Hi Guys, Alex here, I (well Chris) thought it was about time that I wrote a post so I’m going to cover Santa Marta and Chris will be back to cover Tayrona National Park.
Santa Marta is a city on the Northern Caribbean coast of Colombia, it’s mostly a stop off point for travellers visiting Tayrona but is also a huge holiday destination in it’s own right for many Colombian tourists.
We arrived into the tiny Santa Marta airport right next to the sea and were met by a wall of heat and humidity when stepping off the plane. We grabbed a taxi and headed to our hostel. Along the way the streets looked far more colourful and vibrant than in Bogota with lots of people selling things on the street and a much more casual dress code!
Our hostel, La Brisa Loca, had been described as lively and friendly so we were looking forward to relaxing, having a few drinks, meeting some other backpackers and finding out the best way to visit the national park. The guy on the desk checked us in and reminded us this was a party hostel so we just needed to go with it but they had earplugs if needed. We smiled and nodded and went to find our room and grab our free welcome beer.
We had a lovely room right on the roof terrace, good views over the city, private bathroom and most importantly air conditioning. We went for food and drinks in the bar downstairs and played pool with some Dutch guys. The bar closed around 11.30pm and we were told to head up to the roof terrace ‘party’. It quickly transpired that by party they meant a full on club for backpackers and locals right outside our bedroom! We got another drink and sat on the terrace, but the music wasn’t great and we were both somehow exhausted (I’m blaming the humidity!) so we headed to bed around 1am and tried to sleep. Earplugs didn’t make much difference but the music finished by 2.30am and they were surprisingly quick to get everyone off the terrace.
The next day we mostly stayed in the hostel, enjoying the fans and air con and a big breakfast of pancakes and fresh fruit. We worked out plans for the national park and went for a wander around the city. There was some kind of celebration going on at the sea-front with very loud music and heart shaped balloons everywhere. On getting back to the hostel we saw more heart-shaped decorations and everyone preparing for another club night!
We’re still not entirely sure what this was but there were lots of signs saying ‘dia de amore y armistad’ displayed around the town.
We went for a lovely meal at Ouzo, a Mediterranean restaurant where we had a sharing plate to start and a pizza for mains plus some very strong cocktails. We headed back to the bar (our hostel audible from several blocks away!) for one drink before heading up to the roof terrace. We crashed fairly early (for Colombian standards) and tried to sleep through the club outside our room again!
We got up fairly early the next day and packed up our stuff (still a huge exercise, we need to get better at packing or ditch some more stuff!). We left our big bags in the luggage store (although this hostel is on the wild party side, they feel very safe and have really great facilities that every traveller needs such as a luggage room and laundry!). We packed enough for 3 days into our smaller bags and headed off for a bus stop nearby to catch a local bus to Parque Nacional de Tayrona (Tayrona National Park). We have found the word “nearby” to be deceptive when the weather is so hot and humid so we were sweating buckets and disorientated after a confusing walk through a busy and smelly market in the late morning sun. We eventually made it to our destination and were ushered onto the correct bus. Our adventures in the park are for another post which Chris will be writing.
After a fantastic but tiring and again very humid trip to Tayrona we returned to the hostel (having established there were no club nights in the Tuesday night!) and made a trip out for a meal at the next door restaurant (and best rated by TripAdvisor for Santa Marta) – Taparazzi. We had a fantastic cheese plate and they did a great veggie lasagne and some fantastic fresh local fish. The highlight was the amazing G&Ts and Daiquiri’s made by the owner – some really interesting ingredients (cardamom in the G&T, ginger in the Daiquiri) made the cocktails absolutely excellent!
We packed up the next day and headed off on the direct tourist transfer (slightly extra fare for air con and door to door service!) to Cartagena, an historic city on the Caribbean coast of Colombia.