Tayrona National Park Pt. 1: The Trail to Arrecifes

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Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona is a protected nature reserve and national park along the Caribbean coast of Colombia, renowned for its varied landscapes and climates: mountains, forest, and beaches are all nestled right up against each other and provide a unique environment for a huge range of flora and fauna. It was one of the few places I knew I had to go to while I was in Colombia, and after I’d had my fill of Santa Marta I headed off with two other travelers I’d met at my hostel, Susan and Jay. Continue reading

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Amusing signage at la Brisa Loca

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I don’t know why, but I always seem to be taking pictures of signs when I travel. Sometimes at home, too, if I spot a particularly funny or weird one.

In addition to all the wonderful things about this Santa Marta hostel that I laid out in my last post, La Brisa Loca also had one of the biggest collections of passive-aggressive signs that I’d ever seen in one place. They kept me highly entertained. Here are just a few more. Continue reading

Santa Marta and La Brisa Loca

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Santa Marta was not a place I expected to stay long. When I first arrived from Barranquilla, I expected a short stopover, maybe one night, but I kept extending my stay until I had spent nearly a week in town. Santa Marta’s central location makes it a great base to explore the nearby town of Taganga, head to Tayrona National Park, or serve as a starting-off point for a trek to Ciudad Perdida (something I sadly missed out on this trip). To be perfectly honest, though, I wasn’t doing much of anything that week. Santa Marta is also a popular vacation destination for Colombians (it’s where my Barranquilla-born friend used to spend his summers), and I was taking it easy like them. Continue reading

Block parties, cumbia, and clubbing in Barranquilla

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I am convinced that Barranquilla is the party capital of Colombia, at least among cities on the coast. It’s famous for its Carnaval (sure, the one in Rio is more well known, but Barranquilla’s is second and nearly as elaborate), but I think they know how to party year-round. It’s also the hometown of one of my best friends back in New York, so of course I had to check it out. Continue reading

Following Bourdain to La Cevicheria

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I’m a huge fan of Anthony Bourdain and his show No Reservations, so when I arrived in Cartagena I knew I wanted to visit one of the places he ate on his Colombia episode, a little spot in the Ciudad Amurallada (walled city) called La Cevicheria.

The place is tucked away on Calle Stuart, and I think I walked past it twice while looking for it. In my defense, it was a little early in the morning for lunch and no one was seated at the outdoor tables yet. But eventually I realized the little restaurant was in fact my destination, so I took a chair at the little sidewalk dining area under one of the umbrellas. Continue reading

Sunburn and a mud volcano

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My first full day in Cartagena, I started off early having gone to bed around 8 PM the night before. After scoring a map at the Tourism Office near the Puerto de Reloj, I just started walking around until I saw the famous wall that surrounds the old city and just walked right on up. The views from on top were just incredible — the beautiful, colorful colonial architecture of the town on one side of the wall and a huge stretch of deserted beach and water on the other. I just wandered along the top of the wall for maybe an hour until I reached the end, but when I went down to street level I was in a very unfamiliar area. There were almost no tourists there and it definitely seemed seedier, so I just turned around and went back up along the wall. In retrospect I’m sure it was completely safe and I wish I had stayed and explored more, but this was my first day of traveling alone so I was understandably a bit nervous and didn’t want to stray too far from familiar territory! If I return to Cartagena (and I certainly hope to), I’ll be sure to go back and investigate the area more.
Continue reading