Updated: Mar 10, 2019
15th - 16th September 2018
We'd heard mixed reviews about this city. Everyone we met said ‘don't bother with it, there's nothing there’, which meant that, actually, we were pleasantly surprised…
We'd already booked our hostel in Cartagena, as we'd read that the best way to get to Tayrona National Park was to take a pit stop in Santa Marta. Latterly, we spoke to travellers who were heading to Minca first (*side note* this might be a better option to prevent too many trips back and forth to SM. We're yet to find a cheaper, direct way from TNP to Minca).
We'd been recommended the Marsol shuttle bus as our mode of transport between the cities, and although the Facebook reviews said steer clear at all costs, we risked it as it was cheap and our fellow, current backpackers had used it and lived to tell the tale.
We booked the shuttle at El Viajero Hostel (babes) but they warned us that it would drop us 'downtown’ (who knows) and we'd have to make our own way to the hostel.
The shuttle picked us up 20 minutes late and there was a bit of faffing outside the city walls as the bus was filled. The seats were comfy, there was air con, and the driver and his colleague were helpful.
We made our jolly way to Santa Marta; we stopped to see the driver visit his kids (adorbz), we stopped to pick up his friend and we stopped for a toilet/food/fuel break. We made it to Santa Marta just shy of 5 hours later, wondering who had made all the fuss about this pretty brillo service. Not only that, but our delightful driver took us to the door of our hostel. What a legend and all round nice guy. *Shout out*
Our hostel was hilarious: Hostal de Jackie. Located centrally, we'd booked a double, ensuite room. The hostel had a pool, air con, a restaurant and free towels. This was great as we were planning on not leaving it, in order to do some life admin.
There were very few guests in the place, which meant come dinner time, the chef was an hour late and very relaxed about it, providing us with an extremely limited menu.
We went out.
We though the streets were initially a bit sketchy, but on rounding the corner found an incredibly busy, bustly street full of life. It was wonderful! We went for a lovely dinner at Bistecca, which was colourful, friendly and cheap. *Recommendation*.
In the morning, the hostel was meant to provide a free breakfast. The chef was an hour late and very relaxed about it, providing us with an extremely limited menu.
We went out.
We went to a gorgeous place called Lulo, that had been thriving the night before! We enjoyed a filling and delicious veggie breakfast. *Recommendation++*.
The receptionists at Hostal de Jackie were genuinely, gorgeously friendly and helpful. Once we'd checked out, they provided a map and pointed us in the right direction of the bus stop to get us to Tayrona. We headed out on our sweaty, merry way, picking up water and cash en route.
Quelle surprise, Santa Marta! Sometimes you have to experience things yourself to get a true picture of what they're actually like. Bit of life advice for you there… it's on the house.
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