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Valdivia: a river fairytale city at southern Chile

Valdivia: a river fairytale city at southern Chile

To me, Valdivia has always seemed one of the most beautiful cities in Chile. Located in the XIV region of “Los Ríos”, with a particular geography, flanked by rivers, it lends itself to various activities both in its channels and in its surroundings. It also has a varied gastronomic offer and a wide range of artisan breweries, which position it as the country’s beer capital.

In this article, I will share with you how to organize a weekend getaway to enjoy the best activities in the city:

Friday: I left work and went straight to the Santiago`s airport to take a flight to the city of Valdivia. Once landed the airport is only a half hour from the city, depending on the traffic. Another option to get to the city is to take a night bus. I arrived at my lodging on the side of the Calle Calle river, I changed my clothes and went out to discover the city center, a few blocks away, with Diego, the tour guide that accompany us all weekend, from “Pueblito Expediciones”

Valdivia is a city of short distances that you can easily know by walking. After discovering the center, the main square and the surroundings of the market, I crossed the bridge Pedro de Valdivia (known for having resisted the planet’s strongest earthquake of 9.5 degrees richter) in the direction of Teja Island, to know a restobar that everybody recommended.

The city from above the “Pedro de Valdivia” bridge and the sea lions that you can see along de Calle Calle river

 

This bar was “El Growler” artisan brewery and restobar, with a lot of varieties of craft beers in addition to their own production, with dispensers arranged in the bar, where you can read characteristics of them such as bitterness and alcoholic degrees of each one. The boys who attend the local, know the varieties very well and seek to recommend you the one that best suits your tastes. In this place there is also a variety of food, such as buckets of rustic potatoes with perfectly cooked cuts of steak, blue cheese and bacon or other buckets of the same style but with seafood. Despite being full, we never noticed in the attention or in the quality of the products, all very efficient and exquisite, certainly recommended.

El Growler

El Growler

 

Saturday: this day I took the opportunity to know as much as I could, here I detail the activities you can do:

 

Navigating the rivers:  If you visit Valdivia, an activity that you can not miss is the navigation of its rivers, a fundamental part of the geography of the region. You will find boats that give you a ride from $ 5000 Chilean pesos (about 8 dollars), depending on its type and on the way you will know a variety of native birds like the black neck swan, that abounds in the zone, and you will be able to pass by CauCau bridge, with permanent open arms, an engineering failure. I took the tour with “Embarcaciones Bahía”.

Cau Cau bridge with its arms always open

 

Lots of black neck swans that you can see in navigation activities

 

visit the town of Punucapa: a very little town, ancient indigenous settlement and with several tourist attractions worthy of being known. First is known for its sweet apple cider, which has been recognized with appellation of origin. In “El mesón de la sidra” of Agropecuaria Punucapa, you will have the possibility to taste this preparation and buy it at a very good price, besides watching closely the presses with which it is prepared. It called my attention that despite being very sweet, has no added sugar, everything is fruit of the fermentation of the fruit.

The Punucapa pear that will receive you as you arrive

 

“Mesón de la Sidra” where you can taste this delightful preparation

 

After doing some shopping and already hungry, for lunch we went to “La Herradura” Restaurant,  to eat a traditional Chilean lunch, prepared by Mrs. Albina, owner of the place who tries to serve customers as if they were part of his family. In a very cozy atmosphere we ate an abundant and tasty “Cazuela”, some fried “empanadas” and the typical southern “sopaipillas”, which unlike those of the north of the country, are square and do not carry pumpkin. You can also find a variety of local beers on the spot. The prices are reasonable and it is the perfect place to feel the warmth of the people of southern Chile.

Cazuela at “La Herradura” reataurant

 

walking around Punucapa you will feel the peaceful

 

Oncol Park: To reach this private park, but open to the public for a $ 3500 pesos entrance, you can take collective transportation from Valdivia and get off at the Curiñanco crossroad, where is a workshop of native wood sculpture, point from where you will have to walk a little to the entrance or you can move in a private car, or hire a tour for about $ 25,000 Chilean pesos (about 40 USD), which lasts all day and includes guided tours of the park. As a side note, I would like to mention that the taxis in Valdivia are undoubtedly the cheapest in Chile, starting at $ 40 Chilean pesos.

