Fondest memory: We weren't interested in any of the reported adrenaline outdoor activities at this point. We had just done a load of trekking in El Cocuy and we still very much in the relaxation mode. So, we enjoyed the town's other noted attraction, the lush Parque El Gallineral, especially relishing the preponderance of Colombians obviously doing the same. One thing that's nice in Colombia, even when things get overly touristy, they are still mostly filled with countrymen. As much as we loved the park, and we did, I think we found most peace in the town's main square, Parque La Libertad. Whereas every other square we had thus experienced in Colombia was seemingly bare of trees, this one was lush in comparison and offered up great shade, much needed in San Gil's heat. It also had a pretty church as a backdrop but it was not these mere physical qualities that made it so intriguing. No, it was that it truly was the center of all social life in this otherwise touristy town. We went up both evenings in town, grabbed a much coveted bench, and bought some refreshments from a nearby shop. Sitting there, sipping our beers, we could, much like the locals, watch the world go by.
It's a bit of a toss up. Parque El Gallineral is surely the most stunning part of this very cool town but Parque La Libertad probably gets closer to the real San Gil. Be sure to check out both!
Fondest memory: We visited San Gil pretty much as an afterthought. In fact, it was a stop because it was somewhat midway between Tunja and Bucamaranga. We wanted to avoid a long bus trip and San Gil sounded like a nice enough place to break up the journey. Touted as the outdoors adventure capital of Colombia, San Gil surprised us in its dichotomous nature. On the one hand, it was very touristy especially along the river where a very garish quality seemed to ooze to the point of sleaziness. On the other hand, it was a very authentic South America town with a main plaza very much in tune with locals who came to relax under a fair amount of shade. To be fair, we had just spent a romantic few days in Villa de Leyva followed by a foodies' paradise stop in Tunja so San Gil was looking at a fairly strong order effect. It just came up at a bad time. If it had followed our weeks of trekking in the area of El Cocuy, I'm quite sure it would have been a lot better received. That said, we were ushered into a warm sunny town with at least a few good places to eat and a nice hotel to lay our heads for a couple nights. (concluded below in Fondest Memory)