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Friday, January 31, 2014

FOTO FRIDAY - 1/31/14

Dear Family and Friends,

When we were in China we went to an old style pharmacy.  All the medications were herbal.

This pharmacist is filling prescriptions.  I guess you take your medicine home and make a tea.  Yes, some Chinese people still do that today.  People also drink medicinal teas here in Cuenca...but I haven't seen a pharmacy in Cuenca like this one.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Medellin, Colombia....We're Here

Dear Family and Friends,

We flew from Cartagena to Medellin on Tuesday.

Although we got into our condo fine, we were without internet until later in the evening.

I took this picture of Medellin last night from our balcony.

Like I have shared before, when we are traveling for several weeks, we take a down day once in awhile to renew our batteries.  Today was a down day.  We were exhausted.

Here is Chuck lighting his pipe and relaxing on the balcony.

Tomorrow we are taking a walking tour.  This is a beautiful city.  I can't wait to share it with you.

Have a great day.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Our apartment in Cartagena, Colombia

Dear Family and Friends,

Our time in Cartagena is about over.  When you read this post we will be on our way to Medellin.

I decided on this trip to do a review of the apartments we rent.  I did one for our apartment in Bogota which you can read here:  Bogota Apartment Review

As before we rented this apartment through

Our apartment is on the 14th floor of a high rise apartment building.  It is on the water and has great views.

We can look down the peninsula and see the beach area and other high rises.

And since the apartment is located at the top of the peninsula, we can look the other direction and see the historic old town.

And behind us is more water....we can see the marina and other high rises.

For us, the location of the apartment is great.  The historic district is about a 15 minute walk, the eateries on the beach are about a 10 minute walk in the opposite direction.  We are conveniently located within walking distance to both.  There two supermarkets about a block away.

There is a pool on the fourth floor level.  It was always clean and very refreshing.

Since the front of our apartment faced west, we enjoyed great sunsets each evening.

A couple of things that were not so good.  The apartment only had air conditioning in the bedroom.  Actually, that was not a problem because the breeze was blowing here during out entire stay.  During the day, we just opened the windows and the moving air was enough to keep us comfortable.

The shower has a suicide shower head.  That was fine with me because I didn't use the hot water.  The cold water is not cold at all and it felt refreshing without using the hot water.

The kitchen is small and like all condos that are on the beach and exposed to the salt air, the appliances are somewhat rusty.  This is something that just goes with the territory.

To see the inside of the apartment go to this link.  apartment interior

I'll check back in when we get to Medellin.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Living on the Beach

Dear Family and Friends,

In a way I hate to post these pictures from Catagena, Colombia because all of you family and friends in the U.S., Canada, Russia and Europe are in the middle of winter.  But, my friends, you keep asking for pictures so here they are:

This is the view down the beach from the apartment we rented.

Notice how the beach is blocked off by rocks.  I think this must have to do with protecting the beach from erosion.

Views directly down below us.  This lady is selling baskets...luckily they are light weight.

I little bird (Sandpiper maybe) using the surf to help him have dinner.

Some of the shade providing beach tents.

These pictures were taken at the far end of the peninsula.  Most all of the high rise buildings are not hotels but apartments.  Most are owned by wealthy Colombians and foreigners who come here for a get away.

The peninsula forms a calm bay at the tip.

I'm really not a big beach person in my old age.  I loved it as a teen, but now the heat and bright sun really get to me.  A little goes a long way.

I do enjoy the fresh seafood however and that alone is worth being at the beach.  Last night's dinner was shrimp in passion fruit sauce.  Also coconut rice and stir fried vegetables with some wonderful torrontes white wine from Argentina.

On my next post I will review the apartment choice we made for Cartagena.

We leave on Tuesday to fly to Medellin, Colombia


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Old Town Cartagena, Colombia

Dear Family and Friends,

Today, Chuck and I went to visit the historic part of Cartagena.  It is well preserved and is a stop for many cruise ships.  Today there were 3,000 people dumped out from Celebrity Cruise Line.

Tomorrow, there will be three ships in port.  Probably about 8,000 other tourists we will have to contend with.

The bright side is that the city comes to life for the cruise ship tourists.  This makes for some fun picture taking.

Here is a lady carrying fruit on her head.  She wasn't selling the fruit, she was making money for having your picture made with her.

Beautiful park.

I was wondering if we might be in Cuba by mistake when this old pick up truck passed us in the street.

This is a nice statue of Pope John Paul II located behind the church.

 Very colorful buildings..

Horse drawn carriages were everywhere.

This kid had his donkey all duded up.

Beautiful streets...reminds me of New Orleans.

We walked and walked.  It is in the high 80's with 95% humidity.   We had to walk on the shady side of the street and stop often for liquid refreshments.

We had a terrific seafood lunch.  This is my plate of calamari.  Ymmm!

Tomorrow we are back at it again.