The park surprised me, I did a tour with Mr Pascual Alba, who lives in the area and knows the biodiversity of the place. It was so doing a small trekking circuit, he told us that there are more than 28 species of ferns in the area and that there are cats Güiña and Colo Colo in the park that sunbathe in the Palo Santo. I met trees like Quintral, whose fruit is fed Monito del Monte when it ends its hibernation and whose nectar also feeds the hummingbird. In summer it is possible to see different species of amphibians, there are toads that bathe in the hollows of trees like the Melí and among the birds stands out the imposing Carpintero.

 

a great biodiversity to enjoy al Oncol park / Canelo tree

 

The quintral flower / hollows at the bass of a Melí tree

 

The park has several viewpoints and trekking circuits to get into the Valdivian forest, has camping areas, a small restaurant and even a canopy. Personally I loved it, I feel it is a great opportunity to connect with nature. For more information about the park, you can visit its website in this link.

Pascual Alba, our guide through the Oncol Park

 

Visit to Niebla: Even with some time available in the afternoon, but very late to get to know the fort located here, I visited Niebla, it is very worth going because the views both on the way and in the place are truly beautiful. At the corner of the main square that faces the village, there is a very picturesque café to enjoy a hot drink.

The stunning view from Niebla

 

Visit to the Kunstmann brewery: pioneer among the country’s artisanal breweries, it is located between Niebla and Valdivia and is therefore a must stop on the way. In addition to the different varieties of their own beers, they have a food menu for all tastes, as well as a souvenir shop of the brand, for those who want to buy souvenirs related to the brewing culture.

Back in Valdivia, you will see that the city is full of nightlife, mainly because it is a university city. I opted to take advantage of my visit coinciding with the twenty-fourth version of the Valdivia International Film Festival, to enjoy a movie before heading to rest.

Sunday: Most flights to Santiago leave in the afternoon, buses are usually more comfortable to travel at night, for this reason you will still have several hours available for activities.

Fluvial market: in front of the bridge Pedro de Valdivia, this market comes alive in the mornings with the fishermen offering their fresh fish and seafood to take away. Markets are for me one of the must-sees of each city, because they reflect very well the life and activity of a city.

walking along the Calle Calle river and ejoying the fresh air of the city

Visit the botanic garden of the Austral university: another unforgettable panorama is the visit to the botanical garden, for this you will only need to cross to Isla Teja and go to the right, there you will find the entrance to the Austral University and just beyond Botanical Garden.

Take a kayak tour through the rivers: for the more adventurous, you will find kayaking activities that last from 2 to 5 hours, can do bird watching, with specialized equipment, etc. These activities range from $ 25,000 Chilean pesos (about 40 USD)  and can see all the information in Pueblito expeditions.

Lots of activities that take place in the rivers

Lunch at the Municipal Market: emblematic building next to the Calle Calle river, in front of the Pedro de Valdivia bridge, here, in addition to the local handicrafts, you will find some restaurants with preparations of fresh seafood such as Pulmay or fried empanadas, the dozen of empanadas has a value of $ 4000 Chilean pesos (about 7 USD)  .

 

As you will see both Valdivia and its surroundings have a lot to offer and its tourist activity is backed by the Panamerican Tourism Development Program (PDP) and co-financed by CORFO. Within this framework, small entrepreneurs have grouped together to strengthen the activities carried out in the area, ensuring the development of high quality services with high added value. If you want to meet these small entrepreneurs, you can visit the following link to support the local entrepreneurship and enjoy quality services during your visit to “Los Ríos” Region.

What do you think of this itinerary? This is my second time in this beautiful city and it still looks beautiful to me, but much more developed than 10 years ago, again I am looking forward to return again, this time for more days.

This trip was carried out in the framework of a Press Trip in which we participated together with Rosi Guimaraes of the blog Nos nò Chile representing AChileTB.

 

Blooming Desert, Atacama, Chile: how to enjoy it in only one weekend

Blooming Desert, Atacama, Chile: how to enjoy it in only one weekend

This year, the Blooming Desert, in the Atacama region of Chile is promised to be one of the best in history because of the large number of unusual rains that have hit the region this past March. I decided that I could not pass up the opportunity to see it with my own eyes.

As you know, I have a job that can become quite demanding but in the blog I have proposed myself to show you that this should not stop you from traveling as much as you can. so here I write everything you need to know to go see the Desert Flowered in just 1 weekend.

