to the peak and started heading down it got a little easier.

We eventually arrived at Finca el Ocaso, a local coffee farm that offered tours. We caught the one o’clock tour with no problems.

Our guide, Daniel led us around the plantation, showing us the whole process of coffee making, from growing the plants all the way to roasting and brewing. We picked some coffee cherries and then wandered the rest of the farm. My brother and I especially loved the farm dog, Emilio, who followed us all over as we took the tour.

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We finished up the tour getting to try a cup of coffee, which was delicious. That was just a traditional blend, so my brother voted to also go to the cafe and buy a cup of the 300 coffee, which goes through a greater fermentation process and sounded interesting.

After finishing the tour and our coffee, we bought a few bags to take home and then headed to our hotel. It was actually a hostel called Coffee Tree Hostel. Initially they had mixed up our reservation and put us in a dorm room, which was a bit strange, but thankfully they were able to correct it and gave us our two private rooms with some beautiful views of the valley.


We rested a bit, all pretty tired from the long day before deciding to head out for aw alk in an area called the Cocoro Valley. Not only is this a beautiful natural landscape, but it features a lot of Wax Palms, a beautiful tall variety of palm tree that only grows natively in the Andes of Peru and Colombia. They can grow up to 45 m (148 ft) and sometimes even taller.

We wandered through the valley for a while, enjoying the beauty of the palms and snapping lots of pictures.

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After our walk we went to grab dinner in Salento. It looks like for some reason I didn’t write down our restaurant from that night, but some of that might have to do with the fact that I was beginning to feel somewhat sick and was only able to stomach some spaghetti and bread rather than anything more adventurous.

Then off to bed for me, while my brother and dad headed out for a night walk. I was excited for another fun day ahead, not yet realizing that my travel experience was going to get just a little bit more interesting.

Out of the City: Bogotá to Ibagué Day 2

* Disclaimer, this trip was taken in 2019. Due to the current COVID 19 situation I have extra time on my hands and therefore want to blog about it now.

The family and I woke in Bogotá and had another delicious breakfast at Casa Platypus, our lovely hotel.

We then set out to climb Monserrate Sanctuary, a beautiful mountain with a church on the top and gorgeous views of the city.

Monserrate was surprisingly crowded for a Monday. We rode the funicular up the mountain and then explored a little up top before deciding to walk down. It was a steep climb, and some of the paths were pretty slippery. I ended up falling on my butt once or twice, amazed as I saw an older Colombian man lap us twice while jogging up and down. It was definitely an adventure. We learned later that day from our cab driver that it was Ascension Day, and therefore a holiday, hence why people were out enjoying the good weather and visiting the church.


Having made our way back to the bottom, we headed back to our hotel, grabbing a picnic lunch on the way. We packed our bags, and then caught a cab to the airport where we picked up our rental car.

From there, we simply worked on making our way out of the city, which was quite the adventure. I’ve ridden my fair share on European roads, but this was a whole new type of crazy. Motorcycles everywhere. Pedestrians and people selling things just heading straight into the road without a second thought. Stray dogs. And so much traffic.

Once we’d finally gotten out of Bogotá, my dad headed for a waterfall he thought might be fun to check out. The day was sunny and beautiful, so it seemed like a great idea.

However, as we got closer, a fog suddenly appeared. As we drove down into a valley, it made the road barely visible in front of us.

On top of that, as it was still Ascension Day and therefore a holiday, the road was extremely crowded, and we saw nowhere to park. Unfortunately we had to give up on seeing the waterfall and turn around. Once we were out of the valley the fog completely disappeared.

After a few hours on the road we came to the town of Ibagué where we would be staying for the night. Our ultimate goal was to get down into the coffee territory, but it was a little too much of a drive for one day.

We checked into the Sonesta, a lovely hotel with a beautiful view over the city and nearby mountains. After enjoying some refreshing drinks and settling into rest in our rooms, we headed out to grab some dinner.


We had dinner at a restaurant called Deregio. Most of the people there appeared to be locals, made clear especially by a number of birthday celebrations going on.

For food I had chicken in mushroom sauce as well as a cherry lemonade. The family had various other dishes that I had a few bites of and very much enjoyed. Then for dessert, the family split a cake with Nutella and amaretto, and a fluffy pastry with caramel, ice cream, and berries. Everything tasted delicious.

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Completely full we headed back to the hotel where we went up to the roof to enjoy the infinity pool overlooking the city. My brother and I also hit up the Turkish steam room, though my father thought it was pretty funny considering we would soon be in some really hot and humid areas. Nonetheless it felt amazing and was just what was needed after a long day of walking, driving, and having more amazing adventures.

Stay tuned for future Colombian posts and let me know if you have any questions.


