Oslo, Norway

We travelled to Oslo for a long weekend with Norwegian Air and arrived pretty late on our first night so decided to stay at the Clarion airport hotel. I say airport hotel but you have to get a shuttle bus and it’s about 10 minutes away. The shuttlebus service is great – it’s super easy to find the departure point (right outside the arrivals door); there are a few buses serving different hotels and the list of hotels is very clearly listed at the bus stops. It costs 70 NOK (c. 7 euro) per person each way and you can buy your ticket on the bus. Not cheap but it’s lesson one on Oslo’s prices…

We took the ‘normal’ train to Oslo city centre the next morning from the airport. I’m really not sure why there were so many people opting for the Flytoget Airport Express Train to be honest. Flytoget is currently 196 NOK per person to the city and takes between 19-22 minutes and the Vy (Norwegian State Railway) is currently 90 NOK and takes 23 minutes. I’ll keep that 10 euro in my pocket thanks! I cannot recommend the croissants and fresh orange juice from ‘La Baguette’ in Oslo’s Central Station enough. Dreaming of them every single day since our trip!!

We stayed in an AirBnB in the Grünerløkka area for the rest of our trip, which is about a 15 – 20 minute stroll from Oslo Central Station. There are trams which can take you to Grünerløkka (super hipster area) but we decided to stroll to get our bearings. There is a CRAZY amount of construction going on in Oslo at the moment, it’s like the whole city is being ripped up. They’re updating the tram system so it’ll be awesome in a few years when it’s complete. We downloaded the RuterBillett app for tram trips around the city but we only used it a few times – Oslo is a really walkable city.

Grünerløkka

Our trip to Oslo was for the Piknik i Parken 2019 festival in the main park in Grünerløkka, Sofienbergparken. We had 2 days before the festival to wander around the city…so John could drink ALL the coffee. We had pretty changeable weather but it was mostly warm and the nights stayed SO bright. It’s CRAZY – still bright at 1 a.m. and still plenty of poeple milling about. We definitely felt that it was a really sociable city.

Our first stop when we landed in Grünerløkka was The Nighthawk Diner – an American style diner with huge portions – exactly what we needed! The staff were really lovely and chatty – actually pretty much everybody we met in Oslo was really chatty and friendly. There’s a coffee brand called Stockfleths which are all over Oslo. We stopped here a few times and they have a nice, relaxed atmosphere. John says the coffee was good and I can vouch that they take their time making the perfect cup of tea too! Staying on the coffee train…one of John’s first (and frequent thereafter) stops was to Tim Wendelboe. Takes a while to actually get your coffee in here but these guys are SERIOUS about their work. They don’t offer an Americano as they’re not allowed to put water in their espresso – they don’t want to dilute the coffee as it ruins the notes apparently. The barista actually admitted they were pretentious! Ha!

My absolute favourite stop was Oslo Raw. We went to the one in the Frogner area. Seemed like a really upmarket area; it’s behind the palace and the houses there were very similar to the style of houses in San Francisco – trams running through the area and everything – pretty cool. The food in Oslo Raw was amazing – so tasty, fresh and pretty! The raw balls are to die for!

Smoothie bowls at Oslo Raw

Vigeland Sculpture Park is also in Frogner and it’s the world’s largest sculpture park. Norwegian sculptor, Gustav Vigeland, created more than 200 sculptures for the city of Oslo and they all sit in this beautiful park. Free entry but go to the bathroom before you get here or you’ll pay 2 euro for the pleasure 🙂

Oslo’s Opera House is just across the road from the Central Station and it’s 100% worth a wander around. It’s made completely out of Carrara marble so there was one extremely happy Italian region when that order went in! The Opera House is right on the water and it’s a lovely place to while away an evening. Probably one of the coolest things you can do in any city in the world is a floating sauna – you can do this overlooking the Opera House and jump into the water to cool down!