Friday (day 1)

As soon as the work day was done, I left quickly to the airport of Santiago where I had flight to the city of Copiapó at 18:57 hrs. There are currently three airlines flying to this destination and my choice was a low cost flight. I only had a carry-on suitcase, which saves time from having to deal with baggage claim.  

I arrived in Copiapó at about 8:15 p.m. and went to the module of the rent a car company where I had a reservation. Contrary to what you might think, renting car in this area is quite cheap (prices from $ 15,000 Chilean pesos per day, which is about 25 dollars) and you gain the freedom to travel as you like.

Once I was handed the car, a KIA Rio, I headed towards Playa “Las Machas”, on the side of Bahía Inglesa, where I had a reservation of my first accommodation (20 minutes from the airport). From there I ate and had a beer watching a sky with the most stars I’ve ever seen. Then it was off to get some rest for energy.

 

Sunrise at my “ruca” in “Las Machas” beach

 

Recommendations day 1:

  • If you are traveling in low cost airline do not forget to follow the rules of carry-on luggage. Remember that these airlines win when we make mistakes exceeding the measurements of carry-on luggage.

 

  • If you decide to rent a car, do not hesitate to do so in advance, this mainly for 2 reasons; the first is that there are good discounts if you book in advance and the second is that on that day, the people who wanted to rent couldn’t because there wasn’t enough cars. In that sense I saved time, money and a bad time.

 

  • The  requirements for renting a car generally include being of legal driving age, having a valid driver’s license and a credit card that they can use as collateral. When receiving the car do not forget to check it well so that later they do not charge anything else.

 

  • Regarding the type of car don’t worry, for me at least it was not necessary to rent a 4x4. I walked along many unpaved roads and there was no drama, obviously always driving with caution. It would be ideal if the car is not low-lying, and it is useful to carry a mobile device charger for the car.

 

Saturday (day 2):

The plan was to leave early in search of the blooming desert, so at about 8 am.  I loaded myself with a nice breakfast have enough energy before leaving. Before leaving the road, I stopped in Bahía Inglesa to investigate why it is being syndicated as one of the best beaches in Chile and I was lucky enough to enjoy this practically empty beach.

Certainly at times the color of the sea makes you think that you are in the Caribbean (until you dare to put one foot in, of course). It is definitely a place I plan to return to and I think this season is ideal to do, between August and November, before the peak season starts, and with an equally sunny climate.

 

Bahía Inglesa beach

 

Amazing water colour at Bahía Inglesa

 

The phenomenon of the Blooming Desert is occurring in several areas of the region, but a particular image made me excited: to find the carpets of flowers called “Pata de Guanaco” small flowers of an intense fuchsia color.

I got tips that I could see them in all their splendor about 60 kms away in the opposite direction to the coast, arriving at the crossing to Nantoco but taking the reverse route C-397 which was a dirt road from where it was necessary to travel about 7 km more or less away from the coast. So I went there, and well, the pictures speak for themselves. Here on the map I show you the exact point I’m talking about:

 

Nantoco crossing and the area where you can see flower carpets

Along with the flowers you will be able to see lots of lizards, desert cows an

d, what most attracted my attention without a doubt, to see that among the flowers there are lots of shells of sea snails, 60 kilometers from the coast! Which certainly makes us realize how much the geography of this place has changed over the years.

 

Flowers and more flowers

“coronillas de fraile” / “patas de guanaco”

 

“suspiros de campo”/ “flor del jote”

 

After enjoying this place for a long time, filling me with that powerful energy of nature and taking advantage of taking good photographs, I left for my second lodging in the city of Copiapo. Here I rested, ate and -re-charged batteries for the next day.

Recommendations day 2:

  • Respect the trails. When approaching the areas where the blooming desert is reaching its peak, follow the trails and do not tread for any reason. Do not hinder the development of the flowers nor that of their seeds for an upcoming flowering. Leave the car where the tracks are.

 

  • Do not forget the sun block, in the north of Chile the sun hits strong and more when you are enjoying nature. Use sun block.

 

  • If, like me you are prone to being insect bait, use some repellent hopefully biodegradable. You will see that along with the flowers develop a lot of insects in this seasonal ecosystem (yes, something stung me, I have no idea what).

