Costa Rica, December 26-31, 2021

Posted: November 17th, 2022 | Filed under: Out Of Town

Basically got a good last-minute package deal to Guanacaste, Costa Rica between Christmas and New Year’s. Easy flight down direct to the airport in Liberia and fun mix of warm beach/relaxation and cool stuff to see. The country’s motto is “pura vida,” “pure life,” a sort of an optimistic affirmation (that apparently comes from a 1950s Mexican film featuring an unflappable happy-go-lucky protagonist) and the warm, dry desert-y vibe of Guanacaste certainly feels that way:
La Gran Nicoya Artisanal Touristic Center, Guardia, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, December 30, 2021

La Gran Nicoya Artisanal Touristic Center, Guardia, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, December 30, 2021

December 27, 2021
Beachside pool (access via the residence club we spent the week at) at Coco Beach in Playas del Coco, a lovely spot:

Coco Beach, Playas del Coco, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, December 27, 2021

Coco Beach, Playas del Coco, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, December 27, 2021

Coco Beach, Playas del Coco, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, December 27, 2021

December 28, 2021
Hacienda El Viejo combination cultural tasting (sugar cane products and tortillas, etc.) and boat tour along the Tempisque River, where you see monkeys, birds and crocodiles:

Sugar Cane, Hacienda El Viejo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, December 28, 2021

Tempisque River, Hacienda El Viejo National Wildlife Refuge, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, December 28, 2021

Capuchin Monkey, Tempisque River, Hacienda El Viejo National Wildlife Refuge, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, December 28, 2021

Crocodile, Tempisque River, Hacienda El Viejo National Wildlife Refuge, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, December 28, 2021

December 29, 2021
The charming Llanos del Cortés Waterfall:

Llanos del Cortés, Bagaces, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, December 29, 2011

Llanos del Cortés, Bagaces, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, December 29, 2011

Looking at their official Facebook page, it seems that you can’t always swim there if there’s too much rain but we were there on a nice day.

December 30, 2021
Just over the border Alajuela Province in the rain forest region near the Volcán Tenorio is Spring Paradise Bijagua, a private reserve where you can see sloths up in the trees:

Spring Paradise Bijagua, Bijagua, Costa Rica, December 30, 2021

Spring Paradise Bijagua, Bijagua, Costa Rica, December 30, 2021

Sleeping Sloth, Spring Paradise Bijagua, Bijagua, Costa Rica, December 30, 2021

Costa Rica is known for its birding and there are lots of birds to see around the country, including at Spring Paradise Bijagua:

Spring Paradise Bijagua, Bijagua, Costa Rica, December 30, 2021

This overpass in Liberia is part of the Pan-American Highway, which we drove back and forth on:

Ruta Nacional #1 and Carretera Hacia Nicoya, Liberia, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, December 30, 2021

We didn’t eat out a lot in Costa Rica but did have a nice seafood meal at Restaurante Mar Azul in Coco:

Restaurante Mar Azul, Playas del Coco, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, December 30, 2021

Colombia, July 2-21, 2022

Posted: November 1st, 2022 | Filed under: Out Of Town

Our three weeks in Colombia were amazing: stunning natural beauty, great food and so much deep and profound history to learn about — both recent and past.

Bogotá, July 2-4, 2022
July 2, 2022
Landed late so took it easy on our first day and went for a delicious late breakfast at La Puerta Falsa — our introduction to ajiaco soup and Colombian-style tamales, not to mention the oddly satisfying “Chocolate Completo,” which comes with a hunk of cheese you can dip in your beverage (!):

Ajiaco Santafereño, La Puerta Falsa, Bogotá, Colombia, July 2, 2022

Chocolate Completo, La Puerta Falsa, Bogotá, Colombia, July 2, 2022

We then journeyed from Plaza de Bolívar to Estación de la Sabana to buy tickets for the Turistren to Zipaquirá, after which we visited to the Plaza de Mercado Paloquemao market where you can purchase exotic (at least to us!) Colombian fruit:

Plaza de Mercado Paloquemao, Bogotá, Colombia, July 2, 2022

Dinner: Salvo Patria.

