From One Island to Another

The Rosario Islands are really known for the day trip crowds to Baru from Cartagena. We chose to spend three nights on Baru and experience the best part of it! We took a crazy little boat ride to our island and started our new adventure!

 

So what does one do on an island with just a beautiful ocean? Wake up at sunrise and go for swims and then swim some more!

If I was to only experience the island as a day trip, I would think it was crowded and full of vendors pushing something on you to buy. But really that is only form 10-3 and before or after that the island is nearly empty! Limited to no Wifi! No ATM! Nowhere to go except in the water or down the beach! Just pure relaxation. I finished my book so luckily there was a library just down the beach where I was also able to buy some books in english.

This was truly another amazing few day getawat!

How I Spent Christmas 2017

There tends to be a lot of pressure that happens around the holidays to attend every party and try to see all one’s friends and family. I personally don’t feel that pressure and chose to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas on an island in Colombia.

After our boat adventure and arrival to Isla Grande, we weren’t quite sure what we were in for. It turns out we had three days of delicious meals being cooked for us and ultimate relaxation in our room and at the pool or beach. This is the type of place where you go to bed shortly after sunset and wake up with the sunrise and it feels amazing!

The first day was truly a day of relaxing but we opted for some snorkeling the next day. The islands are surrounded by a huge coral reef and I was hoping to see a turtle (no luck). I did however step on a dead piece of coral as I was getting out of the ocean and have a nice puncture on the bottom of my foot. That stuff is no joke!

Christmas Eve dinner was served family style with the other 12 people staying at the hotel. They even splurged and brought us champagne (Andre Rosé and it was awful) but I know it’s the thought that counts.

Christmas Day was a repeat of the day before laying buy the pool and reading and relaxing. It was absolute perfection and made me so happy!

It was finally time to leave after 3 days in paradise but never fear, we are off to experience another island for another 3 days!

The Journey to Rosario Islands

There is only one way to get to Isla Grande from Cartagena and that is by boat! You can reach the island of Baru by bus but you would still have to take a boat to Isla Grande. We ventured down to the port to buy our ticket for 40,000 COP with a 15,500 COP park tax (total $18.77 USD). There are tons of people trying to sell you tickets on the street but official booths line the path and that is the best place to buy the ticket to ensure the best pricing. All the boats leave by 10:30am so get there early unless you want to pay for a private speed boat. Be warned, these rides are not for the faint of heart as they fly through the water and throw you around a bit. Anyhow, after being told our boat would leave around 8:30 or 9:00, we were finally packed onto and ready for our hour boat ride!

Our boat was driving a little funny and making some weird noises but I didn’t think anything of since this is what they do for a living daily. I was wrong! The engine was failing and we had to slowly make our way to a random island and disembark and wait for two other boats to come and get us. No one cared and we just laid under the cabanas and others splashed around in the ocean. There are worse places to be stuck.

Once we finally arrived to our hotel it was like arriving to paradise! They only have 8-10 rooms (can’t quite figure it out) and the room rate includes all meals! Many people make the trip for the day so from 10-3 the place is packed but other than that, it’s like a ghost town. Absolute perfection!

For the next three days I will be on this island relaxing and through Christmas Eve and Christmas.

Back to Colombia

First off, recovering from 16 hours of jet lag is no joke! I landed on Thursday morning and had to unpack and do laundry and repack to catch a flight on Saturday to LA and spend an early anniversary with my boyfriend! But you can’t keep me in the country for long when I have the travel bug and on Wednesday, I took off for Colombia still unsure of which time zone I was sleeping in!

I have only been to Bogota in Colombia so this time I am meeting a friend to celebrate the holidays and traveling to Cartagena, Rosario Islands, Medellin and Bogota. It all started with two days in Cartagena to try to normalize my sleep and acclimate to the blistering heat!

I was very lucky to land in Cartagena and have an early checkin to my hotel. I had almost no sleep on the overnight flight and was in need of a shower! I met up with my friend Lisa from Manchester who I met in Rome (this is why I travel) and grabbed a bite to eat and headed back to the room to take a nap. My nap turned into almost 10 hours of sleep where I then was awake from 11pm-5am to wake up again around 8:30am. Once again, lovely jet lag.

