(New Zealand) Mount Cook >>> Geraldine >>> Christchurch >>> New Brighton >>> Kaikoura >>> Wai-iti Domain >>> Wairau Diversion
3/12- Hiking in the Mount Cook Area
3/13- Christchurch Museum and Enticing Ice Cream
3/14- Mini Golf, Frisbee Golf, and Yummy Food
3/15- Touring around the Beautiful Banks Peninsula
3/16- Sea Kayaking in Kaikoura!
3/17- Enjoying the Beach in Kaikoura and lots of Driving
3/18- Driving along the northern coast and the Marlborough Sounds!
Paris >>> Amiens >>> Paris >>> (England) Egham
7/23 – Explore Amiens with Caroline
7/24 – Explore Versailles and Picnic under the Eiffel Tower
7/25 – Arrived in London after our journey through the Channel Tunnel
7/26 – Rest and Planning Day in Egham
7/27 – London Sights! Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben
7/28 – Natural History Museum and Science Museum
7/29 – Kew Gardens, Tower Bridge & Tate Modern
Amsterdam >>> (Belgium) Brussels >>> (France) Paris
7/16 – Canal Tour and Rijkamuseum
7/17 – Explore Brussels: Museum of Musical Instruments, Mannekin Pis, and waffles overlooking the city
7/18 – Explore Brussels: Gourmet Chocolates and Food Trucks
7/19 – Arrived in Paris and met Caroline!
7/20 – The Louvre!
7/21 – Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame
7/22 – Museum D’Orsay, Fashion Show, & Eiffel Tower
Barcelona >>> Zaragoza >>> Pamplona >>> (Netherlands) Amsterdam
7/9 – Park Güell and Explore Barcelona
7/10 – Explore Barcelona with Alyssa and Josh
7/11 – All Night Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona
7/12 – Running of the Bulls!
713 – Flight to Amsterdam
7/14 – Explore Amsterdam: Van Gogh, Anne Frank, Flower Market
7/15 – Explore Amsterdam: Heineken and Red Light District
San Gil >>> Bogota
Planning Day: Booked excursions in San Gil and researched next moves in Colombia.
+ Slept in late.
+ Booked excursions for the next few days.
+ Did research in little cubicles an Internet cafe.
+ Went back to Gringo Mike’s, ordered an appetizer of fries that was as much money as a burger but turned out to be very small. Corey politely complained and eventually they gave in and brought some more fries. First time we’ve had to do that in a Latin American country! So despite loving the menu, the place quickly lost it’s appeal, as well as all the additional future visits we were planning to make.
+ Spent the rest of the night frustrated with the hostel wifi as we unsuccessfully tried to get planning done and book flights to the amazon. Then watched some tv before bed.
White water rafting on Rio Suarez!
+ Spent most of the day rafting on the Suarez river. Our tour was supposed to leave at 10 am but got pushed back to 12 pm. So that meant 2 more hours of sleep for us! Hooray! We needed it due to staying up so late the night before.
+ The tour group was split into 3 boats and despite multiple class IV and V rapids, no one fell out of the boats!
+ This was probably the most intense rafting we’ve ever done. The river was so high because San Gil had gotten a lot of rain recently. The day before our trip they had to cancel the rafting because the river was too strong!
+ After rafting we stopped for lunch of multiple fruits, tons of chicken, potatoes, cheese, some type of dried guava snack, and beer. The guides kept bringing out more and more food! (The stray dogs hanging around certainly did not mind)
+ Not only did our tour include this huge lunch, they also included pictures and video for free! Corey and I agreed that Colombia has definitely presented the best value in their tours compared to other countries.
+ For a late dinner, we split a giant hamburger and hot dog at Mikasa near the hostel. Corey spotted an advertisement for their eating challenge and vowed to return before we left San Gil.
Mountain Biking Chicamocha Canyon
+ Checked out of our hostel due to nosy staff and very unreliable wifi and over to another hostel called Macondo. This is where some of our friends from the rafting trip the day before were staying.
+ Corey went Mountain Biking on a 50+ km trip through the Chicamocha Canyon! About 90 percent was steep downhill over rocky dirt roads and single track and he got going very fast at times! Total descent was over 3000 kilometers!
+ Liz spent the day relaxing in the cool shade of the hostel garden. She was also productive with the trip insurance and tax stuff.
+ At night, we hung out with our new friends in the hot tub at the hostel. Nico, Paul,(Germany) and Annemarie (Holland) had all gone rafting and also mountain biking with us.
+ We ordered pizza from a nearby restaurant called 7 Tigres. There was some confusion with our order and the restaurant offered us a free pizza the next day!
Caving and Tejo (The Colombian Gunpowder Sport!)
+ Swam, climbed and crawled through Cuevo de Vaca with Nico, Paul, and Annmarie.
+ Our guide was super nice and kept splashing us with the cold water. He was happy to take our picture and even hid from us to surprise us in the dark at one point! (Unfortunately these pictures were later erased from the SD card before we could upload them)
+ After Caving and a brief stroll through the market of San Gil, our friends went back to the hostel to watch a Futbol match. Corey and I stopped for what ended up being a huge lunch from Taco Federal.
+ Later that night, 7 Tigres invited us to come by to get our free pizza. Tonight was make your own pizza night! Yum!
+ After thanking the 7 Tigres staff for their generosity, we went back to the hostel to get ready for Tejo Tuesday!
+ Tejo is the national sport of Colombia. It is similar to corn hole, except you are throwing heavy metal weights instead of bean bags. And instead of throwing the weights into a hole, you are trying to hit these packets stuffed with gunpowder in hopes they explode on contact. Oh, and there’s usually lots of beer involved. It’s a very civilized game, obviously.
