A Travellerspoint blog

Cartagena

After a fun stay in Medellin, we got on the overnight bus north to Cartagena. With the aid of some sleeping pills, we were able to sleep through Michael Schumacher in the drivers seat, throwing us around corners like a man possessed and we arrived in the morning in one piece and thankful for it!

First thing we noticed is that Cartagena is hot. Really hot. We checked into the first hostel we saw, since the idea of walking around, looking for hostels in the oven like climate was grossly unappealing.

Our hostel again was full of really cool people, so we were able to make a lot of new mates and have some good times.

We checked out the old city, which is part of the city walled off in the 1500s as it was a popular spot for pirate attacks. There is also an old fort on the hill which was good for a look. Whilst we were here, Colombia was celebrating its 200 years of independence so there were some pretty good parties at night which we joined in on.

Besides this, we didnt do a huge amount besides walk around, eat, drink and sit in the hostel pool to aviod the debilitating heat! We did have a lot of fun and I can see why people like Cartagena so much.

Posted by Braddock 13:45 Comments (0)

Medellin

After saying goodbye to James and Emma who had pushed on, Nato and I got on the bus to Medellin. Unfortunately, our bus broke down a few hours out of town, so we had to jump on a local bus, which wasnt the nicest but eventually got us there, albiet about 4 hours longer than it should have taken.

We decided to stay in a hostel called Casa Kiwi, which, as you might have guessed, is run by a New Zealander. It was a good decision as it turned out to be a really cool hostel with a lot of fun people.

Our hostel was right next to the Zona Rosa, which is a huge area full of bars and restaurants, all of which are really nice and modern and definitely catering for the upper class. We had some great nights out with people from the hostel both in Zona Rosa and some of the bigger nightclubs around town.

During the day, we were marred by some rather poor weather, which made it tough to do things. We went up the cable car which gave some great views of the city and went right over the top of a huge national park. We also went to an interactive museum, and besides Nato and I being the oldest people there by about 15 years, it was still really cool. They also had an impressive aquarium which was well worth a look.

Overall, the people of Medellin were really friendly and a lot of them spoke Engligh. Whenever we pulled out our map, someone would stop and help us out. People would practice their English with us on the train etc which was fun. It seemed pretty modern with a really good metro system and modern town centre.

We were both pretty surprised how much we liked Medellin, as it wasnt really talked up a huge amount. I know that I have a fair bit of time to kill at the end of my trip and if Bogota is no good, I would happily spend some more time here.

Posted by Braddock 13:34 Comments (0)

Cali, Manizales and the coffee region

Nato and I arrived in Cali early on Friday morning and checked into a hostel. Cali is a medium sized city in the south of Columbia that is supposedly famed for being the plastic surgery capital of South America.

We checked out the zoo, which was quite good, as it had condors close up. We had seen these huge birds on our treks but you dont quite appreceiate you huge they are until you see them up close. It was a bit sad that they were in a 9 by 9 metre cage, because they have a wingspan of about 3m and are probably over a metre tall. We also walked around town and checked it all out, but the main appeal of Cali was the nightlife.

On Friday and Saturday we went out with people from our hostel to various clubs and pubs. On Saturday we ended up in an amazing discotech on the top of a hill which was pretty massive. We also went to a large 3 story club which was good fun.

On the sunday night I headed out with a few people from the hostel to a salsa club. It was a different experience, but the girl we were with knew salsa so gave me some lessons. It was a lot easier than the tango and I might even try and lock in some lessons. Something a bit different I suppose!

From there, we headed to a town called Manizales where we met up with James and Emma. The next day we did a trip where you supposedly climb a 5000m mountain. The last 200 metres were definitely the hardest as it was only here that we got out the bus! It was tourism at its worst with a group of people getting driven up a mountain to 4800m and walking the last little bit. To be fair, it was at altitude and snowing quite hard (although Nato still wore shorts) but was still pretty cringeworthy. We at least had a good snowball fight on the way down.

The next day Nato and I went out to a coffee plantation which Emma and James had come through on their way to Manizales. We got a guided tour on how beans are grown, roasted to get certain aeromas etc and got a tour of the coffee plants and the machinery where they harvest etc. Of course, we drank lots of expressos as well.

