Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for July, 2008

A very brief account on Bogota, Columbia’s capital. Reminder to reader: this is an account from our trip two years ago.

We didn’t spend much time here. Travel books will warn you of the many tricks and scams to watch out for. But you can’t be prepared for the unexpected. Sometime it’s gonna happen to you and our turn came. The unpleasant episode took place in “El Centro” area and involved Lenny, and here’s how it went:

  • a crowded and busy street
  • spit on the face, luckily he wears glasses
  • a perfectly normal woman wanting to help him, hands seemed to be suddenly flying here and there
  • him trying to get away
  • the woman suddenly disappears
  • his wallet is gone

Duration: probably 15 seconds

I was walking right next to him and did not even notice right away what was happening!

After effects: a feeling of being violated, paranoia, frustration of cancelling a credit card with a very bad phone connection.

Later that evening, while still under a lot of stress, we decided nevertheless to go for a walk and get something to eat. We didn’t really want that episode to ruin our view of Bogota, but the night wasn’t over and more had to be experienced. My turn.

A drunk walking toward us, threw his bottle up on the air and it landed right next to me in many pieces some of which made its way to my foot.

“Let’s get the hell out of here,” we blurted out angrily. So that was our unfortunate experience in Bogota. The next day, we went to Villa de Leyva where peace and safety was all around us.

So you’ll understand if there arent’ too many shots of Bogota here. The last thing one wants is to be too conspicuous in such a hot pick pocket spot.

Bogota

Church and plaza in the historical quarter of Bogota

Wonderful museum with great rooms, Bogota

Wonderful museum with great rooms with a room for Botero's work, Bogota

On a more positive note, on our way back from Villa de Leyva, we stayed in a different part of town — a bit more upscale, I think it was Northern Bogota. We had Lebanese food at a very nice restaurant with excellent service. The client√®le was upscale and business suits donned by Caucasians had a big presence. When it was time to leave it started to pour buckets. We were offered a free coffee and pastry and an umbrella to get to our hotel. Nice! (I think the restaurant was listed in our Footprints guide)

It started to pour just when we were ready to leave the restaurant, Bogota.

I don't think I've ever seen that much rain in Vancouver, Bogota.

Read Full Post »

Continuing with our travel account of two years ago…this one of the places in Colombia.

What can I say? Villa de Leyva (or Leiva) was a great place. It offers a wonderful escape from Bogota and is only four hours away. If you want peace, quite, safety, charm and nature, then you must spend a few days in this colonial town. I highly recommend it. We were instantly charmed and pleased.

This is a small, sleepy town — at least in February it is. When you get off the bus and walk down a street the plaza will be one of your first sights. It is a strange plaza and there is certainly a story here but of course two years after the fact I don’t remember it. As you can see below, it is huge and is surrounded by a church, municipal buildings, and commercial enterprises.

Plaza at Villa de Leyva, Colombia

Plaza at Villa de Leyva, Colombia

Large stones delineate the square from the cobble stone streets. Inside, the plaza is empty. The town is set in a valley. Temperatures were comfortable for this time of year.

Street with valley in the background, Villa de Leyva, Colombia

Street with valley in the background, Villa de Leyva, Colombia

One of the many charming streets in Villa de Leyva, Colombia

One of the many charming streets in Villa de Leyva, Colombia

One of the many commercial centres in Villa de Leyva, Colombia

One of the many commercial centres in Villa de Leyva, Colombia

There were several “centros comercial” in this little town. They are buildings with courtyards that house businesses — gift stores, art stores, restaurants, etc. There was nothing garish in this town. I believe it is designated as an historical town and so it adheres to strict building and painting codes. Everything is white and doors and window trims are green.

Young soldiers in Villa de Leyva, Colombia

Young soldiers in Villa de Leyva, Colombia

Soldiers…young soldiers were plentiful in the town. As you can see above, they donned serious assault rifles (AK 47s). Their job is to keep the peace and perhaps protect tourists. They never bothered us. But they are extremely young and that is a bit scary considering what they’re carrying.

Selling soup at the market in Villa de Leyva, Colombia

Serving soup and corn at the market in Villa de Leyva, Colombia

Traditional costume for women is to wear the black hats as seen above.

