Sun 23rd Feb
Caught the 9am bus to Pereira, arriving at airport far too early - over 3hrs before 1:40pm flight in a tiny airport with nothing to do ! So just wrote some reviews, edited some videos etc.
Super quick flight to Bogota (less than an hour), caught a taxi to our hotel in La Candelaria area, and wasn't the greatest first impressions of the city. Cold, very grey, heavy rain, lots of homeless people on the streets, graffiti etc. I'm really not a city person anyway, much prefer the green peaceful places like Salento, but even so, this doesn't seem like a place I'm going to like !
Headed out for a quick dinner at 6, wandered up and down a few streets which didn't seem like the best thing to be doing in the dark, and were approached by a few homeless people begging, but made it back to the hotel safely for an early night !
Mon 24th Feb
Joined the 10am graffiti tour of the city. I was expecting/hoping to be shown some of the amazing artwork like we have seen in other towns, but it was more political, and showing us the more recent works, even as recent as yesterday. What their messages meant, the trouble the country has had over the last 50 years, current troubles, protests etc. Did see a few impressive pieces, and Brandon really enjoyed the history/political side.
Had a lovely lunch in a tiny little Italian - Pizza Candelaria - with the friendliest owner ever. Great pizza and cannelloni, freshly prepared, with the place to ourselves at the end.
Then joined the 2pm Beyond Colombia walking tour. Again, not as good as we were expecting, didn't really seem to cover what the website said it would, had a 1/2hr coffee stop 1hr into the tour which was a waste of time, and then the torrential rain started from 3:30-5. Never seen rain like it, the streets became rivers, we had to wade across with the water going over the tops of our shoes, and just got soaked despite umbrella and coats !
Rain finally stopped and sun came out just as tour finished at 5, so we went to look at Plaza Bolivar and some of the other places we'd skipped due to the rain, then went home for a hot shower. Haven't been so cold since leaving the UK - had my usual numb white hands, which I have not missed in the slightest.
Another quick dinner and early night as don't like wandering the area at night.
As expected, didn't really enjoy Bogota, tours weren't quite what I hoped, and the weather was extremely wet and cold ! I know we only gave it a day, but glad to be moving on, but also sad to be finished with Colombia.
Summary of Colombia:
We've really loved Colombia. Its such a huge and diverse place, from rain forest, to Caribbean coast, to Lost City ruins, hundreds of birds, mountains, high cities etc.
The people have been so friendly, happy and willing to help. Our Spanish has been pretty abysmal, despite trying to learn before we came out. The few words we do know obviously help, but are in no way enough to get by well. Everyone just wants to chat and be friendly, and we're just not able to reply.
I wasn't overly impressed with Bogota, but then I never really like cities, and this didn't help with the torrential rain we had in our short time there !
We loved Minca and Salento for the small town feel, beautiful hills, rain forest, wildlife etc.
Cartagena was a stunning city, and of course Isla Grande was a little paradise for a few days relaxation.
And of course the Lost City trek, which feels like years ago already. Really hot, humid, hard work, but really rewarding, great scenery, amazing ruins, wonderful jungle, rivers, and even cosy beds !
I would happily come back to re-visit some places, and see others that we didn't have time to this time.