We felt slightly worried about not finding any accommodation in Santa Marta as we had called around several hostels before leaving Cartagena with no luck of booking. We don't usually book in advance, but we faced the Easter holidays. Upon arrival, we settled into a cheap, clean and quiet hostel called Casa Familiar that we found straight up to our relief.
After spending three nights sleeping in Santa Marta, we felt very tired of this place and eager to move on. While in Santa Marta, we visited the beaches of Playa Grande, Taganga and Bahia Concha in the Tayrona National Park. Although these beaches were as crowded as possible, we enjoyed all these beaches with their pretty surroundings and tranquil water.
In our last journal entry, I said that we would fly to Bogota from the coast and had taken our final long-distance bus in South America. I was wrong. We changed our mind and were soon on another ten-hour overnight bus to Bucaramanga to meet a friend we met in Lima called Nicolas.
Nicolas had just flown home from working in Rio de Janeiro in Brasil and was home for a short time before flying to London in England for more work. This circumstance was great timing and a real treat to see Nico and his home city. The first night we caught up with Nico and met his brother Felipe who showed us the nightlife of Bucaramanga. Waking the following day, Bronnie and I jumped in a taxi with one of many of Nico's cousins that we had met the night before and travelled to Nico's family home. A warm welcome into a beautiful house set in stunning countryside. Here we spent the best part of the day relaxing and drinking beers in the jacuzzi. The pool they have has a fantastic view of the hills where parapentes and paragliders take off. Bronnie and I had an incredible time with Nico and Felipe and are so pleased to spend some time with them in their home city.
Our final destination before landing in Bogota is San Gil, a quiet and chilled out town with a lot of activities like rafting, parapenting and caving. As we had spent a couple more days than planned in Bucaramanga, this left us with not much time in this town. We did enjoy it here. We had also scored well with a great hostel called Sam's VIP Hostel and had checked out all the best restaurants for almuerzos and coffee. In the short time we had here, we visited the beautiful colonial town of Barichara. Unfortunately, it rained heavily, so we retreated to the comforts of our hostel.
We soon realised the size of Bogota during our taxi ride from the bus station to our hostel. Nine million people, hey, the city certainly covers some ground.
Today we are very excited as we are meeting Jo and Bruce at the airport. Wanting to shower, eat and organise ourselves before this get-together, we finally arrived at our hostel. We had booked two rooms for the following four nights. One big problem occurred even though we had written a couple of emails and talked to the English speaking owner. The Alegria's Hostel had not made our reservations. We had read bad reviews on this point but good ones on everything else. Perhaps they overbook to make sure they run at capacity all the time. They were apologetic and helped us find more accommodation at Hostel Violeta, which we were delighted with the housing. Jo and Bruce were kept awake for their first night, and the unpleasantly cold showers almost crippled our hygiene.
After a decent sleep in from the shenanigans the night before with Jo and Bruce, we had a welcome to Colombia and South America lunch surprise for our co-travellers. This surprise was a delicious almuerzo that we picked out on our street. To Jo's horror, the vegetable cream soup served first wasn't the main meal. We experienced one of the best almuerzos, Bronnie and I, and now Jo and Bruce had eaten in South America for roughly three dollars.
Next on the itinerary, we jumped in a taxi and travelled to the Gold Museum. In this museum, we found many gold artifacts; in fact, so many that we soon grew tired of it and were quickly yearning for more cerveza.
After another decent sleep from more shenanigans the night before, we woke for another almuerzo before heading off to buy tickets to the futbol for that night. It was an exciting game with one side dominating the play but slipping up, letting the other team score. Then in the final minutes, the dominant team finally scored to tie the game.
The following day opened up to a clear sky; It was a splendid start, so we ventured up the teleferico for a good view of the city. The glorious start then turned horrible when the sky cracked up. Lightning fired upon the ground around us, and thunder filled the sky. This experience was exciting nonetheless as we had to venture down the mountain on the teleferico for more exposure than we bargained. We finished the day by lighting the open fire in our room, drinking beer and wine, and eating Pizza. It was a perfect way to end such a wet and memorable last day in Bogota and South America.
Next stop La Habana in Cuba!