Attempting to see a bit more of Cartagena than the inside of my hotel room, we decided to explore the inside of the walled city. Finally, I started to feel like I was in Colombia! We have 4 days in Cartagena over the new year so there will be a lot more in depth exploring, but it was nice to get a feel for the city before our next adventure!

A Summary of My Mini World Tour

My last mini around the world trip was pretty random. 82 days. 27 cities. 9 countries. 15 flights. 10 different airlines. 12 books. 5 buses. 4 ferries. 2 trains. 1 Blabla! I am exhausted just thinking about it.

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I picked up books as I went along and left them wherever I finished them. Some I really liked and others I wasn’t such a fan of. But when I start a book I have to finish them.

1) Second Chance by Jane Green (374)

2) Love Junkie A Memoir by Rachel Resnick (245)

3) Break In by Dick Francis (371)

4) Inferno by Dan Brown (618)

5) Mary Mary by James Patterson (435)

6) One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell (433)

7) The Eyes of Darkness by Dean Koontz (468)

8) Sahara by Clive Cussler (655)

9) Typhoon by Robin White (432)

10) The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown (670)

11) Life Swap by Jane Green (464)

12) Dark Summer by Iris Johansen (376)

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I have started to feel like an expert on airlines. I am not loyal to anyone but loyal to cheap airfare! Skyscanner is my go to to find the cheapest flight to wherever I am going. Sometimes I’m not even sure where I am going and the airfare decides it for me. Those are some of my favorite trips. If you ever want to know about any of these airlines, just ask!

JetBlue, VivaColombia, Avianca, AeroGal, RyanAir, Aegean Air, Easy Jet, Singapore Airlines, IcelandAir and Virgin America. I have been on quite a few others but not on this last trip.

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I start my trip with a few destinations in mind but they never go as planned and that is the best part of the epic adventure! More extended travel will come summer 2016 and in the meantime I will try to get some mini trips in!

Books travel just like people

When I travel I always have an actual book with me and not just a nook or a tablet. When I finish the book I leave it wherever I finished it and I leave my email address in the book with a little note. I have probably left over 50 books around the world and this was the first message I received. I have never been to Paros but I have been to Greece. That means my book went on a little adventure!

Hi Jenna,

Just thought I’d drop you a quick line as I’ve just finished reading this book on the island of Paros, Greece – not sure if that’s where you left it?
I’ve been eating books this holiday and had run out of reading material, I’m a believer in books that have paper pages rather than electronic ones!
As we’re staying in a holiday apartment rather than hostel there was a distinct absence of books – in fact nada!!
We chanced your book in a hotel/cyber cafe in Limivadia, Parikia Paros on Sunday afternoon whilst trying to find a place to print something else of the internet – we couldn’t find any place here that has a book swap – maybe an opportunity here in the future, who knows!
So, where ever you are – you might still be in Paros yourself, or maybe you’ve never been here, but where I chanced across your book – so thank you! All read in two days and 8 pages missing but nothing to interrupt the plot, so I’ll pass it on too!
Happy Reading!

Bogota

I went to Colombia with the intent to just stay in Bogota and get a taste of Colombia. Little did I know that the Copa America was going on and that it would consume a few of my days there. I was able to watch two games and see Colombia beat Brazil and tie Peru. It was incredibly exciting to watch a futbol match in a country so excited and proud of their sport.

 I was told I had to go see the Catedral de Sal or Salt Cathedaral of Zipaquira and was not sure what to expect. Honestly, it was a lot of crosses and lot of bible references but was a cool experience. The cathedral is in a salt mine and definitely an interesting experience.


            I was also told I must go to Monserrate which is a beautiful cathedral (see a theme here) at the top of a mountain in Bogota. It is about 3200 meters high and you can hike it or take the train/cable car there. It is a beautiful view of Bogota and well worth the trip.

  

Sometimes though, and more often times than not, traveling is about the random little experiences and the people  you meet and not the big tourist attractions. We were heading home one day when we were stopped by a group of students that just wanted to practice their English. The questions were, “Are you Single?” What is your name?” Where are you from?” How old are you?” And they were very cute. When they would forget how to say something they would run to their teacher and ask her and write it down.

