As we’ve mentioned before, we’ve decided to see as much of Colombia as we can while international travel is still “iffy.” Last Friday, we took off on a month-long road trip to eastern Antioquia, Boyacá, and Santander and then parts unknown. The overriding goal: to see as many of Colombia’s “Pueblos Patrimonios” (designated heritage towns) in these departments as we can, together with all the sights in between.

Our first stop was Doradal, Colombia’s take on Santorini, Greece. 

About a three-hour drive east from Medellín, Doradal is a rather gritty and nondescript little town that had a unique makeover back in the 1980s. Something about the geography of Doradal – part of it sits on a rise with a lovely countryside view – caught the eye of the notorious criminal whose name we don’t use in this blog, but whose initials are PE. Since PE was spending about $2,500 on rubber bands every month just to hold all his money together, he could easily afford to build his own little version of Santorini, Greece – so that’s what he did. After PE was killed in 1993, the Santorini replica almost fell to ruin, but it was purchased by a consortium years later and redeveloped into a charming collection of whitewashed hotels, hostels, and private homes on the hillside.

We had been curious about Doradal for a while, and it proved to be an ideal stopping point for our first couple of nights as we headed east out of Antioquia. We had also hoped to visit the Reserva Cañon de Rio Claro, but it turned out to be closed until August 6. Oh well, we’ll save it for next time.

Crossing the Mighty Magdalena
Rio Magdalena ferry boats

Since reading Wade Davis’ outstanding book Magdalena: River of Dreams earlier this year, we were both looking forward to seeing this magnificent river. Flowing almost the entire length of the country from south to north, the Magdalena traverses just about every ecosystem in the country and has played a crucial role in Colombia’s natural and cultural history. We took a drive across the Magdalena and up to the town of Puerto Boyacá, where we were able to take a ferry across to another small town. It was an interesting and unexpected adventure!

Next Up: Bucaramanga, Colombia’s “City of Parks!” 

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  1. Sharon Brooks Reply

    Thanks so much for always sharing your wonderful adventures. By the way how were most of the roads on this first part of your adventure?

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Sharon! The road that connects Medellin and Doradal is the Medellin-Bogota highway. Even though it’s only about 170 km, it took us over three hours. It’s a winding two-lane road that is CHOKED with truck traffic. So crazy that there isn’t a better highway between Medellin and Bogota! We’re finding that car travel in many places in Colombia takes a lot of patience.

  2. Good to see you’re getting out and about in Colombia. We’re traveling vicariously through you to places we always wanted to go. So thanks, and journey well!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Glad you’re enjoying, mis amigos! 🙂

  3. Yay for roadtrips! This looks like a beautiful start and I’m looking forward to following along on the rest of your trip.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks so much! The trip is unfolding in a pretty amazing way. Stay tuned!

  4. Janis Peace Reply

    Hi Susan and John. Very interesting! Thank you! Glad to see that you are really enjoying your retirement!! 💞💞💞. Janis P

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Janis! Yes, it’s so freeing to know we can travel without being on my work schedule. It’s awesome! Hope you’re well.

  5. What a beautiful city! I can’t get enough of the white buildings with blue accents. Looking forward to following along on the rest of your tour of Colombia! 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks so much! Colombian towns are so charming. Lots more coming up – stay tuned!

  6. Great to see that ‘his’ outrageous homes are being put to good use. Looking forward to seeing more of Colombia through your travels. Maggie

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thannks, Maggie! Lots more coming up 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      You will be out there again soon – keep the faith! I know things have been tough in Australia, but I can see you’re doing just what we’re doing: enjoying your own beautiful country. Hang in there!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks so much, Donna! Hope you can get out traveling again soon. Cheers!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you! The food in Colombia can be pretty standard: meat (usually beef, chicken or pork), arepas (thick corn tortilla-like cakes) and plantains or yuca. Santander, where we are now, does have some specialties including goat and large-bellied fried ants (yup, we tried ’em!). We have found some fantastic restaurants here in Barichara that offer a lot of variety. Stay tuned!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you so much! Have a great day 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Ooohh, lucky you! We are so looking forward to visiting the Greek islands someday. Have you seen the fires or been affected by the extreme heat there?

      • Yes, we’ve been posting about both. Catch up with some of our recent posts if you get chance, particularly, on those subjects, the one headed “One Night In Piraeus”

        • John and Susan Pazera Reply

          Oh my! I’m so behind on my blog reading. I’ll definitely check out your posts. Greece is very high on our list to places to visit, once we can get to Europe. Cheers!

  7. Through your beautiful pictures and my husband’s experience of living in Colombia as a child, I never knew how beautiful it is. Enjoy your travels!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks so much, Terri! Hope you and your husband can visit someday and see his old stomping grounds. it really is a knock-out gorgeous country!

  8. Glad to know that you’re hitting the road again! If you didn’t tell me, I would’ve guessed some of those photos from Doradal were taken at Santorini.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Ha, thanks, Bama! I’m sure when we see the real Santorini we’ll see just how much more amazing it is. Hope you’re well!

  9. I love a road trip, such a perfect way to see more of your adopted home country. Interesting first stop and I am glad that this town has not died along with its creator…we will not mention his name. I am looking forward to exploring more of Colombia vicariously.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Gilda! You two have done some pretty amazing road trips yourselves lately. Lots more coming up – stay tuned!

  10. Oh I’m so glad they saved Doradal! What a charming town.
    The ride across the river reminded me of India only WAY less crowded, and in better condition.
    I’m so enjoying getting to know more of Columbia. Looking forward to hearing the interesting and unexpected adventure!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      We hope to visit places like India someday. Asia seems so exotic to us! The interesting and unexpected adventure is what we crave. Hope you two are doing well!

      • We are thanks. Hope you guys are too. Although we’ve spent 6 months in SE Asia, and a total of nearly a year (over 4 trips) in India it all *still* seems exotic to us.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      You are so welcome, Muriel! Hope you’re well 🙂

  11. Doradal looks amazingly beautiful with its white walls contrasting the blue sky🙂 Have a great road trip, Susan and John!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Christie – so sorry for the belated reply! Playing some catchup now that we’re home from our road trip. Thank you for the kind comment. It was a great trip!
      – Susan

      • No worries Susan! I also enjoy my trips to the fullest when I am away from home🙂
        Have a lovely day!

  12. I’ve been following along with you on your FB page, your pictures of the countryside and all of the color are so pretty. interesting story of the Doradal. Safe travels ~

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Patti! Sorry for the late reply. We just got home yesterday and had all kinds of connectivity issues on the road. Hope you guys are well!

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