 

  • If you consume some food take your trash and for no reason leave cigarettes in the area. Let’s keep this place remain free from the disasters that man causes.

 

Sunday (day 3)

With the satisfaction of having seen what I thought was the best of the blooming desert, I wanted to dedicate this last day to know another of the points of interest of the region. The beach “La Virgen” another of the syndicated as the best in Chile, so after breakfast I prepared to drive to the area.

 

“la Virgen” beach

 

“la Virgen” beach, from above

 

I had heard that the blooming desert phenomenon was also developing on the coastal roads of the Atacama region but I did not pay much attention. What surprised me on the way to “Playa la Virgen” and from there towards Puerto Viejo, I came across the landscapes that I show below, again nature leaving me speechless.

 

blooming desert between “la Virgen” beach and “Puerto Viejo”

 

From La Virgen beach, the caretaker of the entrance told us to follow a path that led to Puerto Viejo as you can see from the images I took above. I took this road from the parking lot of the beach immediately to the left and you have to follow precarious signposts on the stones, but the footprints are well marked and the road is not difficult.

When arriving at Puerto Viejo, I made the mistake of taking the road that on the map below that will look like C-302, there is no warning that this road ahead was cut by the March flood, so I had to return . I had to take C-358 again, then return me by C-324 and take C-318 towards Bahia Inglesa.

 

Map

 

Already with the satisfaction of having filled my senses with these visual beauties, I decided to go and taste the seafood which the area is known for, I returned to Bahia Inglesa to relax in one of the restaurants on the seashore. Particularly in one they offered live oysters which is one of the outstanding seafood in the area, and therefore had to try them.

Oysters alive / to eat raw with lemon juice / or parmesan style with white wine

 

After eating, I took the route to the airport which took about 20 minutes, I returned the car in the corrals of the airport and waited for my flight back to Santiago at 18:30 hrs. With the happiness of having disconnected from my routine, having been faced with a unique natural phenomenon, and proving once again that Chile has a lot to offer.

 

Recommendations day 3:

  • Return the car with a full tank of gasoline. I returned it with just one less line and charged me disproportionately for this fault.

 

  • Take advantage of trying the local food. The Oysters are an excellent choice for the area. If you don’t like them raw, certainly it is worth eating them Parmesan-style, cooked with cheese and white wine.

I hope this article has helped you to organize and realize that even with little time you can enjoy the wonders of Chile and this phenomenon which, this year is being seen in spectacular way! Would  you dare to go see?

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Guide to leave the airport of Santiago de Chile, without having a hard time

Guide to leave the airport of Santiago de Chile, without having a hard time

Today I write this guide, given the growing number of stories I’ve heard from travelers who have had a hard time trying to get from the airport to the city of Santiago. The airport “Arturo Merino Benítez”, international and domestic flights, is located in the outskirts of the city of Santiago and above all if this is your first time in Chile, this information will be useful.

In addition to traveling a lot, I connect with travelers who come to the country in different ways and it gave me much courage to know of a Mexican exchange student, to which a taxi driver charged him $ 100,000 Chilean pesos (equivalent to about 147 US dollars ) For taking it from the airport to the metro station and buses “Pajaritos” of Santiago, which is only 15 to 20 minutes from the airport (which should not cost more than $ 10,000 pesos, $ 12,000 at most).

This coupled with the fact that in the last two opportunities that I have arrived at the airport they have tried to cheat me, they have motivated me to guide you about it so you don’t have bad times when you arrive to this amazing country. Here some considerations …

  • To this day there is no metro line that reaches the airport, although its construction is planned, this will not happen until a few years later (between 2025 and 2045, a lot is missing). Therefore to get to the city you have 4 options to choose depending on the time of arrival of your flight to the country and the money you want to spend on your transport.
  • Santiago Airport from 2016 has free Wi-Fi. This will help you stay connected and evaluate other options.

First things first…

Pass the immigration control of Santiago airport, retrieve your luggage and submit your statement to the “Servicio Agrícola y Ganadero” (SAG). You should know that the fines are very severe about  the entry of plant or animal products into the country, since they are very cautious that vectors can enter that can cause infections, especially in the products that the country exports (Wines, salmon farming,Meat, etc.). If you have doubts about something you bring, you’d better declare it and ask, so you will not have any problems.

