Out for a drive south of Chisinau, Moldova. Photo taken December 6, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.

Where are they going next? Transnistria. The country that doesn't exist! Arrive December 8th.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Travel day! Villavieja to Bogota, Colombia

We were up a little late again yesterday morning. Because of the itchy rash, I haven't been sleeping much and so when I am actually sleeping in the morning, Ruth just allows me to sleep. That's all fine and dandy, but we should be getting up earlier on travel days.

We paid our bill at the hotel in Villavieja. Nice friendly little town and we would have liked to have stayed longer if it hadn't been so darned hot!

The guy at the hotel flagged down a collectivo to take us back in to Neiva, and funny thing it turned out to be the same driver who had taken us in to Villavieja a couple of nights before. He tossed our bags onto the roof, and Ruth and I squeezed into the front seat with him. We picked up a few more passengers along the way and off we went.

It was about 45 minutes to get into the steaming hot city of Neiva. It's between 28C-34C (84F-94F) every day of the year here. Close to the equator and an altitude of only 441 meters (1,400 ft) the sun is very strong here.

We gathered our things and made our way to the long row of ticket windows. Lots of choices to get to Bogota, but we chose one that was a more direct route and on a bus that had air conditioning! We paid 35,000 pesos ($16.00 CAD) each for the five hour ride.

We wanted to get something to eat but the driver said we didn't have time and the bus was leaving shortly. We could have waited an hour or so for the next bus, but as it was we were going to be later than we wanted to get in to Bogota, and we didn't have any reservations anywhere...we were really winging it!

Sure enough, the bus left right away. At least it was reasonably comfortable for the long ride.

Bus window scenery.

Colombia.

Bogota is the fourth largest city in South America, with about 8 million people. It's also a high Andean city situated at an altitude of 2,600 meters (8,600 feet). That's why it's so much cooler here and as we rose we could feel the air conditioner working more efficiently.

The outskirts of the city are unimpressive. Tons of graffiti. Every building seemed to be covered in it.

As the bus made it's way to the central terminal, we did go through some nicer areas and in fact the terminal itself seems to be in a decent part of town. 

Reading about the city in our Lonely Planet guidebook, there are areas that are still not safe, including the area I had checked out to stay in. During the day it's fine, with lots of police about, but you are told not to wander about in the evening.

It was after 5:00pm when we got off at the terminal and headed for the lineup to get an authorized taxi. There were a ton of people, but also a ton of taxis! I had read about a hostel called Explora Hostels right downtown and it had good reviews. But also expensive, for a hostel.

Took a taxi about 8 kms (5 miles) from the terminal to the hostel. Cost was 12,000 pesos ($5.46 CAD). 

Arrived at Explora Hostels and fortunately they aren't that busy. Got a private room with our own private bathroom for 75,000 pesos ($34.00 CAD) per night. Cheaper than I had expected.

Now, we needed some food! We had bought some street food from one of the vendors who comes on to the bus during the ride, but it wasn't nearly enough and we were famished.

We're in a fairly busy part of downtown and it looked like there were a lot of restaurants around but they were almost all closed! There was some kind of Christmas celebration going on and lots of people. We made our way to a nearby plaza where it looked like some kind of event had just finished and people were starting to disperse.

Central plaza all lit up.

Christmas lights.

We finally found a greasy spoon diner type of place across the street from a police depot. Okay, should be safe there! We split a half roast chicken. Not bad, not great. The rice was cold. Including my beer, 13,000 pesos ($5.92 CAD).

Made our way back through the old narrow streets back to the hostel. Everything is covered in graffiti. We don't like it at all, it gives the area a real trashy feel. Pics tomorrow.

The hostel is quite nice though. In fact, we've booked in for two more nights. I had the best sleep of the last two weeks last night. Itching seems to have subsided quite a bit, as well as some of the swelling. Still, I've looked up a clinic that has good reviews and so we'll go see what they have to say.

Temperature is calling for a daytime high of 22C (71F)...perfect!