We decided to stay the night out there, as it was a nice big house with a pool in teh middle of nowhere. We were the only people there, and the staff lived off site, so that night we had a huge house to ourselves which was a bit surreal after months sleeping in 10 person dorms, but nice none the less.

The next morning we got a lift back to Manizales and boarded the bus to Medellin.

It was during this time that we decided to flag central america and the boat to Panama as it was going to be a lot of money for a short time in central. We decided we would head up to the beach for a bit and then hang around in Bogota for a while also.

Posted by Braddock 20:50 Comments (0)

Quito

unfortunately, it was time to leave the beach in Mancora and head up through Equador on our way to Columbia.

I got on the overnight bus through the border and arrived in Guayaquil in the morning, to jump on another all day bus to Quito where I was going to meet Emma, James and Nato.

Because Equador was right on the equator, it doesnt have a summer and winter, but a wet and dry. We were in the wet which meant it was pretty grey and drizzly the whole time. I was in the same hostel as two Danish girls we had been doing a bit of travelling on and off with over the past few months so, since it was Friday night and all, we had a great night out in the main town area which had a strip of great bars and restaurants.

They left the next day for the Galapagos and I spent the next few days, not moving far from the hostel and trying to learn spanish, since the weather was so unappealing.

Emma, James and Nato finally arrived, along with Sharky (a guy i used to work with and who we had been travelling with since early Peru) and his girlfrind Kathy and we were all braced for a big night out for JamesĀ“ birthday. We watched the soccer at an english pub during the day, with a few birthday tequilas thrown in for good measure and then went to a sensational mall, where Emma and Kathy went for a shop and the boys played some pool. That evening we went to an all you can eat and drink tapas bar which was really fun and then hit the nightclubs. A substantial night was had by all which lots of antics and JamesĀ“ birthday was celebrated with full gusto.

Besides partying, a bit of church gazing and other tourist stuff, we were keen to move on, mainly because the weather was so depressing!

Quito was an ok city, with some nice areas. It was quite well off, but I dont think anyone was crying when we left. Afterall, Equador was really a stop off on our way to Columbia.

It was at this point that we had some differing travel plans. Emma and James had booked a boat from the top of Columbia for 23 July which they wanted to make, which meant setting a very quick pace through Columbia. As a result, they flew straight to Bogota. Nato and I were keen to spend a bit more time in Columbia since we had heard good things so got on the bus the next day to Cali.

Posted by Braddock 20:36 Comments (0)

Mancora

we finally arrived in Mancora to heat and sand and couldnt have been happier about it.

After getting shown around some different hostels, we ended up checking into Loki, which is a string of party hostels around South America - it was Saturday night afterall.

That afternoon we just sat in the sun and had some beers and reflected on how good it was to be at the beach. The next day we got up early and watched the soccer against Italy which as you all will know was pretty awesome.

We had planned to do a week of spanish school in Mancora, but it was a bit smaller than we imagined so decided against it.

Mancora is a small town that is all designed around the tourist. There are seafood restaurants on the beach, clothing shops, bars and markets everywhere else. During the day we were swimming, sunbathing, playing guitar and learning spanish. It was great to relax for a bit and just have some solid beach time.

After about a week or so, James, Emma and Nato decided to go up to a place in Equador called Montanita because they knew there was a good spanish school up there. I decided to stay back as I heard the weather wasnt that good up there and i still had to get through the spanish tapes on my ipod. We had partied pretty hard up until James, Emma and Nato left (including a bit of food poisoning from a roadside burger) so I really enjoyed having a week to myself, just trying to learn spanish, watching soccer, eating tuna and other seafood every day and lying on the beach.

After a few weeks of that, we all agreed to meet in Quito, Equador, so it was back on the overnight bus.

Overall, there was not a lot to report from Mancora, which was kind of what we were after. A lot of relaxing, swimming, eating and doing not much. After a pretty intense three months in terms of moving on from places fairly quickly, Mancora was just the ticket to recharge the batteries and get fired up for dominating Columbia.

Posted by Braddock 11:28 Comments (0)

(Entries 6 - 10 of 27) « Page 1 [2] 3 4 5 6 »