Upon leaving the luggage check by the SAG you will be in the arrival area of international flights at the airport and you will be quickly stalked by taxi drivers, legal and illegal. It will depend on you what you want to do. According to schedules and budget your options are as follows:

1) Bus Centropuerto / Turbus: these buses offer a shuttle service to the subway station and buses “Pajaritos”, neuralgic point that will connect you with the rest of the city of Santiago or take a bus to other cities of interest such as Viña Del Mar and Valparaíso, which are an hour and a half from Santiago and are very touristy.

  • Advantages of this service: it is the most economical of the options, the one-way trip has a value of $ 1700 Chilean pesos (less than 3 US dollars) and $ 3000 if they buy round trip. They have good frequency, they leave every 10 to 15 minutes.

 

  • Disadvantages: These buses operate only between 6 AM and 11:30 PM so if you arrive after that time, you should use another option or wait at the airport. The space for the luggage is a little uncomfortable and small, in the buses Centropuerto you must carry the suitcases with you on your own, in the Turbus sometimes there is someone who help you carry up the luggage, but anyway you must get it off.

The ticket is bought on the same bus and it is necessary to pay with Chilean pesos, so I advise you to change money before, but only what is necessary to move, because the change at the airport is not the best. You will find these buses leaving through door 6 of the airport on the first floor. For more information on times and frequencies, you can consult the pages of Centropuerto and Turbus respectively.

2) Taxi: just leaving the control zone will be besieged by official and unofficial taxi drivers. Before boarding any taxi ask the rate immediately, if the taxi driver tells you that it is according to metered, ask the approximate value.  Tell him with conviction the place where you go and if it asks if it is your first time in Chile, tell him that you have been here before.

  • Advantages of using taxi: faster and more comfortable, can be economical if shared with friends and operate 24 hours a day.
  • Disadvantages: it is more expensive than taking bus. Even if it works all night, if your goal is to get to the metro in Santiago, keep in mind that this does not work all night. If you are not cautious you can be ripped off with prices. Always remember the license plate for any subsequent problem.

 

3)Transfer: it is a service shared with other passengers, which decreases the value a little, but this will always depend on the specific direction to which you go. Some companies that operate in the airport of Santiago are Delfos and Transvip, in whose pages you can consult in a specific way according to the direction to which you are going, the value of the trip. Of both I have used the second and are extremely serious and responsible.

  • Advantages of using transfer: decreases the cost for being a shared service, but always depending on the distance that you travel.
  • Disadvantages: More delays in getting where you go depending on where the other passengers go.

 

4) Car rental: It is certainly the most expensive option, but it can be useful if you want to travel at your own pace, without depending on the schedules of other types of transfer or other passengers. It will be essential to meet certain requirements, such as having a local or international driver’s license, being of legal age and having a credit card for the guarantee.

  • Advantages: greater autonomy of movement without relying on schedules of the local means of transport.
  • Disadvantages: Must accomplish the above minimum requirements for car rental. The traffic and the road signs in Santiago are a little chaotic, it can suddenly be stressful. Gasoline is expensive, this can further increase the cost.

Some companies present at Santiago airport are Hertz and Avis.

Bonus track – Uber: Uber’s service has been running for some time now in Santiago and other regions of the country. To make use of this option, you will certainly be very useful the free wifi of the airport, just bother to caution on which floor will leave the airport. The app will tell you where to meet the driver, this is usually in the parking lot

If your destination is the “Pajaritos” bus and metro station, once you get there, do not neglect your luggage. It is a place with much movement of people and in an oversight can lose your things. In this station you are immediately connected with line 1 of the Santiago subway, backbone of the metro service.

In the ticket offices you have the option to buy an individual ticket, whose value varies according to the time you take it or a BIP card! Which will be useful if you will be traveling for several days.

The BIP card! Is charged with money and used as many times as you want. For more information on schedules, frequencies and planes of the Santiago metro, here you can consult the traveler’s guide.

You will also find the windows that sell microbus passages to move to cities like Viña del Mar and Valparaiso. Ticket prices are similar in all companies, buses leave from the same place.

Whichever option you choose, with these tips you will save bad times when you arrive to the country and you will be ready to enjoy all the good things that Chile has to offer. You will see that once you get to the subway, getting around is very easy. If you have any questions that I can help you with, count on me.