En route to the Opera House

Oslo Opera House

Oslo Opera House

Floating Sauna

The Aker Brygge area of Oslo is a lovely place to spend an evening. It’s full of restaurants with outdoor seating, ice-cream trucks, there’s a shopping centre, supermarket, just lots of people enjoying the long evenings.

View from Aker Brygge

Aker Brygge

Back to food and Mathallen is an excellent stop if you’re peckish (it’s not open on Mondays). It’s a pretty large food hall with shops, restaurants, butchers, fruit shops, cafes etc. We had grilled cheese sandwiches as Smelt – simply because they serve Harney & Sons Tea – my absolute favourite and it can’t be bought in Ireland 😦

Mathallen

After one trip to Mathallen we wandered up the cutest little street, Damstredet. If you’re interested in seeing famous Norwegian individual’s graves then you can continue to the top of Damstredet and the Cemetary of Our Saviour is right across the road.

One morning we wandered from Grünerløkka through Oslo’s beautiful Botanical Garden to get to the Edvard Much Museum (tickets were 120 NOK per person)- honestly we were only there to see The Scream but the history of the place is crazy. The current exhibition is called EXIT!; the museum is moving in to the city center (next to the Opera House) for 2020. It doesn’t seem like the current building has had much work done in the last few decades – it opened in 1963 and definitely still has that 60s/70s feel. The museum has been held up a couple of times – the Scream and the Madonna were stolen in 2004 but later recovered.

Two Days in Copenhagen

We travelled from Dublin to Copenhagen with Ryanair for €112 return for 2 people, including 10kg carry-on baggage per person. I LOVE travelling in Europe! It’s so much cheaper than what we’ve been used to in Australia over the past few years, AND you get to experience a whole different culture over a weekend. Oh how I’m excited to live back in Europe 🙂 We landed on Saturday night and flew back to Dublin late on Monday night so we had all day Sunday and all day Monday to explore. We took the metro from CPH airport to Nørrebro station and then walked approx. 15 minutes to our hotel. The metro takes about 15 minutes to the city centre.

We stayed in the citizenM hotel, which has a fantastic location right in the city centre, within walking distance from all the hot-spots. It’s right around the corner from Tivoli Gardens, the second oldest amusement park in the world. We were excited to visit this place…however it’s closed from January to April (until just before Easter) so that didn’t quite work out for us!

Obviously, my number one goal for Copenhagen was food related…so our first stop was breakfast in GRØD, a porridge mecca, housed in foodie hotspot, Torvehallerne. You can get your porridge fix here from 7.30am – 5pm every day. I went with their Oat Porridge 1, homely porridge smothered in their home-made caramel sauce (it’s dulce de leche), apples and roasted almonds. It’s approx. €9 with today’s DKK/EUR exchange rate so not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. Worth it though. We went back on Day 2 for more. Torvehallerne is an airy, twin-building food market in the Nørrebro district. One of the buildings houses little eateries such as The Coffee Collective, GRØD, and Lauras Bakery and the other, separated by a gorgeous little flower market, has stalls with all you’d need to cook up an epic dinner.

GRØD

Coffee Collective

Torvehallerne

Torvehallerne goodies

Hans Christian Andersen at City Hall

We walked A LOT over our weekend break, 15km on Day 1 and 20km on Day 2. Partly because Ryanair drop you about two villages away from the airport exit 😉 but also because that’s typically how we see new cities. We rarely get those City Bus Tours or public transport tickets – we like to just meander and see where we end up. We always end up at a must-see!