Men at the market in traditional attire, Villa de Leyva, Colombia

Men at the market in traditional attire, Villa de Leyva, Colombia

Traditional for men is to wear wool ponchos and hats. At the market there was one vendor who sold only shot glasses of hard liquor — starting at eight in the morning!

Horse ride outside Villa de Leyva, Colombia

Horse ride outside Villa de Leyva, Colombia

We went on a pretty neat horse ride to visit some archaeological sites outside town. Our horses were quite small compared to the ones we’ve ridden in BC which very tall and thus scary for us novices. Other things we did is went on a couple of hikes, one with a guide and one very short one by ourselves. The landscape around these parts is gorgeous. Language wise, I remember having such a hard time understanding this fellow. The Spanish in Columbia was much more difficult to understand.

Villa de Leyva, definitely one of my favourite spots in Columbia.

Laura.

Read Full Post »

So, I’m writing this post 2 years after our trip. It is a continuation of our Guatemala / Colombia account.

We were in Medellin before and we got to Cali via airplane. There’s two reasons for this, one was time constraints, and two was safety. Apparently, hijackings are common with buses.

Writing about our experience two years later is a little challenging but generally I remember liking Cali. It’s smaller than Medellin, a little quieter, it has some nice residential neighbourhoods, and felt more open (more nature around). There were some good vegetarian restaurants too, which always helps.

So, here we go, let’s look at some pics.

Hotel Del Puente, Cali, Colombia

Hotel Del Puente, Cali, Colombia

This is were we stayed at Hotel Del Puente. I know, it doesn’t look great, but our room was actually very comfortable and roomy, and overall it was a nice place inside. Plus, it is just outside the old town centre. A short walk from the hotel brought us to the main town plaza as seen below. A busy spot.

Church at the main plaza, Cali

Church at the main plaza, Cali

Downtown Cali

Downtown Cali

Downtown Cali offers many interesting contrasts of old and new.

Street scene in Cali

Street scene in Cali

Don’t I just blend in? That’s me on the left hand side in above pic.

Newspaper Vendor in Cali

Newspaper Vendor in Cali

There I am again, buying a newspaper. In this whole trip, despite our moving around a lot, I actually gained quite a bit of weight. Pant’s top button was probably undone. Just too many fried eggs, and frijoles I guess.

Lottery tickets vendors in Cali

Lottery tickets vendors in Cali

This was interesting. A long row of lottery ticket vendors. I hadn’t seen this in the other parts of Colombia we visited.

Street scene in Cali

Street scene in Cali

I included this shot because I was surprised by this woman’s fashion style — woman on the right. You can see by looking at the other two women that this style is not de rigueur. Although, I think in Medellin I saw more of this.

Making a living in Cali

Making a living in Cali

This older woman was pushing a pram which held a suitcase of cigarettes and candy,  if I remember correctly. This seemed a common way to make a living.

An art gallery in Cali

An art gallery in Cali

Just outside the town centre, we went for a walk and found this really nice neighbourhood. This building housed a commercial art gallery.

Unfortunately, two years after the fact I cannot recount any interesting details but I do remember that we both liked Cali and felt quite safe there.

Read Full Post »

After 2 years or so, I have finally uploaded all images that were missing from past posts!!!

This is a major accomplishment and I now will add one or two posts that should have been written 2 years ago and that represent the end of our trip to Guatemala / Colombia.

Read Full Post »

I haven’t forgotten about this blog but I (or we) do use it only for sharing information about our trips. The absence of posts is indeed an indication that we haven’t gone anywhere in a while.

If you scroll down a bit you’ll see that earlier posts are missing images. This is because I exported the blog from blogger to wordpress and had to manually re-upload all images. It’s more work than I anticipated but do still want to get to it sometime. This week I’m taking some time off my handmade bags business (http://laurabucci.etsy.com) and hope to do a little clean up here.

About comments: I wasn’t getting notified when people were leaving comments. I think I’ve fixed this now and I should be able to respond in a timely manner.

Thank you all for visiting and commenting.

We are hoping to get on our bicycles in August and do another part of the Kettle Valley Trail.

Laura.

Read Full Post »