Category: Colombia

Couple Of The Week: Yours Truly

By , May 11, 2011 4:52 pm

I hope we don’t need any introductions. The couple of the week is Boris and MuiMui. While we were interviewing couples for our weekly couple section, we actually got asked to answer a few questions for Holly, who will be starting her travels in a few months. You can read the original interview on her blog.

MeAndFrenchie

Boris And MuiMui

Relationship Status: | Attached to the hip.
How long have you been together? | Over 3 years.
How long have you been traveling? | 13 months.
How long is your total planned trip? | 12 to 18 months.

What attracted you to traveling in the first place and how did it become a reality?
Boris: I grew up in France and have always been attracted to the US. I finally went there for an internship and loved it. Once I graduated, I immediately found a job in San Francisco. I loved the city so much that I was disappointed to have ended up there before seeing more of the world. One year before our world tour, I told MuiMui that I wanted to move abroad and experience life in a different country. She replied that if she had to leave everything, she wanted to see more of the world. We agreed to go on a world tour together.

MuiMui: My desire for travel grew from loving parents who worked all the time and basically from their lack of travel. In college, I snatched every chance I had to travel outside of the US. Then when I joined the corporate world, travel became my yearly escape. When I met my Boris, he would challenge me whenever I would say, “I wish I could …” so here we are, circling the globe.

How is traveling different from taking a two week holiday?
Boris: Traveling has nothing to with going on holiday. First, you always have to look at your budget to make you can make it to the end of your travel and that you don’t have a bad impact on the populations. Second, traveling is, for us, more oriented towards meeting people and learning cultures than just sightseeing. Last, I would say that when you travel you have to give yourself time to rest and reenergize.

MuiMui: The two do not have to be so different but as a typical American, my short and infrequent holidays seem to dictate how I traveled initially, so I would automatically try to maximize my experience by seeing as much as I can and within the western comforts I am use to. It was when I went to Vietnam for the first time on holiday and explored the small villages and did away with my usual comforts that made me realize how much I was missing out on.

How do you organize world travel among the both of you?
Boris: Before entering a new country we will both do 1 or 2 hours of research and then compare our results. Then with the information, we will try to make an itinerary that would allow us to see most of it within our allocated time frame. Once we arrive in a city, we will start looking together for a place to stay and I usually get tired and let MuiMui find the best deal in town.

MuiMui: A world trip is a lot to take in so with some planning, it makes things a little easier for us and more efficient. We split up the work by who wants to do what. Two things we learned not to do is over plan, leave out some of the small details to be explored together, and for each country, it is good if the both of you read up a little about it as you enjoy a place more if you know more about it.

What did you learn about each other?
Boris: She is extremely good at bargaining and finding deals. She can be very cheap and will get extremely upset if she finds out somebody else got a better deal. No matter how hard it is, if she has decided to go somewhere, she will find a way to get there (and without getting ripped off).

MuiMui: I did not necessarily learn something new about Boris, but the small details I looked passed before the trip were more apparent during the trip. For example, I know he is a nice guy, but I found at times he was being too nice and polite to a stranger in a situation that I did not feel comfortable being in.

Would you do it again? What would you change?
Boris: Yes but after a little break. I would do more research beforehand and visit fewer countries. I would also try to dedicate more time for personal activities like photography walks with locals, cooking lessons, or Spanish classes.

MuiMui: Yes! I feel like this past year was just a taste of more to come. I have more ideas for future trips such as becoming fluent in another language and staying longer in one place.

Any scary stories or low points?!
Boris: Nothing really scary as we never got robbed but if I have to choose a low point, it would be our experience in Indonesia on the road to Mount Bromo: A driver tried to rip us off and then a group of youngsters on motorbikes “saved” us, which was all an organized scam. We were in the middle on nowhere with no other tourists or public transportation around. It took us 3 hours to get out of there.

MuiMui: When we arrived in Arequipa and was looking around for a hotel, we met a female traveler who just experienced an attempted taxi kidnapping the evening before. She was still trembling and emotional and that woke me up how we always have to be careful in any country and as much as we are, shit still happens when there are bad people.

What was your most recurrent disagreement?
Boris: First money, second transportation.

MuiMui: We had one big recurring disagreement which was about when/how to book transportation. We both liked different styles and in the beginning, I would throw tantrums, not knowing I was, when I couldn’t get him to agree with me.

What are your top three tips for anyone thinking about traveling?
Both:
1: Go.
2: Meet as many people as you can.
3: Be open-minded and never reject something because it is different from what you are used to.
4: Always be aware of your surroundings.

Do you have any tips for traveling with your partner?
Boris: One laptop each or no laptop at all. Find some activities that you can do alone (photography, diving, etc). Even if it is easier to stay in your room, try to go out and engage with other people as much as you can; the experience you share is invaluable and not written in any guidebook.