After breakfast on Day 1 we went to see the Round Tower/Rundetaarn, a 17th century observatory, with a paved ramp circling you to the top which offers a spectacular view of the city. This opens at 10am and costs 25DKK (c. €3). We walked to check out the Freetown Christiana area/commune. It took about 30 minutes to wander there from the Round Tower. Well…this place. It is a former military base which was taken over by ‘hippies’ in the 1970s. Maybe it was a nicer (?) place to visit back in the day, but now it’s a rather unsettling place to be honest. It’s basically just a dodgy, druggie area. After this we walked back to check out the Gasoline Grill, a petrol station/burger joint. I had seen it on Somebody Feed Phil, so definitely wanted to check it out. We queued for about 15 minutes and once there were 2 people ahead of us they said there was going to be another 40 minute wait. Maybe next time 🙂

Round Tower

I’m basically Will Ferrell in Elf!

View from the Round Tower

Round and round and round…

Gasoline Grill

Colourful Copenhagen

Colourful Cafes

Pretty old buildings here

Stork Fountain

Christiansborg Palace

Børsen (former stock exchange)

Pretty streets

Entrance to Christiania

Vor Frelsers Kirke/Church of Our Saviour

We went to see the colourful Nyhavn harbour area. It was starting to rain pretty heavily so we didn’t hang around too long and instead pretty much raced up to the Magazin du Nord department store. We just had a quick mooch around here but the food department down in the basement is a nice place to check out. I LOVE going to supermarkets when we go abroad so I’d happily spend hours picking up every single product on offer! There’s a few chains of supermarkets around the city but we went to a couple of Irma outlets and picked up some confectionary that you can’t leave Denmark without! After Magazin du Nord John was desperate for a hot-dog so we circled back to the Round Tower to visit DØP, an organic hot-dog stand. There’s another one right in front of The Church of The Holy Ghost on Strøget pedestrian street. These guys looked like the cleanest hot-dog stands. After our hot-dogs we were pretty much frozen solid so we went to H&M owned ARKET for a coffee. It’s more upmarket than H&M (and I just found out that H&M own & Other Stories too – WHAT?!) and very nicely curated.

Nyhavn

Nyhavn

Sunshine!

Nyhavn

Love Locks

Nyhavn

Parsnip Mash and Chicken Sausage – delish!

On our first evening we checked out a bit of the local night-life. We were there for St. Patrick’s weekend so we started out in The Old Irish Pub, right around the corner from our hotel. We then had dinner across the road in Vapiano. I know it’s an Italian restaurant and we were in Denmark but I just love their food – it’s so quick and it’s a great place for chatting. It wasn’t very busy as we got there quite late but it had a lovely vibe and the staff we’re very friendly. Another plus for Vapiano is that it’s housed within Tivoli Gardens and the lovely chap making our pizzas let us outside on the decking area so we got to see within Tivoli Gardens at night. Can’t wait to go back just to visit Tivoli!! After dinner we went to the Dubliner Irish pub. Bit crap but also a bit of craic. We pottered on to check out jazz club La Fontaine for a drink and a little bit of music (free entry on the Sunday night we visited). We often end up at jazz clubs when we go away. There’s always such a great cozy vibe 🙂

Oh ya!

Day 2 once again started out with some epic porridge from GRØD. We then took a walk and wander around the Nørrebro area. It’s residential but is home to the Assistens Cemetery. Cemetery you say? Yep. Danish literature giant Hans Christian Anderson is buried here so we wanted to pay our respects. The cemetery is also a public park and it really is beautiful. Not as beautiful as Buenos Aires’ Recoleta Cemetery (where Evita is buried) but beautiful none the less. Poetically, people have left pens and pencils on HC Anderson’s grave. After Assistens we had a quick coffee pitstop at Ansersen & Maillard. It’s an industrial style roastery from a Noma alumni so you might want to try some pastries from here 😉 Next on our food-stop tour was Aamanns Deli for some typical Danish food – smørrebrød. Smørrebrød is basically little open sandwiches. We didn’t book in advance and it was very quiet but that’s perhaps because it was Monday lunchtime. I highly recommend a visit here – we had a lovely lunch. Onwards and upwards and we next strolled through the park (where there are swings – get thee on these!) behind Aamanns Deli and in to the Kastellet, a star-shaped 17th century military fortress. There are still military offices here today so you’re likely to see uniforms patrolling the area. It’s a short walk from here to see the famous bronze statue of Hans Christian Andersen’s imagined Little Mermaid (by sculptor Edvard Eriksen). I had read about the Genetically Modified Little Mermaid, another bronze statue about a 10 minute walk Eriksen’s. It’s by Professor Bjørn Nørgaard and is part of The Genetically Modified Paradise exhibit, offering an alternative (read: sobering) look at modern society. We then checked out the Royal Guard/Den Kongelige Livgarde, at the Amalienborg Palace, the home of the Danish Royals. There is a museum here but it’s currently closed on Mondays. We made our way back to the Nyhavn harbour area and stopped for some tea in McJoy’s Choice, a hyggelig little pub and perfect spot to warm up. We headed back to Vapiano for more Italian food before heading back to the airport 🙂

