Monday, February 25, 2013

Zipaquira, Salt Cathedral - an awesome place to visit.

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Today sees us leaving Bogota.
We have to take 2 buses.
They are lovely, clean and comfortable and a definite one up to Panama.
Note the crosses and Mary pictures that decorate it.

We have pre-booked a hotel.
Unfortunately it is opposite a service station and on the main street.
It is clean - but again noisy.
We are within walking distance to 'Sal Catedral', so off we go down the old paved streets.

We find one of the squares.
It is really lovely.
We find no hostels in this town.
There may be some near the bus station, but we wander and compare about 10 hotels.
This is a tourist town, for the middle to upper class and priced accordingly.

We continue to wander through the quaint streets and squares.

It turns out to be quite a hike up the hill.
I am completely stuffed.
It is warm, and we have long sleeve tops on.
My son finds a maze out the front and has a bit of fun.
I am feeling my age.
He wants to play, I need water and a rest.

We get to the entrance of the mine.
We then find out we have to go back to the car park entrance to buy our tickets.
This could be sign-posted way better.
I am worn out from dragging bags on buses, so I don't think my attitude came across well to the man who directed us where to go.
But we finally get the tickets.  
There are a lot of choices.
We select just the tour with the English speaking guide.
You can also go into the mine, and don a hard-hat - and mine for salt.
We didn't do this.
My son has no idea it will be a bit dark.
He is totally afraid of a lot since Halloween and a bad Disneyland experience.

The entrance has a light changing display.
This is enough to put him off his fears.
We walk DOWN the tunnel.
It is lined with eucalyptus - in fact gum trees are all over this area.
A gentle nice reminder of home in Australia.

Our guide is wonderful.
He slowly explains so much.
Like the fact that 'salary' comes from 'sal or salt' - and was used as wages way back.

As we wander down we get to enjoy a light display.
There was only 3 of us here for this, it was so good!

We wander past an incredible carved wall.
The detail really doesn't show in these photos.
It is glorious, and the colours n the salt walls add so much, in real life visuals.

 We then head to a low pool.
This is only inches deep.
The reflection is important int the mining process.

It is so mirror clear, you would think there is a room under you!

 Unfortunately, there are way too many stores under here.
It kind of ruins the amazing feel to the place.
But there is a coffee shop 180 metres below the surface.
And more than 1 km undergound - worth having a coffee at.
There is free salt rocks to take.

 There is a great soft, salt wall in the cathedral where moisture has got in.

 The cathedral is very lovely.
If tourists took time to be quiet and reflect on life, this is is the place to do it.
We take time to be thankful of far we have come.
We have made it more than 6 months on our journey - so we thank God for that.
The cross has a read heart-beat in the centre lights.
I don't get to take a photo at the right time, but it is a nice touch.

It is a lovely area.
If you visit - take your time.
Wander and immerse yourself in the awe of this cathedral.
There are testing areas - they say it might last 300 years.
They are expanding.
There are lots of tunnels to explore.
There are rock roof toilets too.

There are all different stations of the cross along the first tunnel.
We are told by our guide to take photos on the way out.
The mine drains batteries, so we appreciate this tip.
Start taking your photos only when you get to the bottom of the cathedral area.

We head out and there is a train waiting for COP $3000 each ($1.50 approx)
We ride it and meet a lovely lady from Korea who only has 3 days in all of Colombia.
Her husband's camera never stops - he has to take it all in so fast.
We laugh, but now I realise how good it feels to travel slowly, and for so long.
We enjoy the trip around the old town.

We actually take the train all the way back to the base of the salt cathedral.
We hop off and walk through the pretty town again.

My son and I find a restaurant for dinner.
It was not this one, but the guy rips us off.
We made the mistake of him helping us in English to order "off the menu".
So then when we came to pay he invented the price.
Oh well - I live and learn!

We get back before dark.
Our hotel La Terraza is not expensive, but not cheap.
But part of the top window is missing and the other slowly opens.
So as we are several floors up, I stuff a pillow in the broken window, 
and hope for the best with the other window.
But as we are opposite a fuel station, the horns, alarms and music goes off all night.
At 3 am, they decide to blast music through the loud speakers.
By 6 am I am up.
Time to move on - I need quiet, and I need sleep!

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