TOP 9 BOOKS YOU NEED TO READ BEFORE TRAVELING TO COLOMBIA
Below are the top 9 books to read for a deeper understanding of the country.
The weather in Colombia is not something that is easy to generalise about. On the one hand, it is equatorial, so there is very little variation throughout the year. On the other hand, however, there is such a variety in landscapes and terrains that the country is home to a startling array of climates, from dry, hot desert to humid jungle and freezing mountainous regions.
Within each microclimate, the weather is fairly similar all year round, although there are vague wet and dry seasons. The discrepancies in altitude, proximity to the coast and other factors all contribute to the fact that the mean temperature will vary drastically depending on where you are. Sometimes, these changes can be experienced within a mere one or two hours of each other.
Furthermore, the higher up you are, the more you will notice a marked difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures. So you could be enjoying blazing sunshine during the day before you have to wrap up in several layers to survive the night.
COLOMBIAN FOOD AND DRINKS
Local dishes are varied and tasty, with a touch of Spanish influence. To save money and get an idea of the cuisine eaten by Colombians, try menús del día. They tend to be on the basic side: some soup, rice, a piece of meat or fish and an arepa or two (see below). The international food found in high-end restaurants in bigger cities, e.g within the Zona Rosa in Bogotá, is of an excellent standard. Coastal cities such as Cartagena produce excellent seafood, and it is worth visiting a top-end restaurant to experience it.
Time in Colombia is based on Greenwich Mean Time with a difference of five or six hours, depending on the season. When it is 12 noon in Colombia, in London it is 5pm, in Madrid 6pm, in New York 12 noon and in Los Angeles 9am. In summer the difference increases one hour.
The official currency of Colombia is the peso ($). Entering or taking out money, in this denomination or in any other, is restricted and should be declared on entering or leaving the country. 1 USD: $3.100 approximately.
The exchange of foreign currency should be made exclusively in hotels, banks and bureaux de change, never on the street. The exchange rate fluctuates from day to day and has the U.S. dollar as the official reference rate, which is also the currency most used in the market. Payment is made on the basis of the official daily rate, after discounting commissions and services, which vary between 2 and 3%.
The capital cities of the country have an extensive network of cash points. The majority are in service 24 hours and provide the option of the English language. The transactions generally permitted are: credit/debit balance, withdrawals, transfers and cash advances. Avoid giving the card to strangers or revealing your personal PIN code. Cash points are strategically located, particularly on thoroughfares and in shopping malls. Some, such as Cirrus, Visa and MasterCard, permit international debit and credit transactions.
The larger stores and shops, supermarkets, and higher-class hotels and restaurants accept such cards.
The majority of hotels, restaurants and commercial establishments accept international credit cards. The most frequent are Visa and Master Card. Only some places accept American Express and Diners Club.
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