Monthly Archives: June 2011

Dessert Tacos in Bogota

Building on my walk around Bogota today.

The trip is winding down, sadly. We’ve spent the last couple days in Bogota pretty much relaxing and enjoying the last days of vacation. Despite being on ‘summer vacation’ for the next few months, I’ve actually got to do a lot of studying, research, and writing…so I’ll be quite busy back in the NYC.

We hung out at the hostel (Destino Nomada) when we returned Friday, and participated in the BBQ they offered. For only 12000 pesos we got carne de res, salchicha, arepa, guacamole, and cebollas (beef, sausage, arepa, guac, and onion salad. So good, too bad we didn’t take a picture. After word got back to our friends in Medellin that we corrupted the hostel and tried to get everybody drunk. In fact, we were the responsible ones, and tried to move the mentality away from college drinking games. Headed out on the town with some Aussies and had fun in La Candelaria (the neighborhood around our Hostel).

Next day we were feeling less than useful, but managed to motivate out to the Jardin Botánico de Bogotá (the Botanical Gardens) for only 2000 pesos (~US$1.25). It was nice to get out of the city, and they even had volunteer guides. The guide told us names like ‘bad mother’, step-mother’, ‘elephant’s ear’, and ‘Micky Mouse ears’. Of course, I took too many pictures.

The sculpture that fell over and rusted. Obviously my favorite.

Flores en la Jardin.

'Elephant's Ears'. They have a fuzzy texture.

Step barbs on the end, like on your step-mother's tongue.

Hanging lettuce growing out of trash bags.


Cisne Negra (might have spelled that wrong), a.k.a. Black Swan.

Today I just walked around the city a little more. Went back to the Botero Museum, because I can’t pass up a free museum that’s just down the street. One of the things I liked was the Henry Moore sketches and statues.

Moore Sketches

Moore Statue (little blurry)

Tonight is the last night, and since we have to leave early we probably won’t go out too hard. To tell the truth, all I can dream about is this taco/empanada store we found. They sell 5 kinds of empanadas/tacos, and all are delicious. One is ‘taco de queso y bocadillo’, and tastes like deep fried buttery strawberries. We’re going to head out and get some dinner, and buy some delicious Colombian food to bring tomorrow for tomorrow’s long day of travel!

Some of the buildings on the historic square. Bye bye Bogota.

Street Art in Bogota

One of the things I’ve noticed in Bogota is the plethora of street art. I was expecting it to be more of a country-wide thing, but have really only seen it in Bogota. Admittedly, it’s a large country, and I haven’t seen every street in the few cities I’ve managed to visit. Anyway, here are a bunch of my favorite images. Not sure of all the symbolism behind them, so you can feel free to interpret as you wish.

Two more days to see what this city has to offer. Looking forward to exploring!

Kidnapped in Manizales

The view that started it all.

So gorgeous!! Pictures don't do the views justice at all!

Although the title is a bit misleading, we were quasi-abducted in Manizales. It started innocently enough, as we headed out of Medellin in the early afternoon, and, as usual, I was the tourist on the bus taking pictures of the beautiful scenery. Across the aisle from me (also typical) were the better views. So as I gazed longingly out the windows and around the people at breathtaking views on the other side of the bus, the man sitting across said ‘come here and take pictures, they are better from this side’. And so began our friendship. After talking to him for the whole 5 hour bus ride I had learned (among other things) that he was a Colombian doctor named Felipe who lived in Aruba and was on his way home for the first time in a year to see his family. He insisted we should stay with him (even though Marley had not yet met him, she was sitting and listening to ipod and trying not to get drugged by anyone) and I insisted that we should stay in a hostel. Apparently his insistence was stronger, as we ended up staying at his house that night. Not only was he home for the first time in a year, but it was also a surprise. Probably an even bigger surprise, showing up with two American girls. It turned out to be an amazing experience. His family was so warm, and so genuinely happy to show us their city. We went out to dinner and then an after dinner stroll, where they pointed out the famous church, the discotecas, the different music styles, and talked about how the city had changed in the last 30 years. The next morning they made us breakfast and showed us the messenger pigeons. Turns out Tio Javier has a whole flock of birds, and I even held one! (that picture is on Marley’s camera…so I don’t have access now).

Partridge family (haha, just kidding - Pigeons!)

Fluffy tail pigeon

Proud pigeon.

Pigeon coop in the backyard.

After leaving our new family we headed up to the thermal spa in Santa Rosa de Cabal. Kind of expensive because it was a holiday, but it was a great spa day. And after saving money by staying with the family we felt like the splurge was worth it. We almost didn’t get a hostel though, but managed to secure something and bargain the price down.

Collectivo up to los termales (the thermal pools)

Waterfall at the thermal pools.

Kitty lounging at Hostel Don Quixote

After Santa Rosa we headed to Salento and stayed on a coffee farm. Beautiful small town, with the most amazing views. Traveling through the mountains always leaves me awe inspired. Even in the rain you can’t have a bad view! And luckily the rain clears up pretty fast, providing even better views!

Plantation house hostel in Salento

Dreaming of Strawberries in Salento.

