15 Hours in Bogotá!

BOGOTÁ, COLOMBIA

Iglesia de San Francisco

We stumbled upon the opportunity to visit Colombia while we were looking for airfare for our trip to Brazil. The cheapest route to Brazil included a 15-hour layover in Colombia’s capital city: Bogotá! We were thrilled to visit another South American country, even if our visit was wedged between two consecutive red-eyes!


We wondered exactly how much of Bogotá we would be able to see in one day. We wanted to make sure we had time to rest between red-eyes (so we would have lots of energy for Brazil!), and we wanted to take advantage of our time in a new country. Luckily, even with only 15 hours, we were able to do both! We booked a hotel for the day, which gave us an opportunity to sleep in a bed for a couple of hours, shower, and store our luggage. Before exploring the city, though, we made sure to fuel up with some Colombian coffee! (Watch out, the coffee is fuerte!)

Colombian coffee
Cheers!

THINGS TO DO

We spent the afternoon in La Candelaria, a historic neighborhood in downtown Bogotá. The neighborhood hosts a number of museums, cathedrals, and other tourism sites, which allowed us to efficiently cover a lot of ground with the limited amount of time we had. As we walked along the cobblestone streets, we were struck by the juxtaposition between modern city and colonial architecture. We were definitely intrigued by the city and ready for our own self-guided walking tour.

Santuario Nuestra Señora del Carmen

We started our day in Bogotá by visiting the Santuario Nuestra Señora del Carmen. The eclectic church, completed in 1938, was a blur of red and white stripes, framed by jeweled mosaic columns. The interior was equally as colorful!

Santuario Nuestra Señora del Carmen
Santuario Nuestra Señora del Carmen
Santuario Nuestra Señora del Carmen
Inside the Santuario Nuestra Señora del Carmen – what a stunning celing!
PLAZA BOLÍVAR

From the church, it was only a five minute walk to the Plaza Bolívar – the main square in Bogotá. The plaza was framed by four impressive buildings: Palacio de Justicia (Palace of Justice), Palacio Liévano (Liévano Palace), Capitolio Nacional (National Capitol), and the Catedral Primada de Colombia (Primary Cathedral of Colombia). In the center of the square was a statue of Simón Bolívar. He is known as The Liberator for his role in establishing Colombia as a sovereign state. Before the city of Bogotá was established by Spanish conquerors, the region was inhabited by indigenous peoples and the city was named Bacata. 

Statue of Simón Bolívar
Statue of Simón Bolívar 

The first building we saw was the Palacio de Justicia, which has been rebuilt twice due to conflicts in Bogotá. It was destroyed during riots in 1948, and it was destroyed again in 1985 by guerilla warfare. The current building was created in 1985 and contains the Supreme Court of Justice and the Constitutional Court. The inscription at the entrance states, “Colombians, weapons have given us independence. Laws will bring us liberty.” Powerful stuff.

Palacio de Justicia

Palacio Liévano is known as the cultural hub of Bogotá. The current building was completed in 1907, after earthquakes and fires destroyed the previous administrative buildings. It was named after Indacelio Lievano, who was the engineer that funded the project. It currently serves as Bogotá’s city hall.

Palacio Liévano
Palacio Liévano

Construction for the Capitolio Nacional began in 1876 and was completed in 1926. It houses the Congress of Colombia.

The National Capitol Building

The final building that we visited was the cathedral. The cathedral was built four times, with the final construction occurring between 1807 and 1823. It’s the largest cathedral in Colombia, and one of the largest cathedrals in all of South America.

Catedral Primada de Colombia
Catedral Primada de Colombia

After exploring Plaza Bolívar thoroughly, we started our walk to the Museo de Oro (gold museum). Along the way, we stopped for a snack and tried some of the foods not available in the United States – such as mayonnaise flavored potato chips! My parents especially loved walking along Carrera Septima (7th avenue), which was full of markets and street entertainers.