She’s probably right

Colourful walk through Norrebro

Plenty signs to guide you

Smørrebrød at Aamanns

Entrance to the Kastellet/Citadel

Hjemmeværnsfonden

Within the Citadel walls

Keeping watch

En route to the Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid

The Genetically Modified Little Mermaid

 

Two Days in London

Celebration time!

We made an impromptu 1 year anniversary trip from Dublin to London on our way to a family wedding. Oh gosh I LOVE LONDON!! It’s such a bustling city, the weather was perfect and our hotel stay was just perfect. We just had a one night stay in the newly refurbished ‘The Principal‘ hotel right on the Piccadilly tube line at Russell Square, overlooking Russell Park. The location is excellent. And the bathrooms! Brass, marble and a roll-top bath and I’m 100% set. It’s currently in the midst of a soft opening so everything looks quite fresh and the staff are fabulous. I’ve never stayed anywhere with such lovely staff. There’s a nice coffee shop attached too, Burr & Co.

Welcome welcome welcome!

A welcome coffee

After checking in our first port of call was straight back on to the tube and off to London Bridge station to check out Borough Market. More specifically it was a coffee pitstop, to the Gentleman Baristas just outside the market to help himself get through the day. 4 out of 5 rating on this one. There was a queue for a little gelato spot called Gelateria 3Bis so obviously this was pitstop number 2. This one is worth a small queue so again, 4 out of 5. Pretty good start to the day! We ended up wandering around Covent Garden a few times so we popped back here after our gelato stop and went to check out the Deciem/Abnormal Beauty company little store. J’adore!

Ooh London!

Quintessentially London

Charing Cross

Oh what you come across…

DRURY LANE!!!!

The Ivy

What a beautiful day!

Guiding us towards the Gentleman Baristas

We had a 3pm booking for the Art Afternoon Tea at the Rosewood Hotel just off the Holborn tube stop. Afternoon Tea is served in the Mirror Room, a copper-hued beaut of a location. Again, epic bathrooms. That’s really how I judge a place!! We just missed the Rodin art tea by one day so we got in on the new Cubism/Pop Art theme. It was delicious and they gave us their signature Banksy concoction with a little candle to celebrate our anniversary; so lovely. It’s an exceptionally sweet afternoon tea so prepare for a major sugar rush!

Here we go!

Round 2!

Inside the signature dessert

Some more sugar was called for on our second day so we got ourselves to Belgravia to check out the Dominique Ansel Bakery and to see the queues for the Peggy Porschen Cakes. Holy crap that cookie shot with Tahitian vanilla milk is the tastiest morsel I’ve come across. Probably devoured it in 10 seconds flat. By probably I mean actually… I also tried their frozen s’more – also absolutely delicious. John got a Cuban sandwich (mainly because we had recently watched that Chef movie) and he loved it too. He was super impressed that a bakery actually sold something savoury. Yes, he’s the person that orders a cheese board as dessert. Opposites attract!!

So, this is a thing…

Peggy Porschen

Getting excited!

Current special: Strawberry Fields

Decisions, decisions!