 

Cartagena de Indias, magical city

Cartagena de Indias, magical city

Following the route through Colombia, Cartagena de Indias is another of the most visited cities, both for its historical importance and for its beautiful beaches, if you are planning your next trip, here is some information about my experience that can help you:

Airport: The airport in Cartagena de Indias is very close to the historic center, about 15 or 20 minutes by taxi or bus (called Metrocar), taxis have a flat rate of 8500 Colombian pesos, however ask before getting in to confirm information. Taxis are formed online and are coming out in order and are just outside the airport. The bus has a lower cost of 1,500 Colombian pesos per person, but if you travel very heavily it can be more uncomfortable. However, it saves a lot. The Colombians are very kind and affectionate people.

Accommodation: Whether you searched for Airbnb, Booking, Hostelworld, Couchsunfing or the search engine of your choice, there are 2 large accommodation areas. The first one within the walled city, which seems very good option if your idea is to spend only a few days, so take full advantage of the life that is in every corner. The second option is Bocagrande, which is a hotel zone about 10 minutes from the walled city, in this area there are only new (and more expensive) buildings. There is another neighborhood that has become popular that is Getsemani, but I do not know about lodging there, but it is a good area to look for places to eat.

Weather: In Cartagena de Indias, I felt hot as I have not felt in other places in the Caribbean, a heavy heat that itch and makes you feel, as you walk, that you melt against the ground. Indispensable cap (although I hate them haha), the sun block and stay hydrated. I have gone in 2 different times of the year quite different and the feeling has been the same. In the afternoons there is a bit of wind which is a relief. Mosquitoes are there, with the wind not noticed but there were quite a few in the lodges, so the repellent is another must.

Caminando por Cartagena de Indias

Walking down a melting sun

What to do in Cartagena de Indias?

Knowing by yourself is always a good option and the walled city is not so big, you can walk  alone if you do not want to take a tour, however there are details worthy of being appreciated through tour and these are not expensive.

Free walking tour in the walled city: This system of so-called “free walking tour” I knew it in Europe and I thought it was very good, so I wanted to try it here. The tour is not entirely free, obviously, as the guides who do it work against tips. Finishing the tour you give a collaboration according to how you like the tour. What is the advantage? That the guides try very hard to make it an excellent experience, so that you are happy and reward them well.

Well in this case the tour departs from the “Plaza Santa Teresa” and runs the 11 squares of the walled historic city. The guide with me in 2 opportunities, was Jairo, a Colombian who knows the reverse and right details of the city and will bring many interesting and entertaining data about it.

You will understand what the “palenqueras” are, you will visit outside the house of Gabriel García Márquez, you will pass by the museum of the inquisition and they will be able to take photo with the statue of “la gorda Gertrudis”, one of the sculptures icon of the Colombian artist Fernando Botero, between Many other places of interest (Clock Tower, Church of San Pedro Claver, Simon Bolivar Square with its statue and its pigeons …). The tour takes time twice a day, at 10 AM and at 4 PM and there is a version in Spanish and English with different guide, my recommendation, bring water and a hat, the heat at times seems to melt you into the floor . More information in http://freetourcartagena.com.co/

Cartagena de indias free walking tour

Cartagena de indias free walking tour

Gorda Gertrudis - Cartagena de Indias

Gorda Gertrudis – Cartagena de Indias

City Tour: The city tour is offered on a well-conditioned bus (with air) and takes you to see places of interest that are outside the walled city, including the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, the convent Of the Stern, the monument to the old shoes and some information about the walled city but outside. With a guide that tells you about all these places, that enters castle, etc. From these places I found the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas interesting, if you want to go on your own the entrance for adults costs $ 25,000 Colombian pesos and includes a map of the place, but no guide. The last Sunday of each month entry is free, except for some exceptions. More information can be found at http://www.patrimoniodecartagena.com/es/horarios-y-tarifas/castillo-san-felipe-de-barajas

Cartagena de Indias - Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas

Cartagena de Indias – San Felipe de Barajas castle

Shopping: If you want to go shopping, inside the walled city of Cartagena de Indias you will find countless luxury brands, under colonial building facades. It is very entertaining to enter and see, however the prices are somewhat high. If you want to buy handicrafts at a good price, what I recommend is to go to the sector of the Bóvedas, there you will find more than 10 handicraft shops with very competitive prices, take the time to look calmly as prices for the same product Can vary considerably from one place to another. Walking through the streets you will see colorful street vendors with beautiful colors, woven colored handbags and the typical Colombian sombrero “vueltiao”.

