So there’s that saying “do something that scares you” and I do agree with it. To me, it’s about challenging myself in an effort to improve. Before today, I thought this trip to Nicaragua didn’t scare me. Colombia scared me! I had never travelled alone before Colombia. But I did it! So, I figured, I’ve done it. Not scary.
Wrong. I am so scared of being away from Brian for 6 weeks. That’s too long! Too late now. I leave today. He’ll be fine. I’ll be fine. I will miss him to bits though, wow.
Last night, we went out for dinner and to a gallery show for my last night in town. The art exhibit was really great – it was a collective of design students showcasing their senior projects in process. And this one quote caught my eye and fits this moment for me right now. I don’t know: it is making me feel better about going on this journey alone. Plus, Brian supports this completely, and I know a bunch of you reading this do too!
People from Medellin know where to go for their weekend breaks: Guatapé. This beautiful lakeside town is located just a short 90 minute bus ride from the city. We took the bus yesterday afternoon and it was relatively painless and on time.
Guatapé sits on a man-made reservoir built in the 1960s by the hydro-electric company, so there are a lot of water sports opportunities in the area, and the town itself is beautifully decorated with colorful art. There is also a giant rock called El Peñon which is a popular climb offering beautiful views of the water and mountains.
Our first day in Medellin and we saw a lot! This morning we did a self-guided tour of Medellin’s fancy metro system, including the cable cars (more cable cars!)
Things I have heard about Medellin from Colombians: It’s the best climate; the people are very impressed with themselves; they love their subway; they like plastic surgery. Things I’ve noticed: the climate is pretty good!; the people are very nice (like everyone across the country); their subway is very nice and clean!; I have not noticed plastic surgery. It’s certainly not like Beverly Hills where you can’t avoid it.
Bogotá is a big bustling city – the capital of Colombia, with the largest population of 6.7 million – and we arrived yesterday for a 3 day whirlwind tour!
Our flight and taxi rides were easy, and we are couchsurfing with a friendly, interesting and generous guy named Robin. He has a roommate who is on crutches, Anna Maria, and 3 cats. His apartment takes up the 2nd floor of a building in the heart of a great neighborhood called Chapinero. This is a barrio north of the city centre with a lot of nightlife and restaurants.
The guidebooks call it “The Old City,” or “The Walled City,” and the locals merely call it “El Centro” but either way they’re talking about a beautiful place to visit.
Cartagena’s tourist area is a beautiful mess of narrow streets filled with colorful buildings, art, crafts and people. The old city is surrounded by an old stone wall, which makes for a great walk overlooking the sea at dusk when the blazing sun isn’t burning you to a crisp.
Horse drawn carriages mix with taxis in the roads, and tourists work around vendors on the sidewalks. Stroll around and see old churches, modern art sculptures, craft stalls and lovely plazas.
The weekend flew by and now I am sad to leave Cali. I know I’ve only been here 3 days, but I preferred Cali to Cartagena in many ways.
The weather is much easier to deal with! More temperate and way less humidity
Easier to get around: considering Cali is bigger with 2.5 million people to Cartagena’s 900,000, I can only guess this is because I stayed in a more convenient location to all the attractions as a tourist as compared to living in the barrio in Cartagena. I don’t think that’s totally it though
The sights are in residential neighborhoods: In Cartagena, you only go to one area as a tourist, The Old City and adjacent Boca Grande. In Cali, sights were spread out a little bit more, and were in areas where people live so it felt like I was seeing “the real Cali” while also sightseeing
Cheaper: apparently Cartagena is the most expensive Colombian city, and while still cheap to a Torontonian like me, I still noticed that Cali was even more affordable
Cleaner and prettier: Aside from the ocean and the old city, Cartagena is not that pretty. And there is trash everywhere. The Rio Cali doesn’t smell so great, but the streets and paths were very tidy and well kept.
UPDATE: MORE PHOTOS ADDED AS OF AUGUST 15 early AM
I did so much on my 5 hour self-guided tour of Cali, that I didn’t get to include the street art I saw in my previous post.
I didn’t know very much about the street art in Cali until I walked around and saw it for myself. I now know, from this article, that it’s a growing movement here. I am a big fan of street art in general and am fortunate to live in a great neighborhood for it in Toronto (plug for my other blog!), so it was fun to take some photos of the work here.
So I got to Cali late last night – too late for me to go out, I was beat – and woke up early today to see the town. From my searches online and with my trusty Lonely Planet guidebook, I found a lot of good things to see and do!
I started with a taxi from my hostel, Pelican Larry. I have a private room and access to a shared bathroom, which is all I need. Clean and with hot water! My room has a fan which had the dual purpose of keeping me cool and drowning out outside noise.