Flags of South America, part 10 – Colombia.

Colombia, a country until recently associated with drug trade is now experiencing a tourism renaissance. It has become a safer destination for travel and with its wealth of culture and unique geographic location it is certainly a rising star of South America. Colombia is about twice the size of the state of Texas and has unique access to both Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean. Its coastal colonial city of Cartagena has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Colombia, like Ecuador and Venezuela emerged from a larger entity Gran Colombia in 1830.

The meaning of the flag:

three horizontal bands of yellow (top, double-width), blue, and red; the flag retains the three main colors of the banner of Gran Colombia, the short-lived South American republic that broke up in 1830; various interpretations of the colors exist and include: yellow for the gold in Colombia’s land, blue for the seas on its shores, and red for the blood spilled in attaining freedom; alternatively, the colors have been described as representing more elemental concepts such as sovereignty and justice (yellow), loyalty and vigilance (blue), and valor and generosity (red); or simply the principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity

note: similar to the flag of Ecuador, which is longer and bears the Ecuadorian coat of arms superimposed in the center

source of information: CIA World Factbook

Next in the series, the Caribbean triplets

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Lonesome George, famed Galapagos tortoise, dies – latimes.com

Lonesome George, famed Galapagos tortoise, dies – latimes.com.

Although this famed tortoise has passed away there are plenty of others to see on the beautiful Galapagos Islands. Please see our earlier blog entries about our trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos.

If you are thinking about a visit to Galapagos see our trips to the Enchanted Islands on our website.

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Discovering Montevideo, Punta del Este and wild beaches in Uruguay

Its been a while since my last post and I wanted to share the last piece of our trip to Uruguay with my sister Cecilia.

While we were already in Montevideo, w e had a private city tour in The old town, inspected some hotels, had lunch at the port ( great place and good BBQs!) In the afternoon we drove with our guide Rosario to Juanico winery. It’s located 38 kms=24 miles from Montevideo, the main wine here in Uruguay is the Tannat, in the same way the Malbec is the grape in Argentina, the Tannat is for Uruguay. It’s a wine with a lot of body and flavor. Ideal for the Uruguayan BBQs!

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I did really enjoyed visiting this neighbor country, the people are super friendly. The traffic doesn’t look like a south American country traffic 🙂 and the government provides jobs like cleaning the streets, trimming trees in the city,etc for the poor people for 6 months  period to help them while they look for a job. So they have 5% unemployment rate!

Everything looks clean and organize! I was surprise with the friendliness of the people even in the street. I guess the name SWISS OF SOUTH AMERICA is not wrong at all  🙂 The following day we started early and drove on the coast from Montevideo to La Pedrera. The beaches are very open wild with dunes, nice forests and high buildings as well as modern and luxury houses around. We visited the chic Punta del Este and inspected some nice boutique hotels to offer to our clients. Then we drove by Jose Ignacio…This is a very peaceful village with  no nightlife permitted so The  setting and atmosphere are super calm and great for relaxing and enjoying the beach, the nice boutique hotels, posadas, etc.

Our stay that is a little bit more adventurous in Pueblo Barrancas, a cabin closer to the ocean with the option of “glamping ” while sleeping in tents as well. Nobody was there because it was low season and it’s getting cooler too. But the setting was great And it was a different way to enjoy the area.

The following day we explored a little bit more the beaches up to Cabo Polonio and drive to the middle of the country to stay in a ranch before going back to Montevideo where we took the bus to Rosario for our family reunion. 🙂

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Crossing Rio de la Plata.

On Monday morning Cecile and I left Buenos Aires to cross with Buquebus ferry to Colonia in Montevideo. We crossed in one hour and it was literally another country! I have been there in 2004 with my husband but the town has changed and grown a lot.
There is a new visitor center in Colonia where we enjoyed a short video about Uruguay, its history, culture, people, etc. It was a great way to welcome the visitor to the country!
We had a walking city tour in the historical Unesco town. We also visited and inspected a few hotels and then we rented a golf cart to drive around which was really a lot of fun:)
Later in the afternoon we took a passenger bus to Montevideo and arrived there at night. It was a nice ride with beautiful views of the country.

