donderdag 26 oktober 2017

Colombia, you pearl of South America!

Yes, yes, yes, it was time for Colombia. A country I heard so many stories about in the last few years. It would be busy, 7 flights in 12 days, but my travel buddy and I know how to get things done in a short time. Just before Colombia I had my annual exams to be legal to fly for another year, and I did, I passed them all. The flight was at 03.00 to Fort Lauderdale (Miami). Every year we have 1 annual leave ticket, which is a free ticket and the first 3 years the free ticket only brings you back to your home country, but, after 3 years you can change your destination, and the ticket is confirmed so no stressing with standby this time! Wouter and I both used this free ticket to fly to Miami (which normally costs about 1000 euros), the flights wasn't full at all so we both had our own row and slept on a 15 hour flight about 9 hours, wouter slept even 10 hours! To be fair, I am so glad he did, so I wouldn't feel bad for sleeping as well, haha! We arrived around 10.30 local time in Florida, our next flight to Medellin in Colombia was at 21.00, we decided to spend the day on the beach and start our tan! Well, we took that maybe a bit too literal, we got burnt big time, good start of our holidays! We also had the best ribs and chicken wings at this cute bar next to the beach, and spareribs for us means, pure happiness!! During the whole holiday I think we ate ribs about 5/6 times.
First cocktail of the holiday

The flight from Miami to Medellin was only 3.5 hours, but since we were already on the move for a long time, I slept from the moment we took of until we were landing. Once going through customs we got some cash and then this cute little colombian man asked us if we needed a taxi, sure, being too tired to even discuss a price or find another taxi. He dropped us of safe and sound at the hostel. We travelled about 30 hours until we got to our first final destination. People told us to go to this hostel called Happy Buddha. We arrived at 1am and the party was still going on, normally we don't mind a party or 2 but we were exhausted! We thought oh we won't hear the music in the room, wrong, the room was basically on top of the bar, but as well prepared travellers we put our earplugs in, eye mask on and ready for bed. We both slept like babies, charged our battery to go and explore Medellin city. Medellin city is based between the mountains in a valley, but a BIG valley, the population is about 4 million people. My friend told me to go to Santo Domingo station and from there you have a great view over Medellin, such a good tip, thank you Felice!! Medellin centre is full of small shops and markets, very cute, but you have to be vigilant because it's not the safest. The whole of Colombia is not the safest, but during the day it's fine, I mean, there are places in Amsterdam as well you don't wanna be found at night by yourself. Good thing I had my guy with me, hihi! While we were getting back to the hostel we found a guy who makes anklets so we got matching ones! How cute are we, haha, friendship goals right?! Then it was time for us to eat ribs for the second time that holiday, and they were good, they even gave us gloves!
Yep, those were the gloves and the ribs, no shame 

Back to the hostel because it was Wednesday, which means, PUB CRAWL DAY!! Oh what a night that was, so much fun, we met a few dutch guys and had such a good time doing shots, drink beer and people were even doing belly shots, and we laughed so much my cheeks were hurting.  A good first night, still gives me a smile on my face thinking about it.
Our dutchies

Just before the pub crawl we asked the staff how we could go to Guatape, where we wanted to hike up a rock and the view apparently would have been amazing. This guy then came up to us, Garrick from the states, offering us a free ride (never get in a car with a stranger 2.0), since he was going that way anyway. Wouter and I looked at each other, sure why not! He said okay I will be here about 9am tomorrow morning. Which we first thought was not that early, but if you're in bed at 4, it is a bit. With a little hangover at breakfast at 8.30. Some other guys at the breakfast table were talking to us and asking what our plan was, well, we were waiting for this guy called Garrick to give us a free 2 hour ride to Guatape, and you know what, they did not even believe us, they laughed  at us, and said, no way Garrick is gonna show up..... Wouter and I didn't even think about the fact he might not show up. So there he was, I said, hey Garrick, and the other guys were laughing and said no way that is Garrick, where Garrick says, yeah I'am Garrick... Merel and Wouter (and Garrick) 1 - hostel guys 0 !! See ya later guys, we are going with Garrick to Guatape! hehe.