de compras en Cartagena de Indias

Cartagena de Indias – Shopping

Beaches: along the hotel zone and the walled city of Cartagena de Indias, you will find many small beaches. I must warn you one thing: it is very difficult to be calm in them. The vendors are extremely annoying and you feel really overwhelmed. If you want to sunbathe calmly they do not even ask you and they begin to make braids or massages without even asking you, I found it very annoying. If you are going to bathe even in the water are the tour vendors with their plastic offerings to show you the options even inside the water. The option is to move to Isla Barú or Islas del Rosario, there you will find beautiful beaches, some almost virgin and you can enjoy With tranquility. Isla Baru is linked to Cartagena de Indias by land, an hour and a half or two and there are some hotels and cabanas to stay (I stayed a couple of nights and it was perfect), to get to Islas del Rosario is done by sea and Are an hour and a half away, you can also take a day tour or stay there on any of the islands.

Cartagena de Indias

Cartagena de Indias – Bocagrande

playas Isla Barú

Isla Barú beaches

The sunset: the sunset from the top of the wall is one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen (without exaggerating). People usually get together at the “Café del Mar” where there is a good atmosphere of lounge or electronic music, you can have a drink or a beer and enjoy the sunset framed in the cannons of the walls, it is a fascinating spectacle. The prices are not cheap, so you can see it from the outside if you do not want to spend more money.

And for eat?

Almost in every corner you will find carts that sell arepas with cheese, do not miss to try this that for me is exquisite and a must-see certainly. The palenqueras are also distributed in the streets selling fresh fruit that comes perfect for the days of intense heat. Walking back from the free walking tour I found a tiny restaurant of Caribbean food at a very good price that I loved, this is Nativo Bistró Caribe, I recommend it for the good attention and the tasty of their dishes, also they have menu every day with several Options and wifi available. For dinner in the evening, it is worth walking to the neighborhood of Getsemaní, here you will find several restaurants with very peculiar ambiences, I ate in one that on the outside looked like an abandoned house and inside was perfectly set with a very nice patio. Just walk out the door of the clock tower, keep straight a couple of blocks and you will reach this neighborhood.

Comida Cartagena de Indias

Cartagena de Indias food

And the rumba?

Well, Cartagena de Indias is a city with plenty of offer to have a good time. The Tour of “Rumba en Chiva” is very popular, where you are picked up in a colorful Chiva, with a group playing live Colombian music, you are served a few glasses of rum as you stroll through the city. There is a stop at the foot of the castle of San Felipe de Barajas to take photos and then it is directed towards the sector of the Bóvedas of the walled city. There the people of all the chivas go down and the party is armed with live music. Then you go to eat typical fried Colombian food and take you to a nightclub with a ticket valid for a consumption until 2 in the morning. If you want to stay longer, you only have to pay for your transportation back on your own. Another very good option is to go up to one of the multiple terraces within the walled city. In front of the clock tower, there are several buildings whose terraces have bars, DJs and party and at least where I walked in they did not charge entrance and the prices were reasonable, on the drinks menu and the atmosphere very nice.

Rumba en Cartagena de Indias

Cartagena de Indias Rumba!

Cartagena de Indias is a magical city, which certainly has everything, has history, beaches, rhythm and all the flavor of the Colombian caribbean, I invite to live this adventure and tell me what you thought, I’m sure you wont regret!

Santorini: 7 ways to enjoy this postcard island

Santorini: 7 ways to enjoy this postcard island

Santorini, the postcard island, always appeared on my list of travelers dreams, as one of those impossible destinations. I always thought it was too far, it was too expensive, it was very difficult to get there, but setting up my eurotrip I decided that it would be the icing on the cake of this tour and well, at the time I arrived my prejudices were demolished. The low cost flights make it possible to get to Greece at ridiculous prices, the accommodation and food are really affordable compared to other European countries and there are definitely choices for all budgets.

I fulfilled my traveler dream and here I tell you 7 ways to enjoy this island to take advantage of it in the best way.

1) Watching the sunset in Oia: I´m sure you have read many times about the mythical sunsets in Santorini, they say it is one of the best places in the world to see it and I can not agree more. While you can see it from the center of the island in Thira, the ideal location and the infinitely portrayed in magazines is in Oia, due to its location to the west of the island.

