Jardin, Colombia: The Town That Time Forgot

Colombia

Jardin, Colombia: The Town That Time Forgot

Daniel and I visited the most wholesome place on earth this weekend – the small town of Jardin, Colombia. The little pueblo was founded in the lush valley in 1871 and hasn’t changed since.

The well preserved colonial architecture, colorful buildings, beautiful basilica, and lively town square make it the perfect peaceful getaway from Medellin. Jardín was a three and a half hour bus ride from the city, but the winding roads and vast mountain views made it thoroughly enjoyable.

 

 

Along with the architecture, the slow pace and quality of life hasn’t changed much in Jardín either. No matter what time of day it is, there will always be young parents spending quality time with their kids, families attending mass together, old men catching up over coffee, and of course, caballeros riding through town on their horses, tipping their hats in greeting as they pass by.

When we asked some locals at the bar if Colombia’s violence and drug problems had reached the town in the 80’s and 90’s, they looked at me confused. Of course not, they said. When I asked why, they simply said, it’s Jardín. And honestly, I understood. The outside world has never, and probably will never, break into the shell of this charming town.

It’s a breath of fresh air away from the long work hours, the stress, and the constant screen time the rest of the world seems to revolve around now, and Daniel and I were more than ready for our long weekend of relaxation here.

 

 

Our Friday night started (and ended) with dinner and drinks in the lively town square. Get ready to practice your Spanish because the locals are the most friendly people we’ve ever met.

We passed the time wandering the street venders and sharing a few beers with a local bar owner and his friends (and occasionally sneaking treats to the friendly stray dogs as well).

Our night ended with some local food from the street vendors and our cozy bed at the beautiful Kantarrana Hostel, one block outside of the main square.

 

 

On Saturday, we woke up ready to explore. The weather was warm and sunny, and we had a rough map of the nearby hiking trails and waterfalls. The lush surrounding areas are green as far as the eye can see, and walking down the dirt paths with the pups who joined us was idyllic.

We hiked seven miles to two different waterfalls on Friday and enjoyed a picnic on the rocks by the river before heading home. We took an afternoon snooze during a quick rain shower, and then we headed out for coffee, dinner, and a night back in the square.

Jardín is in the coffee region in Colombia, so the cafes are plentiful, and the drinks are cheap.

 

 

Sunday was more of the same… wandering, eating, drinking, and relaxing. We took the cable car up to the Cristo Rey viewpoint for a stunning vista of the tiny town tucked away between the jagged mountain peaks. A restaurant and a quick lunch awaited us at the top, as well as a new hiking trail to explore.

We ended the afternoon in town catching the end of a local fútbol match and, of course, with a few more cups of coffee in the square.

 

There is nowhere on earth more peaceful than Jardin, Colombia. I’m convinced time forgot it was there and has continued to pass by without it. If you want to decompress, destress, and get away from it all, Jardín is certainly the place to do it.

Now I’m back in rainy Medellin, and our time spent in the colonial town is staring to feel just like a dream. Adios, Jardín. Te amo mucho.

All my love,

Di

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by Mar 27, 2017

Day Trips From Medellin

Colombia

Day Trips From Medellin

This city is a fantastic base for your travels in Colombia because there are so many amazing day trips from Medellin. I’ve done them all (some more than once!) in my six months living here in Medellin, and these are my top three favorite excursions from the city.

Guatapé

Guatapé is the most popular of the day trips from Medellin and for good reason. It’s only a two hour bus ride away, but it boasts an incredibly unique and breathtaking landscape.

To get to Guatapé, you have to catch a bus at the Terminal del Norte bus station. You can either take the metro to the Caribe stop and walk over to it, or call one of many Ubers or taxis in Medellin. Once there, you can get a ticket from the many different booths for the next bus out.

 

 

The buses leave fairly regularly, at least every hour, so there’s no need to book ahead. We had three ticket choices when we got to the counter: El Peñol, La Piedra, and Guatapé. It costs $4 to get to El Peñol, and the others are each about 30 cents more than the last.

