Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Villa de Leyva

monastery in Villa de Leyva
From Tunja we took another bus to Villa de Leyva, which definitely is a tourist town.  It is regarded to have the best colonial town square in Colombia.  We arrived just as it was starting to drizzle with rain and having got a little lost on the way, arrived at our hostel moments before the drizzle turned to a torrential downpour.  When we arrived at our hostel there was a nice, slightly sunken courtyard garden; after the rain there was a courtyard pond.

Villa de Leyva

The hostel itself was excellent, in a good location and great value.  It was run by a guy who is Colombian but spent much of his life in the UK, and only returned here with his English wife and two kids a few years back.   Whilst the rain was pouring we spent some time talking with him about Colombia and its people.
But when the rain finally stopped it was time to go get some food and explore the town. We found a tiny little place, run by a young woman recently arrived from Bogota where we had some delicious and beautifully presented pancakes, and then set off to see the town.

Villa de Leyva

Villa de Leyva is a lovely place.  They have not allowed any new building in the old part for some time and so have preserved the look and feel of the place as an old colonial town.  The main square is huge and all old cobble stones with colonial buildings on all sides.  Whilst many of the buildings are now restaurants and bars, you still a get a good feel for old time Villa de Leyva.  And the surrounding streets are very much the same.
Villa de Leyva

We ambled around the streets, checking out the shops and places to eat.  For a place that is very much a tourist location, we were very pleasantly surprised at how tasteful the souvenir places were.  We had expected that there may be lots of shops selling a lot of tourist tat, but in fact, whilst there were a lot of shops, the stuff that they sold was generally rather nice.

shops Villa de Leyva style

I had to resist buying a number of very nice shawls etc and only gave in to one bracelet of all the fabulous jewellery.  I did find some great little pictures though and managed to persuade Nic that we should have a set of three to take home with us.  Somehow having pictures of the three of the different drinks that we have been consuming in Colombia seems rather apt.  And they are easy to carry which is always an essential consideration.

Villa de Leyva
Our amblings over the couple of days we were here took us past a very pretty monastery and some churches, but again many were closed when we were there.  Keeping a careful watch on the color of the sky, we decided not to climb up the hillside, as there was a very good chance we would get caught in another rainstorm.  As we sat in the square for lunch, we spotted a group of about ten people who looked like they had got caught in the rain In a very muddy place.  They were covered in mud as if they had been scrambling up a hillside or just simply falling flat on their faces in a mud bath. After they had passed through the square we spotted another group that were even muddier.  As we watched, we realised they all had a coloured ribbon on and were searching for something and asking the locals questions.  So we concluded that both groups had been competing teams in some kind of treasure hunt or similar. This team finally found what they were looking for and then persuaded a guy with a pick up truck to let them all all climb in the back for a lift to their next destination.  Not sure if that was allowed in the rules, but seemed like a good idea to me.

fossils on building in Villa de Leyva

We met a fellow british traveller in a german bar that we decided to try out as it was a popular place to watch life in the square.  He was traveling for six months of the year and working for the rest, so we swapped a few stories and recommendations before going our separate ways.

There are a number of things that you can do in the area around Villa de Leyva, but it is a beautiful place to sit and relax too, and that is what we did for the couple of days we were there. Had we not had onward flights booked we might have decided to stay here longer too.


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