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What are Arepas?

The Arepa is a flat-bread made of ground maize, which can be cooked or fried. It is one of the most popular foods in Colombia. They can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner, as an appetizer or a snac ...

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k. Each region has its own way of cooking and serving the Arepa. They vary in size, type of maize, cooking method and ingredients added.

Here are some of the most common versions of Arepas:

• Arepa 'e huevo: Typical of the Caribbean coast. This arepa made with yellow maize is deep fried with a single raw egg inside that is cooked by the frying process. Some people can also add shredded beef to this arepa.

• Arepa de queso: it can be made either by mixing the cheese with all the ingredients, or by placing cheese in the middle of the arepa and letting it melt.

• Arepa Boyacense: come from Boyaca region. They are very hard and dense and thick and are filled in the middle with a sweet cheese.

• Arepa Valluna: this variety comes from Cali and the Valle del Cauca region. It is made simply with maize, salt and water, before eating it is buttered.

• Arepa Rellena: This stuffed arepa also comes from the Valle del Cauca region, and can be filled with ham and cheese, chicken or beef, beef liver, cheese.

• Arepa de Choclo: This arepa is made with sweet maize and farmer's white cheese.

• Arepa antioqueña: is a small plain arepa served in the Antioquia region as an accompaniment to soups and other dishes.

• Arepa Santandereana: this one come from Bucaramanga and its environs. Some people call it Arepa de maiz Pelado. It is made with yellow maize and pork fat making it at the same time dry, and soft.

Now days people come with innovative ways to prepare Arepas adding new toppings like guacamole, shrimp, and mushrooms to name a few. Regardless of how you eat them, while visiting Colombia tasting Arepas is an experience worth having.

10 Cities and Towns to Visit in Colombia

1. Bogota: Colombia’s capital, and its largest city. Bogota offers something for everyone. From its historical district to its modern neighborhoods. Museums (Gold, Botero, Modern), parks (Simon Bo ...

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livar, Virrey, Botanical), shopping centers (Unicentro, Andino, Santa Fe), theater (with its famous international festival), concerts, art festivals and top world rated restaurants. Bogota is surely a city that will captivate its visitors.

2. San Andres Islas: Comprised of the coral islands of San Andres, Providencia, Santa Catalina and Jhonny Kay. Here both Spanish and English are spoken as there is great influence of the anglo culture prevalent on the Caribbean Islands. San Andres is a free port so purchases are not taxed. These islands have all the mystique of the Caribbean and their friendly people welcome visitors who can enjoy white sand beaches and relax in the sun. Many visitors delight in diving and aquatic sports. Places of interest are el Hoyo Soplador (blowing hole), Morgan’s Cave, Catton Cay, the island Museum, the aquarium, La Piscinita, and the Laguna Big Pond.

3. Cartagena: Famous for its colonial walled city, is today a World Heritage Site. Cartagena has become a magnet for European tourists as well as cruise ships. The old City has monasteries and nunneries turned into upscale hotels, colonial homes are now boutique hotels, and everywhere you look you may find gourmet restaurant and upscale stores. Worth visiting: Monument to Catalina Indian, the Dominican Cloister Church of Santo Domingo, Monument to the Old Shoes, La Popa convent and church (provides a magnificent view of the), Puerta del Reloj, Plaza de la Aduana, San Felipe de Barajas Castle, Palace of the Inquisition. Near Cartagena you may want to visit, Playa Blanca, islas del Rosario, Palenque and el Volvan de Lodo.

4. Medellin: known as the city of the eternal spring because of its climate. Medellin is the second largest city in Colombia. The city offers its colonial and modern neighborhoods. This is Colombia’s fashion and design city. Every August the city hosts La Feria de las Flores, a magnificent event where the city is filled people carrying intricate and fantastic flower designs in their backs. What to see and do: There is a controversial Pablo Escobar Tour, Plaza Botero which features many of the artist sculptures, visit the Cerro Nutibara, Carabobo Walkway, and discover the city using the metrocable mass transportation system. Further afield you can visit the towns of Santa Elena the home of the silleteros, Santa Fe de Antioquia, Guatape and El Peñon.

5. Santa Marta: the oldest Hispanic town in South America has many cobblestone streets and republican architecture homes, and beautiful beaches. This coastal city is near the Parque Tairona where the indigenous people of Santa Marta live in a unique virgin and exuberant ecosystem. What to see and do: San Pedro Alejandrino (Simon Bolivar’s home), La Casa de la Aduana, and the Cathedral among others. You can also enjoy the Rodadero beaches. Near the city you can visit Taganga a picturesque fishing town, or explore the Parque Tairona and the Sierra Nevada or the Valencia Waterfalls.

