While Cody’s parents were visiting us for a couple of weeks (and coincidentally over Easter) we thought it was a the perfect time to visit this sweet little town that we’d heard so much about. Villa de Leyva was named a national monument in 1954 and its whitewashed colonial buildings and cobble stone streets have been practically perfectly preserved. Apparently, the nice weather and lovely surroundings have always been a draw since it was founded as a retreat for military officers, clergy and nobility in the late 16th century. There are so many things to do in Villa de Leyva that it warrants a return trip or two—I can totally understand why it’s such a popular weekend getaway for people living in Bogotá. However, we chose to go the way of Villa de Leyva’s former settlers, wandering around the charming streets and enjoying the warm weather.
We don’t have a car in Colombia and were intending to rent one…I say intending because that part of the trip didn’t happen according to plan. When Cody arrived to pick up our rental he was kindly informed that our reserved car was not available. Hmm. Lots of back and forth occurred at this point after which Cody informed me that adrenaline and anger only increase your aptitude at speaking Spanish. Just as I feel like that kind of scenario only happens in Colombia, the same can be said for what happened next–as Cody was explaining to his Uber driver why he was coming from the airport with no luggage, the driver said that he’d be happy to drive us…immediately (and it was Good Friday!). His kindness definitely put our attitudes back in the right spot.
We were staying at a finca and could bring Charlie along with us so we all piled into the car and headed out. I have to go on another tangent here about how much Cody and I have changed, which I attribute largely to Cody working so hard and both of us getting older. There are few things we like more than to relax, have a drink and be quiet. To be honest, I think I’ve always been like this and my physical age is only just now catching up. I say all this as an explanation as to why we enjoyed this trip and Casona San Nicolas so much. The grounds were beautiful, the rooms cozy and they lit a fire for us each night in the communal living room. Sigh.
Believe it or not, we did get out and about. As you can see above, the main square is huge–in fact, at 120m x 120m it’s one of the largest in South America. I was also surprised to learn that there have been all kinds of fossils found here (on view in the Paleontological Museum), several free museums (dedicated to people influential in Colombia’s independence and art) and a few lovely churches. We didn’t really tick off any of these sights, instead choosing to simply enjoy our family, eat and walk the little town.
Probably the only technically “active” thing we did the entire weekend was a hike we read about in our Lonely Planet guide. The hike was described as “great” because it passes two waterfalls and culminates with a spectacular view of the city below. What the guide failed to mention is that the hike is straight uphill! Listen, I’m no slouch–I made it happily up and through the Valle de Cocora–but this was crazy. I fell twice in the first three minutes! At that point mom (she fell too!) and I hi-tailed it back to the hostel at the hike’s entrance to have a drink and wait for the guys. Check out the waterfalls and view below…
So that was our weekend. I hope we get to go back before the end of our time in Bogotá to check out some of those museums. ;-)