Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Girl Guide: The Slaters come to Colombia

I got to be a tour guide when good friends, Shelagh and John Slater, arrived in Colombia for a 2 week holiday to celebrate their transition to semi-retirement.  On my 54th birthday, I flew to Bogota to meet them and spend 2 days showing them around La Candelaria before we joined Roger in Medellin.

We stayed in a great little hotel, Casa Deco, in La Candelaria and enjoyed walking the cobblestone streets and seeing the sites.

We enjoyed watching the sun set from the terrace of Casa Deco
View from the terrace

View from the terrace at night

Streets of La Candelaria

Street art in La Candelaria
We started off with a walking tour of La Candaleria with a young history professor I met in September when I took my first tour.  Nicolas Pernett is bright, articulate and a walking Wikipedia of facts, and stories of Bogota.  Even after taking my 3rd tour with him - I still come away with new information and a greater enthusiasm for this unique district of Bogota.
Shelagh, Heather and John
Nicolas with Shelagh and John
Two helicopters landed on the Presidential Palace - quite a sight with other helicopters circling overhead

Not sure who these people were, but there was a lot of action on the rooftop

Bolivar Plaza is always an impressive sight

Primada Catedral with Montserrat in the distance

This unique church is dubbed the Pajama Church

Amazing interior

We then went to the Gold Museum...

Breast plates were popular...

As were penis protectors!

A beautiful photographic display visually showed the many faces of Colombia
One of my favorite Colombian museums, is the Botero Museum in Medellin.  The famous Fernando Botero donated many of his works as well as several from his personal collection.

Salvador Dali sculpture


Botero states he doesn't paint large people because they are fat - but for their sensuality

Before we caught our flight, we took the funicular up Montserrat to see a view of the city.

John and Shelagh Slater

The best of friends

Laughter is certainly good for the soul

The church on top of Montserrat has magnificent doors
We flew back to Medellin and started off with dinner in our apartment.

We took another day trip to Guatape and El Penol.  The countryside is lush and as green as Ireland.

El Penol in the distance -- 627 steps up were waiting for us!

We all made it!  That was our third trip up and only marginally easier!
After the hike up El Penol, we went to Guatape -- a postcard perfect village filled with hanging flower baskets and interesting frescoes on the houses and businesses.

I don't think so...

Guatape's church and plaza

Shelagh and I had a ball having a tour in this neat 3 wheeled taxi.  The driver was a proud Paisa who with great flourish would show us various points of interest.
Back in Medellin, we rode the metro system.  Our plan was to take the cable car to Santa Domingo and then transfer to another cable car to Parque Arvi which is a beautiful nature reserve.  We were sorry to see the cable car line to Santa Domingo was closed for maintenance and were all set to leave when in a typical Colombian moment, a man came up to us to see if he could help.  He suggested we take a taxi to Santa Domingo because the cable car was working for the last leg - and while I was skeptical at first, and thought perhaps he was a taxi driver, it became evident he just wanted to help.  The taxi ride up and down  the mountain were part of the fun -- complete with some heart stopping moments while the drivers maneuvered the narrow streets and at one point, we actually caught some air!
Medellin should be very proud of their metro system. It's clean, it's fast, it's safe, and incredibly well organized.

The cable cars reach out to the poorest areas of Medellin to enable it's citizens to have transportation to the city for school and work.

What a vantage point for this young man!

Parque Arvi is the newest stop on the metro system -- you go through farmland and jungle to get to it by cable car.

Beautiful hydrangeas in full bloom
We then went to Botero Plaza and the Museo d'Antioquia -- two of my favorite places in Medellin.  The museum features artists from Antioquia.

Botero's sculptures and paintings are impressive and always make me smile.

John checking out royalty

Breathtaking murals in the museum

Painting by Francisco Antonio Cano

You can tell lots of people place their hands on this sculpture's butt as the bronze is wearing off

Cultural Palace

Shelagh celebrated her birthday in Medellin with us!
We got lost while on a Sunday drive but ended up on some beautiful country roads and saw where the river was flooding.  The power of the water was pretty amazing.

A family gathering wood in the midst of garbage caught up in the whirlpool
Roger and I are so fortunate to be graced with a wonderful group of family and friends.  We miss each one when we're far from home, so having visitors this month has been fantastic.  We loved sharing this beautiful country with them and know they will tell others all that Colombia has to offer.

I was sad to see Shelagh and John leave this morning, but remembered a favorite poem of my mother and grandmother.  I've been reciting it in my mind all day.....

Don't be dismayed at goodbyes.  A farewell is necessary before you can meet again.  And meeting again, after moments or lifetime, is certain for those who are friends.  
~Richard Bach


Joseph said...

This is a great blog Heather. Looks like a great trip! Great pictures all around. I especially like the day and night shots of terrace. Seems like a cool country.

Nice birthday pic Mum!


Bharat Mahajan said...

Awesome pictures as usual. I get to see the world through your travels. Look forward to seeing the next update.