Thira and Oia are separated from each other by 10 kilometers which in my opinion, should not be more than half an hour by microbus. Well I tell you that I was wrong, the road goes bordering the island and the cliff in multiple complex curves, which make the road slower. The result: I saw the sunset above the bus, when getting off at Oia the sun had already set. I highly recommend arriving early to find a good location and not miss this moment. Oia is also very beautiful, worth getting there early.

The amount of tourists and locals that approach this place to enjoy the sunset is very high, this I verified days later when taking the ship to Nea Kameni, the crater of the volcano, from where you see the sunset in the sea. It was possible to see from there the thousands of flashes from Oia. Without a doubt the sunset is a must see (and free, what better).

2) Take a swim in the Aegean Sea: Santorini has magnificent beaches all of volcanic origin like the island. Among the options you can visit Red Beach (Akrotiri), Black Beach (Perivolos) and others that are worth visiting (Perissa, Kamari, to name a few). I took an early bus from Thira bus station in the direction of Akrotiri, the bus will leave you near the parking lot, from where you must walk along a path that borders the island and is not equipped for strollers or people with reduced mobility.

From there you reach the red beach and there are taxi boats that also take you to the white beach that you can only access by boat. For the same value, you can stay in the last one and then take it again and you go back to the other. The color of the sea and the sand are incredible. These are just a few options, but you have a lot of choices from several and very different beaches.

Red beach – Akrotiri

Playa blanca

White beach – Santorini

3) Enjoy Greek gastronomy: Greek gastronomy is one of my favorites, absolutely Mediterranean, light, fresh and tasty. Be sure to try the Moussaka, a traditional dish that reminds us of the lasagna, but where the pasta is replaced with eggplant. It is worth eating a rich souvlaki and if it is in pita better still. Besides having great food is very cheap, compared to the rest of Europe. For drinking you can try the traditional Ouzo, a fairly strong liqueur typical of the country or cool off with an Alpha or Mythos beer and do not forget to try the authentic Greek yogurt!

Greek yogurt and Souvlakis plus Alpha beer, with that amazing view in the background

Exquisite pita souvlakis with Tzatziki and a tempting Moussaka

4) Do not miss the nightlife: Thira is the center of the island and in addition to concentrating a very varied gastronomic offer, you will find in it many bars that work until dawn and where you really have a good time. I did not have any doubt that the Greeks know how to enjoy life, if you do not believe me you can see it in the following pictures. One of my recommended “Murphy’s Bar”

Murphy¨s Bar on fire

5) Take a tour to know the volcano crater: There are several options to take a tour to Nea Kameni, a small island off Santorini where you can see the volcano crater in a tour that will allow you to admire a different perspective of Santorini. The boats are large and very stable. To board you must reach the port of Thira on your own and for that you have three options, to go down the cliff by foot, by cable car or by donkey (an option that I advise against because I find it quite cruel), besides to knowing the crater and admiring the views, you will have the option of taking a swim in the sea, in warm waters produced by volcanic activity, a unique experience !!

Nea Kameni Tour – Volcano Crater

6) Be a part of a Greek marriage: I have always been very studious before starting a trip and reading about the island I found in several places that spoke of the play of “White door Santorini”. It is a play where you happen to be the guest in a Greek wedding. I went and it is an experience that I recommend, in addition to dining traditional food with a good Greek wine, in the context of being a guest of this marriage, you enjoy being immersed in their traditions and end up dancing Greek dances and breaking dishes as they usually do for these holidays. I laughed a lot, I definitely recommend it. For more information on schedules and values, this is the official website.

White Door Santorini

7) Enjoy the architecture, it’s unique!: if you have the same addiction to travel as I do and spend hours watching photos and stories of places, surely have seen a million postcards of this island, with their houses and churches with white walls and Blue roofs, hanging from the cliffs. My advice, wherever you decide to stay is, go for a walk, lose yourself in its streets and you will find places that seem to be taken from a book. The island is very safe for solo travelers.

The architecture and colors of the island are unique!

The architecture of this island is unique, the people are very friendly, the food delicious and the accommodation offer is wide and for all budgets … you really can not regret going !! If you were already tell me your impression and if it is in your plans ask me your doubts !! I hope to return soon to this postcard island!

 

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