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Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Popayan - Colombia's whitewashed city.

Honestly, we are feeling a bit overdosed on pretty, historic, colonial cities - many of which are whitewashed too. So we didn't take too much interest in Popayan, other than it being a much-appreciated 2-day rest stop after a grueling 14-hour night bus ride from Bogota. And it's warm weather - which was a bit of a surprise, since our Spanish tutors and a taxi driver in Bogota told us that it would be cold in Popayan. It was bluddy hot!

A friendly Belgium couple tried to convince us
to join them on a jeep safari to the Purace National Reserve but we were watching our stash of Colombian Pesos - we had just enough to see us through into Ecuador and there was no Citibank ATM nearby for drawing extra cash. They also told us about some really good hot springs near to town - but we were too lazy to make a rather complicated trip there just to soak in a pool. Instead, we caught up with our movies on DVD - Seven Pounds and Ice Age 3. Such bums we were!

Some quick snaps taken on our stroll through the city centre (yes, the plaza... yet another plaza.) Highlight of the day was the very busy marketplace where I finally found fresh warm
sweet (not salted! I hate salted!) popcorn and downed a whole bagful. I really miss the popcorn combos at the GV and Cathay cinemas!

Some important big white building

Smaller white buildings housing food and services

A beige and grey church (not white!)

Hear ye, hear ye says the white man

We stayed at HostelTrail Popayan (corner of Carrera 11 & Calle 4) for COP 15,000 (US$7.50) a night. It was one of the best hostels that we've been to and highly recommended:
- good location near the plaza

- within walking distance to the bus terminal
- secure (owners do a visual check before unlocking the main door)
- lockers available, some with power points inside for charging laptops and cameras

- spacious rooms

- clean bathrooms

- satisfactory (but not the best) showers
- cleanest kitchen I've ever seen in a hostel
- honest system for drinks
- free WiFi (that reaches the rooms, so you can surf in bed)

- helpful ever-present owners
- kick-ass LCD TV and wide range of movies on DVD (quality varies thou
- useful information on crossing the Colombia-Ecuador border (procedures and tra
nsport fares) provided

Stay here!

The small dining area with staircases leading to rooms on either side

A nice feature of Colombian hostels: air wells and skylights

Unfortunately, due to the ongoing construction of the Pan-American Highway through Popayan, a huge amount of traffic was diverted down the street right in front of the hostel. So it was unbearably noisy throughout the day 24/7, resulting in 2 sleepless nights for us. Drivers in Popayan really love tooting (no, blaring) their modified car horns to all kinds of funky tunes.

View from our room balcony. Photo taken during a rare quiet moment. Which lasted no more than 3 seconds.

In summary:

Popayan: a worthy city to stopover in to break up a long bus ride
- HostelTrail Popayan: best hostel ever. But bring those earplugs!


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