Museo de oro

The Museo de Oro (gold museum) is one Bogotá’s most popular attractions because it contains the largest collection of gold artifacts in the world! We were especially impressed with the artisanship of the indigenous people.

Jaguar Mask
Jaguar Mask

The most famous gold artifact is the Muisca Raft. It is sometimes referred to as the “El Dorado raft” due to its reference to the legend of El Dorado. It represents the ceremony in which the Muisca chief dove into a lake covered in gold dust and jewels for religious offerings. The artifact contains 229 grams of gold! Three farmers discovered it in a cave in 1969.

Muisca Raft
Muisca Raft

The Museo de Oro was our final stop for the day. We accomplished a lot in the afternoon, and we still had time to rest for a bit at the hotel before our evening flight.


FOOD IN BOGOTÁ

We love to try unique foods in different countries. Here are a few of our favorites from Bogotá:

Colombian Coffee: strong, rich, and delicious!
Sobrebarriga en Salsa: flank steak with a flavorful sauce.
Street food! Empanadas and Arepas con Huevo.
And of course, mayonnaise-flavored chips!

ACCOMMODATIONS

We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Bogota Airport. It was a brand-new hotel located right by the airport, which made it ideal for our brief stay between flights. They offered us a free shuttle back to the airport, and we enjoyed excellent service at the restaurant. We would definitely recommend this hotel to others!

Hilton Garden Inn Bogota Airport

Fort Worden

FORT WORDEN STATE PARK, WASHINGTON, USA

Fort Worden State Park

We had never been to Fort Worden until we were invited for a work retreat. Once a year, the residency gets full coverage at the hospital and this was a rare opportunity for us to spend time together. Fort Worden State Park has stunning views of the Puget Sound, miles of trails, and an abandoned US Army fort that is open to the public. It was a crisp, clear weekend in Washington, and we were grateful for the opportunity to be outdoors!


HISTORY

Fort Worden was built between 1898 and 1920, and it was an active military base until 1953. The fort, along with Fort Casey and Fort Flagler, was constructed to protect the entrance to the Puget Sound. Fortunately, the service members of Fort Worden never engaged in hostile fire. After closing in 1953, the State of Washington purchased the property for a short-lived juvenile detention center. In 1973, it became a state park due to its prime, beach-front location.

Fort Worden State Park
Off exploring the main fort and bunkers!

BEACH 

We spent the morning walking along the coastline. There was a lot to see: a marine wildlife center, military bunkers, a campground, and a lighthouse.

Fort Worden State Park
Easy access to the beach
Fort Worden State Park
Clear views of the Puget Sound
Fort Worden State Park
Point Wilson Lighthouse
ACCOMMODATIONS

We stayed in Officers’ Row, a collection of one dozen private homes that have been restored. Reservations can be made here. There are also opportunities to stay in vacation homes on-site, as well as the campground.

Fort Worden State Park
We stayed here at the officer quarters

PORT TOWNSEND

Fort Worden is located adjacent to the quaint city of Port Townsend. Instead of driving into town, you can just walk down the beach! There’s nothing better than a beach walk on the way to brunch.

Fort Worden State Park
The city is known for its Victorian buildings

 

Fort Worden State Park
Strolling down the main street

There are multiple routes to Fort Worden, and our favorite is always the ferry!

Fort Worden State Park
Beautiful day for a ferry ride!

We were grateful for a weekend getaway – and can’t wait until next year’s retreat!


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Franklin Falls

FRANKLIN FALLS, WASHINGTON, USA

Franklin Falls is one of Seattle’s most popular winter hikes – especially when the falls are frozen over! It felt like we were transported to a winter wonderland. We played in giant snow drifts, listened to the river alongside us, and counted the hundreds of icicles clustered around the falls. It was also our first time using microspikes. We can’t wait to do more winter hiking!


Because the Denny Creek road is closed in the winter, it’s important to be prepared. First, be sure to check the latest Franklin Falls trip report on the Washington Trails Association website, and assess traffic conditions via the WSDOT website. Second, make sure that you have the right equipment for a snow hike (e.g., microspikes; snowshoes). Also be sure to pack the 10 Essentials for any day hike. There are several routes to Franklin Falls when Denny Creek road is closed. We chose to take Exit 47 to hike from the road closure.


