Day 6: A rainy day in Bergen

Unfortunately for us, our full day at Bergen was full of rain. Instead of driving into the city, we walked a good 20 minutes from our Airbnb and started our day with breakfast at Kaffemisgonen. It was a nice cozy cafe with amazing coffee and great sandwiches. I had the best iced americano ever.

After breakfast, we went to Bryggen – a historical block with colorful houses by the pier with a bunch of shops.

We went souvenir shopping and found a great photogenic alleyway with a bunch of great boutique stores.

Afterwards we went to a cafe called Vagal for a quick caffeine fix and to dry off a bit.

The cafe has a great ambiance and pretty cool glasses for iced coffee!

For a quick snack, like every other country I have been – I love trying the local exclusive menu from McDonalds. There was one nearby and we were all craving a snack so we went and got a bunch of things to share.

We got a vegan McSpicy, sweet potato fries, vegan McNuggets and chili cheese pops. The vegan McNuggets was so gooood and it tasted like falafel. I really like the McSpicy too, it didn’t even taste like it wasn’t meat. It was a satisfying snack.

We went to the outdoor fish market afterwards where they were selling meat, cheeses and of course a bunch of seafood.

We couldn’t go to the fish market without trying anything…. so we got shrimp and scallops.

And then for the grand feast, blue fin tuna steak and king crab legs.

To my surprise, I prefer blue fin tuna raw but the king crab legs were amazing.

To walk off the big meal, we went shopping around Bergen specifically looking for a Helly Hansen store or jackets but didn’t find much. I ended up buying a HH beanie though!

We didn’t have much time in Bergen since we had to drive 2 hours to Odda for our Trolltunga hike the next day. We went to get early dinner at Munken Bistro, which was a popular Peruvian restaurant. To our surprise (since it was Peruvian food) it was one of the best meals we had in Norway so far. We got the lamb shank, sashimi of white fish, marinated with lime, spicy fillet of white fish and braised leg duck.

We pretty much ate all day in Bergen. But hey, we have to store energy for tomorrow’s long hike! Our ride to our next Airbnb was 2 hours long and there was a quick 15 minute ferry ride too. We drove passed by Odda which was a bigger town that I thought. Too bad everything was closed by the time we got there.

We’re ready for our 8 hour Trolltunga hike tomorrow! We went to sleep early since we had to wake up at 4am.

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Day 10: A Full Day in the Beautiful Cartagena

We weren’t going to do anything too crazy on our last full day. It was mainly going to be eating and exploring the Cartagena. If we had more time, we would’ve probably visited more of the historical landmarks and maybe even done a walking tour.

We got into the main city around 11am and ate breakfast at Mila Postres.

After breakfast we walked around the city, admiring the beautiful streets of Cartagena. It was scorching hot, probably the hottest we ever felt in Colombia.

We stopped by a couple of shops to check out souvenirs and stopped by La Paleteria for some popsicles. A great way to stay cool was getting cold drinks which we got a lot of.

We had coffee at Cafe San Alberto and then went to Maria (restaurant) to get reservations for dinner since Alma was fully booked.

I loved seeing all the colorful buildings and streets everywhere we went. We took a nice long walk along the wall by the beach to get the nice cool breeze,

Afterwards we walked back up and got a refreshing juice at Marzola Parilla, which was a rock and roll themed Argentinian restaurant. We pretty much walked, drank and ate all day.

For lunch, we ate at Vera’s which was inside a hotel. The restaurant had a great ambiance and since it was very instagramable, we kept seeing tourists come in just to take pictures. I got the mushroom risotto, which was really good.

We took our time eating and talking since our dinner was pretty late, at 9:45pm. We went to get cocktails at El Baron again and then went to Cafe Del Mar, which was a bar on top of the wall. It was supposed to be a good spot to watch the sunset, but it was too late when we arrived.

We got another round of drinks and just chatted for a couple of hours before dinner. It was very chilly sitting there because of the wind and it was mostly electronic music playing.

