They say a change is as good as a holiday. So after a few days in Bogotá we vacated our cute little apartment and with Laura and Lee driving us, we headed out into the countryside to the north east towards Villa de Leyva, a beautiful colonial town with historic importance dating not just to the Spanish but also to prehistory with its connections to the time of dinosaurs, so it also draws palaeontologists interested in fossils as well as tourists. After clearing the heavy traffic of Bogotá we were soon enjoying carefree driving in the Colombian countryside.After a couple of hours driving we stopped at an historic bridge, Puente de Boyaca. It was the scene of a decisive battle with the Spanish as Colombia tried to gain its independence back in the early 1800s. Several very imposing statues had been erected in honour of Simón Bolívar and Francisco de Paula Santander.After having a snack and a drink we continued our road trip, driving higher into the hills
at one point paying a toll to be on a better road before continuing towards Villa de Leyva, arriving at our hotel just after 13:00.The unsealed road outside was not an indicator of the charm of the hotel’s interior.Once we had settled in to our adjoining rooms we headed out for a reconnaissance walk and some lunch. Our hotel was one block from the main road into town which was amazingly car free.In the centre of the town was the massive Plaza Mayor.
Our Lady of the Rosary church being the standout building at the top of the plaza.After a quick look around we spotted an upstairs restaurant still serving lunch. We ordered a few plates to share. There was an excellent view to the town below and the hills in the distance through the restaurant window.I couldn’t help but wonder what this group of men below were chatting about. Even if you can zoom in with a camera lens you can’t zoom in on the conversation of course!
After lunch we continued our walk around the town, stopping first at the Our Lady of the Rosary church to check out the magnificent altarpiecebefore heading into some of the streets leading off the Plaza Mayor. There were a number of shops selling locally produced wooden clothing. The lady in this one was weaving at the back of the store and was very pleased to give us a demonstration of herself in action and promote the quality of the finished product. On a previous trip to South America I had been tempted to buy a woollen poncho in Peru. After looking at several possibilities I ended up purchasing one which I now wear at home during the winter.
Our walk continued.Most of the houses had large front walls and gates and opened directly onto the street. The front gate on this one was open so we were able to sneak a look into their lovely little garden. Most were a regular white but every now and then we noticed a wall or part of a wall that used a rendered covering embedded with local fossils.We passed a number of churches and monasteries before crossing over a small stream that ran through the town. Walking along this street led us back to the main Plaza Mayor.By this time we were quite tired after doing a large circuit around the streets of Villa de Leyva so we headed into the Museum of Chocolate with its attached cafe, a lavishly appointed and decorated area. We especially loved the stained glass ceiling.
We ordered a variety of hot chocolate drinks.This one looked especially decadent. However Karen’s choice, a chilli chocolate drink was a bit heavy on the chilli and hard to taste the chocolate.As it was dark by the time we had finished we headed back to our hotel for a rest. Later on we headed out to a pizza restaurant for beer and pizza. A great way to end a very full day.