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Early this morning Pat and I got ready to leave, our stay at the hotel includes breakfast, so we went down… fruit, juice, coffee, eggs, bread and toast, all delicious, for that the Yuldama hotel service rises the average, it now has reached to 3.5. We took our luggage and we ask for it to be store at the hotel while we’re in Tayrona (we will stay at the hotel of the wedding tonight).

Our van comes on time (at 9:10 am), and with 2 passengers (an American couple, newly wed) and we go. After about half hour picking up other passengers (a couple from Pereira in their 40s, 2 Americans who stayed up partying last night in Santa Marta and a couple of college students), now, we finally are going to the park and the guide began his talk, his name is Luis Carlos and said we’ll have another guide with us, “Grandpa” a wonderful 74 year old character that has much more vitality in that some of our companions.

At 11 we do a stop before entering the park, we know that lunch is at the end of the walk, so we bought something to drink (Coca-cola for me, obviously) and some snacks for the road, we put on some repellent, and we’re ready. We are still in the van, at the Tayrona’s entrance they ask us if there are foreigners in the group, and we say no, then the guard look at me in disbelief – aren’t you foreign? – I have to show my id card for him to believe me ¬¬ finally, they give us an entrance bracelet to each one.

We’re on the go to the meeting point (parking) and we leave the van, finally we’re going to start the walk, it’s almost 11:30 am. Grandpa says that the rhythm of the walk will go according to the rhythm of the group, and we started. The Pereirans, have come several times, so they know the way and start at a good pace, followed by Americans (all 4), Pat and I go more slowly with Grandpa and then the unbearable (sorry, the college students).

The Unbearable earned their nickname since they got into the van, she talks like a baby and doesn’t do anything by her self, he has no character and obey everything she says. We hadn’t walk for 1 hour and we had expected them many times, Grandpa is already very angry because we don’t see the Americans or Pereirans forward, and the unbearable go back so far that we don’t see them either, then Pat and I keep walking a little faster to catch up with the Americans as grandpa returned to look for the unbearable. We caught up with the newlyweds, they’re a very nice and friendly couple, so the 4 of us continued the walk, and ahead we see the rest of the group.

We headed to Cape guide’s San Juan, we must go through “Playa Arrecifes” (Coral Beach), “La Arenita” (Little sand) and “La Piscina” (The Swimming Pool). In Playa Arrecifes Grandpa reaches us and tells us that the unbearable not follow us, when we return we’ll pick them up, so the 5 of us continue, and do not see the Americans or Pereirans ahead, but we listen to Grandpa’s stories, so it doesn’t matter.

Our walk has it all, at one point we must pass through a log and I lost my balance, so I was buried to the ankles in mud. After Playa Arrecifes, the only way is through a path that is only dry at low tide and… there is no low tide so, water to the knee for all, there are areas where we must go through some rocks and some of us slip, but all We’re having a lot of fun and following Grandpa’s instructions, we help each other in the difficult passages.

A little before 2 pm we arrived at Cape Guide’s San Juan, is a camping area, with restrooms and restaurant. It’s time to eat, but actually I have a migraine, so I’m not able to eat at all, I take a pill and rest for a while, I know that if I don’t I will not be able to walk back. Pat is so concerned that asks if there is another way to return and they tell us that by boat, she waits a bit to see how I feel.

It’s almost time to return, just after 3:30 pm and I feel much better, so we decided to return walking with the rest of the group. The Americans start ahead, followed by the Pereirans, and us, behind the newlyweds, that reach us before “La Arenita”, there we find the unbearable that had just arrive, so I say it is time to return and grandpa asked the Pereirans to guide the return because they know the area and he should watch the rest of the group (the unbearable). The rest of the return is fun, chat and tease with everyone, the tide is higher than earlier, so we have to go through more carefully, this time it is Pat who gets buried in the mud, a little more than me, but it’s fun, I don’t know why, but the walk is much shorter.

We reached the parking lot and waited about half an hour for the unbearable that come with Grandpa and the van will take us to the hotel. Pat and I are full of mud and sand, Yuldama’s receptionist offers a place to clean up, but we are already late for the other Hotel (Santamar), so we pick up the suitcases and took off.

