Way back in January, just before returning to Colombia, I made a non-exhaustive list of the many different places in Colombia I wanted to visit. I also made myself a, for once, reasonable new year's resolution of visiting three new places in Colombia this year.
I'm pleased to say that this is one new year's resolution I've kept (and a few others).
I've been to Capurganá and Sapzurro, Bogotá and Parque Tayrona. I've also got a cheeky trip to San Andrés lined up next week. And hopefully, fingers crossed, hopefully, I'll make it to Chocó to see the migrating humpback whales too.
I have in fact SMASHED that new year's resolution. Although the motivation of more travel was never going to be a hard resolution to keep.
A few weekends back, for one of June's THREE bank holidays (it makes your eyes water to think that the UK has the same amount in a whole year) me and my friend Cata headed to Jardín, a pueblo in Antioquia three and a half hours away from the hustle and bustle of Medellín. It's perfect fodder for a weekend trip.
The best thing to do in the daytime is to grab a cup of amazing, and cheap coffee ($800 COP for a cup of black coffee) at the De Los Andes café which has a balcony overlooking the square. You can people watch to your heart's content there.
At night time, you can grab a bottle of beer, aguardiente or rum and hang out in the park, or you can listen to old-school Colombian classics and reggaeton (so I was in my element) in the cantinas, accompanied with drinks, popcorn and mango biche. You can even gaupe at the fact that people park their horses outside the bars and try your best to avoid getting in their path, when crossing the street.
After a night out, dancing in the cantinas, we got up bright and early to tackle the trek to the Cueva del Esplendor. With neither of us being huge horse fans, we did the trek on foot, which involved us having to climb up at one point. We even dared to dip in the ice-cold water, which after a while, after you felt like your body would go into cardiac arrest, turned out to quite refreshing.
Whilst the Cueva del Esplendor is an impressive sight, with a waterfall flowing into a cave, the best time to admire it in all its glory, probably wasn't one of the busiest public holidays of the year. Still, the walk was worth it, and it worked out all the sins from the night before and then some.
We were in fact so knackered after the walk, that all we managed to do was to walk into town, get some tasty pizza at Café Europa (just a few blocks away from the parque principal) and hop in a tuk-tuk back to our hostel.
We stayed at the Hostal Selva y Café, which was quite a trek out of town. We would have probably gone for somewhere closer to town, had it not been the bank holiday weekend. To get there, it was either a 45 minute walk, or a 10-15 minute tuk-tuk ride which would usually cost around $6000 per trip.
However, the far-location did have a few compensations, being right slap bang in the middle of nature, so you could really take advantage of the city escape. And it was right next to a stream, which we decided to dip in, before heading back to Medellín. The far-out location however, did mean I fell victim to being eaten alive by bugs. Bring all the repellent you can find, if you come to Jardín, make sure you learn from my mistakes.
Aside from my unwanted mosquito souvenirs, I can't believe it has taken me this long to explore more of Antioquia's countryside. I forgot how much I missed seeing greenery and having a whole weekend away from the city did wonders. If you're around in Medellin and want a countryside escape, Jardín has a lot to offer.The best thing is you don't even have to do a lot, you can sit in the main square, have a cup of coffee, maybe even treat yourself to a slice of cake, sit back and enjoy.
Or you can take advantage of the lovely countryside too, but whatever floats your boat.
How to get to Jardín: Get the bus (about $18,000COP) from the terminal del sur. It's around three and a half hours' journey.
Where to Stay in Jardín: We stayed at the Hostal Selva y Café. Dorm beds are $35,000 COP per person, with breakfast included. There's also Hotel La Casona, which is a block away from the main square. It's a red and white building and has twin/double private rooms for $55,000 COP per person, with breakfast included.
Where are your favourite countryside escapes? Have you been to Jardín?