El Peñol is a small town and not worth stopping at. Instead, we bought our tickets to La Piedra (the rock) and hopped on the bus to continue our journey. The driver stopped at a small cluster of shops near the rock, and we bought a few snacks before climbing up to the base.

There’s a staircase and a road that both lead to the bottom of the rock, and either one will work. Once we got to La Piedra, there were plenty of restaurants and a small marketplace to explore before gearing up for the hike to the top.

 

La Piedra has 740 steps to reach the top, and is actually believed to be a meteorite by some. It’s a plausible explanation, because the rest of the land around it is flat lakes, and the monstrous rock rising out of them is very out of place. Whatever it is, we were determined to make it to the top!

The climb actually only took about 25 minutes (with a few rest breaks of course), and once we were at the top the view was absolutely phenomenal. You won’t believe you are still in Colombia. The surrounding blue green lakes are so vibrant and breathtaking that no photo will ever do it justice (I will certainly take 100 just in case though).

The smattering of shops and vendors at the top make it a perfect little place to grab a beer (you earned it!) and spend some time in the sun before making the long decent.

After the climb, we hopped into a tuk tuk and paid $2 to continue to the town of Guatapé, which is about a 10 minute ride away. I honestly don’t know what I enjoyed more, climbing the rock or exploring the small pueblo. Every home was decorated with ornate wood carvings and painted with the brightest colors.

Guatapé really has to be one of the most cheerful towns I’ve ever seen. The center is marked with a large square and a beautiful church, and it’s surrounded with lots of cobbled winding side streets to get lost on. We also enjoyed a walk along the lakefront, lunch, and a few cervezas in the sun.

 

 

You can also hop on one of many tour boats dotting the lakeside to take a trip out to Pablo Escobar’s home. His property is a 30 minute ride away, and the mansions built on the surrounding islands make for a beautiful trip.

Once we arrived, Pablo’s home included his own private discotech (which still runs today), as well as the bombed out shell of his favorite mansion, stables, private soccer field, and more.

The place was destroyed in 1993 by the Colombian Search Bloc just a few months before his death, and the eerie ruins are all that is left of his legacy in Guatapé today.

 

 

I am planning to return to Guatapé again soon because the pueblo is so relaxing and beautiful that I didn’t want to leave! Next time, I’ll get a room in a hostel so I can spend a night and enjoy the sunset and night life in the small town. I have to say, Guatapé just may be my favorite place in Colombia so far!

 

 

Santa Fe

If you spend any time talking to the locals in Medellin, you’ll be asked often if you’ve made the trip to visit Santa Fe. This weekend, Daniel and I decided to finally check it off our list. As far as day trips from Medellin go, it’s close and easy to get to. The small colonial pueblo is only an hour and a half outside of Medellin, and we’ve had so many Uber drivers in Medellin insist that we visit that we couldn’t put it off any longer.

 

 

To get to Santa Fe, we had to first go to the Terminal del Norte bus station. From there, it’s easy to find the Occidente ticket booth and buy tickets for the next bus. I’m not sure how often they leave, but we ended up getting ours 5 minutes before the noon departure, which was great. Also great – they only cost $3.25 each.

The bus ride was fairly uneventful, with some sweeping mountain views to help the time pass. Once we finally reached Santa Fe, it was only a quick walk down the street to the outskirts of the cobbled, colonial town.

Santa Fe was actually the capital of Antioquia until 1826 when it was moved to Medellin, and the town still holds an air of pride about it. To me, it felt like Santa Fe takes itself more seriously than the other pueblos in the country.

Unlike the colorful old towns of Guatapé and Cartagena, Santa Fe is starkly white all the way through. A few splashes of flowers here and there give the city some color, but the rest of the churches and homes are strictly white, giving the town a more formal feel than I’m used to in Colombia.

