Today's blogpost is going to be all about my recent Colombia trip; which cities we visited, where we stayed & ate and what we saw. I was invited by wburo again to join them on this trip. A few months ago we went on a road trip from LA to Vegas (which you can read all about here) and we had so much fun together that they asked me to come along again - which I of course could never say no to!
Day 1 - Medellín
We started our trip in Medellín. Here stayed with some friends of ours - who also happen to rent their beautiful apartment on airbnb! Their house is located in El Poblado, which is a surprisingly hip and young neighbourhood filled with lots of trendy cafes and some boutique stores. Here is the link to the airbnb.
We started every single morning in Medellín with a breakfast at Al Alma. After four consecutive mornings the staff already knew what we were going to order 😜 We filled our tummies with açai bowls, french toasts and eggs florentines. Oh, and don't forget their delicious coffee!
One of the things I especially loved while being in Colombia, was that there was so much access to fresh fruit. The quality of the fruit was so good, and so cheap compared to what I pay here in Amsterdam for (maybe not so fresh and delicious) fruit.
So that meant ordering all the fresh juices and smoothies wherever we went!
We spent our first day walking around the neighbourhood. We walked into this beautiful restaurant where we decided to have a little bite - La Bronca.
The rest of the afternoon we worked and shot around this neighbourhood. Wburo's concept is to collaborate with a lot of brands during a trip, this way they can offer brands lots of content which is shot abroad and style full outfits by combining different brands in one shot.
Day 2 - Comuna 13
On our second day we were recommended to check out Comuna 13. The Comuna used to be one of the most dangerous neighbourhoods in Medellín. It has undergone a big transformation and is now considered safe to visit. It clings to the mountainside and one of its main attractions is the artwork featured all throughout the neighbourhood. We decided to check it out, since we were staying so close by anyways.
Before heading back to El Poblado, we stopped for some lunch in Comuna 13. This was a little restaurant run by a very sweet lady, unfortunately I can't remember the name of the restaurant - but the food was delicious!
P.s. Spot me in one of the following pictures translating the menu of the day to Daphne (so glad I grew up with a basic knowledge of Spanish 😛).
At night we ate at Kai located in El Poblado - the most delicious vegetarian restaurant! The menu was filled with so many amazing dishes (made it so hard to choose!) but we decided to order a bunch and just share them all (we did this at almost every restaurant- why choose just 1 when you can share 3 or more?!). We ordered a karaf of sangria and finished the night with some deserts topped with Arequipe (if you know, you know).
Day 3 - Guatapé
After spending two full days in El Poblado, we had already seen most parts of our neighbourhood. We asked around and so many people told us that we HAD TO visit Guatapé if we got the chance! So we decided to plan our third day in and around Guatapé. We headed out the door early in the morning and drove two hours to get there.
On the way there we were already getting a bad feeling about the weather- it was rainy, almost storming, and very foggy. Guatapé is known for El Peñón de Guatapé - the giant rock. We were so excited to climb the rock and see the view, but we quickly figured out that we needed to change our plans.
Luis was our driver for the day and helped us to brainstorm about alternatives. He said that the little town of Guatapé is very beautiful and colourful, and that this would still look very nice on photographs- even on a cloudy day. So we quickly headed towards the little town.
After a while the sky even started clearing up and we ended up having a very unexpected but fun day in Guatapé! Luis said that the view might be better by the end of the afternoon, so we rounded things up in the town and drove back to the rock - where our day started with a very foggy view. But! While heading back to the car we walked past some meringues, and of course, we had to.
We climbed the rock and enjoyed the view from the top! We were so happy that we still managed to do this despite having a very foggy and rainy start to our day.
Thanks to Luis for taking this picture of us!!!
Day 4 - Cartagena
After spending three wonderful days in Medellín, we were ready for our next stop; Cartagena. We took a domestic flight from Medellín to Cartagena and were able to spend the whole afternoon exploring this colourful city.
But of course our first stop was food ;
Cartagena was HOT. Very, very, hot. We were sweaty throughout the afternoon and were so happy to take a break from the heat in our airbnb every once in a while. Our airbnb was super cute! We even ended up shooting some pictures here and the location was perfect. Once you walked out the door you were in the centre of all the busy streets, but upstairs you couldn't hear a single thing. Click here to check it out.
Be aware that Cartagena is all about the tourist industry. They will be trying to sell you all sorts of services, whether it's these ladies who will ask you for money to take a picture, to boys walking around the streets with boomboxes rapping in your face in return for money. You will get asked a minimum of 15 times a day if you want to buy sunglasses, hats, candies or souvenirs- but hey, besides that its a very beautiful city! Just a little bit of a bummer that it has been so commercialised and that you can't peacefully walk the streets now.
Day 5 - Cartagena
We woke up early to avoid the heat of the afternoon and got lost walking through all the colourful streets. We had a delicious and fresh lunch at Novo, where they serve pita's with kebab or falafel.
We sneaked away from the heat during the hottest hours of the afternoon to our airbnb, and continued shooting around 4-5pm.
We celebrated the end of our Cartagena days with some Cuban snacks and a fun night people-watching on the terrace of Cuba 1940.
Day 6 - Islas del Rosario
Off the coast of Cartagena are the Rosario Islands, this is an archipelago of 27 islands. We took a boat from Cartagena to Isla Grande, which took about an hour to get to. It was a pretty choppy and bumpy ride, so be prepared for this if you are planning to head there! We planned to stay for two nights and we are so happy that we did, because this gave us some time to get on that island rythm and just enjoy our relaxing time there.