And then of course there are the people I love meeting and bonding with to make the travel experience just amazing!

  

Bogota Street Art

I went on a free graffiti tour through Bogota and once again, was blown away by what street art can be. The first graffiti in Bogota was written on the walls of caves by the indigenous Chibcha people. From there it evolved into a form of social commentary and cultural expression especially during the height of the civil war. Graffiti is technically not a crime in Bogota and the streets have exploded with art! The new mayor was a former M-19 member (a Colombian Guerilla movement) and would use the streets to get his message across. He thinks the streets should be free to give messages and the most that can happen for graffiti is a small fine equivalent to a parking ticket.

Stinkfish is a Colombian street artist who commonly features stenciled faces with elaborate and intricate designs through them.
  

Toxicomano is another street artist from Colombia that uses their punk rock style to show off their anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist graphics.

This street art shows how the poor would literally carry the rich on their back to make money. Often times this meant carrying society, religion and commerce with them and it came with a price.

The street artist Crisp is from Sydney but currently lives in Bogota. He likes to use stencils to portray visually appealing and political pieces.

Lik Mi is a female street artist that spent some time in India. Her stickers are influenced by yoga, kama sutra and these dogs.

You can recognize the work from Pez anywhere you are. He is from Barcelona and loves to paint fish characters with big eyes and a big mouth!

  I don’t know who this piece is by but I love the details of the hands.

This piece is a collaboration between a few members from the same crew. It is a huge mural on the side of a hostel.

This piece is meant to show how there are homeless everywhere in the world and thus the box over the face. It doesn’t matter where you are, the socioeconomic pitfalls can be seen around the world.

There is a crew in Bogota called APC (Animal Poder Crew) started by Stinkfish (mentioned above) and has about 20-30 members. These members are from all around the world and all have a different style but collaborate well together.

An Ecuadorian Wedding

My time in Quito was spent on vacation and not really being a tourist. Two of my wonderful friends got married and I was there to experience it. They put on quite a set of events for us. The first night was a girls night/boys night where we were driven around in chivas and had an awesome time. We stopped at one spot for appetizers and drinks and then another to dance the night away. It was a great night!    

  
       The next day was for a day of recovery and the one day I had a tourist moment. I went to the top of the mountain on the teleferico (cable car) and took in the sunset and the crazy altitude of 12,000 feet!

   
        The day of the wedding was a little hectic. We had a transfer set up for all of us at 11 to be at the wedding by noon and we were late! We didn’t miss much of the ceremony and got to experience a beautiful wedding in Spanish. We broke for a small cocktail reception and lunch and then a night of dancing until midnight!

   
                    Some of us weren’t quite ready to head home and went out in the touristy bar area for a few before finally calling it a night.

   
 The wedding brought in people from all over the country and it was great to see two people so happy together. Now, it is time for my vacation to end and the travelling to begin!

  

It really is all about the journey 

Today was a simple travel day with a 2 hour flight. All I had to do was leave Quito and get to the Galapagos. Somehow this translated to a day that took about 6 hours to get from point A to point B. 

  
It all started when I was actually very early (3 hours) to the airport and the check in counter didn’t even open until about an hour before the flight. What airline does that? Avianca does. This is where I met Beth from the UK and Matt from Germany. We had nothing to do but stand in line and chat. I also discovered there is a $20 departure fee on top of the $100 fee you pay on arrival in the Galapagos. I’m not sure what the fee is for but I have now basically paid for a visa and I don’t even get my passport stamped!

The flight was seamless and landed on the island of Baltra. There is nothing on this island except an airport and some cacti. You have to then take a bus to a ferry to a taxi to get into town on the island of Santa Cruz. However, the buses were not running anymore but luckily my tour package includes an airport transfer. My new friends jumped in the truck with me along with some people they had met on the ferry including an Assistant Professor from Texas that grew up in Ecuador.  There ended up being 10 of us in the truck including a kid on her mom’s lap. For the first half of the drive, I rode in the back thinking that this is what traveling is all about. Random encounters with strangers. 

   
 We stopped at the craters for a little history and walk and then continued into town but not before our driver had to explain to the police why so many people were in the truck. 

   
 Eventually I made it to my hotel to start my Galapagos journey.