 

 

Santa Fe is one of the best day trips from Medellin because of the many gorgeous colonial churches scattered around the small pueblo. I counted four on our first walk through, and I’m sure there are many that I missed. If you don’t want to hit up a mass or two, however, there are other options to pass the time. Fortunately for me, those options include my three favorite things: eating, drinking, and exploring.

After a huge seafood lunch at the colorful and quirky Porton Del Parque, (washed down with coco locos of course) we hit the town. Because Santa Fe is at a lower elevation (almost 3,000 feet!) than Medellin, the temperature was much hotter, and we soaked up some much needed sun. Wandering through the little parks and plazas, up and down the hilly cobbled streets, and enjoying the surrounding mountain views was a perfect way to spend a day in my book.

 

 

Escaping to sunny Santa Fe was the perfect start to my weekend, and a much needed break from the early onset of the dreary rainy season in Medellin. If you want to do nothing for a day, Santa Fe is a beautiful place to do so!

If you find yourself yearning for some fresh mountain air, Guatapé and Santa Fe should definitely be added to your bucket list. Check out these day trips from Medellin, and let me know what you think of the quaint colonial towns 🙂

All my love,

Di

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by Mar 19, 2017

Penthouse in Poblado: Torre Rossini

Colombia

Girl in a pool

Penthouse in Poblado: Torre Rossini

Daniel and I had the pleasure of staying in the Torre Rossini penthouse in Poblado for a night, and the experience was unforgettable.

As Poblado is my favorite neighborhood in Medellin, I had to check it out for a night. Picture this: you enter into a stunning two story sitting room, all white, with floor to ceiling windows.

The first floor also has a terrace, living and kitchen areas, and 4 bedrooms. Turn up a stone staircase to explore further, and you won’t be disappointed. The top floor left me speechless! It boasts an incredible terrace with panoramic views of the city, a hip lounge area, a bar, heated pool, jacuzzi, AND sauna and steam rooms.

 

Girl with coffee

 

The most incredible part of the top floor though, has to be the master suite. It’s excluded from the rest of the house for the ultimate private recharge zone, and it has glass windows on three of the four sides. I have to admit, I spent most of my time in the jacuzzi built into the floor – perfect for a hot bubble bath and a glass (or three) of champagne.

 

Want to relax even MORE while you enjoy the view? Try out the brand new massage table! When I decided to treat myself, Daniel, the bilingual manager, immediately sent over an amazing masseuse. It was my first ever massage (besides a weird experience in Thailand… but that’s a story for another time), and I think I’m probably ruined forever. How will I ever top a private massage in my own master suite with a view of Medellin?

Once I reached ultimate relaxation levels, I washed off in the bathroom that was actually bigger than apartments I’ve lived in before (not a joke, unfortunately), and took a dip in the rooftop pool. To say the day was perfect would definitely be an understatement.

 

After spending a lazy day in the pool and jacuzzi, we threw together a quick cheese and meat platter, lit up a shisha, and cracked a bottle of wine to finish the night on the cozy lit up terraces. With a full stomach and a hazy head, we cuddled up in the king size bed watching the city lights come on. With the entire city stretched out before me, I felt like the queen of Medellin, nodding off while overlooking the vast reaches of my kingdom.
Girl on a balcony

 

The next morning, relaxed and refreshed, Daniel and I set an alarm to enjoy the sunrise. I’m definitely not a morning person, so this penthouse was perfect for someone as lazy as me. All we had to do was open our eyes and watch from bed!

The pinks and purples washing over the city and mountains set the tone for a perfect sunny day to follow, laying out on the pool deck and letting time pass without a care in the world. Breakfast prep and maid service is included in the cost, so we didn’t have to lift a finger our entire stay.  Can I please go back now??

 

girl with camera in bed

 

Have you ever been to a penthouse with a full spa, or seen a view as amazing as this one? If not, you NEED to check out the Torre Rossini penthouse in Poblado here on AirBnb! I promise, it’ll be a night of luxury you’ll never forget.