MuiMui: Traveling to new places is both fun and stressful. Doing it with someone else can be even more challenging so work together instead of trying to be right all the time. There is no right or wrong when it comes to saving $0.50. Be more open minded while being safe and meet fellow travelers.

Any do’s and don’ts?
Both:
DO follow your instincts and change your plans.
DO NOT leave your stuff unattended even for a second. When riding on trains or buses, make sure your things are attached to you at all times. It just takes one second of snoozing for your things to be stolen.
DO learn the local language or at least use basic phrases or words.
DO NOT dress up like you would at home when visiting India. Not only will you shock the people, you may encounter constant harassment.
DO try local cuisine away from tourist areas if possible.

Is your traveling experience any different to how you imagined it would be?
Both: Traveling is more tiring than what we thought. It felt like a full time job at times. People are very different from one country to the other. Usually, the less money they have, the more giving they are and the more interested they are to meet you.

What was your favorite country you visited? Why?
Boris: Hard to say but I have 3 places that stand out:
Thailand because we had a marvelous time there. We met extremely nice people and no matter what kind of experience you are looking for (beach, history, culture, food, city, trekking, mountains, villages, etc), Thailand has it all!
Colombia because we went there with some apprehensions and no positive expectations, but the kindness of the people blew us away. Trust me, Colombia is one of the safest countries we’ve been to and you will love both the landscapes and the people.
Galapagos because it is 100% unique. Everyday we would wake up seeing something that you can only see on TV: Giant Turtles, Endemic birds, penguins, iguanas, and etc. Plus walking on islands made of fresh lava (only a few hundred years old) is quite something.

MuiMui: It’s so difficult to pick a favorite as there is something great (and bad) about each country we went to. I think the country that wins for overall ease of travel, variety of things to see and eat, pleasantness of the people and culture, something for everyone, is Thailand. But I will never forget about how wonderful the people in Colombia were, or how out of this world the animals were in the Galapagos, or the penguins hopping onto the beaches of New Zealand, or the colors and sites of India, and … the gastronomy culture and way of life in the south of France.

Finally what’s the best thing about traveling?
Both: We always think that the best thing is to see beautiful and famous places. After coming back, I don’t think that is true anymore. Learning is the best thing that happens when you travel. Meeting people from different cultures will open your eyes on the world and your own life. This is, in our opinion, an invaluable experience.

Adios Colombia!

By , November 5, 2010 5:00 am
We LOVE Colombia

We LOVE Colombia

After three very great weeks in Colombia, it’s time to say goodbye and cross the border over to Ecuador. During our entire stay, we felt very safe and had zero issues. Many travelers we met along the way, also felt the same. The kindness the locals showed to us really went a long way. I wish we could spend more time here but I’m sure we will be back for a future visit. We highly recommend Colombia and warnings about Colombia should be kept in mind, but should not discourage you from visiting this wonderful and friendly country.

Tips:
– Have basic common sense when in a new country.
– We played it safe and only took transportation during the day. A few travelers we met took night buses and said it was fine.
– If an area is declared unsafe, it’s best not to go since there are still guerilla-dominated areas.
– We didn’t bargain much since we didn’t know we could, but once we learned, it was very easy, especially with transportation and hotels.

Colombia: The White City Of Popayán

By , November 4, 2010 5:00 am
Beautiful Sky In Popayan

Beautiful Sky In Popayan

Before we crossed over to Ecuador, we made a stop in the town of Popayán. The white city walls, colonial architecture, and gastronomy draw made Popayán a great last stop in Colombia.

Street View Of Popayán

Street View Of Popayán

We took the long route to the top of El Morro de Tulcan (an Indian pyramid). We didn’t see the stairs so we climbed up and it was not a good idea to do it with sandals. Luckily, we made it to the top and it was a great view of downtown. The spot was also a popular location for young couples that were not shy about public affection.

Sunset From The Top Of El Morro De Tulcan

Sunset From The Top Of El Morro De Tulcan

It got dark very fast and the evening sunset colors exaggerated the white walls. There were lots of students hanging in the streets. While we were standing in Parque de Caldas, admiring the Clock Tower, it started to pour. We quickly headed to a nearby restaurant that looked nice. It was a romantic dinner among candlelight and the food was very tasty. While it would have been nice to celebrate with my family and friends, I still had a great birthday.

Happy Birthday MuiMui!

Happy Birthday MuiMui!

Creamy Trout

Creamy Trout

Thank you Boris!

