Perfectly Pretty Popayan

Trip Start Sep 20, 2010
Trip End Dec 18, 2011

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Park Life

Flag of Colombia  ,
Sunday, August 21, 2011

Welcome to Colombia! Our journey into the coffee capital of the world was pretty painless. Robert from the hostel was very helpful and drove us to the direct bus to Tulcan at the Ecuador border, instead of us having to change which was the only suggestion by LP.  We had quite a queue on the Ecuador side and it was quite unorganised but with some patience we were soon walking into Colombia with no dramas.  The Colombian side was far quicker and within 10 minutes we were in a collectivo to Ipiales, the border town on the Colombian side.  We considered catching a taxi to see some church in a gorge but lazily couldn't be bothered and jumped straight into a minivan to Pasto, where we planned to spend the night.  Bit of a shame, we later saw pictures of the gorge cathedral and it was pretty impressive.

Anyway we arrived in Pasto and instead of heading to the $20 hostel in the book, decided to head off with some guy outside the bus station to his hotel which he said was only $7.  The worst that could happen, we get robbed, the best it’s not a flea pit and we save some cash.  It turned out to be the second option so we stayed – probably the first Europeans he’s ever had there!

The next morning we headed straight to Popayan.  Colombia is mostly safe to travel these days, but the route from Pasto to Popayan is still dodgy at night and tourists are strongly recommended to make the journey in daylight.  Being an 8 hour journey we got going early.  Now I don’t know what happened but somewhere about 3 hours in someone turned up the outside temperature considerably and in our rubbish bus with no aircon or windows to open Kevin especially started to complain quite a lot!  They did the South East Asia trick of stopping half way as well to get food – do people just not want to get to their destinations?!? We eventually arrived into Popayan sweaty and tired and walked to a hostel.  This was owned by a very friendly Scottish guy who was full but recommended a place in the centre of town to stay.  So glad he did, this is one of my favourite places we’ve stayed.  It is a new hostel owned by a Spanish/Romanian couple and is in a gorgeous colonial building on the main square.  It made for a couple of noisy nights as our room was right on the square but it was worth it for the atmosphere and the help/suggestions we received from Borga and Luisa.

I loved Popayan, it was probably the most picturesque place we have been since we’ve been in South America.  There isn’t a lot to do being quite a small place but you could spend hours wandering around the perfectly maintained white buildings soaking in the atmosphere.  One funny thing that did happen was when we tried to go to one of the museums.  The door was open and there was a guard outside but he said (well we think he said) it was shut until 3pm.  He wasn’t letting us in anyway.  So we went back at 3pm and the whole place was completely locked up and the guard was nowhere to be seen!  I imagine he might have been saying that we would only have an hour inside because they shut at 3pm and thought we were very strange when we confirmed twice that it shut at 3pm and then walked off saying Hasta Luego (see you later)!    
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