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Rojo Tango pics

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Rojo Tango & mi Buenos Aires querido…

I arrived in Buenos Aires last Wednesday and my sister Silvia was waiting for me at Ezeiza airport. To my surprise, Argentina started a new immigration control system, which much more modern including fingerprints and photo, very similar to the US.
For the clients that always ask me about how to pay the entrance fee (reciprocity fee) when you enter in Argentina, you could pay with almost anything:) US dollars, credit cards or even travelers checks. They do accept AmEx like any other card.

Back to my trip. I enjoyed some good time with my sister drinking mate like a good Argentine, and talking like in the old days. I picked up my niece from her school and took her for lunch and took a cab to my rented apartment in Palermo. I felt like I was there just a while ago. I love that feeling of coming home even when home is not here anymore:)

That night I went see another tango venue called Rojo Tango located inside Hotel Faena. A lot of times the travelers ask me for the difference between Rojo Tango and other shows because of the big difference in price. Well… I have to say that the show is very unique.  The setting is an intimate cabaret type of saloon, the food is amazing, and you can enjoy unlimited top of the line Argentine wine. The costumes are incredible and the mix they created between tango and cabaret is what makes this show unique. We all know that the tango is super sensual, but adding the cabaret and eroticism makes it even more appealing.
It was a great way to start my visit to my Buenos Aires querido…

During these couple of days I enjoyed visiting family and friends. My days go fast while meeting one friend at a cafe then maybe another one for lunch, picking up my nephews from school while visiting some  hotels, meeting our local suppliers and so on. It always goes super fast and I am busy all the time 🙂
But it’s always nice to be able to be back in Buenos Aires as well. I also enjoyed seeing my Aunt Myriam Rupar’s art work at a Cafe Notable called Bar de Cao!
I love to go to any cafe and have great medialunas or go to my uncle Jose’ s house for his traditional authentic asado!

My parents and my sister Cecilia also came to Buenos Aires from Bariloche. Cecilia works for Eureka Travel from her office in the Patagonian Lake District and she will be traveling with me to Uruguay on research.
My Mom came to participate in the South American Senior Ladies tennis tournament.  It was nice to see her with her friends and enjoy a nice tennis event at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis club.  I thought about my friends at Toluca Lake tennis club in Los Angeles and also all my years playing tennis in Buenos Aires when I was a child.

We spent the weekend together working and having good time with the family. Now we are crossing Rio de la Plata with Buquebus to Colonia in Uruguay so I will report more  from there!  For now, I am saying goodbye to mi Buenos Aires querido

Until next time.

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Anthony Bourdain Shares His Top Five Travel Tips: Away.com Travel Blog

In this brief article, the renown chef and modern-day explorer talks about some of his travel insights. I have to say that from our experience we have to agree. For instance, I once made a trip to Mercado del Progreso in the neighborhood of Caballito in Buenos Aires, where you can see butchers in action, empanadas being freshly made and all the hustle and bustle of a local market. I decided to visit it after reading about it in Moon Travel guide to Buenos Aires. I ended up taking pictures and talking to vendors appreciating their work. I purchased some of the empanadas right out of the oven, still warm and delightfully aromatic.

Anthony recommends  eating where the locals eat and looking for busy places, but how do you find them? Well, I  learned a good restaurant finding tip from my father-in-law, Roberto. Wherever we would travel together he’d always ask a taxi driver about a good local eatery. We never missed. The taxi drivers have an intimate knowledge of their cities and they know where to grab an inexpensive but tasty bite. One of such tips was a seafood restaurant in Salvador de Bahia in Brazil. The place our taxi driver recommended was packed with locals and we had to wait about 15 minutes just to sit down. The food was so good we came back again two nights later.

It pays off to go off the beaten track, talk to locals and try something outside of our comfort zone. The reward is often a trip highlight experience!

for other tips check out Anthony’s article:

 Anthony Bourdain Shares His Top Five Travel Tips: Away.com Travel Blog.

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