We had an excellent trip to Colombia.
I realize that Colombia is probably not the first country folks would consider visiting when going to South America.
However, my cousin’s wife is from Colombia, so we went to celebrate her birthday, see her family, and tour three cities: Bogota, Medellin, and Cartagena. Also, having a native Spanish speaker was almost mandatory, since, unlike other tourist destinations like Costa Rica, etc., it seems that most Colombians do not speak English.
We would definitely go back. Medellin was the most friendly for international tourists and seemed to have a bunch of nearby sites and outdoor activities. Cartagena is a beach resort town, although I think primarily for South Americans.
Here was our trip itinerary.
Day 1: To Bogota
Our first day was all about flying to Bogota. We flew Avianca airlines direct from Orlando to Bogota; a fairly easy three hour flight.
Immigration and customs was straightforward. Make sure you have your travel visa in order.
We were met at the airport by my cousin’s wife’s brother – who lives in Bogota and a driver. As you will note throughout this post – finding English speaking drivers & guides is not common in Colombia. So traveling with a native speaker is a huge plus and almost mandatory.
Day 2: Bogota Museums
Three museums and a market.
We visited three museums:
1) Museo Nacional de Colombia – the national museum of Colombia, which was great and housed in an old prison. For non-Spanish speakers, I would recommend a guide since most of exhibits do not have English subtitles.
2) The Botero Museum – not a huge Botero fan, especially his people. I do like some of his landscapes.
3) The Gold Museum
This was worth it, although after two other museums we were a little museumed out.
The pigeons were the highlight of the market; although the churro was pretty solid too.
Day 3: To Medellin
We had a morning flight to Medellin from Bogota that went according to plan. Then we toured the city a bit ending up of Nutibara Hill for some sightseeing and food.
Day 4: Medellin Coffee Plantation
A highlight of our Colombia trip for sure. We got lucky with an excellent tour guide who spoke great English and knew a lot about coffee. We went to a smaller, family owned plantation that was low key. We tasted four different kinds of brewing techniques and picked some coffee.
Plus,we got to dress like Juan Valdez.
This is an excellent restaurant that I would never have set foot in if not for a recommendation from our tour guide (hint: it is down a somewhat scary alley with little signage).
Day 5: Taxi Flat Tire & To Cartagena
I am now sure how to say “shit show” in Spanish, but that is what you get when you are in a taxi with seven people and all our luggage and the taxi gets a flat tire on a very busy street in downtown Medellin.
All luggage and most passengers were accounted for.
We regrouped, ate lunch, and then headed to the airport for our flight to Cartagena.
But let’s not end on that note, since we really enjoyed Medellin, so here’s a picture of the city from our hotel.
Day 6: Cartagena Beach Day
Recovery day spent at the beach and pool. Much needed.
Day 7: Cartagena Castille & Pool
This was mostly another recovery day spent at the pool. However, we did taxi into town to see the Castille and walk around some.
Yes, more pigeons.
Day 8: To Miami & Orlando
A relatively uneventful return trip flying from Cartagena to Miami and then a shuttle up to Orlando.
Yes, I said “gracias” to the guy behind the counter of the Pizza Hut at the turnpike rest station.