+ The hostel owner showed all us Gringos how to play and set us up in two “lanes” on the court with 2 teams on each lane. Tejo is played in a large warehouse type building with lanes side by side.
+ Our team was Paul, Corey, and Liz. We won the first match and then played the other winning team and won that as well! Woohoo!
+ Although the explosions were not nearly as frequent as we thought they would be, it was still a fun game!
Bungee Jumping and Our First Overnight Bus
+ Corey, Paul, Nico decided to do the 70m bungee jump just outside of San Gil. One at a time, they were each hoisted up on a platform on a crane above the Rio Fonce and jumped!
+ Corey sweet talked the staff to letting him touch the water on his jump as that is something that is usually only reserved for guides. So on his jump his head and chest actually got dunked in the water!
+ The other 3 really enjoyed their jumps as well. It was Annemarie ‘ s first time!
+ After bungee, we all went back to the hostel and were planning to get lunch together.
+ The weather had been quite rainy the past day and half but it had suddenly cleared up this afternoon to be good enough for paragliding. Nico and Paul had not paraglided yet so they jumped at the chance with the break in the weather.
+ Corey and I stayed at the hostel to finally book our flights to and from Amazonas.
+ When Paul and Nico finally returned from paragliding there wasn’t much time left before their overnight bus left for Santa Marta. The 4 of us quickly went to Mikasa to conquer the food challenge Corey had told them about.
+ Unfortunately the food took a little too long so Nico and Paul had to get theirs to go and run back to the hostel to get their bags. We said our goodbyes and promised to look them up when we were in Germany.
+ Once Corey’s food challenge arrived, we saw why it was a challenge. It was huge! 2 burger patties with pulled chicken in between with a ton of fries and a coke. All this had to be finished in 5 minutes!! with the reward being your whole table eats free.
+ Corey made a valiant effort and scarfed down the fries, the coke, and half the burger in about 4 minutes. To save himself the stomachache he decided to save the rest of the burger. (This half of a burger ended being enough for lunch for the both of us the next day!)
+ After dinner, we walked back to the hostel and planned and got ready for our overnight bus all with a Game of Thrones marathon on the tv.
+ Our overnight bus left at midnight to make the 7 hour journey to Bogota. The rumors we had heard about Colombian bus travel were true! The seats were nice and reclined very far back to make sleeping pretty easy. However the buses are air conditioned to a freezing temperature. All the locals are dressed in their winter jackets and even hats and most people were wrapped up in fleece blankets as they slept. We were happy we had grabbed our rain jackets from our packs.
+ Because this bus had originally come from the north, we got the last 2 seats together… in the very last row.
+ With the mountain roads, the last row got some serious G’s going around the many, many curves. This was the quickest Liz has ever felt car sick. She tried to sleep and even took some motion sickness medicine. She got out a plastic bag and was ready if the worst were to happen 😦
+ About 45 minutes into our ride we stopped at one of the little towns and dropped off a few people and the driver got out to get a snack. We leapt at the chance to change seats! Luckily the couple didn’t get back on the bus and we were now firmly seated about halfway from the front of the bus. The swerving motion here was much more manageable and Liz promptly passed out followed by Corey shortly after.
Gold Museum and Drinks with Locals in Bogota
+ We sleepily arrived in Bogota at 7am.
+ After a short taxi ride to La Candalaria area, we checked in to Explora Hostel.
+ Enjoying the cooler weather we napped to recover from our overnight bus.
+ Spent the afternoon at the Museo de Oro. (Gold Museum) and looked at many different artifacts and learned about history of indigenous people of South America.
+ We stopped for a drink at Bogota Beer Company. Two 2 Colombians invited us to join them at their table. Very friendly people! One was a feminist and was appalled to learn about polygamy (one of the many subjects that came up in conversation)! The other was a gay guy and happy about how Colombia had just legalized gay marriage just a few days before but explained that it is still not widely accepted.
+ Back at the hostel we watched Star Wars on tablet before bed.
Explored Bogota: Graffiti Tour, Monserrate, Biking Tour, Andrés Carne de Res
+ Free walking graffiti tour around La Candeleria. Lots of interesting art and trivia about street artists.
+ Lunch at popular Colombian food place. For only $3.33 total! We weren’t even sure what we were ordering as we are still amazed how different the Spanish is here.
+ Biking trip around Bogota for over 4 hours! We thought we would be in a large group but it was just our guide and the 2 of us!
+ Liz’s favorite part was our visit to a fruit stand where we sampled a lot of different fruits only found here in Colombia. We also visited a coffee shop and saw the coffee brewing process with all the coffee beans. Overall we saw many unique parts of the city that we would have otherwise missed and found out a lot of interesting history from our guide.
+ After the bike ride, we caught a taxi to Cerro de Monserrate. This is a hilltop with an old church and a great view of Bogota. We took the cable car almost straight up the mountain! It seemed so steep we’re not sure how anyone would have hiked this. The view was impressive even at night. You could really see how Bogota is on this plateau surrounded by mountains.
+ Because we had forgotten our jackets and were still wearing our biking clothes, we were quite cold up there. We stopped in a cafe and got a coffee, aguapanela (Colombian drink made with water and juice from the sugar cane- can be served hot or cold), and an arepa con queso (Colombian corn bread)
+ Went to Andrés Carne de Res DC which is a crazy restaurant/bar/dance club north of La Candeleria. Corey’s steak was really good, but Liz’s was phenomenal! Best steak either one of us had ever had and our most expensive meal of the trip by far!
+ This 5 story restaurant not only served top notch steaks but also had many places for dancing and people watching. After dinner we danced the night away laughing at how we might be the only Gringos here.
+ Caught Uber back to hostel and packed up for a flight to the Amazon tomorrow!
Click here for more photos from Colombia!