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Villa de Leyva: The Sleepiest of Sleepy Colombia Towns

The peaceful streets of Villa de Leyva, Colombia

After the monumental Bogota to Villa de Leyva journey, I feel like my mind is playing tricks on me. Is it actually possible for one woman to be so over-the-top affectionate 24 hours a day? Am I imagining things or have we somehow accidently crossed over into a dimension inhabited only by plush teddy bears and sparkly rainbows?

“Olaaaaaa mi amorrrr!! Como estasssss mi amorrrr!! Mi Carinhooooo!!” Marta, the owner of El Solar Hostel exclaims, as she engulfs the Bear with a hug and a kiss for each cheek. I narrowly dodge the hug, but receive the 2 kisses, as Marta trills on in enthusiastic spanish, punctuated by several more “mi amors” and “mi carinhos.”

It turns out that Marta is always like this. Without fail. Even at 7 in the morning, when we’re desperately trying to get a few more hours of sleep. She is the sunniest of women in the sleepiest of sleepy colonial towns.

Villa de Leyva (also spelled Leiva, and pronounced Vee-ya de Leiba) was declared a National Monument in December of 1954. A quiet town of 10,000 people, and perhaps just as many peaceful stray dogs, the town’s colonial architecture is almost perfectly preserved. Along with lanes and lanes of cobblestone streets, there’s a huge Plaza Mayor, a large church and several quaint restaurants.

Relaxing in Villa de Leyva

In truth, there’s not much to do in Villa de Leyva, besides walk around, enjoy the sunshine and soak up the absolute peace of it all.

Unfortunately, the Bear and I have just started our travels and have a bit of difficulty getting into the rhythm of nothingness. We feel like we need to be DOING something. Anything. The feeling is nothing more than a ghostly remnant of our lives in non-stop hurry-hurry Seoul, but it still takes us until our third and final day in Villa de Leyva to calm down enough to appreciate it fully.

Tips for traveling to Villa de Leyva

Take the Libertadores Bus: There are a lot of different buses going to Villa de Leyva from Bogota. Libertadores is the only bus that goes direct. You could save a few pesos by going in one of the mini-buses, but you’d lose a lot of time waiting for the bus to fill up with passengers. Libertadores leaves on time, no matter what, plus they drive safely around those guardrail free mountain roads.

You can catch this bus at either the Terminal de Transporte or the Portal del Norte, whichever is closer to where you’re staying.

Stay at El Solar Hostel: This recommendation comes with a caveat. Be prepared to be woken up at 7am every morning by Marta’s enthusiastic voice. If you’re okay with early mornings and shared bathrooms, El Solar is a great place to stay. At just $15/night, it’s a real find. Marta even makes free coffee and tea for you in the mornings. Plus you’ll get at least 25 kisses and 45 hugs during your stay there.

Don’t rush it: It takes a bit of time to get into the rhythm of Villa de Leyva, so leave yourself the luxury of space. We had to leave, just when we were starting to really chill out. Take along a good book and relaaaax. We wish we had.

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6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Diego #

    Hi! Nothing to do in Villa de Leyva? OMG! Are you crazy? Please Google it up! Trekking, museums, sports, biking, cooking lessons, Spanish and Literature workshops! TALKING TO NATIVES!! If you mean no shopping centers, Starbucks, yes, you are right! Oh, you are so gringos, and I´m saying this in the best of manners. No good food? OMG, no wonder the taxi driver took you for a drive! OMG! Food is great! Says it the NYT! Go back please and really enjoy Colombia, there is SO much to do! Yes, we hug and kiss, and we are affectionate, in the same way other cultures avoid eye contact, a hug or any proximity. Btw, hubby is cute. Ciao mi amorrrr.

    August 18, 2012
    • Shelley #

      Lol…Diego thanks for your comment, but you’re making quite the assumption about Starbucks and malls. Not all “gringos” are into those things…in fact, most aren’t. We only spent a few days in Villa de Leyva, and much more in other parts of Colombia. Did you read any of the other posts on Colombia? You’ll see that we did part in all your suggestions, including trekking and hanging out with locals. There’s no doubt…we loved Colombia. Can’t wait to go back.

      On the food, I’m sorry Diego I must disagree. I’ve traveled to 41 different countries and while Colombia’s food is satisfying and tasty, there is no comparison with the food of countries like Tanzania, Thailand, Italy or India. But of course, that’s a matter of personal palate! 😉

      Thanks for reading. Ciao. 🙂

      August 20, 2012
      • Diego #

        I know mi amor, I understand, I i did read the other posts (after). I´m reading your posts with (good) envy. You know more of Colombia than I do. When I go back I will follow your routes and tips. And you are welcome to my house in Villa de Leyva when it is finished. I will prepare you Portuguese food. Kiss.

        August 25, 2012

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