Last year when we visited Medellin we managed to do a few trips out of the city to Jardin and Mariquita in Tolima. This year we have managed just the one so far, not because we didn’t want to do a bit more sight-seeing but Moni has been so busy of late with the launch of some new programs and coaching sessions time is limited.
Having said that, I’m happy to tell you that I’ve just booked a 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise on the newest cruise ship in the world the Norwegian Escape. Even though she is the newest cruise ship in the world at time of writing, this will be our second cruise on her in four months and our Review of the Norwegian Escape is worth a read for cruiseaholics.
Anyway, back to our…
Day trip to Ciudad Bolívar
Ciudad Bolivar is in the Southwest municipality of Antioquia, a 3 half hour bus journey from Medellin.
There are two bus terminals in Medellin, this one in the south of the city and the other in the north which you would need if you wanted to take a bus trip to visit the popular destination of Guatape and the El Penol rock.
The Terminal del Sur the south bus terminal is a big station with over 40 ticket booths, which can make finding the right one a challenge, just ask someone if you’re stuck, the people are very friendly and will be pleased to help.
Our ticket counter was number 31 and we purchased three tickets, our good friend Enrique from the very popular restaurant El Supremo in Envigado joined us for this day trip.
Tickets cost 20,000.00 COP $8.60 AUD each way
One thing to remember here is that once you buy your ticket you’ll then need to pass through a checkpoint a bit like going to your gate at an airport, be sure to visit the loo before entering this area as there are none in this waiting area.
There are toilets located around the station and down near ticket counter number 1, these loo’s cost some small change but are clean and safe.
Rapido Ochoa bus service to Ciudad Bolivar
The buses which line up outside do have names and numbers on that should corispond with your ticket, just check with the driver to confirm. Really though, they won’t let you on without a valid ticket, but I’d hate for you to be waiting for a bus in the wrong spot.
Your ticket allocates you a seat number so no need to rush to get on.
Our seats were at the very back of the reasonably new bus. Even though the bus was full it didn’t stop the driver from picking up a few more passengers along the way whom sat on the floor or stood for the entire three hours, and yes they had to pay a fare.
The bus ride was great. Moni & I love to travel by bus or coach and each time we do we always remind ourselves of the backpacking days of traveling around Australia by Greyhound bus all those years ago.
After a couple of stops along the way we arrived in Ciudad Bolívar, basically it was a direct bus to Ciudad Bolivar and then continuing on to Quibdo.
The bus stops along the main road in town near to the Rapido Ochoa bus terminal. It’s not much of a terminal really and is tucked in off of the main road, be sure to find it because this is where you’ll need to catch the bus back to Medellin.
By the way, this bus did have a toilet onboard, but not all do as was the case on our return bus to Medellin.
Arriving in Ciudad Bolivar
Walking up a side street (which if I remember correct is the first on the left from the bus station) you’ll come to the main square which on this day was packed with people. Everything runs off this main square in the town, it’s the hub of Ciudad Bolivar with cafés, restaurants, shops, bars etc all around and the square itself full of people and small street vendors.
The atmosphere was buzzing, each bar playing its typical Colombian music louder than the next, locals sat drinking beers, rum and cafe. The music fills the square and the close side streets, combine this with the roar of scooters racing by and you have the sounds of a busy Ciudad Bolivar.
The main square in Ciudad Bolivar
The town was 99.9% locals which left .1% tourists maybe it was just us!! Anyway, being a beautiful warm Sunday the Ranchero’s were out and about. They are not hard to miss with the white Panama style hat, light shirt, jeans and satchel.
The main square was by far the busiest area of the town today and as Colombia is a very religious country the church on the edge of the square was over flowing with people during the morning service.
Later in the afternoon we managed to pop into the church when it was (nearly) empty.
The quickest and easiest way to get around most towns in Colombia would have to be by scooter or motorbike so it’s no wonder that the streets are often lined with them. I’ll have to inquire about getting a license if we keep returning.
One of the fascinating things that we did see on our visit to Ciudad Bolivar was the transport service (servicio publico).
A line of parked Jeeps or Landrovers in the shade waiting for their loads to transport people to various destinations.
There is nothing strange about the vehicles, but what amazes me is how they manage to get from A to B with their load all intact, knowing that some of the roads can be very rough indeed.
We enjoyed a beverage at one of the bars in the square before beginning our walk up the hill to the statue of Christ and the views over the town.
The views at the top of the hill in town
The street leading off from the main square takes you up to a gate which then leads up the path to the top of the hill.
This is the view back towards the town square and the church showing the road that you need to walk along to get here.
The views over the town are great and the short walk up to the top is definitely worth it. When at the top you can actually see the other side as well with coffee plantations on the mountain sides.
Ciudad Bolivar is like many of the other small towns in Antioquia it’s situated between the mountains on a flat plain.
By the time we came down we were more than ready for some lunch. One of the really awesome things that I love about Colombia is that there are lots of places to eat wherever you are and Ciudad Bolivar is no different so you won’t go hungry. We found a small restaurant on the colourful side street that runs between the square and the road the bus came in on.
This place was so busy we had to wait for a table, (often a good sign). Indeed it was a good choice and I enjoyed a meal of chicken chips and salad while Moni had a vegetarian variation and Enrique the menu del dia, soup followed by the usual meat beans etc.
Like I mentioned, this was a day trip from Medellin to Ciudad Bolivar however if you wanted to make it a two-day trip and sleep over, then the Hotel Los Vitales is right on the corner of the main square and was recommended to us by some locals. The entrance is a bit further along the road away from the square.
The Toyota Landcruiser BJ40 series lives on here in Colombia.
We often see the iconic 4×4 around the towns in Medellin and here was one today, all nicely finished. It’s a good climate for them in Antioquia being dry and free from salty sea air.
Ciudad Bolivar was very clean and tidy with hardly any rubbish lying around.
I had to put this photo into this post because to me this what life is about, slowing things down and enjoying life… I love how the old style traditions still continue and that the people are so happy.
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