When the time came, we went back to Maria for dinner and honestly we were pretty stuffed from all drinks and food we had throughout the day. It was probably the most food we had in a day on our trip.

The food was amazing, we ordered two appetizers – lobster ravioli and fish tacos, one entree each – the ribeye, pork chop and tenderloin. Stuffed and exhausted, it was a good end to the day. We still have a majority of the next day in Cartagena as we are flying back to NY at 8pm.

Day 9: From Minca to Cartagena

Our last few hours in Minca, consisted of eating breakfast at the hostel and then trekking down to the town to get a bus to bring us to another bus station near Santa Marta so we could get to Cartagena.

The bus ride to Cartagena was around 5 hours. When we got to the bus terminal, it was surprising that to us that we just couldn’t find an uber. I guess since Cartagena was such a big tourist spot, maybe taxis just get priority here. Our Airbnb was around 15 mins or so from the main tourist area where everything was. We were pretty much staying at a local neighborhood.

Once we dropped down our stuff and changed to clothes that were more suited for the hot humid weather of Cartagena, we took the taxi to the main area.

I can see why most people only visit Cartagena in Colombia. Cartagena is absolutely beautiful. The photogenic streets and and colorful buildings. There were so many restaurant options. It also seemed like a family friendly city to visit.

We walked around for a hour until we got to eat at La Cevicheria, a famous restaurant that Anthony Bourdian went ate at. Everyone we know was raving about it, but we actually thought it was just okay. Definitely overhyped.

After dinner, we just walked around some more. At this time it was pretty dark out. We decided to just grab drinks at El Baron which was known for cocktails and outside seating. There was a great view of the church as well. After two drinks and a lot of conversation we hopped to another bar/restaurant called El Baluarte San Francisco. It was situated on top of the wall and also outdoors. We got drinks and food and pretty much chilled there until we decided it was time to head back. I was excited to see Cartagena in the morning.

Day 6: Our Last Night in Medellin

We took it pretty easy in the morning as we didn’t wake up too early, around 8-9am or so. Our day was pretty flexible aside from a free salsa class that were going to take at night from DanceFree.

Originally we wanted to do a exotic fruit tour with Real City Tours in the morning however there was no spots left so we explored the fruit market ourselves. We took an uber to Plaza Minorista Jose Maria Villa, which was basically a giant warehouse with fruit vendors. The only fruit that we tried was mangosteen. There were a lot of potatoes, bananas and plantains.

In the market, we found a restaurant tucked in an area where there weren’t many fruit vendors. We decided to get breakfast here since we see a bunch of locals eating and it looked delicious. We got a whole meal which was heavy for breakfast but delicious. The crazy part was that everything we got (a plate each with soup and 2 juices) was less than $10 USD.

We also found out that Guanabana juice was really good. It looked like a jackfruit our the outside and was white and creamy in the inside.

After the market, we walked to the nearest train station to take the Metro and experience Medellin’s public transportation system. The walk turned out to be a bad idea since we were walking in a pretty bad neighborhood. We were lucky that everyone was just doing their own thing and that we only got heckled two or three times.

We took the train all the way up north as we wanted to take the cable car to Arvi Park. The train station was extremely clean and it kind of feels similar to trains in Japan. The only thing that these trains didn’t have was AC.

We transferred from the train to the cable cars to go up to Arvi Park in San Domingo and that was where we saw the Medellin that we envisioned in or head. Homes and buildings in the mountainside, basically how people and Netflix have described Medellin.

Up at the top of Arvi Park, we were going to do a short hike to see a waterfall without a tour guide. We were following a map and we just kept walking along a dirt road. There wasn’t many tourist or even people on the road. Two police on a motorcycle stopped in front of us told us that we were actually heading to an area where theft was common and recommended us to take another route to a hike with a picnic area.

We turned around and took their recommended path. There wasn’t much tourist around the hiking path and it was pretty long. Eventually we finished the hiking path and found ourselves in an area full of tourists. The funny thing is that we ran into the same police again and we chatted more and even took a picture together!

