Last year, I head the opportunity to visit Colombia. It was an amazing experience and in today´s post I want to write about the places I have been, and I also want to share some tips with you. I will make a small series of it, because I have a lot to tell you. And in this one I want to write about Pereira and the places that are inclose proximity of Pereira. Before we get started I wanted to send out a little disclaimer: The visit to Colombia was primary to get to know my boyfriend´s family. His family is huge, and by huge I mean REALLY huge! For that we didn´t travel throughout the whole country. We mainly just stayed in one region. Although we didn´t went on a huge trip across the country I saw a lot of beautiful places. Luckily my boyfriend lives in the most touristic region of Colombia. He lives in the city of Pereira which lies in the so-called Coffee-Triangle. I have already put up a post about my ultimate coffee experience there. So living in Pereira was a huge advantage. So we set our base in Pereira and from there we made day trips to different places by car or by bus. Let me take you through the places:
Pereira: Let me start with the base. Pereira is the capital of the state Risaralda and it is a really pretty city. It lies at the foot of the Central Cordillera (mountain range). The city is a smaller one. It has got about 400.000 inhabitants This means that it is not so hectic as in bigger cities. So we could walk around the city center, eat some fresh fruits you get at every corner. I fell in love with Chontaduro. This is the fruit of the peach palm. It is cooked and you enjoy it with salt and honey. The fruits are bright orange and have the consistency of sweet potato and taste almost like chestnuts. It sounds a bit weird but it is just delicious. And it is a super food. It has a lot of vitamins and amino acids. All in all the perfect snack.
If you are craving a coffee, I would recommend to grab a coffee at the the Juan Valdez café in the shopping center Victoria. Than go upstairs to the food court. There are seats outside and enjoy the beautiful view on the city and the mountains. One of the most beautiful views I had while enjoying café. Not far away from the Victoria, there is the café Café Café. Strange name, but again a wonderful view. Go there in the afternoon to watch the sun go down over the city. In the back of the café there are two seats from where you have the perfect glance. We were there a couple of times watching the sunset while sipping a wine. It could´t have been more romantic. When you get hungry, you can try a burger at Sayonara. There are a couple of Sayonaras throughout the city but the one I would recommend is the one on the corner of calle 7 and carrera 13a. There it´s more quite an cozy. Sayonara was founded in Pereira and only can be found there.They make the best burgers in town. There I´ve tried fried cassava (yuca frita) for the first time and never want to have normal french fried again. Fried cassava tastes so much better. My last tip would be the bar Parnaso. If you are fancying a drink in a quite backyard, go there. It is a really colorful, relaxed and nice place with a small fire place and twinkle lights in the trees. But the special something about the place are the cats. There are a lot in the backyard, chilling and playing around. I´ve never seen a bar like this before. I am not the biggest cat lover, but I didn´t mind having them around us.
La Florida: The next place I want to write about is a small village nearby Pereira. If you have enough of the city you can take a 45 min. chiva ride out of the city, to this gorgeous village. A chiva is a traditional and super colorful bus you can find in almost every region of Colombia. The chivas take the people from rural regions to the city to sell their goods on the markets. For me this was one of the most authentical Colombian experiences. The chivas leave every 45 minutes from the Victoria shopping center and each ticket costs about 1,50 Euros. The busses have open sides, so you can enjoy the view on the river Otún as you leave the city and drive through the beautiful nature. When we visited La Florida, we spent the afternoon with some friends on their avocado plantation. It was amazing to see this huge plantation and all the effort they put in. People in La Florida live close to the nature and have a special relationship with it. The products are mostly organic and produced sustainably. There you have also the posibility to do eco friendly tourism. And when you need a break, you can stop by the café Vinotinto and enjoy a coffee with brandy. There they call it carajillo and it is a traditional drink, farmers drink after their work.
Santa Rosa de Cabal: If you have enough of Pereira´s hot climate you can go to this beautiful small city. It lies in the mountains and so it is a bit more chilly. Santa Rosa de Cabal has pretty city centre and a market where the jeeps are standing in line to unload their coffee and other goods. The city is also famous for its hot springs and their thermal spas. The one we went to is called San Vicente. It is high up in the mountains and it takes a good hour from Santa Rosa de Cabal. But the quite long, and bumpy (most of the street isn`t asphalted) ride through the middle of nowhere, is really worth it. The place is surrounded by high rocks and it is really relaxing and quite there. You can take a bath in the hot thermal water and book a facial treatments. If you don´t want to drive all the way up to the spa by yourself, you can use their shuttle service which brings you all the way up to San Vicente and of course back. On the way to the Spa you come across a bunch of souvenir shops. They have a huge vaerity of souvenirs and traditional clothing. I would recommend to buy you something there, because the selection of things and colors is just the best. And if you are into sausageges you need to stop by at Choripaco, which is just in same streets of the gift shops. You can´t miss it. Santa Rosa de Cabal is famous for their sausages and Choripaco is one of the best places for eating sausages. It is a simple but very authentic restaurant, were a lot of tourists stop by before they continue their way up to the spas.
To be continued…