July 3, 2022

Took the Turistren to Zipaquirá where the main attraction is the wonderful and inspired Catedral de Sal, or Salt Cathedral:

Catedral de Sal/Salt Cathedral, Zipaquirá, Colombia, July 3, 2022

Catedral de Sal/Salt Cathedral, Zipaquirá, Colombia, July 3, 2022

Catedral de Sal/Salt Cathedral, Zipaquirá, Colombia, July 3, 2022

July 4, 2022
Visited the Cementerio Central de Bogotá:

Cementerio Central de Bogotá, Bogotá, Colombia, July 4, 2022

. . . after which we happened upon the Centro de Memoria, Paz y Reconciliación and neighboring Parque El Renacimiento. Centro de Memoria was closed for the holiday, unfortunately, but we did get to see the outdoor columbarios, structures meant to hold funerary urns, in this case memorializing all the dead during the years of civil unrest and drug wars:

Centro de Memoria, Paz y Reconciliación, Bogotá, Colombia, July 4, 2022

Parque El Renacimiento, Bogotá, Colombia, July 4, 2022

Cartagena, July 5-9, 2022
July 5, 2022
In Cartagena, we experienced 90-degree heat and 78-degree dew points and quickly learned why people seem to stay inside during the day! On our first day, we walked around Old Town, then had lunch at La Cevichería:

Old Town, Cartagena, Colombia, July 5, 2022

Ceviche, La Cevichería, Cartagena, Colombia, July 5, 2022

It was so insanely hot we retreated back our hotel in adorable Getsemaní to spend the rest of the afternoon in the pool:

Getsemaní, Cartagena, Colombia, July 7, 2022

That evening after the heat broke we enjoyed the La Fantástica Pirate Ship Sunset Tour (with all-you-can-drink pirate punch):

La Fantástica Pirate Ship Sunset Tour, Cartagena, Colombia, July 5, 2022

Coming back to Getsemaní we saw how lively the neighborhood gets at night, especially around Plaza de la Trinidad:

Plaza de la Trinidad, Getsemaní, Cartagena, Colombia, July 5, 2022

July 6, 2022
All-day catamaran excursion to the Rosario Islands:

Bona Vida Catamaran Rosario Islands Excursion, Cartagena, Colombia, July 6, 2022

July 7, 2022
Braved the heat to see the view from the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas:

Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, Cartagena, Colombia, July 7, 2022

After that we got back in the pool, then did a wonderful cooking class through Foodies where we learned how to make arepas de huevos and a couple of other dishes typical of the region . . .

July 8, 2022
A stroll through Parque del Centenario, where, no kidding, there are monkeys and sloths:

Sloth, Parque del Centenario, Cartagena, Colombia, July 8, 2022

Dinner: Restaurante Coroncoro.

July 9, 2022
Final day, where we stayed cool at a movie theater in Bocagrande and went back into Old Town to take in the (surprisingly!) interesting/engaging Museo Naval del Caribe:

Museo Naval del Caribe, Cartagena, Colombia, July 9, 2022

Medellín, July 10-13, 2022
July 10, 2022
The beautiful Jardín Botánico followed by a fun soccer match between hometown club Atlético Nacional and their Primera A rival Cortuluá at Estadio Atanasio Girardot:

Jardín Botánico, Medellín, Colombia, July 10, 2022

Atlético Nacional vs. Cortuluá, Estadio Atanasio Girardot, Medellín, Colombia, July 10, 2022

July 11, 2022
Plaza Botero and a ride on Metrocable Línea P:

Plaza Botero, Medellín, Colombia, July 11, 2022

Metrocable Línea P, Medellín, Colombia, July 11, 2022

Dinner: Mondongo’s El Poblado.

July 12, 2022
The very informative/highly recommended Comuna 13 tour guides you through the formerly troubled and violent epicenter of Colombia’s civil and drug wars. It focuses on the neighborhood’s renaissance and rich graffiti culture:
Comuna 13 Tour, Medellín, Colombia, July 12, 2022

Comuna 13 Tour, Medellín, Colombia, July 12, 2022

Dinner: La Matriarca.

July 13, 2022
Placita de Flórez market and Museo Casa de la Memoria:

Museo Casa de la Memoria, Calle 51 #36–66, Medellín, Colombia, July 13, 2022

Then some of us went to a science museum and others took the Metrocable Línea K and Metrocable Línea L to Parque Arví in the mountains above the city:

Parque Arví, Medellín, Colombia, July 13, 2022

Salento, July 14-17, 2022
July 14, 2022
After flying into Pereira and taking a car service to Salento, we walked around the hilltop town’s cute streets and lovely town square with its church that has actual bells that someone has to ring:

Salento, Colombia, July 14, 2022

Also, learned how tejo works at Cancha De Tejo Los Amigos.

Dinner: Donde Laurita where we tried “trucha,” the local trout fish dish and Quindú Restaurante.