A Colombian Adventure: Bogotá Day 1

So with the continued Coronavirus quarantine, I have a little more time on my hands. Therefore, I decided it might be a great chance to write about some past adventures that didn’t make it on the blog due to lack of time with work and everything else going on.

First up it’s my South American adventure! Join me in my 2019 trip to Colombia. I hope maybe it’ll be a chance for some of you to vicariously and virtually explore a little more of the world while you’re stuck inside.

You’ll probably notice most of my posts on the blog feature Europe as a travel destination, and also often highlight solo trips. While I have mostly spent my time in Europe, I am always looking for opportunities to expand my horizons beyond that familiar continent. I also, love traveling by myself, but in some places it’s just a little more comforting to have people with me. Which is why when my family offered to do a Colombian expedition together, I jumped at the chance.

Now, I know for some it seems a bit odd that a woman in her late twenties still takes family vacations with her parents and younger brother. I’ve had people who just can’t seem to understand it, but my family has always been pretty tight knit and as I haven’t started one of my own yet, I still can enjoy going places with them. It also really helps that my dad speaks pretty much fluent Spanish and French, is a great driver who is willing to go places in a car I would never dare to try driving, and also just has a knack for finding fun places, restaurants, and experiences.

So, with that introduction to the facts that this vacation was: in the past (before quarantine), with my family, and a little different from my usual travel experiences, let’s get this adventure on the road.

We started our adventure in Bogotá, the capital of Colombia nestled in the Andes in the middle of the country. Many who go to Colombia stick with the coast (understandable as it is gorgeous and less of a hassle to reach in some ways), but our family was determined to see as much of the country as we could.

We had spent all day the day before traveling, flying down to Bogotá from the States and got in late. So after a good night’s sleep, we rose the next morning at our hotel called Casa Platypus and got ready to start our day.

The hotel was really fun! It was in a more historic neighborhood, and housed in this beautiful old restored building. They served us breakfast, starting off with a tropical fruit, which I believe was a granadilla, a sort of passion fruit variety. It was not my favorite, but it was very fun to try something I had never seen in my home country. Otherwise the rest was more Americanized fair like waffles, eggs, bread, and coffee.

After a filling breakfast, we set off for our first destination of the day, admiring the city as we went. Bogotá is not all that historic (at least in comparison with some of the European cities we’ve visited), but still beautiful in its own way. We especially loved the fountains running through the street, almost canal like in the way they weaved down the hill. We also saw a lot of amazing street art, which made the city very colorful and unique. You’ll see plenty more photos of that to come.


Our first destination of the day was the Gold Museum. This is actually pretty much the largest collection of gold artifacts in the world, making it one of the more impressive museums in the country. As I walked among the various gold jewelry and other amazing crafts, I definitely had some understanding of why the conquistadors were so eager to find El Dorado. There is definitely beauty in this precious metal, and I enjoyed getting to see the culture of these people the settlers mostly wiped out in their greed.

Not everything was gold, of course. One of my favorite pieces showed a jaguar eating a man’s head (see below).

After exploring the collection for a while, we finally felt we’d seen enough and headed out into the beautiful sunshine. The clouds were clearing.

We wandered over to another museum, this one completely free. This was the Botero museum. Fernando Botero was an artist who had a very distinctive style. Rather than embarrassing myself by trying to elaborate, I’ll just share my photos here so you can see for yourself. It’s not really my favorite type of art, but it was interesting, and the museum itself was beautiful.

My family traditionally has a picnic lunch on most of our travels, and then has a larger evening meal at the end of the day. It helps us stay budget, and also keep a fast pace during the middle part of the day when we want to do our most exploring. I tend to follow this practice in my own individual travels as well.

So we grabbed some food from a nearby grocery store. We ended up with this weird fruity cornbread, which none of us really liked, but was definitely unique, and some chips, fruit, and soft drinks.

After all of that, we joined up with a free walking tour. As always, you’ll hear my plug for these. They are one of my favorite things to do while traveling, and I’ve really never had any I thought were bad. Since the guides rely completely on tips to make their income, they usually do a pretty great job in giving insight into the various city attractions, country culture, and other trivia you might find useful.

We saw a lot of amazing street art on the tour, as well as some fun historic sites.

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We also got to stop at a coffee shop where we tried chicha, a fermented corn and cane sugar drink, and chucula, a hot drink of ground up corn, beans and spices–sort of like a weird chai.


After finishing up the tour, we decided it was time to get some dinner. We ended up at a barbecue place our guide had recommended. I had veal with potatoes, corn bread, plantains, and also a delicious coconut drink. I’m a huge coconut fan, so I was glad to get to enjoy having it in one of its native habitats.

We finished up eating and went back to our hotel to rest a bit. All of us were pretty tired after such a busy day. We did go out later to grab some ice cream at a supermarket and wander a little bit more, but eventually returned to get some good rest in order to be ready for another big day ahead.