After a long hike back to the cable cars, we took it back down and took an uber to a cafe called Rumah-Soul Up. It was a quaint cafe with a nice outdoor seating area perfect for a nice coffee.

For dinner we went to Cafe Zorba for dinner. The pizza and hummus was amazing. It made sense why the line the night before was so long. Cafe Zorba makes it as the top 5 restaurants we went to in Colombia.

After dinner we went back to our Airbnb and went to drop off laundry to pick up the next day. We headed to DanceFree for our free salsa class and unfortunately the venue was closed. Disappointed, we went to 37 Park for cocktails and got a couple of drinks before we went to another bar and then a club. We were out for a couple of hours before we headed back.

We realized that we forgot the keys to our Airbnb as we all rushed out earlier. We were locked out of our Airbnb and our host was probably asleep. We tried to break into our own Airbnb but we couldn’t get the last door to open. Instead of just spending the night locked out, we ended up finding a hostel nearby to stay in. It was a horrible end to our night but it’s a story that we would never forget.

Day 4: First Day in Medellin

We arrived in Medellin early in the morning and took an Uber to our Airbnb. As we were driving into the city, Medellin was not at all how I expected. Medellin was a huge city, it looked bigger than Bogota and was much more city-like than I imagined. I hate to say it but Narcos (the Netflix show) had a lot to do with how I imagined Medellin.

Our Airbnb was in El Poblado, which was the area where most backpackers and tourist stay in and often don’t really venture out unless it’s for touristy things. On our block, there were cafes, restaurants and bars which made it pretty lively. It didn’t really feel like we were in Medellin at all.

After showering and freshening up, we went to get breakfast at Cafe Macanas Medellin.

We had a couple of hours to kill after breakfast since we wanted to go on a free walking tour. We decided to walk from our Airbnb all the way up to the city center which took over a hour and allowed us to see different neighbors.

Once we got to the main area of Medellin, it was pretty hard to explore the area since there was a bike race, Tour Colombia that was happening and it was impossible to cross over to certain streets. Finding a spot to relax was almost impossible since majority of the coffee shops were on the other side of street.

A long walk later we were able to find a nice spot with a couple of restaurants and a cafe.

When the time came, we met at the meeting point for Real City Tours. We didn’t make reservations but fortunately we were able to do the tour with Pablo.

Pablo was an amazing tour guide. I thought Juan from our Bogota tour was good, Pablo was in a whole other level. He was knowledgeable about the history of Medellin and great at presenting. He was funny, charismatic and would answer any question we had.

In our tour we went to the following places:

  • Medellin city center
  • Old railway station
  • Alpujarra administrative center
  • Square of lights
  • Vasquez and Carre buildings
  • Palacio Nacional
  • Veracruz Church
  • Botero Square
  • Murals and Berrio Park
  • Shopping arcades/labyrinth
  • Coltejer Building
  • San Antonio Park

The tour itself took 3ish hours and the most interesting part was when we went to the city center. It was definitely an area where we wouldn’t have wandered in ourselves. We had to be very cautious and aware of our surroundings even in a big group.

We ended the tour in San Antonio park and got some good recommendations from Pablo on where to go out at night. We stopped by one of the oldest bars in the city called Salon Malaga before we went back. The bar had a good ambiance and antique decorations. We only had a beer each before we left.

For dinner we went to Mondongo’s which was a popular restaurant. We got their signature dish the Mondongo and two other dishes to share.

We wanted to see the local night life after dinner and Pablo, our tour guide recommended an underground salsa bar that only opens on Tuesdays. It was called La Papayera – Eslabon Prendido. Pablo gave us the heads up that the area is going to look very sketchy but safe. When we went got off the uber, it was very sketchy. There were a of shady things going on but once we found the venue it was pretty safe inside.

It seemed like everyone knew how to salsa even the tourists who went. For us, we just grabbed beers and watched. It amazes me how good at salsa some people are.

Day 3: Cocora Valley & Las Acacias Coffee Farm

I had a great sleep despite waking up in the middle of the night a couple of times because I kept hearing bugs and mosquitoes flying around me. For majority of the night I submerged myself into my blanket but I had to come up for air and the breeze.