DIRECTIONS

From Seattle, head East on I-90 and take Exit 47.

Take a left off of the exit.

Take a right when the road comes to a T. You’ll see these signs:

Follow the road a short distance and you will likely see vehicles parked on the shoulder by the underpass. The entrance to the road closure, and the start of the winter hike, is here:

You will walk on this road for approximately 2.5 miles.

You will cross a bridge…

And when you see the outhouse, take a left…

A short distance on the right you will see the entrance to the Franklin Falls trailhead.

From the trailhead entrance, it’s approximately one mile to the falls.

Enjoy!!!



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An Introduction to Cádiz

CÁDIZ, SPAIN 

Cádiz is where it all started for me. I studied abroad there in college and it ignited in me a passion for travel and a love of culture. I experienced some of the most joyful and sacred moments of my life in Cádiz, and I hope that you will enjoy the city just as much! This article serves as an introduction to Cádiz, covering all of the basic information needed to get to the city.

 


PRONOUNCIATION

Cádiz is pronounced Kah-Deez, with an emphasis on the first syllable. Pronounce it correctly for some instant street cred. (Most tourists emphasize the last syllable instead of the first.)


GETTING THERE

Traveling to Cádiz from the United States is a long journey. It’s not as easily accessible as Madrid or Barcelona, but that’s also one of the reasons why I love it! In a world that is increasingly globalized, Cádiz has retained its authenticity.

There are several travel options to get to Cádiz…

  • Fly directly to Sevilla (Seville). This is my preference when it is affordable. After landing in Sevilla, take a taxi to the nearby train station. From there, take the train directly to Cádiz (about a 2-hour trip). During the summer months I recommend booking the train ticket in advance.
  • If there are no direct flights to Sevilla, I recommend flying to Madrid. Take a taxi to the nearby train station Atocha. (A cool place to visit regardless!) The train from Madrid to Cádiz is between 4-5 hours.
  • The closest airport to Cádiz is in the city Jerez de la Frontera. It’s a small airport and there are no international connections, but you can purchase a connecting flight from other airports within Spain. From Jerez de la Frontera, you can take a train, car, or bus and arrive at Cádiz in approximately 30 minutes.
  • Finally, you can take a cruise to Cádiz, as it is a major port town. This is the only route I have never taken, as I have always spent more than a few days when I’ve visited Cádiz.
Inside the Cádiz train station

ABOUT CÁDIZ

Cádiz is considered to be the oldest city in all of Western Europe. It was first founded by the Phoenicians as ‘Gadir’ in 1100 B.C.! Cádiz also offers some unique geographical features. It’s attached to the mainland of Spain by a thin stretch, which means it has miles and miles of beaches.

While most Europeans vacation along the Costa del Sol, Cádiz is situated along the Costa de la Luz. Luz is Spanish for light, which is a fitting name because it receives over 300 sunny days a year! The Costa de la Luz is much less crowded than the Costa del Sol.

The town is divided into two parts: el Casco Viejo (the old part of town) and la Parte Nueva (the new part of town).

The Puerta de Tierra divides the two halves of the city and is the gateway into El Casco Viejo.

La Puerta de Tierra

WHERE TO STAY

El Casco Viejo is idyllic. It’s composed of winding cobblestone streets and has an old world vibe. It’s not uncommon to be lost in a narrow street and then unexpectedly enter into a picturesque plaza. There are over 100 watchtowers and a large cathedral that is a must-see. It also boasts the beach La Caleta, which was the site of a James Bond movie scene.

La Parte Nueva is more modern and it has direct access to many beaches. The most popular beaches are the Playa de Santa Maria del Mar and the Playa Victoria. Because there are miles of beaches here, it’s possible to get away from the crowds and soak up some of the abundant Spanish sun.


