A bridge too far: Sante Fe de Antioquia

Days: 216

Total distance travelled: 41,775.6 kilometres (25,947.58 miles)

Another day, another side excursion from Medellin.

Another day, another trip to Medellin’s Terminal Norte.

Our destination on this particular day (which also took as through the same 5km long tunnel we’d used to get to and from Ebéjico), described in our guidebook as “a wonderfully preserved colonial town”, was Santa Fe de Antioquia, the one time regional capital before it was eventually superseded by Medellin.

It didn’t in fact take all that long to get there, around an hour and a half saw us deposited on the main highway, on the fringes of the old town proper.

A short stroll took us to the main plaza, where a picturesque old church sat on its fringes, although the view itself was marred a little by a rather ugly and motley collection of street vendors huts clustered in its centre.

Santa Fe de Antioquia’s main plaza, artfully shot to exclude the ugly vendors stalls

Santa Fe de Antioquia’s main plaza, artfully shot to exclude the ugly vendors stalls

We got past this small disappointment, sorting out some lunch at a local eatery away from the main plaza (all of the options there were well overpriced), before taking some time to just wander the streets.

Parts of the town are indeed beautiful, with lovely cobbled streets, tiled roofs and a couple of smaller, much more tranquil plazas and parks.

It could have been a movie set and in fact, we think one of the streets may have been use as such, based on the lighting stands, microphone booms and costumes that were strung about.

We quickly felt however that we’d exhausted ourselves of the sights in town, so set our sights further afield onto the Puente de Occidente, or ‘Bridge of the West.’

Our book recommended a short taxi ride, however the first signs in town suggested it was only a 4km walk, so we thought, why not.

As we walked, we also spied another sign which now said 5km, but we figured oh well, we’re committed now, and so on we walked.

Of concern to us however, as it was a hot day, was how much of the initial, outbound journey appeared to be downhill… We’d much prefer to be labouring now, so we can descend on the way back!

Still, a hike it was, but the view at the end was really worth it.

Puente de Occidente, bridging the Rio Cauca

Puente de Occidente, bridging the Rio Cauca

120 years old, this was one of the first suspension bridges in South America, and from our lofty perch, it looked quite the sight.

Naturally, we got a bit closer for a better look.

Obviously quite a bit of work is regularly done on this, as it was in stunning condition

Obviously quite a bit of work is regularly done on this, as it was in stunning condition

‘The Bridge of the West’

The ‘Bridge of the West’

Up close, the impressive towers were in fact only clad in corrugated iron, but nevertheless it was certainly picturesque and worth the little effort that it took to get there.

Still smiling after a 6km walk!

Still smiling after a 6km walk!

With that effort in mind however, we didn’t linger too long, mindful of the fact that we had a predominantly uphill slog ahead of us!

It didn’t stop us from making decent time back into town, even spotting the odd local panning for gold along the way, which did nothing to detract from the frontier like, Wild West feel of the place!

Searching for the colour in a local stream…

Searching for the colour in a local stream…

This is the kind of terrain we were walking back through (and over)

This is the kind of terrain we were walking back through (and over)

We felt that we’d earned ourselves a refreshing beer after that walk (which turned out to be 6km each way, rather than the 4-5 we’d initially thought), but alas it was not to be.

Just as we got back to the highway where we’d earlier spied a bar where we could rest, and await the next Medellin bound bus, wouldn’t you know, but ready and waiting to depart already sat a bus, a chariot we figured we’d prefer not to miss…

 

Notes:

* To get from Medellin to Santa Fe de Antioquia (or the reverse) costs $10,000.00 COP per person from Medellin’s Terminal Norte.

* You can get a taxi or Tuk-Tuk, but we opted to walk the 6km each way to Puente de Occidente, making the cost FREE!

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