Following on from my last post, I decided to devote an entire article to Bogota’s graffiti. Why? Well because it was some of the most impressive I’ve ever seen, anywhere in the world. This was all taken in and around La Candelaria neighbourhood, the lively spot where we spent three nights. Hope you enjoy the images…
This first one is the larger version of my current blog header. Pretty striking! The devil is in the detail, there is so much going on in this picture you could look at it for a full 5 minutes.
For our final overland journey in South America (Cartagena to Bogota), we decided to take one more long distance bus. I suppose it was fitting then that the bus should be delayed for ten hours thanks to three accidents, countless roadworks and the drivers getting lost. The first of the accidents involved the earlier service from the same company we were travelling with, and we picked up those passengers at the side of the road. Several of them were crying but we never found out what happened. Ah South American buses, how we will miss you.
By the time we arrived in Bogota, it was nightfall the next day. As they opened the hold and handed out the bags, the bus driver picked up a box, the handle snapped, and a pile of dead fish in water fell out on the street. Needless to say, we were glad to get in a taxi and leave that bus behind! We slumped into bed knackered, and piled on the thick blankets against the first cold night we’d experienced for some time. The next day we took a cable car up the steep side of Cerro de Monserrate to view the city from above. The city is 2,625 metres above sea level, and the top of this mountain takes you up to over 3,100 metres. So it’s a pretty good view!
The beauty of Playa Blanca cannot be overstated. It stares you right in face with a piercing gaze. This is a tropical paradise as seen on the old Bounty adverts. And in order to fully appreciate its beauty, you need to spend the night on the beach. You need to do this because at midday every day boatloads of people arrive; families with screaming kids, doting couples, pushy sunglass-sellers, the elderly… it’s like a human zoo.
But by four o’clock all of the day trippers have jumped back on the boats and suddenly you can stroll the white sands in peace. The place is transformed! (Well, ahem, some of the doting couples still remain… and have been joined by a few bands of dreadlocked travellers, but it’s still much more tranquil).
After the busy streets of Cartagena, we decided we needed some time on a beach. We had heard of Tayrona National Park through other travellers and friends, and it came highly recommended. Colombia is a little more difficult to travel than other more tourist-orientated countries in South America, and after doing some investigation, it turned out a door-to-door minibus transfer would be better than the arduous task of getting a local bus.
So we set off on the 5 hour trip to Taganga, a small little fishing village that had become a popular spot for locals and backpackers. In some respects this popularity and the resulting tourist development had negatively affected the town, and the beach front was practically just restaurants and street sellers. I didn’t see many fishermen!
Cartegena de Indias is a city of two sides. Most visitors will stick behind the colossal old city walls and just see the photogenic facade: brightly painted colonial buildings, picturesque crumbling churches, shady palm-tree plazas, friendly street-side sellers, bougainvillea balconies, horse & carts, bustling outdoor restaurants… it’s undeniably attractive and you can see why the place is a regular stop for cruise ships.