We stayed at a little eco hotel which is very close to the dock where we got dropped off. Click here to check it out.
We spent our day mostly exploring the island and things to do. Here is really the only tip I have for you : bring lots of bug spray. Our little cabin provided us with nets hanging over our beds, which we were really happy with at night and early in the mornings! There are lots of mangroves all around the island, which is usually home to a lot of mosquitos and bugs.
During our first afternoon we shot a little bit around Playa Libre. We then stopped for lunch at this little beach bar (don't imagine like a big beach bar with music and decorations - this was a tiny little wooden bar with a handwritten menu and the day menu was presented to us verbally). It was so nice and they made us the freshest, most delicious pineapple drink I've ever had. We ordered some local food and then started talking to the girl that owned it.
She explained to us that this is an island with no cars- and thus no roads. There is a little town in the centre of the island where there is a bit more life than by the shores, but the 'main road' on the island is the walking path you see on the photo above. This path runs from one end of the island to the other, and we spent our days here walking up and down. You don't really run into anyone, its actually pretty quiet on the paths until you reach a beach or another ho(s)tel.
The main forms of transportation are by bike or foot.
By the end of day 1 on Isla Grande we were so tired, from the boat ride in the morning to walking up and down the island multiple times. The eco-hotel where we stayed served a dinner menu, but we decided to check around the other eco-hotels next to ours, to see what they had on the menu. Most of these eco-ho(s)tels are family owned and they serve a pretty traditional Colombian menu for breakfast, lunch & dinner (which is totally fine with me! 😍). We had a look at the hostel next to ours and saw that they were also serving pasta and pizza, hmmm we thought this could be interesting so we decided to eat here.
What you should keep in mind while visiting the island, is that the food takes very long to prepare, anywhere you go. This is probably because they never know how many visitors they will get. The island is very quiet overall, and we were also visiting in low season. This meant long waiting times, but freshly prepared food! ;)
To be fair, the pizza and pasta was not really what we were expecting, and seemed like it was fully improvised on the spot by guests that were temporarily staying at the hostel and working in the kitchen - nonetheless it tasted good and our tummies were filled for the night!
Day 7 - Islas del Rosario
On our first full day on Isla Grande we decided to sleep in for the first time during our entire trip (we started our days early because of our jetlag - and because it's usually easier to shoot then!).
When we woke up, the people that run our eco hotel had already placed a plate of fresh cut fruit (the most delicious pineapple and watermelon!!) and a thermos with coffee on the table outside of our hut.
Before heading out to the beach we shot some more personal projects around our cabin. We are totally in love with how the pictures came out!! Here is a little preview ;
We then spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out at a resort (!) on the other side of the island, where we all fell asleep on these beach beds for like an hour 😅 The most relaxing day on this island for sure.
We got back to our cabin around sunset and had a delicious dinner at our eco-hotel. We spent the rest of the evening planning our last day on the island, packing up our suitcases and going through all of the pictures we had been shooting until now.
Day 8 - Islas del Rosario
Our last day on Isla Grande started with a sting - a few hundred to be more exact. We got up early to shoot on the beach during sunrise, but what we didn't realise is that this is the hour that the mosquitos - and sand fleas would be the most active. By this point we had almost run out of our bug spray, but this didn't really seem to help anymore anyways. All three of us got bitten all over our bodies - I even got goosebumps because my entire body was itching all at once! By the end of the morning we all had about 30-50 bites on our backs, along with maybe 40 more on our legs, chest and arms. On the photo beneath you can see a few of the bites on my bum and legs.
Ohhh it was bad, really really bad. But I'm so happy to say that it's been about two weeks now (while I'm typing this blogpost) and they're nearly all gone!
The rest of our morning looked like this ; we all sat in the water to cool off our bites and tried to get every last bit of sun before taking the boat back to Cartagena.
Later that day we took a flight back from Cartagena to Medellín, where our whole trip started. It was nice to have one last day there before heading back to Amsterdam, it almost felt like 'coming home'. We had breakfast at our favourite breakfast spot (of course) and spent the day hopping from restaurant to restaurant, talking about our favourite moments from the trips and peeking at all the pictures we had captured in Medellín, Cartagena and Isla Grande.
Questions / Tips
One of the questions I got asked the most after my trip is if I ever felt unsafe during the trip, and all three of us never felt uneasy during this trip. Colombia is such a beautiful country with some of the kindest people, and depending on where you are you can get around with some English and basic Spanish. In Medellín there are quite a few people that speak or at least understand English, while on the island I would really recommend to have some sort of basic Spanish knowledge (we also downloaded Google Translate in English/Spanish for offline use- this saved us multiple times when dealing with some questions or taxi's!).
It's of course up to you to use your own common sense to guide yourself through the safe parts of the city and to deal with people on the streets such as street vendors. All in all it was such a fun trip, and I can't wait to visit other parts of Colombia in the future!
I would recommend around 3-5 days in Medellín, 2 max in Cartagena (it's just too busy, and more expensive) and also 2-3 on Isla Grande. I also got some questions on vegetarian eating options during our trip; in El Poblado (Medellín) it was fairly easy to eat vegetarian. Lot's of restaurants offered meat-free options and had a lot of veggie-based dishes listed on their menu's. In Cartagena it was a little bit less (but that could've purely been our restaurant choices) and on the island most dishes are the same (chicken/meat/fish/lobster + fried plantains + side salad + rice) which if you leave out the meat is fine.
I want to give a big thank you once again to wburo for letting me be a part of this trip (again)!
Thanks for reading & I hope to talk to you soon again 💛
Lots of love always xx