The Hotel Santamar is quite luxurious, and at the reception we met with the bride and groom and the bride’s sisters, it’s fun, Pat and me with the look of the Tayrona and super dirty and the others just get off the plane. At one point the groom approached us to tell us that the serenade is at 9 pm, that we have to be there, it’s already past 8 pm, we have to run to accompany the couple.

The rest of the pictures of 2nd day can be viewed at the set: Traveling 2010: Day 02 Tayrona of my Flickr account

My plan on this trip, and while I have the time is to know (or recognize) as possible, so since I decided to come to Santa Marta 2 days before the Wedding, I knew I wanted to go back to Taganga, specifically to Playa Grande and that there are other sites to visit, but step by step.

 

The Yuldama Inn Hotel is not a bad one, well maintained, clean and care has been good, the room is acceptable, but the bathroom… well not so much, I guess, it shows the age of the hotel in the bathrooms and finishes, plus is a room for 2 people and no more cleaning implements… my rating will be, from 1 to 5, Room 3.5, bathrooms 2.0 and the hotel in general 3.3, the service receives a solid 4.5, it raises the average.

 

On this trip, I’m with Pat, another of my childhood friends, she arrived on an earlier flight and we meet at the hotel, Pat has much more experience in travel and as we agreed before, she knew how to get to Taganga the cheapest way. A bus to downtown and another bus to Taganga, it was a quick route, people are very friendly and we were told which buses and where to take them, we arrived to Taganga and there wasn’t a lot of people, although enough boats, so we took one to Playa Grande our captain was “Don Felipe.” What a beautiful landscapes and lots of very samarium details, eh, very Colombian actually, I loved the buoys made of soda bottles, and the guajira woman living in her boat.

 

We arrived at Playa Grande, is just as I remembered it, although now is being built near it, but is nice to remember. Well, it’s almost 3 pm, it’s time for lunch (yes, I know it’s late…) on the beach… there are many huts? houses? (Well, judge your selves) where you can eat fresh fish at reasonable prices.

 

We had Lunch, walk, take pictures, enjoy the scenery and coordinate to go to Tayrona tomorrow morning. The downside was that there is some trash, bottle caps, in particular, but not many and there are already aware of not leaving trash out there…

 

At about 6pm we returned, the same way, Taganga boat, bus to downtown and… hm … well, first, we misplaced a little where to take the bus from Taganga to downtown, but we find it, then we asked how to get to the Rodadero, but we didn’t specify that we were going to the hotel and the bus assistant told us to get off in “The Bay” and there we took another bus that said “Gaia” mmm… ok, coming to Bay he was kind enough to stop the bus that we had to take… ok, wow, how pretty is “The Bay” it was getting dark and was a very nice scenery, too bad we were passing by, then we saw that the bus was taking too long… “Sir, sorry to the Rodadero? to Yuldama Inn Hotel in Rodadero?” -Ah yes, you must go to Gaia and then pass by the Rodadero and then you get off about 2 blocks away from the hotel… (the earlier bus, the first one was in front of the hotel) that takes about 20 mins… – and after several fiascos in which we were told that from x to y distance was 40 mins and there were 5 and in other case, they said 20 mins and there were 40, well… we didn’t know what to believe, as Pat said “20 mins mine or yours? ” indeed it appear that we measure time differently ¬¬ After a lengthy ride (in which we didn’t enjoy much of the landscape because we were aware of where to get off and that it was night) we arrived at the hotel.

 

As I said above, in Taganga we booked the trip to Tayrona National Park… but we had to go to “Pescador” because the Tayrona guide wont come to pick us up… anyway.

 

At the Hotel we comment about the Tayrona guide (to decide if we went by taxi or bus) then they told us about another guide that would pick us up and included some other things, so we decided to change the “Guide” that is also cheaper.

 

Well, tomorrow in the Tayrona, is a walk of 4 hours (or so), then I guess I better sleep, otherwise no one will wake me to go…

 

The rest of the pictures of day 1 (yes, 1.1 and 1.2) can be viewed at the set: Traveling 2010: Day 01 from Bogota to Santa Marta and Taganga of my Flickr account

Last night I left my suitcase ready because today would not have much time, although the flight was at 11:15 am, had some things to do before going to the Puente Aéreo,  (for non-Colombian Puente Aéreo is: Bogotá’s secondary airport that… I would say should be the one to rename Luis Carlos Galán… – context – recently there were decided to rename the international airport El Dorado, and the new name will be Luis Carlos Galán, I’m not talking about whether is valid or invalid the tribute, but I disagree with the change of the name to El Dorado, it’s simple, El Dorado is a legendary name and representative of Colombian pre-Columbian culture.)