July 15, 2022
Enjoyed the incredibly informative, very thorough and highly recommended Finca Don Eduardo Tour, where the English proprietor generously shares his time, knowledge and expertise he has gleaned from his experience nursing a 100-plus-year-old coffee farm back into production. Again, highly recommended and perhaps even worth visiting Salento for (details here):

Finca Don Eduardo Coffee Tour, Salento, Colombia, July 15, 2022

Finca Don Eduardo Coffee Tour, Salento, Colombia, July 15, 2022

After, we took in the views from the town’s two miradors — Mirador Alto de la Cruz and Mirador de Salento that look over the town and out toward the Cocoro Valley:

View Of Salento From Mirador Alto de la Cruz, Salento, Colombia, July 15, 2022

Steps Leading Down From Mirador Alto de la Cruz, Salento, Colombia, July 15, 2022

View From Mirador de Salento, Salento, Colombia, July 15, 2022

July 16, 2022
Spent most of the day at the Seussically Instagrammable Valle de Cocora/Cocora Valley, which is accessible from Salento via jeeps that are called “Willies”:

Valle de Cocora/Cocora Valley, Quindío, Colombia, July 16, 2022

Valle de Cocora/Cocora Valley, Quindío, Colombia, July 16, 2022

And more trucha for dinner at Restaurante Bar Shalem:

Trucha/Trout, Restaurante Bar Shalem, Salento, Colombia, July 16, 2022

Pereira, July 17-18, 2022
July 17, 2022
We had one last coffee in Salento at Café Jesús Martín before our drive to Pereira, where we walked around a bit in the neighborhood near Plaza de Bolívar and the hotel before enjoying the Circo Vegas Fantasy at Coliseo Mayor Rafael Cuartas Gaviria:

Circo Vegas Fantasy, Coliseo Mayor Rafael Cuartas Gaviria, Pereira, Colombia, July 17, 2022

Bogotá, July 18-21, 2022
July 18, 2022
Back to Bogotá . . .

July 19, 2022
The Museo del Oro tells the story of gold in Colombia and is as fascinating as it is visually appealing:

Museo del Oro, Bogotá, Colombia, July 19, 2022

Museo del Oro, Bogotá, Colombia, July 19, 2022

July 20, 2022
The view from Monserrate, high above the city:

Monserrate, Bogotá, Colombia, July 20, 2022

View From Monserrate, Bogotá, Colombia, July 20, 2022

And the wild and wonderful Andrés Carne de Res:

Andrés Carne de Res, Chía, Colombia, July 20, 2022

July 21, 2022
Our final day in Colombia, another fun cooking class and dinner at Mini-Mal before getting on the plane to return home:

Mini-Mal, Calle 9 #13A-07, Bogotá, Colombia, July 21, 2022

Running in Mexico City

Posted: September 7th, 2021 | Filed under: Out Of Town

It took a bit of research and exploring to find good places to run while we were in Mexico City. There are a couple obvious spots — people run along Paseo de la Reforma, through Bosque de Chapultepec and along Avenida Ámsterdam for example — but I also found a couple of routes that took advantage of the pleasant pedestrian malls along the center of streets in Roma and the pedestrian-only streets in Centro Histórico.

Running first thing in the morning is pretty manageable. Keep in mind that the sun basically rises in the 7 o’clock hour in Mexico City — earlier or later depending on the season and daylight saving time (in August while we were there it rose between 7:10 and 7:20 or so) — so you can’t go out too early. That said, it sort of seemed like things didn’t really start to get busy until closer to 9, so there were good opportunities to run along the sidewalks relatively unimpeded — the routes below took advantage of this: while I generally tried to follow car-free paths, it was necessary to go on regular streets at some point, but early in the morning it wasn’t ever too crowded.

We stayed by the Cuauhtémoc metro station, on the very edge of Juárez, which afforded great access to Roma to the south, the Centro Histórico to the east and Paseo de la Reforma and Bosque de Chapultepec to the north and west. All of these runs start from around Cuauhtémoc — Avenida Bucareli and the quiet streets leading to Paseo de la Reforma were fine to use in the morning (or any time of day, to be honest).

With the exception of Alameda Central and Avenida Francisco I. Madero, most of the paths tended to have uneven spots — definitely keep your eyes open — but it wasn’t too bad overall (definitely not a dealbreaker).

Avenida Álvaro Obregón and Avenida Ámsterdam
There are several pedestrian malls in the center of the avenues in Roma, and Avenida Álvaro Obregón is one of them. Running down the center is lovely:

Avenida Álvaro Obregón, Colonia Roma, Mexico City/Ciudad de México, Mexico, August 26, 2021

A little past Avenida Insurgentes, make a left onto Calle Cacahuamilpa which connects to the horsetrack-shaped Avenida Ámsterdam, which follows an oval around Colonia Hipódromo. The median around Avenida Ámsterdam is narrow, but morning is a nice time to run through there. On the way back I was able to bypass the pedestrian traffic along Avenida Cuauhtémoc by using the quiet Morelia up to Avenida Chapultepec — a good option with a traffic light at the end. This whole route was 4.3 miles.