Friday, January 24, 2014

FOTO FRIDAY - 1/24/14

Dear Family and Friends,

One of the reasons I have trouble breathing in Cuenca.

This is what I was doing about 10 years ago.  Now I am paying the piper.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Our apartment in Bogota, Columbia

Dear Family and Friends,

Chuck and I like to rent an apartment when we travel if we are going to be in a city more than 3 or 4 days.  On our last couple of trips Chuck has used the website  So far we have not been disappointed.

For me, being in Bogota, my first consideration was safety and security.  Chuck let me have the final decision on which apartment to choose.  It has worked out well for us but in retrospect I would have chosen a livelier neighborhood and given up a smidgen of security.

Here are some pictures of our huge apartment complex.

Since our apartment is on the top floor, we have a grand view from one corner of the apartment.

The only drawback is that we are about a 45 min. taxi ride from the center of the city.  This would not be too much of a problem if we were in the middle of a touristy neighborhood.  A neighborhood that you can walk to nice restaurants and shopping.  We are located right off a major highway and the taxi rides to the places we want to see are long.

Other than that one issue, we are really pleased with the place we chose.  We are a short walk to a big mall....that is good.

When we come back to Bogota, we now know the parts of the city where we want to stay.

By the way, here is the link to our apartment at AirBnB:

Yesterday was our last day in Bogota.  We went about an hour outside the city to a town called Zipaquira.  The reason for this day trip was to see the cathedral carved inside a salt mine.   This is a very popular tourist attraction and is billed by Colombia as the first wonder of Colombia.

The town itself was very nice.  It was clean, well maintained and seemed to have this blue and rust color scheme.

The is the main cathedral at one side of the paved plaza.

A government building I suppose at another corner of the plaza.

We took a taxi up to the salt mine attraction.

Here is the entrance to the mine.

Many tunnels and in some places it is so dark you cannot see where you are stepping.  I couldn't help but think that if the electricity goes out we are in BIG trouble.

Inside there are the stations of the cross.  Each station has a cross depicting that station.  These are lit by colored lights and there is subdued holy background music.

Each station has a plaque that is written in Spanish with an English translation.  I got a kick out of this translation.

After finishing the walk in, there is a big sanctuary carved into the salt mine.

Much better pictures are at this website:

Of course the visit is not complete without going on the train ride.

Here we are, the crazy tourists.  Chuck with his Ecuador shirt on, so he can remember where to end this trip and me, depending on his memory.

Tomorrow we fly to Cartagena.  This is a popular tourist city on the Caribbean coast.

We will be switching our long pants for shorter ones.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Birds Eye View of Bogota, Colombia

Dear Family and Friends,

Yesterday was such a beautiful day that we decided to take the gondola ride up to the mountain top.  This is one of the tourist must do.

Being seniors, we got a discount.  It appears that the magic age in Colombia is 60 years old as opposed to 65 years old in Ecuador.

The first picture is the tram coming down the mountain as we were going up.

Here is a picture of Bogota when we were half way through our ride.

A view of the tram station as we approached the top.

Of course, when you are at the top, you are never at the top.  It was still quite a hike up to the church at the very top.

Believe it or not, there are people that walk a pilgrimage from the city all the way to the top of the mountain to visit this church.  There is a pathway with stations of the cross.

Although Bogota is about the same height as Cuenca...8,000 ft., after getting to the top of the mountain, I was huffing and puffing as we walked around.

The view from the top really gives you an idea of how huge Bogota is...the view of the city stretched out as far as the eye could see.

The Andes are some of the most beautiful mountains I have ever seen.  Here is a nice view looking toward the mountain range.

Like Ecuador, Colombia is a beautiful country.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Botero Museum in Bogota, Colombia

Dear Family and Friends,

Yesterday Chuck and I went to the Botero Museum.  Fernando Botero was born in Colombia.  He is probably the most famous Latin American artist. I love his whimsical style paintings.  He paints people and figures large, round and almost cartoon like.  We have a copy of one of his paintings in our apartment in El Molle.

This is the well guarded entrance.  Admission was free.

Photography was permitted as long as no flash was used.

Here are some of his paintings...

This is a "Mona Lisa" style painting.

Bouquet of flowers...

A horse...

A nude...

The dancing couple is similar to the copy we have.

Although the building is plain on the outside, the inside courtyard was beautiful.

We spent the morning there and in the afternoon we went outdoor shopping.

This is a bamboo covered mobile espresso bar.  As you can imagine coffee is very popular here.

Fun shoes....

and purses to match.  This is a sample of artisan work done in Colombia.

Trying to keep up with Chuck is difficult.  He stays on the go.

He did stop when he saw this angel.  He whispered to me that he was ready to go to heaven.

We had fun shopping for hats...but decided that although they were nice, they were too much like what we could buy in Cuenca.

We ended the day in a Mexican restaurant.

and shared these delicious pork chops.

We are looking forward to tomorrow.