We spent the next day on the bus, heading back to Medellin. We met up with our friends from the hostel in Bogota, and proceeded to teach them Catchphrase. All of them were British, and claimed the game was biased towards Americans (totally true). Didn’t really matter though, as a good time was had by all, and we headed out to la zona rosa for drinks and debauchery.

Heading out to Bogota on the night bus tonight, and can’t wait to get a taco de queso y bocadillo (a sweet/dessert taco!)

Muu Muu! (Walking into Santa Rosa from our hostel near los termales)

Zipaquirá and Medellín

Zipaquira with ominous lighting.

We decided to take a day trip to Zipaquirá and check out the salt mine cathedral. Basically it’s a huge halite mine that’s still functioning, but the minors built an underground cathedral depicting the 12 steps Jesus takes during the holy week…or something to that effect. Very religious, but also some cool geology. The rock salt is stronger than pure salt, so there is no need for supporting structures (wood or metal berms), as long as the miners maintain the proper ratio of holes vs. walls.

Larger than life salt miner statue (can't tell the scale, but he's like 15 feet tall).

Mary and Jesus watch over us in Zipaquirá.

It took forever to get to the mines because every time we asked where the cathedral was people directed us to the actual church. Finally we made it to an area with a museum, the cathedral, the largest rock climbing structure in South America (their claim), and other touristy things.  We waited 3o minutes for an English tour, and learned a lot about the mine and Christianity. Interesting stuff, although the guides geology was off. Lucky for him my Spanish is not good enough to explain the difference between salty oceans and the ocean as a source of salt.

Zipaquirá from the Church.

We headed back to Bogotá, and on the bus met a nice guy who spoke English. He shared some of his fruit, which got Marley excited. We tried a Granadilla. It’s kind of like eating a pomegranate, but tastes more like a kiwi/starfruit combo to me.

Granadilla (fruit)

We’re in Medellín right now, about to head out to Manizales. We stayed at Casa Blanca hostel, which is nice and clean and fairly quiet. It’s also pretty close to La Zona Rosa, where there’s a bunch of nightlife.

Hostel Casa Blanca

We went out last night and I had a great Burger topped with refried  beans, ham, lettuce, and other stuff, to which I added guacamole, onions, jalapenos, and potato sticks. Delish…although extremely messy to eat! After, we got drinks at a super tourist bar which had a breathalyzer, to ensure you know how much booze is in your system. We then went to a German bar, which was quieter and more relaxed, before heading back to the hostel for the night.

One thing I’ve noticed is Colombia loves it’s Botero, celebrating him with a free museum in Bogotá (I’ll show pictures later, maybe), and sculpture parks around the country. As we walked around Medellín yesterday I got a great breakfast, and then had fun taking pictures of the sculptures.

Breakfast of champions: hot chocolate and pastel de guayaba.

Colombianos chilling by Botero's Caballo

Botero Sculpture in the park

Our goal is to make it to Manizales tonight, and then to Santa Rosa tomorrow where there are some cascadas and thermal baths. So, hopefully we’ll be relaxing in some hot tubs tomorrow around this time. SPA DAY!

Adios Brooklyn, Hola Colombia!!

Sooooo, COLOMBIA!!! It’s kind of awesome. I’m here with my friend Marley, and after a 4 hour delay and no movies in the airplane (Jet Blue gave us a nice credit for our troubles) we made it to Bogota, Colombia! Right off the bat it was an adventure, as we couldn’t locate the shuttle that we had ordered to ease our transition into the world of Spanish speakers. None-the-less, we managed to get into a legit taxi and bargain them down to a reasonable price and get to our hostel at the early hour of Midnight! We’re staying at Destino Nomada in the Candelaria district, which is kind of the old town center. They’ve got some silhouettes in case you aren’t sure what to do in the facilities.

Bathroom Silhouette

Shower Silhouette

The first day Marley and I woke up bright and early and walked and walked around the city. We got a ‘typical breakfast’ and watched the people walking around us, explored the supermarket, and did the ‘walking tour’ in the guidebook. Near the end we just started wandering, and noticed a cathedral at the top of a hill. After consulting a map and my guidebook (tourist alert!), we discovered it’s the Cerro de Montserrate.

Me and the cable car

Cerro de Montserrate from the cable car on the way up.

Buisness district of Bogota from Montserrate.

On our way down we wandered into The Warehouse Art, a gallery that had a great photography exhibit (I wrote the artist in my notebook, but of course that’s not near me now).

The Warehouse.Art . . . free art!

We made it back to the hostel, where we had some drinks and went out in La Zona Rosa, which is far away from where we were staying. It was fun, we partook in the traditional Aguardiente shots (tastes like anise), and stayed out nice and late.

Next day we went to La Catedral de Sol (the Salt Cathedral) in Zipiquira, about an hour outside the city. If nothing else exciting happens, I’ll share some pictures next time I get a chance.
Heading to Medellin today, and then La Zona Cafetera (the coffee growing region). So far so good, and looking forward to seeing some new sites and meeting new people!

(forgive my lack of accents…I don’t know how to add them with this PC computer!)