Those are the basics! See upcoming posts on what to do while in Cadiz, what foods to try, and day trips from the city.



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Kangaroo Island

KANGAROO ISLAND, AUSTRALIA

Flinders Chase National Park

Kangaroo Island is a really special place for us. We spent a week of our honeymoon exploring every corner of the island. We rented a car and found ourselves driving down unpaved roads, scanning the treetops for koalas in the wild, and stopping at dozens of beaches.

 


THINGS TO DO

Flinders Chase National Park

The best place to experience Kangaroo Island’s rugged wilderness is Flinders Chase National Park. We spent a day in this national park and hit the main sights, but we would have loved to have spent several days here. The Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail is a 5-day hike along the coastline. Looks like we have a reason to go back!

Flinders Chase National Park – Boardwalk to Admiral’s Arch

There are two primary sights in the park. The first is Admiral’s Arch – a natural landmark that was created by the forces of nature. Walk down the boardwalk and you will see the ocean framed by this magnificent arch. You won’t be the only one there – lots of seals have made this cove their home!

Admiral’s Arch

The second main sight at the park is the Remarkable Rocks. The parking lot fills up quickly, so we recommend getting there early. The rocks are made of granite and have unique shapes as a result of erosion due to the ocean winds. It’s a great place to take photos, and because it is literally crawling with people in the afternoon, it’s another reason to get there early.

The Remarkable Rocks

The roads within the park are spectacular too!

Cape du Couedic road
Seal Bay Conservation Park

Kangaroo Island is home to a number of protected species, including the Australian sea lion. Their numbers are in decline, and Seal Bay Conservation Park is doing important work protecting them. For a small fee, a tour guide will take you down to the beach, and from a short distance you can observe them barking, swimming, and napping. In addition to the tour, there is also the extensive boardwalk that offers plenty of up-close opportunities to see the seals.

Australian Sea Lions
Sandboarding

We had never gone sandboarding before and decided to try it out on a whim after seeing a sign posted on the road. The sand dunes on Kangaroo Island are known as the “Little Sahara”. We had a blast sandboarding and using a toboggan! We rented all of the equipment through Kangaroo Island Outdoor Action.

Sandboarding at Little Sahara
Kelly Hill Caves

If you have time in your itinerary, check out the Kelly Hill Caves. We really enjoyed learning about the caves, and our guide even turned out all the lights and lit a candle so that we could appreciate how the caves were first explored with very minimal light.

Kelly Hill Caves
Koala Walk

Koalas are one of our favorite animals, and we really enjoyed the Koala Walk at Hanson’s Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. We went on a walking tour of the sanctuary at sunset and saw tons of wildlife, but the highlight was certainly the line of trees that contained dozens of koalas. They typically sleep 20 hours a day, so we were lucky to catch them during the evening when they were a bit more active!

Hanson’s Bay Wildlife Sanctuary
Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park

If you are looking to hold a koala, the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park is the place to do it. You can feed kangaroos, wallabies, and hold a koala. This was definitely one of the highlights of our trip!

Feeding a Koala!

FOOD AND DRINK

Dudley Wines

Kangaroo Island is famous for wines. That’s due to the pristine natural beauty, the maritime air, and the excellent soil quality. We had planned to visit several wineries during our stay, but didn’t go to any others after coming to Dudley’s! We started with a free tasting which contained over 14 samples. WOW! And with an absolutely stunning backdrop, we were happy to spend the afternoon eating local cheeses and sampling wines.

View From Dudley Wines
Kangaroo Island Spirits

We also made a stop by Kangaroo Island Spirits to try their gins. Again, we were delighted to find that the tastings were free. We tried several varieties and we were completely hooked.

Gin Tasting Menu
Clifford’s Honey Farm

Clifford’s Honey Farm also offers free tastings! We enjoyed sampling the various honeys they produce. It’s a must to try the honey ice cream! We also enjoyed a honey beer. This is the world’s oldest bee sanctuary and is the home to the only pure strain of Ligurian Bee honey in the world.

