Friday, September 17, 2010

Colombia Trip Report and Pics

So, I am way behind with this trip report. But, I have completed it, just the same! :)

Trip Report--Colombia 09/2010


Early morning flight via Spirit Airlines to Ft Lauderdale then Bogota (speaking of which, we only paid $242.50 RT PP for this flight, which is insanely cheap, WHOOT). Both flights were great, on time. Loved flying through the Ft Lauderdale airport, no running around to connecting flights, they were all in one small area. Got to Bogota, and getting through customs was easy, no line. Luggage took a little bit of time, then found the driver the hotel sent to pick us up, which was nice. Took about 35 minutes to get to the hotel. Hotel Charleston. Super nice hotel in the northern part of Bogota. Our room was really nice--bedroom, living room, dining area, bathroom, etc. View of the city. Kurt had a massage at the hotel and we had a quick snack at the hotel restaurant. We then decided to walk aimlessly around the area by our hotel. Stopped in a really nice store that sold ties and bought Kurt two for work. Had dinner at a place called Thai and Sushi Express, then headed back to the hotel. We were both wiped from flying all day and walking around all afternoon.


Got up and decided to head to La Candelaria to explore the older part of the city. This area has a lot of really old coloniel buildings, including churches, government buildings, statues, etc., and lower end shopping. Anyway, really kewl part of town to walk around and explore. We saw the President’s Mansion, the Mayor’s House, Congress, Supreme Court, the church the first mass was held at in Colombia and many other buildings and statues. Ate lunch at a quick pizza place, where they made personal thin pizzas for you. Walked around a bunch more than headed back to the hotel area. Walked around a couple shopping areas, and ended up getting massages and I got a manicure at a local place. Headed to dinner at a local Mexican place, El Carnal, that was SUPER yummy and chilled in the hotel.


Got up for early morning flight to Cartagena. Flight was great, and grabbed a taxi to our hotel, the Hotel Caribe, in the Boca Grande beach area of Cartagena. Checked in at hotel, room very nice. Then, went and had a massage, used the Jacuzzi and sauna some, chilled by the pool and took a swim, which was great--and had lunch at the hotel. Shrimp and cheese pizza, YUM. Went and walked around the Boca Grande area and beach. Did some shopping, and had smoothies from Juan Valdez Cafe. Had dinner at a local Mexican place, Guadalupe Mexicana, walked some more in the downtown Boca Grande area. Played at a couple casinos (one was called Atlantic Casino) and won a little bit.


Got up and after breakfast, ventured out to the Old Town area where the walled in City is. Really awesome old buildings, the fort walls were incredible to walk around, shopping was fun. The people there were REALLY pushy though, to the point where I did not even want to look at jewelry and the like, because they were pushing it on me SO badly. Telling them you were just looking was not helpful. Spent several hours there, then headed back to Boca Grande and walked the downtown some more where people were less pushy, LOL. Got a massage, then had lunch at a place called La Olla Cartagena where I had shrimp and rice as well as lobster bisque. Headed back to the hotel so I could take a quick nap and cool down and take a quick shower (soooo hot out). Relaxed, then headed to dinner at another Mexican place called Mexico Taqueria (can you sense a trend here??). Played some at the casino and won a little bit.


Came back to Bogota today via Avianca airlines. 15 minute delay on flight, no biggie. Great flight again. Really nice plane. Got here, transferred to the hotel, Hotel Habitel (near the airport this time since we are flying home tomorrow). Checked into hotel, super nice. Decided, since it was raining, to head to some of the local malls for some shopping. I have to say, of all the Central and South American countries Kurt and I have been to thus far, Colombia has AWESOME shopping, especially for men. SO many stores with men’s dress clothes. Bought Kurt 4 dress shirts and 11 more ties. We went to two major malls, Unicentro, which may be the biggest mall I have ever been in, and Andimo, which was super nice as well. Had dinner at the same Mexican place we ate at previously in Bogota. Relaxed at the hotel after dinner, using the Jacuzzi and sauna and scheduled morning massages.


Got up, had breakfast at the hotel and massages. Then, left for airport. The airport was SOOO disorganized for our departure. We were there 2 hours early and BARELY made our flight. Then, the plane took off late, and we got to Ft Lauderdale and they were insanely disorganized there (opposite of when we arrived). We had about an hour, and with literally racing to our gate after going through like 6 check points, we barely made that flight. Literally one minute after we boarded, they closed the gate. Not sure if I ever want to fly Spirit internationally again after that mess, but the flight was super cheap, so I guess sometimes you get what you pay for? Anyway, got safely back to Detroit, home around 1215 PM.

Overall, awesome and relaxing trip. Love exploring new cities and new countries. Was not our “typical” vacation with hiking and animals, but I had a really nice time just the same, and really, this trip was just what I needed. Work was getting really overwhelming and stressful, and I know that is when I need to get away for a few days.

Another thing about Colombia though, you really should know more than "some" Spanish. We barely got by, and Kurt is actually pretty good with his Spanish. They have heavy accents there, so they could not even understand some of our Americanized Spanish. It’s not like Costa Rica, Panama, etc., where you can generally find people who know both languages. This is fine with us, but others might have a hard time.

Hope everyone had a nice Labor Day weekend, however you got to spend it! :).

Oh, the pics from the trip are found by clicking here.

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