Colombia travel blog by Mark Berman -
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It took 8hrs from Medellin to Bucaramanga, the road at the Bucaramanga end was having problems with mudslides this year (2010). Bucaramanga bus terminal is
located at the bottom of the valley, but the center of Bucaramanga is at the top of the valley so I had to catch a taxi back up. Maybe it is possible to
be let out of the bus near the center rather than have go down then back up the valley. I arrived in the evening, slept, then spent the next day walking
around the city center. I stayed a 2nd night then left the next morning to Cucuta.
Not the most attractive city I have seen, quite industrial, but it has
some interesting things to see like markets, parks, churches and monuments.
Lots of Shoes
The place I stayed at was on a street full of budget hotels and nearby were many
shops that sell shoes. I needed a new pair, so if you need shoes then Bucaramanga is a good place to buy them. With my new shoes on I set out for the day
to explore the city which has quite a warm climate.
Explore the City
I walked in the direction of the huge Exito supermarket. There are some walkway bridges that cross over
the busy 4-lane road, you can see some good views from these bridges and see the tops of the churches. This gave me a sense of which direction I should be
heading in. The first nice thing I found was a park called Parque de los Periodistas, it is quite small but was a welcome break from all the concrete. It is
right in front of the Exito supermarket. In the park there is a bust of Don Prospero Rueda Rodriguez, he was a journalist and social leader. But even
cooler is the sculpture of a man made from bronze nuts and bolts and pieces of scrap metal, he looks like a robot. I continued on to the left of the supermarket
past Sanandresito shopping mall in search of one of the churches I had seen from the bridge. I found it nearby, it is pink color and has a white statue of a
woman holding a baby in the archway above the door.
Cathedral and Park
I ventured on towards the cathedral which has a big yellow dome and 2 white belltowers, it is called
Catedral de la Sagrada Familia and is opposite Parque Santander. It was open and I had a peek inside - white pillars and stained glass windows, very nice.
Over the road in the park there is a great looking monument to highlight global warming called Calentamiento Global, it is a man and woman holding a big globe
of the world above their heads. In the park there are shoeshiners and people selling food like popcorn and also a statue of Francisco de Paula Santander
(1792-1840), he was a military and political leader.
The central markets and shopping area was close by and this is where I found myself next. The streets
were very busy full of stalls selling cloths and all kinds of things, the people of Bucaramanga were busy buying Christmas presents here. There was a man
sitting on the ground of the arcade painting beautiful pictures using spraycans and a couple of guys standing still like statues and when money was put into
their tins they would move and perform an action, that was entertaining.
Nearby as I walked around I came to the Palacio de Justicia - Vicente Azuero Plata, a
grand and important looking building, it is on one side of a huge plaza. On the rightside of this plaza is the biggest head cast I have ever seen, it is
about the size of a car, the man is Luis Carlos Galan
(1943-1989), he was a journalist and liberal politician.
Down the street a little I came to another park, statue and church. The statue is that of Aurelio Martinez Mutis (1884-1954) - I believe he was a poet.
The church is Iglesia de San Laureano and the park is Parque Garcia Rovira. Very close by is another church called Capilla de los Dolores, it's the oldest
in Bucaramanga. In front of the church on the opposite side of the road up some stairs is a monument of 3 men, one holds a book, one a knife and the other a
spear. Along to the right of this was a model of a miniture city, very intricate indeed. This general area is lovely and peaceful and has many tall trees, grass
and gardens, you can buy an icecream from the icecream man or a drink in the park. By this time the sweat was pouring off me and I made my way back to my hotel.
Bus to Cucuta
I spent the night and taxied to the bus terminal in the morning for a rough 6hr ride to Cucuta
on a very bad road on my way to Venezuela. The bus terminal has
3 ATM machines for which none worked for my bankcard so I had to use a credit card to get money. If you need money it might be better to find an ATM in town.
Here are the addresses of the churches in Bucaramanga