Santo Domingo Church

Santo Domingo Church

Catedral Basílica Nuestra Señora De La Asunción

Catedral Basílica Nuestra Señora De La Asunción

Me & Frenchie

Me & Frenchie

What We Paid: Colombian
Pesos
1800
USD eRate
2500
Euro eRate
– Bus from Cali To Popayán: 4 hours 8,000 4.44 3.20
– Private Double Room at Los Portales Hotel:
private bathroom, hot water, wifi, friendly staff, clean and nice rooms
40,000 22.22 16
– Breakfast 5,000 2.78 2
– Lunch 6,500 3.61 2.60
– Dinner 20,500 11.39 8.20

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

Colombia: Cali, The Salsa Capital

By , November 3, 2010 5:00 am
Reflection Of San Francisco Church

Reflection Of San Francisco Church

When we arrived in the San Antonio area of Cali, it instantly reminded us of home. It was very hilly but the views paid off. It especially looks like parts of Potrero Hill, San Francisco. We tried to look for Shotwell Street but we couldn’t find it. :(

San Antonio Neighborhood

San Antonio Neighborhood

We were lucky to be there for the Salsa Festival but since we were only there during the week, we didn’t get to see any live performances, but we were able to attend a class. After seeing the graceful moves by most of the people there, Boris and I got shy about revealing our two left feet.

When we arrived at San Francisco Square, there were tons of pigeons flying around in circles. While we were standing by the church and enjoying the scenery, out of nowhere, a pigeon flew into a nearby sign. A taxi man standing by the pigeon looked up at the sign and then the bird and laughed. He tried to save it by pouring some water on it, probably a little too much water, but it didn’t look like the pigeon made it.

Pigeons Flying Around The Plaza

Pigeons Flying Around The Plaza

A Pigeon Flew Into A Sign

A Pigeon Flew Into A Sign

In Cali, there are lots of fusion restaurants to try. One restaurant put a little chocolate in everything. The Japanese and Colombian fusion, we thought, was more Colombian. However, we found food in Cali to be good overall.

Japanese-Colombian Food

Japanese-Colombian Food

Tim Burton Like Art Gallery

Tim Burton Like Art Gallery

San Francisco Church

San Francisco Church

Inside San Francisco Church

Inside San Francisco Church

Boris Chilling In A Hammock At Casa Café

Boris Chilling In A Hammock At Casa Café

What We Paid: Colombian
Pesos
1800
USD eRate
2500
Euro eRate
– Bus from Salento to Cali: 4 hours 15,000 8.33 6
– Private Double Room at Casa Café:
shared bathroom, cold showers only, wifi, We LOVE the owner (Paula) who is super sweet and friendly, clean rooms, didn’t care for the flying bugs, great location
30,000 16.67 12
– Breakfast 3,750 2.08 1.50
– Lunch 7,500 4.17 3
– Dinner 9,000 5 3.60
– Local Bus 1,500 0.83 0.60

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

Colombia: Pure Deliciousness By Chef Joseph

By , November 2, 2010 5:00 am
Wild Trout SUSHI With Banana!

Wild Trout SUSHI With Banana!

If you ever make your way to Salento, Colombia, don’t miss out on the 9-course meal prepared by Chef Joseph at La Serrana. Joseph was a former assistant of, not one but two, 3-star Michelin restaurants!

Chef Joseph Making Sure Everything Is Perfect

Chef Joseph Making Sure Everything Is Perfect

In each of his dishes, he adds a local element, like papaya fruit, that does not seem like it would complement the dish at first, but it actually got us wanting more.

Sweet SUSHI RICE With Papaya And Mango

Sweet SUSHI RICE With Papaya And Mango

If you know us, you know we can’t resist great food and not at a price of 14,000 Colombian Pesos (7.60 US$) for a complete menu. The dinner takes place about 1 km outside of Salento at La Serrana, an eco farm and hostel.

Strawberry Dessert

Strawberry Dessert

Of course we couldn’t eat without thinking about Demi-Pêche (San Francisco) when having these creative dishes. Thank you to the Chef Joseph for all this deliciousness. You can checkout his website for more pictures and info about his food. We are happy to see our pictures made it to his site: http://republicadeartistas.blogspot.com

Happy Birthday Elli!

Happy Birthday Elli!

Wild Guayana From The Local Farm With Passion Fruit Caramel

Wild Guayana From The Local Farm With Passion Fruit Caramel

Papaya, Peppers and Carrots Stewed Sticks With Guacamole Icecream

Papaya, Peppers and Carrots Stewed Sticks With Guacamole Icecream

Organic Tomatoes Stuffed With Cucumber and Farm Feta Cheese Topped With Strawberries Thick Vinaigrette

Organic Tomatoes Stuffed With Cucumber and Farm Feta Cheese Topped With Strawberries Thick Vinaigrette

Norton Argentinian Cabernet

Norton Argentinian Cabernet

MuiMui & Her New Friends After Catching Fireflies

MuiMui & Her New Friends After Catching Fireflies

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

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