Paris-London

Kinda talented

I’ve been waiting for this!

SO GOOD!

We also made a quick stop at the Victoria & Albert Museum, for a quick mooch around. The jewellery collection is astounding – Beyonce gifted her Papillon ring which I’m sure is worth a gazillion pounds so that’s definitely worth a look. We didn’t get too much of the museum done, more of a drive-by but I cannot wait to get back!

V&A

Stairs to nowhere

So ornate!

Honeymooning in…PARIS!

We chose to finish off our honeymoon in très romantique Paris. We stayed in the Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg which is in a fantastic location, right around the corner from Concorde metro station and the Hotel de Crillon (side note: that’s one amaaaaaaazing hotel). The Sofitel is on the same street as the American embassy and there were police on each end of the street blocking vehicular access…just a little odd. The Sofitel has Hermès toiletries so let’s just say we now have quite a collection 😉 We didn’t really hang around the hotel at all (there’s not really that much to it), instead we spent as much time as possible traipsing the cobblestone streets. The hotel is just across the road from the Jardin des Tuileries so it’s really a wonderful location if you like pottering about.

We had cocktails at Les Ambassadeurs at the Hotel de Crilllon just around the corner one evening. One should be overdressed for this activity!! Luckily, I had my wedding shoes (read: rent) to ‘spruce up’ my holey jeans. HA!

Said shoes/babies…

We bought some tickets to the Moulin Rouge one afternoon for that evening. There are a few sittings most nights; we chose the 9pm with a bottle of champagne. The seating in there is super tight but the cabaret show is worth seeing. They do have live animals as part of the show which we were not expecting; not really necessary to be honest but something to bear in mind…

Moulin Rouge

Visiting the Louvre

We purchased tickets online a couple of days before visiting the Louvre. It was our first visit and hopefully not our last so we just decided to do a little of the museum, check out the Mona Lisa, good ol Venus di Milo and just a little bit more. We need to leave some stuff for future trips to Paris so we only went in for about 3 hours – I think you could spend a month just getting meandering the halls here.

Lots of people queue outside the Pyramid but if you go downstairs in to the shopping centre, Le Carrousel du Louvre, you can pick up tickets in the tobacco shop, La Civette du Louvre if you fancy skipping any queues 🙂

Carrousel Arc de Triomphe

The Louvre Pyramid

Pavillon Richelieu

You can pick up Louvre Tickets here

We used this entrance – in the Carrousel du Louvre shopping centre

Already lost

Getting all artsy

Beautiful inside, beautiful outside

Venus di Milo

View from inside the Louvre

She’s beautiful at night too

Visiting Musée de l’Orangerie

After a trip to the Louvre it only makes sense to walk down the beautifully manicured Jardin des Tuileries to the Musée de l’Orangerie. Although we’ve been before it’s going to be forever on my list to do in Paris since Monet is without question the greatest artist that ever did live. For sure next visit we’ll do Monet’s garden in Giverny.

Jardin des Tuileries

Oh to look at this Renoir every day…

Renoir

Miles of Monet

Getting a closer look

Water Lillies

 

Visiting the Eiffel Tower

We took an evening trip to visit the Eiffel Tower after pizza and a wander by the Seine one evening. It was a last minute decision (like most experiences when we’re travelling) but when there’s no queue you just seize the day!

Sunsets

Pont Alexandre III

The perfect evening

Eiffel Tower

In all her splendour

I don’t even know how to explain this chap!

What can I see!!

View from the Eiffel Tower

Oh so pretty!

Rue Gustave Eiffel

 

Parisian Wanderings

Are there any ugly buildings in Paris?

Strolling the Seine

Coffee stop!

Shop fronts

Petite street strolls

Les Deux Magots, Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Byron Bay, NSW, Australia

Hello!!

