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.

IMG_2695IMG_2843

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.

IMG_2715IMG_2731IMG_2733

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

20190602_09515220190602_095502

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

IMG_2806

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.