Running in Mexico City: Avenida Álvaro Obregón and Avenida Ámsterdam

Roma Pedestrian Malls: Calle de Durango, Avenida Mazatlan, Alfonso Reyes, Avenida Nuevo León, Avenida Álvaro Obregón
This route follows the pedestrian malls around Roma and Condesa: Calle de Durango is a quiet street until you get to Plaza Villa de Madrid, after which it has a pedestrian mall in the center of the street. At the end of Durango, the path turns toward the southwest, where Avenida Mazatlan begins. About a block before the end of Mazatlan, turn left (east) onto Alfonso Reyes. Follow Alfonso Reyes until you reach Avenida Nuevo León, then turn left (north) and follow Avenida Nuevo León to Parque España, which puts you about a block away from Avenida Álvaro Obregón. Great route: about 5 miles from our spot near Cuauhtémoc metro station.

Running in Mexico City: Calle de Durango, Avenida Mazatlan, Alfonso Reyes, Avenida Nuevo León, Avenida Álvaro Obregón

Running in Mexico City: Calle de Durango, Avenida Mazatlan, Alfonso Reyes, Avenida Nuevo León, Avenida Álvaro Obregón

Paseo de la Reforma and Bosque de Chapultepec
Modeled after European boulevards like the Champs-Élysées, Paseo de la Reforma features two wide pedestrian malls on either side of the street that are great for running. The paths, situated between the main road and a service road, are uninterrupted between major roundabouts. Paseo de la Reforma is great any morning, but particularly Sundays, when the street is closed to vehicular traffic and you can run on the roadway itself.

Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City/Ciudad de México, Mexico, August 15, 2021

Paseo de la Reforma runs right into the massive Bosque de Chapultepec, which has a nearly two-mile circular route that goes through the first section of the park. The part with the vendors gets crowded later in the day, but the morning is a great time to run through there.

Avenida H. Colegio Militar, Bosque de Chapultepec, Mexico City/Ciudad de México, Mexico, August 12, 2021

This route is six miles, but I also took the subway to Chapultepec station one morning, ran around the park and back via Paseo de la Reforma, which was 4.2 miles.

Running in Mexico City: Paseo de la Reforma and Bosque de Chapultepec

Centro Histórico
I innocently thought it would be wonderful to run through the Zócalo in Mexico City’s historic center, but the Zócalo was blocked by the police every morning I ever went down that way. Not sure if this was protest season or whether it’s a normal thing, but there were still nice spots to run in the Centro Histórico.

North from Avenida Chapultepec via Avenida Bucareli, you make a right onto the wide sidewalks at Avenida Juárez where it meets the Paseo de la Reforma. In a few blocks you will pass Alameda Central, which is a nice place to run (with perfectly smooth sidewalks), but just past there at Torre Latinoamericana is the Avenida Francisco I. Madero pedestrian mall. That in itself is a great place to run, though you will have to stop at the cross streets:

Avenida Francisco I. Madero, Centro Histórico, Mexico City/Ciudad de México, Mexico, August 16, 2021

If the Zócalo is impassable, just turn left onto the last possible street, then run up to the next open street and make a right (east) — for me, it was Donceles, which becomes Justo Sierra — these are the streets immediately to the north of the Zócalo and Templo Mayor and are quiet in the morning. A few blocks past Templo Mayor is Leona Vicario — turn right (south), and in a block it becomes a pedestrian-only street. On maps, this path is called De La Santisima, then Alhóndiga, then finally Talavera. Toward the end of Talavera you reach Plaza de Juan José Baz: make a right (west) onto Calle Regina. Calle Regina is a regular street for a while until it becomes pedestrian only at Avenida 20 de Noviembre.

At the end of Calle Regina, you have a choice to turn left (south) or right (north). The first time I went down I turned left and ran into José Marí­a Izazaga and the Salto del Agua metro station, which was too busy in the morning…

Running in Mexico City: Centro Histórico

The next time I tried, I turned right, to the north, and eventually got to Plaza de San Juan, at the southern end of Calle Dolores, which becomes Barrio Chino, or Chinatown. The northern end of Dolores is Avenida Juárez…here’s what that route looks like, about 5.4 miles:

Running in Mexico City: Centro Histórico Pedestrian Streets (Avenida Francisco I. Madero, Talavera, Calle Regina, Calle Dolores)

Running in Mexico City: Centro Histórico Pedestrian Streets (Avenida Francisco I. Madero, Talavera, Calle Regina, Calle Dolores)