6. Villa de Leyva: It is arguably the best kept colonial town in Colombia, this whitewashed colonial town with cobble stoned streets can take you back in time. Its central plaza, one of the largest in South America, is to this day the center of town and the place where several festivals are held. One of the most well-known is El Festival de las Cometas held every August. Worth visiting are the fossil museum, archeological sites, an ostrich farm, El Infiernito, the nearby Candelaria desert with its Monastery

7. Cali: known as Colombia’s party or Rumba capital. While in Cali you should learn how to dance Salsa. The historical center known as San Antonio features Plaza de Caycedo, el Palacio de Justicia and the Catedral de San Pedro, among others. If you are interested in learning about Colombia’s indigenous fauna, a visit to the Zoo is worthwhile. The area around Cali is filled with sugar cane plantations, a great way to visit them is with the Tren Turistico Café y Azucar which offers sceninc excursions from Cali to El Cumbre. Further afield you can visit the Parque Nacional de Farallones and the town of Silvia with a large population of indigenous Ambaló, Guambía, Kisgo, Pitayó, Quichaya y Tumburao Indians.

8. Mompox: a World Heritage town located on an island in the Magadalena River has preserved its colonial features. Even today most of the colonial buildings are used for their original purposes. Very characteristic of this town is the iron work decorating doors, railings and windows along the streets (Calle de la Albarrada, Calle Real del Medio and Calle de Atrás). The town is well known for its hand worked filigree gold and silver jewelry. The best way to discover this town is to stroll along its streets.

9. San Gil is a fantastic place to get your adrenaline pumping. Known as the adventure sport capital of Colombia. People come here to go paragliding, bungee jumping, white water rafting, kayaking, caving, canyoning, and much more. Combine all these adrenaline sports with magnificent landscapes and quaint colonial towns nearby and you have all the ingredients for an unforgettable adventure. Further afield is Barichara, a colonial town which has been used as the set for many movies and telenovelas due to its charm.

10. Leticia: is the main city in the amazon region and a great base for exploring the rainforest. It is near the cross point of Colombia, Peru and Brazil. The town features brightly colored houses. The best time to visit is July and August during the dry season. While in Leticia you should visit the Museo del Hombre Amazonico, the Tanimboca Reserve, Monkey Island, and take boat ride to the neighboring towns in Brazil and Peru.

How to Choose a Best Luxury Hotel with All Facilities in Budget

Finding a well-equipped, affordable and luxurious hold to stay while on a vacation is a challenging task. This is due to the fact that most luxurious hotels are on high demand and their prices are pro ...

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hibitive. Accommodation expenses forms a significant portion of the travelling budget. Thus finding an alternative affordable luxurious hotel in advance will be helpful towards minimizing the total expenses to be incurred. The following is a useful guide on how to choose an affordable luxurious hotel with all facilities.

Plan in advance

- Planning your trip in advance is a critical tool towards controlling your hotel budget. This will help you clearly identify what you are looking in a hotel. Come up with a list of must have facilities in a hotel that will make your stay comfortable.

- After you have shortlisted all that you desire in a hotel, the next thing that you need to consider is your finances. This entails raising enough funds to cater for a luxurious hotel. Since there are other travelling expenses involved, coming up with a detailed budget is very important.

- Always have a second alternative or a backup plan due to unexpected future changes and incase of any deviation between your plan and reality.

Search for best offers

- Since the main objective here is finding a world class hotel at affordable rates, one must search tirelessly for best offers available in the market. There are different alternatives of doing so but the most convenient one is the use of internet.

- Searching for best luxurious hotel offers should be a continuous task since attractive offers last for a limited time period. Visiting different hotel websites and making a comparison will be useful towards searching for best offers. Remember to remain focused to your initial plans during the search.

- Reading reliable online reviews about luxurious hotels will give you a hint on facilities, services and charges of different hotels. If you are a frequent traveler, consider accumulating your bonus points for future offers.

Travel during low season

- Due to high demand for hotels during peak seasons, most hotels see this as an opportunity to cash in by charging high prices. Sometimes, one can hardly find a hotel during the peak season and one is forced to seek for alternative means of accommodation.

- During low season, the number of visitors to a particular point of attraction is reduced thus reducing the demand for accommodation. In most instances, luxurious hotels receive very low bookings thus operating under capacity.

- This makes hotels to reduce their price in order to attract the few available travelers. Take opportunity of this to book a luxurious hotel on budget. Apart from affordable hotels, travelling during low season has other associated advantages like no congestions and reduced travelling costs.

Shortlist hotels

- This is a sensitive task since it involves listing down hotels that appeal to you most It is obvious to have more than one alternative due to availability of different competitors in the hotel industry.

- The list of potential hotels should be arrived at from the online search and also from any other credible sources. The key determinant when short listing potential hotels is the price that they charge in relation to their facilities. Remember to consider other factors like accessibility and events held at the hotel prior to arriving at the final decision.

- Make a final decision on the best hotel among the potential ones.

Book in advance

- At this point, you have made up your mind on the best luxurious hotel offer in the market. The next thing is to book the hotel prior to traveling.

- Getting in touch with the customer care will be helpful, as it will provide you the procedure to be followed.

- Booking in advance will let you come into touch with the reality and the different terms and conditions involved. It is also useful towards avoiding last minute rush.