The ride was absolutely beautiful! Garrick was a good guy (thank god) and the owner of this new hostel that was only open a few weeks. The location absolutely beautiful, surrounded by green hills and a view you can stare at for hours. That afternoon we took a local bus to El Penol, that rock you can climb and here's a photo so you know what view I am talking about. We have seen a lot of great views but this is definitely top 3!
The view !
The Rock / El Penol

On our way back we couldn't contact Garrick to pick us up, since the hostel was up hill with a service road, we thought, us trained hikers, we can walk up.... Not a good idea, we took a wrong turn, it was getting dark and no lights, at one point we just started running and then finally we reached to hostel, just 5 minutes before it got pitch black! Timing is everything haha. There were only 6 other people staying in the hostel and Garrick gave us a private room (fancy backpackers).
Hostel van Garrick

That night I was so tired, from the pub crawl and then not sleeping enough, I called it a night early and slept for about 12 hours, Wouter stayed up (shock) and had a chilled night with the girls and guys from the hostel. The next day we had to go back to the airport and fly to Santa Marta, Wouter messaged our first colombian friend (taxi driver) Luis if he wanted to pick us up in Guatape and drive us to the airport. I thought no way he's doing that, he lives in Medellin, has to drive 2 hours to pick us up and then drive again an hour to the airport, but Luis was happy to do it,  as he charged us double, oh well, money needs to roll and he wasn't a stranger anymore!

Once arrived at the airport we got an email that our flight was cancelled and they gave us an option to fly the next day, but there's one thing we didn't have this holiday and that is time. But Colombia wouldn't be Colombia if they wouldn't have an airline called VivaColombia! Within an hour we booked another flight and we were finally on our way to Santa Marta. We stayed in the Dreamer Hostel, unfortunately it was beerpong night (such a bummer, NOT), we lost anyway. Again we met so many nice people and so many dutch people! As if everybody from the Netherlands just thought oh let's go to Colombia for a few months.So much fun!
The Dreamer Hostel

The next day we took the shuttle bus to the National Tayrona Park, getting up early again. It was busy with too many tourists, we hiked for about 2 hours until we reached Cabo San Juan, where you have a look out and the beaches are white, water is blue and the sun is burning, it was beautiful!
The walk to Cabo San Juan
The view from Cabo San Juan
Can't get enough of palmtrees 
Tayrona Park
Hammock chillings

Then back Santa Marta to catch the bus to Cartagena, a 4 hour bus ride with wifi they said, well that was a lie, the bus was freezing but we did manage to get some sleep. Once arrived in Cartagena at midnight our flight to San Andres island was at 8 in the morning, therefore we took a hotel to have a normal few hours sleep before heading to the island, which lays in front of Nicaragua. The island was stunning, not too big not too small. The hostel we stayed in offered us a tour to go to a smaller island where we could swim with mantra rays. But to be honest with you, it was too touristy and too much trash around, which is such a shame for such a nice destination. If ITMC (my bachelor degree) taught me one thing it is that sustainability (even though we hated that word at school) is the most important aspect of a tourism attraction and destination, god knows how this place will look in 5 years, or even 10?! We did our part for as much as we could.
Another day another flight, no work!
Islands in from of San Andres
When we had to walk through the sea to get to the other island
typical beach photo
I LOVE SAN ANDRES (didn't fit)
Our afternoon ritual

We passed out around 9pm and the next day we rented a golf buggy to drive around the island, and had lunch at Francesca's, a cute restaurant on the beach where we had lunch and some cocktails (again by recommendation by Felice), the beach was the whitest, the water the clearest and the sky the bluest, it was stunning. After all the island is definitely worth going, but I would not go back, been there done that haha! Pure because of all the tourists, sometimes you don't mind them but this was too much, I'm glad we went though, it was just nice to get away from the desert for longer then a few days, not that I have been home much, but still, the fact that you don't have to think about when you have to work next.
Especially as well with Wouter by my side. The whole time we had to tell people we were not a couple but sharing a twin bed together in our private hostel room, haha. It's just amazing to know you can count on each other no matter what, that's what our friendship stands for, together with ribs obviously. So here's a special thank you to Wouter, for always being there for me, not only on our holidays but also in times when I needed that belgium hug the most and those sweet words and those funny comments you can make, after 3 years you still surprise me sometimes. You're a true friend and I'm curious what the future holds for us!
isn't he a cutie !

After San Andres we went back to Cartagena for the day, and what a cute little town is that. So colorful. And then it was time again to head back to the states for a day and then back to the desert. Colombia you have been very generous to us with your kind people, amazing food, and  astonishing nature, until next time, maybe after payday is better! Oh and before I forget, my backpack was only 7kg, Including pillow, obviously! :D  

1 opmerking:

  1. Jaaa leuk om tw lezen over mijn favoriete land �� haha sjeeezzz wat ee reis hebben jullie gemaakt om daar te komen. Maar hey... been there done that