 

Sorry, I strayed from topic, let’s continue, very early this morning I woke up and confirmed to have everything ready to go to Santa Marta, at about 8:30 am I left with plenty of time because I don’t trust the Bogotá’s streets destroyed by Samuel’s administration, but before digress again, I better continue. The journey to the Puente Aéreo was smooth and quick, I arrived at 9:30 am, just to check in at the airline, there was a considerable row (about 50 people) and as we  advanced, an official of the airline told us as if we had a ticket number, we could go to a check in machine (or whatever) what a pleasant surprise, who they (airline check ins) have advanced, it took me less than 5 minutes to check in (yes, it’s been a while since the last time I travel by plane).

 

 

The Puente Aéreo is really small, but not bad, there are some stores for travelers, places to recharge laptop batteries, phones, cameras, etc.., Coffee… I mean, the waiting is not so bad, but, the civics of some people who were going to pick up passengers arriving in Bogota leaves much to be desired, they parked on 26th Av, without caring that is a heavy traffic Avenue. I got a coffee and walked into the waiting room, there were a line to enter because there is only one entrance for all the boarding gates, although the process was quick, and all there was left was wait to board at 10:25 am. In the waiting rooms there are also spaces for recharging batteries and, for obvious reasons, more are needed.
There are informative displays (as in any airport), but this ones are not as cold and alienating as common, I saw a good rotation of passengers (2 flights approached while waiting to boarding time), finally I passed the desk chair to review the data contact, 10 minutes later, boarding time: 10:25, in short the flight was on time.

 

 

On the plane, I located my chair, window, 2 rows behind the wing, but despite this I enjoyed the scenery, and for those who were not on window seats, there are good options on the screen, for distraction during the flight, international TV series (Glee, House, Friends…), national news, sports, information, music (you can even program a playlist for the flight, I didn’t saw the genres available, in the flight back I’ll review them), games and a section “fly with us” data altitude, speed, distance, temperature and rotating maps in English, Spanish and Portuguese, not bad, good for Avianca, they need to polish some details, but they’re on track…

 

The plane left on time, was a smooth flight, but as I “gave props” to Avianca for the distractions during the flight, I also think it’s wrong that they only give “juices, coffee or water,” hey, before, they used to give a piece of sandwich or a small dessert or something light to eat, not today.

 

 

 

 

The arrival to Santa Marta was fairly quiet, the scenery beautiful, but… when I was a child, I once heard someone complain that the landing had been landing in the sea by the proximity of the track to the sea, it’s still like that, and Santa Marta airport is in deplorable conditions, with the region tourism they should invest, at least in its maintenance. There is a good taxi area and the journey from airport to hotel in Rodadero Yuldama Inn was fine.

 

 

The rest of the pictures of day 1 (yes, 1.1 and 1.2) can be viewed at the set: Traveling 2010: Day 01 from Bogota to Santa Marta and Taganga of my Flickr account

Previous Days…

There are all kind of travels and travelers, so, this blog will be about 2 travels and a not so frequent traveler.

The longest one of those trips, is an Europe Tour, well, some European countries. I’ve been planning this Tour for a while and finally this year I can do it, but it will be the second trip that will appear in this 30 day trip, why? lets get some context…

The tour was planned to start by mid-September, and get back by mid-October, but days before the trip was confirmed, one of my closest (and oldest) friend, told me the date and place of her wedding, October 2nd, Santa Marta (Colombia)… I must say, I live in Bogotá, so, the “wedding” trip es the first one I’ll be writing about, but of course and before you get bored, only the wedding day, my writing will be about that.

This is how, those days before both trips I had to run, go shopping, reservations changes and finally, this blog that was supose to tell, among other things, all the process of applying for visas and so on, and would begin a few days ago… begins today… in the evening before the trip to Santa Marta.

Maybe later depending on how the trips evolve, I will tell you more things about the previous days and preparations for them, now lets go (lets fly?)