Villa de Leyva, Colombia 30th May to 3rd June 2012.
Wednesday 30th May
We have leisurely breakfast and then get a taxi to the train station, this should be a 20minutes journey that ends up being much longer as there is a student protest in the centre of Bogota which is holding up all the traffic.
The bus station is very large as you can imagine for a capital city, but we have done our research and know which bus company will take us to Villa de Leyva - good job too as there are so many booths selling tickets and on two floors. We get our ticket and are directed in the right direction to the bus. The bus is an expresso bus, meaning it doesn't stop anywhere but the destination, but still takes 4 hours to get there. It takes an hour to get out of Bogota, even the though the bus station is the right side of the city for us and this is not because of traffic but because the city is so vast.
It is a pretty journey out into the countryside, with rolling hills, trees and rivers. We pass Colombia's capital of Milk on the way with lots of cows in the fields and lots of cheeses shops.
We arrive in Villa de Leyva at 18:10 just as it is getting dark. We have good directions to Hostel Rana, which is about a 5 minute walk. We check in and then go to eat at a Pizzeria and Creperie.
Thursday 31st May
Neither of us slept particularly well as the room we have is at the front of the hostel and gets all the noise from the road and everyone in the hostel. Also we were told we shared the bathroom with 2 other couples, but everyone from the dorms seems to use our bathroom which has paper thin walls and so is very noisy. We ask for a room upstairs but there is not one available. We decide to go for breakfast and a walk round to look for somewhere else. We find a lovely little bakery come cafe and teach the lady how to make a good cup of English tea. We find a different hotel just down the road so we change to Hospederie del Carmen. We have this one practically to ourselves it has double ensuite with TV and breakfast included but no wifi.
In the afternoon we find the tourist information centre and a map. Villa de Leyva is a very old town with white washed, colonial style houses that line cobbled streets. Mostly what you see from the street is white walls with green balconies and windows because the houses are built around a central courtyard. The Town used to be a country retreat for military officers, clergy and nobility. It has a main square called Plaza Mayor which measures 120m x 120m, this the largest in the Americas. It is in a valley and surrounded by hills. It is very peaceful and a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of Bogota. The climate is slightly warmer too, this is because it is only 2000m above sea level. It is very peaceful here.
Friday 1st June
Breakfast is served between 7am and 9am, so we go downstairs for 8.30. Breakfast consists of scrambled egg, fresh bread rolls, freshly squeezed juice and hot chocolate.
After breakfast we decide to tackle a hill walk we have been told about, on the way you can see some small waterfalls and views of the town and the surrounding countryside, we need the practice for a couple weeks time when we climb Machu Pichu. The walk takes about an hour up and an hour down. The weather is sunny so we will have good views. We have to walk about 1.5 km out of the town to get a farmhouse where the walk starts from. On the way we can see some very pretty houses that have been recently built, apparently the area is popular with city dwellers who want a country get away.
We return, have lunch as we have worker up an appetite.
A bit later in the afternoon we had only the second massage of the trip and it turned out to be a strange one. For a start the 2 masseuses we had were both male which is very unusual and second the atmosphere was odd. They had a aromatherapy smoke machine that turned the room into a Duren Duran video and the music didn't help much. Andy said that they poured way too much oil near his bottom :)
Saturday 2nd June
The market is in town today so we have a wander round that. It is very much like our markets with clothes stalls and vegetable stalls. Although some of the fruit and veg is different, for example there is a huge pumpkin and very large avocados. After visiting the market we do a second walk up the hill. We walk down a different way.
On the way back we go back to the bakery for a cup of tea, fresh baked cheesy bread roll and pastries. The lady remembers us and makes the tea just right without any prompting. We wander round different part of the town looking at houses and buildings.
Tonight we eat traditional sausage, corn cake and chips. We then make our way to the square to have drinks and people watch.
Sunday 3rd June
Bus back to Bogota just for one night before flying out to Quito in Ecuador.