Aside from getting a misquote bite, I had a great sleep. I liked waking up to the sounds of nature. The sound of leaves, birds and bugs. It was perfectly tranquil.

We had free breakfast at the hostel and decided to walk to Salento instead of taking the Jeep since it was early.

Once we got to the plaza, there was a huge line of people queuing for the Jeep service to Cocora Valley. We were packed in the back of the Jeep and had three people standing at the rear of the vehicle holding onto the roof.

The ride from Salento to Cocora Valley took around 30 mins. We got dropped off in an area with restaurants, basically where everyone who wants to hike Cocora Valley would start off and end.

We took the counter clock wise hike, which was recommended because there was less steep decline. I believe that was the main reason why it was recommended. The hike was going to be 5 hours, and we ended up finishing it in 3.

The beginning of the hike wasn’t too bad. It was mostly flat and we were surrounded by good views. It wasn’t until we got deeper in, scenery started to change.

Eventually the hike was mostly incline and I am so out of shape that it was honestly one of the hardest hikes I have done. It didn’t look hard, it physically was hard because I haven’t exercised in so long. The views were definitely worth it though.

I love the gigantic wax palm trees. I’d imagine it was the same feeling as being towered by dinosaurs.

We were exhausted and hungry but proud that we finished the hike 2 hours early. We got some refreshing cold drinks before we took the Jeep back into Salento.

We got lunch at some restaurant below Fika Cafe Salento and I ordered the Bandeja Piasa.

Bandeja Piasa is a big plate of rice, beans, shredded meat, chicharron, chorizo, fried egg, avocado and plantain. It’s A LOT of food but its delicious. I couldn’t finish it myself if I tried to. It’s an insane amount of food. Would definitely recommend this dish if you’re in Medellin.

After a good meal, we had time to kill before we took the bus to Pereira to spend the night before our flight to Medellin. Salento was known for coffee farms and we decided to go to Las Acacias Coffee Farm to do a tour.

I enjoyed learning about coffee, how it’s grown and all because I LOVE drinking coffee. The tour was very informative and I wish we had the time to do multiple coffee farm tours. If you’re in Salento, you have to do at least one coffee tour.

After the tour, we took a Jeep back to our hostel to pick up our bags and head to the bus terminal to Pereire. We caught the 5:50 bus out of Salento and the ride itself was around a hour long.

Pereire was way different from what we saw of the city when we were in the car heading to Salento. It didn’t feel exactly the safest, especially when the hotel we got was in a really bad neighborhood. We were lucky that our hotel was safe at least.

We only had to stay in Pereire for the night as we were flying out 6-7am in the morning. We only went out for dinner because we were starving and uber was the safest option. We got pasta at an Italian restaurant across the city which was actually pretty good.

There wasn’t really much for us to do in Pereira at night, so we went back to our hotel and just relaxed. We’re flying to Medellin the next day!

Day 2: Exploring the Gorgeous Town, Salento!

We checked out of our hostel around 7am and got breakfast at El Secreto del Amor. We just had to try ajicaco (chicken potato soup, top right on the pic below) popular dish in Bogota.

Ajicaco was good, but the Changua (Colombian egg and milk soup) was my favorite. It was creamy and hearty but the cilantro gives it a fresh taste.

We went straight to the airport after breakfast and flew to Pereira. We ended up Ubering to our hostel in Salento which took us about a hour.

Salento is a small town known for the coffee estates and the scenery. Our hostel was 20 minutes away from the city area, accessible by a Jeep service or a 30-40 minute walk.

We stayed at the La Serrana Eco and Hostel, which had a beautiful view.

It felt like we were at some paradise getaway because the hostel was surrounded by nature and amazing scenery. The hostel had a main lounging area where reception and majority of the rooms were. They also had “glamping” tents which was a 5 minute walking distance from the lodge.

I’m putting “glamping” in quotations because they weren’t luxurious at all. Just two beds, a closet and a couple of chairs.