We’ve taken a few trips to hippie-haven Byron Bay over the past few years and it’s a nice spot to stroll around. You can easily do it in a day or you could chill here for a week. While the beach is definitely not Australia’s best, there’s plenty of room to get a bit of personal space and the little town is great for wandering around, grabbing coffees, ice-cream and engaging in some light or back-breaking retail therapy.

Obligatory Graffii shot

Obligatory Graffii shot

Byron's Beach

Byron’s Beach

The Farm Byron Bay, is worth a visit, it’s about a 5 minute drive from the town or just off the motorway on your way to town. It’s a working farm with a great restaurant (Three Blue Ducks), boulangerie (Don’t you just love that word, the Bread Social), and also the Produce Store. We had breakfast here and oh God, delicious. So fresh too. They have a lovely sunflower patch (I’m gonna say patch because of what we saw in the Dordogne region of France recently but for kiddies it would be an endless sunflower field), black pigs – happy as larry lounging about in the mud, cattle, chickens…and snakes. There are signs everywhere saying watch your step. Yowsa! If you don’t have a car then you can take the Farm Bus, $15 and you can hop on and off all day and see some local hot-spots.

Where first?

Where first?

Sunflowers

Sunflowers!

Chia Pudding

Amazing Chia Pudding

Coffee was had by himself at the little hole in the wall Barefoot Roasters, you’d have to go looking for this spot, it’s down a little lane and you’ve to sit sipping on the footpath. Quirky little spot.

Byron Bay Lighthouse sits overlooking Byron beach on one side and the absolutely stunning (and much quieter) Tallows Beach. Up here is the most easterly spot of Australia’s mainland – you’re basically looking out at Chile. Kinda cool.

The Bluesfest (music festival) is on here every March and there are markets on all year round. There’s lots of signage all around town promoting yoga classes if you fancy getting all chillaxed and the Cape Byron walking track is a great spot to work up and appetite…so you can go back to the Farm for lunch!

Byron Bay Lighthouse

Byron Bay Lighthouse

Tallows Beach

Tallows Beach

Salento, Colombia

Calle Real, Salento

Calle Real

The bus journey from Pereira to Salento took about 45 minutes with Alcala on some of the best roads in Colombia; the entire road was lined in the middle with beautiful flowers – this is definitely where the Colombian government is sending their infrastructure funds. We were dropped off right in the middle of Salento’s main square, Plaza Bolivar, and found a lovely Dutch-owned hostel just around the corner called ‘Hostel Tralala‘ ($55,000COP). Amazingly hot showers and a hairdryer – haven’t seen one of those in a while! (side note: need to purchase hairdryer…it’s bloody cold here). We ended up staying in Salento for 5 nights – there’s just so much to do. The children run about the place chasing each other in their PJs whilst the men wander about with their wellington boots and machetés in fringed hoists clinging to the sides of their trousers.

Salento’s Main Street is called Calle Real (just to the left of the church) and is flanked by a huge clock. There are a whole pile of tourist shops and restaurants running the length of the street and up at the top there are some steps which lead up to the towns’ sunset lookout point, Alto de la Cruz. We frequented a couple of spots up this street; La Postre was a cute little stop for dessert and if you say please you get your cake a little cheaper! We had pizza at the Italian owned ‘Piccola Italia’ but it wasn’t great to be honest. We had some beers one evening at ‘El Tejadito de Salento Cafe Arte’ and there were a few chaps playing some Colombian tunes – pretty cool. Best people watching spot has to go to a bar on the main square called ‘Donde Mi Apa’ – full of paraletic locals getting their drink on (just next to the Supercocora supermarket). Café Jesus Martin is a lovely spot just off the main square for a coffee/tea and some cake. John bought some more coffee to cart around 🙂 La Eliana is another food spot and although it’s a little trek out of town it has fantastic pizza (yep, another pizza). They had ‘Coffee Appreciation’ classes too although you’d have a job getting me to appreciate coffee I’m afraid…We went to the American-owned ‘Brunch‘ on numerous occasions and I cannot even describe how fabulous their peanut-butter brownies are; and I don’t even like peanut butter! The owner, Geoff Bailey, is a lovely chatty chap with plenty of advice on the area. They have a projector in the back room with something like 2,000 movies so obviously we took advantage one rainy afternoon. The weather is pretty predictable here – perfectly clear in the mornings and then the clouds and rain roll on in for the afternoon. We played the local game of Tejo one evening with some locals in the Los Amigos bar a couple of blocks back from the main plaza. It was a pretty slow game but basically for the price of a beer you get to throw weights at little triangular shaped pieces of paper filled with gunpowder which explode if you hit them. I did not hit one piece of pesky paper. Obviously John bloody got some to explode. He’s not crap at anything.