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20 comments:

  1. Thats is wonderful that your itching and swelling has subsided somewhat, hope it gets better soon.
    8 Million people that is one huge city.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It had subsided a very small amount but not enough to stop bothering him.

      Yes it is a big city but not as big as Mexico City or Seoul, South Korea which both have well over 20 million people each.

      Delete
  2. I hope you will get something figured out with this rash. Barcelona, Spain is also covered in grafitti, but still an awesome city to visit. Looking forward to your experience in Bogota.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We hope so too!

      It's really too bad that cities let this happen! We really feel that it takes away a lot from the city. Some cities have managed to overcome this and have become beautiful cities because of it.

      Delete
  3. Graffitti seems to be the plague of every city these days no matter what country you go to. I noticed a lot in Lisbon when we were there but some artists had actually some talent and were more mural style. Amsterdam is plagued with it. Taggers should be jailed in my opinion. Definitely sounds like heat aggravates the rash. I have an autoimmune disease and get rashes regularly. Gold Bond medicated lotion helps, even better than prescribed cortisone, although not likely available there :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We don't mind tasteful street art and murals, it's the ugly tags that we hate and yes, taggers should be jailed or at least made to go around and clean up their mess.

      Kevin has been prescribe a number of things so hopefully he will now be able to find some relief.

      Delete
  4. I'll never forget all the gold in the church on the main square even though it was more than 40 years ago when we visited. It depressed me, especially with all the beggars outside it in the main square. Hope things are different for you and good luck with that rash and clinic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We will have stop and have a look at that church. We thought the same thing when we have seen some of the elaborate churches in Mexico. I thought the whole idea behind churches was to help the needy but looking at churches like that you have to wonder.

      There are still plenty of beggers and homeless. We are finding Bogota to be dirty and not the most attractive city, definitely think Medellin is better.

      Delete
  5. I'm thoroughly enjoying your daily notes and photos. I, too, hope you find competent and efficient professional help at the clinic so that you have some relief very soon. Perhaps the cooler temps will help with the discomfort of the rash, too. Be vigilant on the streets, you two! About the graffiti, it depends on what the subject matter is and on what type of edifice it's been applied to. It can be lively, creative urban art or it can be gang- or socially-related vandalism. It can beautify a blank concrete wall or it can ruin what should have been protected architecture. Depends on the heart of the artist and the culture of the community.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Dinah!

      We love street art but not the tagging. Kevin will speak a little more on this subject in the next post.

      Delete
  6. Very good to read about your itching. Now you can enjoy your sightseeing tour of Bogota.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It has only been a very slight improvement, unfortunately not enough to make him feel much better. We do think the cooler temperatures are helping though. Our visit to the doctor will also hopefully help, time will tell.

      Delete
  7. There is a wonderful graffiti tour available.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, we have heard that there is. Keep in mind there is a difference between graffiti and street art at least to us there is.

      Delete
  8. You'll love the weather in Bogota. Nice city and friendly people. I think you'll find it is really a safe city. Like any big city, there are safe areas and not so safe areas. You're experienced travelers and have a good nose for those things. Have fun and take lots of pictures.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are loving the temperatures here in Bogota, it is very refreshing. You are right about safety and that every city has some not so safe places. Honestly the area where the hostel is, is not an inviting area at night, during the day no problem. We walked a lot yesterday and felt totally fine.

      Delete
  9. For how long were you on the prednisone? Did it help and was it the 50mg dose?

    There is a very good free app/website for doctors to get consult on your type of skin rash. It is Figure1.com and it is free to doctors and it is available in Colombia. You can ask your doctor to use it in case they want a consult.

    Peter

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. About 3 or 4 days, it was only 20mg. He thought that it helped a little at first but after that, not so much. I guess it may have helped more had it been 50mg.

      Thank you for the link, that could be very helpful in the future.

      Delete
  10. I just saw this article below.

    Edmonton Tourists Confirmed As Owners Of Burned Van: Mexican Officials

    http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/11/30/edmonton-tourists-mexico_n_8684242.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unfortunate that this happened but it is one of many reasons that we never travel at night.

      Delete

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