There was no wifi either which explains the lag time between each of my blog posts. Uploading pictures takes forever and most of the time, it would fail. I don’t blame anyone, it makes sense since we were in some “remote” area and a really small town.

After checking in, we decided to walk from our hostel to Salento. The Jeep would’ve taken us to the main plaza within 10 minutes but we wanted to get the best experience and walk.

It took us around 45 minutes probably and you can see the transition as we got closer to the city.

The city was pretty small and since we walked from our hostel, we actually explored a good amount of the town before we got to the main plaza.

For lunch, we want to a local spot called Saber Casero, where we had a hard time communicating with our waiter since none of us spoke Spanish. One bystander helped us get the rice dish, which was really good. It was tomato-ey and reminded me of another dish but I just can’t put my tongue on it.

The other two dishes we got was the porcion chicharron + patacon (fried pork + fried plantains) and the trucha con champinoes (trout with mushrooms in milk sauce).

The trucha dish was very creamy and reminded me of the changua. It seemed like trout was a popular dish in Salento because we kept seeing it everywhere.

Definitely recommend getting lunch at Saber Casero. It was really cheap for all the food we had and it seems like only locals eat there. One thing to keep in mind is that it takes a while for the food to come out because the kitchen is REALLY small and there’s only one cook.

After lunch, we walked around the main plaza of Salento. The town was alive and colorful. You can hear the music and smell the food. There was so much going on that it felt like we arrived in Salento at the right time.

I got a limonada de coco which is a drink with lemonade and coconut. The one I got from the fruit stand above, wasn’t exactly what I wanted. It was not limonada de coco at all, the vendor probably put his own spin on it.

After walking around the plaza, we decided to take a coffee break at Fika Cafe Salento. We got a nice seat on the second floor by the window, relaxed and people watched.

Right after our quick break, we walked on Carrera 6 where all of the stores and much of the people of Salento were. We stopped by a couple of stores, listened to street artists sing and hiked up the stairs to Mirador Alto De La Cruz.

We got a great view of the town at the viewpoint. It’s just crazy how small the town is. The other view was the view of the surrounding mountains.

From Mirador Alto De La Cruz, we hiked to Mirador de Salento and stopped by Frutal de Salento for some snacks. In the order of the pictures, we got cholao, obleas and limonada de coco.

Cholao is a beverage made with fresh fruit and condensed milk. Obleas was a thin wafer sandwich with jam filling in between. This time, the limonada de coco that we ordered was the right one and it is now my favorite drink in Colombia! There’s a good balance of flavors – the richness of the coconut and the acidity of the lime makes this a refreshing drink.

Right when we got our order, it started to pour. We got lucky that we had seats inside the small icecream stall. We sat in there until the rain passed.

We walked back to the main street with all the vendors. I tried really good cold brew at Cafe Jesus Martin Calle Real. Then we noticed people sitting on the patio and we were able to find that same restaurant (El Patio) to take pictures from the patio.

At this time, we were exhausted. Instead of walking back we decided to take the Jeep service back to our hostel and settle in. It was getting dark and I was able to get some nice snaps of the clouds before the sun was down.

We were physically exhausted at this point and decided to relax in the main building of the hostel. We watched half of Juno and made a friend.

It was around late 8ish, when we decided to get dinner before we called it an early night. We took the Jeep service back into Salento and at this time, most restaurants were closing. The only place we wanted to try that was open was all the way back near the stairs where you head up to the Mirador.

Dinner at Camino Real Parilla Bar was okay. We tried a sampling platter and steak and overall it was just too dry for us. The bacon chorizo however was delicious.

Once we were done, it was past 10pm and there was literally no Jeep service. We thought about calling a taxi but ultimately decided to walk all the way back to our hostel. It felt kinda sketchy at first because we were literally the only 3 tourist walking in the city at night. Then once we were out of the city it was just pitch black and we used our phones as flashlights. Good thing we walked to the city from our hostel in the morning or else we wouldn’t have been familiar with the path at all.

We got back to our hostel safe and sound. We’re hiking Cocora Valley early next morning!