All my love,

Di

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by Mar 16, 2017

Girls Weekend In Cartagena: The Perfect Town

Colombia

girl laughing on door step

Girls Weekend in Cartagena: The Perfect Town

Two of my besties from the US came to visit Colombia, so of course we planned a girls weekend in Cartagena. The logistics were super simple, and a one hour flight from Medellin to Colombia only set us back $60 each on VivaColombia. We went in early March and the weather was amazing… 90 degrees and sunny every day. Perfect for bumming on the beach and sipping mojitos in the Old Town.

Once we landed, we took a quick 10 minute taxi to our hostel in the hipster neighborhood of Getsemani. For only $17 a night, we got a 4 bunk room and breakfast right on the main square. I definitely recommend the friendly faces at Papaya Hostel.

Friday

 

On Friday afternoon, we spent the day exploring the Getsemani neighborhood and wandering the colorful streets of the walled in Old Town. Street vendors, shops, and vibrant cascading flowers make this town come to life in a way that I haven’t seen before in Colombia – it emanated a Southern charm similar to Savannah or Charleston.

 

 

You can easily spend a day popping in and out of the cafes and eating your way through the never ending seafood platters. I enjoyed the best meal I have had in Colombia so far at La Cevicheria … you absolutely CANNOT miss it.

Fresh ceviche and lobster and seafood paella washed down with Coco Locos in the sun. Even Anthony Bourdain raved about his visit. We finished our night in a blur hitting all the little bars, enjoying the lively squares, and dancing til sunrise in the salsa clubs.

Saturday

 

After our hangover was cured with a home cooked breakfast at Papaya in Getsemani, we were ready to set off to Playa Blanca on Isla Barú. We walked to the port (fighting off hawkers the whole way) and bought a seat on one of the boats heading out for the day. The cost is $17 for a round trip, or $22 including lunch.

The ride out takes about 45 minutes and was uneventful. Eventually, we were dropped on a gorgeous white sand beach with strict instructions to be back to the boat at 3:30 pm (a little early, but we were sunburned enough by then that it was for the best).

If you’d rather spend more time on the beaches and less in the city, there are plenty of super cheap hostels on the islands to choose from, or you can even grab a hammock for a night for as little as $5.

 

Girl on a beach with hat

 

Ugh, what a perfect way to spend a girls weekend in Cartagena-laying in the sun and enjoying the views. On top of that, our lunch was absolutely amazing. I know nothing else to tell you except look for the octopus painting and get the fish. You can thank me later.

The boat ride home against the current is a bit wet and bumpy to say the least (if you get seasickness this may not be for you) but to me, the trip was totally worth it. The Cartagena heat demands a beach escape, and Playa Blanca is definitely the place to be when it does.

 

Sunday

 

Our Last full day in Cartagena started with the graffiti tour through Getsemani (10am err’day) and a lazy lunch and ice cream run. Then, we decided we had to try out the Volcan de Lodo El Totumo. It’s… interesting.

Basically a small hot spring in a hill with a mud pit in it? We got massaged in the warm mud and enjoyed the weirdest floating sensation ever. They wash you off in the nearby river and all in all its a strange experience.

To be honest, I’d rather spend a day at the beach than hit this site, but to each their own.

 

girl in front of graffiti

 

Monday

 

My friends got up and took a mini bus to Santa Marta ($16 each), but unfortunately I had to head back to Medellin to work (booooo). After a quick breakfast, a walk through the parks and squares of the Old Town, and of course a quick Nutella ice cream cone later, and I was ready to head home.

The security at the airports here is suuuuper lax, so it wasn’t necessary to arrive much more than an hour or even 45 minutes early for my flight.

 

girl chilling in a hammock

 

All in all, it was a perfect girls weekend in Cartagena. The colorful town, vibrant nightlife, and pristine beaches make it a must visit destination for anyone traveling to Colombia.

 

girl in front of colorful wall on stoop

 

Have you been? Comment below, and let me know what you think is a must see in the city!

All my love,
Di

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by Mar 16, 2017

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