Salento's church

Salento’s church

Some of Salento's colourful balconies

Some of Salento’s colourful balconies

Always another option in case you get locked out...

Always another option in case you get locked out…

Salento's modes of transportation

Salento’s modes of transportation

Cute shoes I didn't purchase :-(

Cute shoes I didn’t purchase 😦

One morning we decided to do the Valle de Cocora trek to see the famous wax palm trees. We caught one of the WWII Willy Jeeps in the main plaza at 7.30am for the 20 minute or so trip to the valley ($3,200COP per person) – it was wedged so we had to stand/death-grip on the back with the local kids taking their trip to school. We obviously decided to take the route less travelled so instead of going through the recommended little blue gate to see the palms we hiked up the mountain and down around the Valle de Cocora, which took about 5 hours including a trip to the hummingbird sanctuary (essentially somebody’s house with a few trees which draw an insane amount of beautiful hummingbirds). Entrance fee to see the hummingbirds was $5,000COP each and included a drink. Not sure how much of a good idea the mountain was – why are we doing SO much climbing on this trip? It was tough enough but didn’t take too long to ascend – at one point however I did think I saw a unicorn! I think word got around Salento that coming this direction was the thing to do at the moment; I don’t really know why – the best view of the palms is definitely just after the aforementioned little blue gate. We didn’t get to see too much from the top of the mountain as you’re literally up in the clouds but I suppose we’re getting our exercise!

Convinced myself this was a unicorn hallucination from all the darn climbing!

Convinced myself this was a unicorn hallucination from all the darn climbing!

The Valle de Cocora's famous (gigantic) wax palms

The Valle de Cocora’s famous (gigantic) wax palms

So beautiful

So beautiful

At Acaime Hummingbird Sanctuary

At Acaime Hummingbird Sanctuary

Pretty little feckers

Pretty little feckers

Not at all dangerous crossing...

Not at all dangerous crossing…

Nifty looking bridge crossing

Nifty looking bridge crossing

Look how tiny I am!

Look how tiny I am!

One afternoon saw us take the 45 minute stroll out of town to the organic coffee farm, Don Elias (tour costs $6,000COP per person). Here they use pineapple plants, banana trees and a huge old avocado tree to keep the insects at bay (and as natural fertiliser). Pretty small set-up, they dry their beans in a little polytunnel and roast them over a tiny old range in a saucepan at the side of the house/building site. On the walk back (uphill so takes much longer) we popped into a little community called ‘Aldea de Artesanas’. This is supposedly where the local artisans practice their crafts and sell their wares at the Saturday market in the main plaza – there was just one house open when we were there – this chap making tiny little cribs. We stayed around Salento for the weekend too – it’s quite sleepy during the week and a lot of Colombian holidaymakers do pop in for the Saturday market but as it’s off-season at the moment the place wasn’t overwhelmed in the slightest. The market isn’t really anything major though – basically the main square becomes food central – little marquees pop up around the perimeter with a few handicraft stalls thrown in for good measure.

Rustic set up at Don Elias

Rustic set up at Don Elias

You could easily while away a few months in Salento but since we only have a few months full stop we’d to potter on…

Next stop: Popayan.