Total distance travelled: 43,019.3 kilometres (26,720.6 miles)
Buga, a town towards Colombia’s south.
At about 7am on the morning we arrived.
Not at the town’s bus station as we’d expected (it most certainly has one), but instead we found ourselves deposited on the side of the main highway which presented us, two tired backpackers with at least an additional kilometre to walk, laden with our packs.
Not the perfect start to our morning.
Buga, also the 2nd destination on this trip to date, we’ve travelled to specifically thanks to beer (the first being D&D Brewery in Honduras).
When we first started researching this part of the country, our route seemed likely to take us to Cali, with a small side trip to San Cipriano thrown in as well.
Then Sarah, when researching something else online, stumbled upon a link to Buga Hostel, attached to which is the Holy Water Ale Cafe, a microbrewery and pizza operation.
The thought of beer and woodfired pizza was surely enough, but when we read that they did a Ginger & Honey Ale, we were sold and already beginning to salivate!
Goodbye Cali, and hello Buga!
It was still nice and early when we found the place, and with the gargantuan dorm almost empty (1 other couple where in there when we arrived, but checked out that day), we dumped our bags and went in search of the bus station, our plan being to get on a bus to San Cipriano nice and early.
We found the bus station (where we’d expected to be dropped off) with few problems, picking ourselves up some breakfast as well in the form of a few pastries from a nearby panaderia.
It was about this time however, that we also realised how fatigued we were actually feeling, and after a quick team consultation, decided to drop our plans, and instead return to the hostel for a day of rest & relaxation.
Not however before we took a quick wander around the town, inspecting a few churches, the nearby river and saying hello to a portly Pug as it wandered an adjacent park.
After a brief sleep for Sarah, it was time for some serious assessment… of our hostels beer and pizza credentials of course!
We’d spied a couple of other worthy candidates on their menu, most notably a Jamaica (an hibiscus drink) flavoured brew, but sadly this and a couple of others were unavailable.
Thankfully however, the Ginger & Honey number was most certainly available, and although we sampled all of their options (amongst the others could be found a Porter, Hefeweizen and IPA), this was clearly our favourite.
Add possibly the tastiest pizzas we’ve had since leaving home, and the afternoon was truly a pleasurable experience indeed.
Not a bad way to spend our only day in town and have a much needed lazy day!
The following morning saw us bid farewell to our haven (or perhaps it should be heaven as what few tourists Buga usually draws, are of a religious nature) for beer and pizza, and get ourselves around to Popayan.
This however was not possible (as there were no direct services), so a change of bus was required in Cali before we got ourselves to Popayan by mid afternoon.
Popayan was always just a stopover for us, although it didn’t promise to be a bad one, with a reputation as one of Colombia’s prettiest colonial towns and a tag as a UNESCO gastronomical city.
With a nice colonial town on offer, we felt like we’d scored pretty well with our hostel, incredibly located right on and overlooking the historic central plaza, with walls abutting the main cathedral.
We’re not sure where the UNESCO gastronomical tag came from, as the best fare we could find around the heart of the historical centre was some fried chicken (for a rather late lunch), but in the beauty stakes, the town did much better.
There were many grand beautiful buildings present, and we took a bit of time to wander the streets soaking it all in.
A particular highlight was the Puente del Humilladero, actually two bridges which cross a narrow river.
Why two? Well one for the average person, and a separate one for priests of course!
Popayan was apparently a seat of regional power during the Spanish rule and it shows.
There is history on every corner in the old town, and although we didn’t see it all, we thought our afternoon amble was ample enough time for us to soak it all in… and if not soak in all the town, certainly soak up plenty of oil from that fried chicken!
* Our bus direct from Villa de Leyva to Bogota cost us $20,000.00 COP each and took around 4-5 hours.
* Overnight from Bogota’s Terminal de Transporte cost $40,000.00 COP per person and took 8 and a half hours to reach Buga.
* Our onwards travel from Buga to Popayan required us to travel first to Cali ($6,900.00 COP per person) where another ($14,000.00 COP each) bus ride got us on to Popayan.