From Bogotá we took a bus 3 hours north to Villa de Leyva, the quaint, colonial village nestled amongst the Andean mountains with a population of roughly 10,000 people. When we arrived we were surprised to see that all the roads in town were cobblestone. We rarely saw anyone selling handicrafts or food on the streets (a drastic change from all other Colombian cities), and it was especially noticeable in the massive main plaza where all forms of commerce were forbidden.
We arrived at dusk, so once we found a place to stay for the evening, we rushed out to satisfy our hunger. Luckily enough for us we discovered a delicious little Italian restaurant that was still open (every other restaurant in town had already closed by 7pm). The cozy restaurant boasted an extremely professional aire as all the women in the kitchen wore traditional chef attire (we later found out the restaurant is in conjunction with a cooking school) and took turns handling the stove top cooking, oven duty, and plating.
We ordered a salad with tomatoes, olives, nuts, corn, cheese and chicken and a beef lasagna, and knew by the standard of the olive oil in the center of our table (which was infused with various peppers) that we had made a great choice. They also accepted credit cards, which became very helpful once we realized we miscalculated how much cash we needed for the extent of our brief trip (and we also happened to leave our debit cards in Bogotá).
The next morning at breakfast we chatted with the sweet lady who owned and ran the hotel, and after exchanging uncountable amounts of cheek kisses, we asked her for recommendations concerning what to see/do around town. She mentioned hikes to several waterfalls in the surrounding area, but since they would require a taxi both directions, we opted to visit a local vineyard that she said was within walking distance (turns out this was not completely accurate).
Once we finished our delicious breakfast, coffee and fresh-squeezed orange juice, we set off on foot to find Marquéz de Lleyva. At the beginning of the road we saw a sign for the viñedo (vineyard) stating that it was 10 km away. For some reason we both agreed that distance was walkable so we continued on. After walking about 3 km uphill we came to the realization that we should have hired a taxi but at this point we were walking along a sparsely traveled dirt road leading to who knows where. We decided we would try to hail down every vehicle we saw to ask for a ride. We tried this for the next mile or so without luck.
Then Ryan decided to hide while Lisa, with her blonde hair stuck her thumb out for the next vehicle and almost immediately it miraculously worked! A truck pulled over and we quickly hopped in after seeing the driver was an innocent teenager who barely looked old enough to be driving. We explained to him where we were headed and although he wasn’t sure where it was he was glad to offer us a ride.
About 10 minutes later we arrived at our destination and thanked our good samaritan for the free ride. We were clamoring over how lucky we were all the way up the additional 2 km drive to the entrance of the vineyard. We couldn’t have been happier to arrive at this small but beautiful vineyard with only one other couple to share it with. After walking 5 km and Lisa’s first hitchhiking experience, we were sure we deserved a reward, and vine to glass red wine sounded quite appropriate! For $5 we received a 45 minute tour of the vineyard, production facility and cellar, and a glass of their cabernet sauvignon reserve. We enjoyed our wine at a table in the garden patio which offered a panoramic view of the vineyards, while workers played tejo in near distance. After a glass or two it began to rain so we moved inside (with a fresh glass), and decided it would be best to have a worker call a taxi to take us back to town, rather than testing our luck with hitchhiking again.