"Wherever you go, go with all your heart" – Confucius
Are 15 days enough to fall in love?
Whatever talking about countries or about people, you are not supposed to like them all. As you are not gonna fall in love with any guy you meet on the street, so you are not gonna fall in love with every country you visit. That’s natural, let’s just be honest.
Some countries, I loved them by the moment I’ve landed.
With some others I felt no empathy, not even after a month.
Honestly, I still have to make my mind up about Colombia.
Like that guy you met and think is really funny but.. hey let’s be friends!
I would be a lier by saying I’ve fallen in love with Colombia at first sight. I am pretty sure I don’t “love” Colombia, but I am 100% sure I loved having visited Colombia and I really liked some of the places I’ve seen and I’ve loved meeting some of genuine people I bumped into along the journey.
In the latest post of last week I told you my first impression about Colombia and why you should consider visiting Colombia in 2017. It was a very emotional post and you might wanna know more about Colombia by now.
Listed among the top 10 countries to visit in 2017 by the Lonely Planet, Colombia might have no wonders of the world, no iconic monuments, no famous museums, but across savage lands and dusty cities will giveaway hidden gems able to captivate the traveller’s heart.Even the most discerning of you will get surprised moving their feet to the beats of salsa.
But again: why should you visit Colombia now?
I’ve grown up in a popular travel destination; where I live travel industry influences every single aspect of everyday city life, sometimes up to the detriment of authenticity though.
About Colombia, my advice is: go there before others go. Not because is cool coming back from a place probably none of your friends have been yet; not because is cool anticipating travel trends.
For me, there are no awards in travel than personal enrichment.
Tourism is a pretty young business for Colombia. Despite that, you can make your way from south to north independently, by local buses, taxis and planes up on your budget and time at disposal.
Here the places you should visit in Colombia and why:
1. The new Paris is in South America
“Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?” - Frida Kahlo
Bogota’s beauty is imperfect and for this reason it’s even more fascinating. Its charm is all about heart rending and bohemian gloomy. The city is dramatically spotted at the feet of the Andean mountains. From the top of the Cerro de Monserrate, 3152 metres above the sea level, the view is breathtaking and touches one’s sensibility not less than the view from the top of Eiffel Tower.
Beating heart of Colombia’s capital, La Candelaria -the old town- invites to wander up and down old cobblestones and get lost in tiny streets, whose buildings are covered by evocative graffiti.
The air you breathe in Bogota is that air you breathe after a big revolution, in those moments in history full of new hopes when future seems to offer infinite possibilities.
Cafes, bakeries, independent bookshops and street artworks are filled with passion and enthusiasm, civic engagement. In Bogota, art is everywhere. It fed my souls with inspiration, new ideas and wills of starting new projects.
Because of people’s revolutionary ideas, the maze of alleyways, the art galleries and coffeehouses’ atmosphere, Bogota is for me the new Paris and it is one of the most romantic cities I’ve been.
2. Shall we dance?
"Dance, dance otherwise we are lost" Pina Bausch
Some places get you with their natural beauty, some others with their brutal vigour. Well out from the main tourist circuits, Cali is known worldwide as the capital of salsa. Unfortunately, the city is as famous for its salsa beats as for the drug cartel run by the Rodriguez brothers.
By night Cali shows its worst and best part. It’s up on you what you wanna see.
Whether you wanna go to a pool party on a roof terrace or dance in a traditional salsa club, nightlife of Cali is the best of the country.
Cali inhabitants are proud of their city and local identity. Something funny they use to say is that
Cali is Cali and the rest of Colombia is just mountain.
Well, I still think that Colombia as plenty of sights worthy a stop: having said that, I have to admit that the atmosphere in Cali is like nowhere else: it is brutal, real and full of pride, and if that will not be enough, then the salsa vibes will overwhelm you after sunset. Like if dance enlivens a pacific rebellion against violence, drug trafficking and illegality: as long there will be a salsa club in Cali, there will be hope.
3. Jump into pirate’s tale
“Some colours exist in dreams that are not present in the waking spectrum.” Terri Guillemets
Cartagena is a beautiful lucid dream. I had to stop and touch the houses’ walls many times to make sure they were real. The city immediately got me with his pastel colours, the perfect symmetry of its calles, the women in shining dresses carrying fruits on their heads, the men playing guitars on the squares and an atmosphere of old buccaneers’ cove.
As if my inner child had built it, using her fervid imagination and the colours she loved the most. With charm as old as a pirate’s tale, Cartagena is the most precious gem of the Caribbean Sea and a must be seen for both architects and dreamers.
It is also a good base to explore the beaches and island to the west. I also liked our stay in Playa Blanca, about one hour drive from Cartagena: with no electricity (and no wifi), no running water, not much to do but chilling while getting a tan and waiting for sunset drinking an iced beer, it was a good break from the baking hot of the city after few frenzy days on the road.
2. Soul surfing
"You keep me safe. I’ll keep you wild." (Unknown)
What I loved most of Palomino is its charming, hippy soul surfer’s personality. It’s the ideal city for who loves surfing and for meeting fellow travellers.
You can easily spend a week in Palomino taking it easy, going for a walk on the wild beach in the morning, tubing on the Palominio river and hiking in the forest, drinking delicious mojitos and tasting the local cuisine, tasty and absolutely the cheapest in the country.
Palomino is just one of those places. The one worthy the 9.000 km journey twice.
When I will close my eyes and think back on Colombia, I think on Palomino and the lazy me laying on a hammock, getting rocked with the wind, calmed by the swinging and cherishing dreamy dreams. Feet off the ground and face to the sky, feeling as if I am right there but in somehow not there completely, suspended in space and time.
5. The inevitable white sandy beach. I know you were looking forward for it 😝😉
Here we are, last stop: Tayrona National Park.
For you girls who are looking for your dreamy sandy beach, and for your boyfriends who don’t care and just wanna have a good trek. Base in the pleasant town of Santa Marta for few days so that you can enjoy good nightlife after having explored the park. Go for the the itinerary across the sector 2; it will lead you to the 5 top beaches of the national park, on a full day trek. Do not rent the horses, I am sure you can all make a bit of exercise, while these beautiful animals deserve respect and a relaxing day off!
My favourite beaches are Cabo San Juan and la Piscina for a swim (you will be surprised, swimming is forbidden on most of the beaches due to high risk of strong currents).
I loved the viewpoint on the Jalyintana Padre del mar: it is a very special wild beach because is the birthplace of baby sea turtles. For this reason you can walk along this wide beach, but please remind you should not enter it, to avoid disorienting the turtles. It was good thinking of the baby sea turtles, finding quickly their way to the ocean: one day will find their way back and return to this same beach for new eggs to get buried in the same white sand.
👉 Respecting nature is a love action: give your children the opportunity to experience things like this in life.
Have you been to Colombia? I would love to hear from you about your favourite places in Colombia.
Did you decide to go travelling across Colombia? Let me know if you found this post useful or if it has inspired your trip in somehow! 👇