Plata o plomo, coffee and cocaine… That was pretty much my knowledge of Colombia before visiting this magical country. I might have to admit that it wasn’t high on my priority list until we received a quite irresistible wedding invitation from our Colombian friends. Our adventure started with a: “Hey listen, you want to be my bride’s maid?”. And you have to admit, that’s a pretty great start for planning a vacation, isn’t it? Time to dive into Colombia’s nature, culture and cuisine por supuesto.
The perfect getaway from Colombia’s capital with its rapidly changing weather and many road works, is the mountain Monserrate dominating the city center with an altitude of ca 3000m. Take the teleférico and enjoy the incredibly green and hypnotizing view over the mountain and the city.
Ever seen a cathedral 190m below the ground? 250.000 tons of salt was cleared away to make place for a stunning and surreal 3-part cathedral 50km north of Bogotá. With the largest cross ever built in an underground cathedral and the beautiful and mysterious illumination, this place is really a must on your bucket list.
Let’s be honest, Pablo Escobar’s hometown that used to have way too high homicide and kidnapping rates didn’t immediately give me warm feelings. But in the end, it wasn’t Bogotá but Medellín I fell in love with. Unexpectedly a real paradise for foodies with its culinary scene, trendy brasseries and coffee bars. El Poblado, one of the more recent neighbourhoods, was definitely a very nice and safe area to stay.
My top 3 experiences here? Go to the botanical garden to enjoy the 600 species of trees & plants; eat a bandeja paisa (typical dish of Antioquia with white rice, red beans, pork, sausage, plantains, avocado, fried eggs, arepas, black pudding… You will definitely need a siesta afterwards in el Pueblito Paisa (a beautiful small town with an amazing view) and take the metrocable! This line is part of the public metro transport and takes you over the favelas to the other side of the hill. Be prepared for a confrontation with Medellín’s poor neighborhoods, incredibly colourful small houses and green hills.
Reserva natural Cañon de Rio Claro
A 3-4 hours bus drive from vibrant Medellín you can explore this amazing canyon: go rafting, canopying, hiking or just go swimming and bird watching along the river banks. We even took a semi-official guided tour through the jungle to explore caves with impressive cave paintings and fauna… on flipflops. #Yolo!
Colourful oh colourful Cartagena. On the bucket list of so many tourists, but absolutely worth a visit. I just loved strolling through the little streets and alleys and enjoying its charming doorways and cute balconies. Either stay in Old Cartagena and enjoy a Club Colombia (local beer) on the 4km walls surrounding the city center, or head towards Bocagrande for more modern and luxurious hotels, restaurants and clubs.
Islas del Rosario
Anyone looking for some coral? This archipelago southwest of Cartagena consists of 27 small coral islands. We booked a one-day trip and took a small boat to a deserted island where we spent the day snorkeling, swimming and enjoying a cocada in a hammock (local sweet coconut treat).
If I were Christopher Columbus, I would have hid in this marvelous place and never returned to Spain. Dios mio, I wish I could have spend more time here to go trekking to la Ciudad Perdida (Lost City), an archeological site of an ancient city hidden in the middle of the jungle. Due to lack of time, we went on a day trip to Playa Cristal by bus and by boat. Amazing rain forest on one side, la Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta on the other (the highest coastal mountain in the world) and Colombia’s most iconic beaches to spread your towel and enjoy this authentic piece of nature.
Happy birthday to me! How much I like to share my experiences with you all, I decided to spend my 28th birthday on a deserted beach and totally disconnect from reality. You heard it: no electricity, no internet, sleeping in an open hut made from palm wood, showering in open air,… Horace must have referred to this place when he started quoting ‘carpe diem’. Palomino is a small town on the Caribbean Coast in the Guajira region with perfect white and deserted beaches, wild and stormy waves and exotic birds. Completamente descontectado – over and out.
Ceviche: la cevicheria Cartagena
If you are looking for a lighter meal than bandeja paisa, ceviche is your thing: a delicious cold soup consisting of fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices and spiced with garlic, chili peppers, onions, salt and cilantro. After carefully trying out several places, this would be my top choice: La Cevicheria in Cartagena. A small and authentic restaurant ran by Anthony Bourdain, a famous chef and travel addict. ‘No reservations’ is his motto, so be quick to pick a spot on the terrace!
Jugo de lulo
The ideal cure to Colombia’s heath is jugo de lulo. Lulo is a popular Colombian exotic fruit with a citrus flavor. Depending on the different countries in Latin America, it’s also called naranjilla. Jugo de lulo is a cold, and refreshing drink, made with mashed lulos, lime juice, water, sugar and ice. Cheers!