There are two bird statues in San Antonio Square in Medellin Colombia. One is discoloured and gnarled, destroyed by a bomb in 1995 that killed 22 people who were enjoying a music concert. The second bird is identical save for the fact that it’s shiny and whole. These Pajaros de Paz, Birds of Peace, are a stark reminder of Medellin's troubled past, but also of its transformation from the most dangerous to the most innovative city in the world.
This week has been all about the tiny town of Minca, set in the Sierra Nevada mountains in Colombia. Here the forests are dotted with icy waterfalls and the skies filled with the calls of tropical birds. Despite a bout of food poisoning and being covered in itchy bug bites, we’ve hiked, toured cacao farms and hung out in a rustic retreat where a scorpion lived in our open-air bathroom.
Our first week in Colombia has been stuffed with activity. We’ve wandered around colourful Cartagena, taken a very un-relaxing trip to Playa Blanca, baked in the scorching sunshine and stuffed our faces with the biggest avocados we’ve ever seen. The week has also been a battle to balance work with exploring (as always) and come to terms with the fact that we’re not really ‘backpackers’ anymore. Read on for our Colombia first impressions.
Cartagena was our first destination in Colombia and we fell for its colourful, historical charm. The port city is set on the Caribbean coast and boasts a tropical climate, 16th century UNESCO Old Town, imposing fort and nearby white-sand beaches. Colonised by the Spanish, Cartagena is Colombia’s largest port and one of its top tourist draws. If you’re visiting the city, find out about its top sights, where to stay and how to get around in our Cartagena guide.
'Welcome to the USA', the sign was just visible above a sea of people crammed into the arrivals terminal at Fort Lauderdale Airport. It was nearly midnight and after a nine-hour flight from London, we'd now been stuck in immigration queues for almost four hours. The perfect start to our two-day layover in Miami, right?
Tomorrow we set off for Colombia! We’ve been talking about this South America trip for so many years that it’s taken on a surreal, dream-like quality for me. Now it’s a tangible thing. This time tomorrow we’ll be zooming across the sky to the other side of the world. Here’s a look at how we’ve prepared for this adventure, from buying a new camera to organising insurance, researching visas and compiling our packing list.
January isn’t the best time for a seaside break in the UK, but when The Cumberland Hotel invited us to stay with them in Bournemouth, we couldn’t resist the chance to visit our former home, which has also been voted the top seaside town in the UK. After a low-key New Year’s Eve, it was great to kick off 2018 with a serene break on the coast before we head to South America.
Despite having just booked one-way tickets to Colombia, Andrew and I have been talking a lot lately about finding a future base in Europe. As much as we love our freedom, we know that after our South American adventures we’ll need to find a base in Europe where we can hang up our backpacks, work and save for the years ahead, but where could that base possibly be? Well, I think we found our answer when we rocked up in Porto.
As the year draws to a close and we prepare to leave for South America in January, it’s time to take a look at our 2017 travel roundup. I feel incredibly blessed to have enjoyed yet another year full of new experiences, adventures and travel. In 2017, we managed to live in Thailand, trek to Everest Base Camp, explore Sri Lanka and road-trip around Europe. We got married, went vegan, continued to earn a living remotely and, of course, blogged about it all.
Big news - we’ve just booked flights to Colombia in January! As I write this we’re on the ferry back to the UK to celebrate the festive season with family before we begin our 2018 adventures. Driving home for Christmas has taken us to the supreme Cologne xmas markets and to Bruges, which may well be the most beautiful European city we’ve visited to date. Here’s the lowdown on our festive journey and South American plans.