The above tips are very useful towards selecting a luxurious and affordable hotel. Planning in advance, searching for information, comparing different offers and remaining focused to what you want are the driving forces towards attaining success to this challenging task. Remember also to seek help from colleagues who have prior experience on the same destination. Spending your vacation at a well-equipped luxurious and budget hotel will be the best travelling decision you have made in your lifetime.

Author bio:
Alina from UK, travel enthusiast who loves to share her travel stories on different blogs. Presently she is working on behalf of Bahrain evisas which provides a visa assistance to visit Bahrain.

10 museums you should visit in Bogota

Bogota, is a city filled with over 50 fascinating museums. From the art, history, science, gold or emeralds you will find amazing collections showcased in modern buildings and preserved colonial dwell ...

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ing. Most museums have adapted an area for children to explore and learn more about the exhibits shown.

1. Museo de Oro: The Gold Museum showcases over 55,000 pieces of gold and artifacts from pre-Hispanic cultures such as Muisca, Tayrona, Tumaco, Zenu. There is a special section for children. www.banrepcultural.org/museo-del-oro.

2. Museo Botero: Fernando Botero, one of Colombia’s greatest artists donated his private art collection as well as several of his art pieces for the enjoyment of the people. This wonderful museum offers visitors a look into the “chubby” world of Maestro Botero. Botero’s private collection includs painting by Picasso, Chagall, Renoir, Monet, Pisarro, Miro, and Dali. When visiting this museum you also have access to Museo de la Moneda (numismatic museum) www.banrepcultural.org/museobotero

3. Museo Nacional: Originally a prison today this museum showcases Colombina artists from the Colonial period until today. On the first floor they also feature visiting exhibitions such as the "Terracotta Warriors and Horses" to Rembrandt there is always an interesting exhibit to explore. On the third floor prison cells have been kept and you can appreciate paintings made by inmates on the walls. www.museonacional.gov.co

4. Museo de Arte Moderno: The modern art museum focuses on visual arts from the beginning of the 20th century until today. Itinerant exhibitions showcase works of other Latin American countries. www.mambogota.com

5. Maloka: This is an interactive science museum ideal for children of all ages. http://www.maloka.org/

6. Planetario: Dedicated to astronomy and sciences. This museum offers many interactive activities

7. Museo de Arte Colonial: Originally a Jesuit college today it houses a museum featuring baroque and colonial art from masters like Gregorio Vásquez de Arce y Ceballos (1638–1711). There are many religious pieces. www.museocolonial.gov.co

8. Iglesia Santa Clara: Built in the 1600s this building is one of the oldest churches in the city. It has collection of paintings and sculptures. The building is regarded as a representative sample of Baroque architecture and decoration of the XVII and XVIII centuries in Bogotá. Richly decorated with a gold leaf vaulted ceiling and breathtaking murals and the walls. www.museoiglesiasantaclara.gov.co

9. Quinta Bolivar: is a colonial house from the 1800s that served as a residence of Simon Bolivar after the war of independence. It is now used as a museum dedicated to Bolivar's life and times. The House features rooms filled with period pieces. www.quintadebolivar.gov.co

10. Museo de la Policia: The police museum is located in the neoclassic building where the old police headquarters used to be. Tours last 45 minutes and many interesting tales told. There is an interesting collection of replica codes and laws, a collection of miniatures showing police uniforms from100 countries, as well as a diorama that provides an overview of the concept of authority, from prehistory to the present day.

Bogota, a city of parks

Bogota and its citizens known as Bogotanos (or Cachacos) is a city that loves nature. As such the city offers many major parks as well as small neighborhood parks to visit and enjoy. They become a c ...

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enter of leisure and relaxation for locals and visitors alike. Wondering around these parks will give you a different understanding of the city and its dwellers. Each park has its own personality and attracts different crowds.

City Center Parks:
These parks are bursting with passerbys and people that work around the area. Among the nicest to visit are Parque Santander, Parque de la Independencia, Parque Central Bavaria, Parque Renacimiento, and Parque Nacional. This last one is known as Bogota’s lung. In the afternoons this park is visited by “Cuenteros and cantautores” (storytellers and social songwriters). On Sundays and Holidays artists present free shows, and street vendors offer all sorts of local fare.

North City Parks:
Parque El Virrey, Mercedes Sierra, Country and Parque de la 93. These parks hold free classical and jazz concerts, ballet recitals, and food festivals.

West City Parks:
Parque de los Novios, Botanical Garden, and Simón Bolivar. The last one is the largest park in the city and it includes lakes, bike paths, walking paths and more making it ideal for families and sports lovers. This park has become the stage for several free concerts (Rock, Gospel, Salsa, Hop-Hop, and more). Near Parque Simón Bolivar you can find the Palacio de los Deportes (Sports Palace a great sport center), and Salitre Mágico (an amusement park).

South City Parks:
Tunal is one of the largest parks in the city with 56 hectares. It’s includes an amusement park, concert arenas, fields for soccer basketball, volleyball, field hockey, and track, as well as a bike path and playground .

All the city parks are interwoven by a series of cycle roads so that you can move easily from one to another while riding bicycles, skates or just walking.

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