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 were now faced with 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 they could be, we enjoyed all these beaches with their pretty surroundings and tranquil water.
In our last journal entry I said that we were going to fly to Bogota from the coast and that we had taken our last 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 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. We were welcomed into a beautiful home set in a stunning countryside. Here we spent the best part of the day relaxing and drinking beers in the jacuzzi. The pool they have has an amazing 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 sussed out all the best restaurants for almuerzos and coffee. In the small time we had here we visited the beautiful colonial town of Barichara. Unfortunately we were rained out so retreated back 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 at for the following four nights. One big problem occurred even though we had written a couple of emails and talked to the owner in English. The Alegria's Hostel had not made our reservations., we had read bad reviews on this but good ones on everything else, they were apologetic nonetheless and helped us find more accommodation at Hostel Violeta, which we were very pleased with except for the crying baby that kept Jo and Bruce awake all night for their first night and the unpleasantly cold showers that almost crippled our hygiene.
After a decent sleep in from the shanigans the night before with Jo and Bruce; we had a welcome to Colombia and South America lunch surprise for Jo and Bruce. This was a delicious almuerzo that we picked out on our street. To Jo's horror the vegetable cream soup we were served first wasn't the main meal, for roughly three dollars we were served one of the best almuerzos Bronnie and I and now Jo and Bruce had eaten in South America.
Next on the itinerary, we jumped in a taxi and travelled to the Gold Museum. In this museum we found a lot of gold artifacts, in fact so many that we soon grew tired of it and were soon yearning for more cerveza.
After another decent sleep from more shanigans 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 splendid start then turned horrible when the sky cracked up, lightning fired upon the ground around us and thunder filled the sky. This was exciting nonetheless as we had to venture down the mountain on the teleferico for more experience than we bargained for. We finished the day by lighting the open fire in our room and drinking beer and wine and eating Pizza. It was a perfect way to finish of such a wet and miserable last day in Bogota and South America.
Next stop La Habana in Cuba!