Honey Taste Testing
Island Pure Sheep Dairy

We also stopped by Island Pure Sheep Dairy to try the local cheeses. We were not disappointed!

Cheese Tasting
And Some Delicious Meals!

Our favorite meals were at our hotels. One of the best meals of our lives was at the Kangaroo Island Seaside Inn. The steak and shrimp were amazing!

Excellent Cuisine on the Island

BEACHES

Vivonne Bay

Vivonne Bay was rated one of Australia’s best beaches. There is plenty of coastline, white sand, and turquoise water.

Vivonne Bay
Flinders Chase National Park

The boardwalk showcases stunning views of this dramatic coastline. There are plenty of beach hikes – we wish we had more time here!

Flinders Chase National Park
Stokes Bay

On our last day we decided to visit Stokes Bay before heading to the airport. We were glad we did! It was by far our favorite beach. There is a “secret” path through the boulders to the right of the parking lot. After bending and twisting through the rocks, we discovered a quiet inlet with crystal clear water.

Stoke’s Bay

WILDLIFE

When we were researching places to visit in Australia, we decided on Kangaroo Island because of the wildlife. There are few other places in Australia where you can regularly see koalas and kangaroos in the wild.

Kangaroos

We were a little nervous when we did not see any wildlife our first day. However, we were pleased to find out that the kangaroos are often in the paddocks (fields) just after sunrise and at sunset. We ended up seeing dozens of them!

We never got tired of seeing kangaroos!
Koalas

Kangaroo Island now boasts a koala population of over 27,000. During our hikes, we saw three koalas in the wild. It was so funny to watch them swaying in the uppermost branches of trees.

Keep a lookout for koalas in the treetops!
Echidnas

These cute creatures are sometimes known as spiny anteaters. They are the only mammals in the world that lay eggs. We saw several of these during our hikes.

Keep your eyes on the ground for echidnas along the path.
Seals

We also saw plenty of seals. It was pretty amusing to watch the seals sleep in odd positions, race to the water, or bark at each other.

There are many opportunities to see seals on the island.

ACCOMMODATIONS

We spent two nights on the east side of the island, and two nights on the west side. We were very happy with our accommodations and would recommend them:

Kangaroo Island Seaside Inn

7 Cygnet Road, Kingscote, SA, 5223, Australia

Kangaroo Island Wilderness Retreat

1 South Coast Rd, Karatta, SA, 5223, Australia

GETTING THERE

If you are traveling internationally, getting to Kangaroo Island can take some time. We researched a lot of options. Ultimately, you can decide to fly to the island or take the ferry from Adelaide. Once on the island, we rented a car so that we could have complete freedom to explore. Renting a car is expensive, but it is the best way to explore the island unrestricted. The higher rental car costs are due to the unpaved roads and the wildlife on the island. If you are thinking of renting a car in Adelaide and taking the ferry to Kangaroo Island, review your rental car contract carefully. Many companies do not allow their vehicles onto the island. So, the best thing to do is rent your car once you arrive on Kangaroo Island. Remember that driving after dusk is restricted, and remember to drive on the left side of the road if that is not the norm for you. We were really happy with our decision to rent our own car, instead of taking a tour bus. One of our favorite things about this trip was following an unpaved road and seeing what adventures awaited us!



OUR ITINERARY

DAY 1
Kangaroo Island Wildlife Sanctuary
Beach at Kangaroo Island Yacht Club
DAY 2
Seal Bay Conservatory Park
Bales Beach
Sandboarding at Little Sahara
Clifford's Honey Farm
Eucalyptus Distillery & Cider Farm
Kangaroo Island Spirits
DAY 3
Dudley Wines
Island Pure Sheep Dairy Farm
Parndana
West River Cove
Hanson Bay Sanctuary: Nocturnal Koala Hike
DAY 4
Kelly Hill Caves
Vivonne Bay
Flinders Chase National Park: Admiral's Arch & The Remarkable Rocks
DAY 5
Stoke's Bay

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