Let’s first agree on one thing: we all have our own biases and prejudices. The only difference between one human to another is some acknowledge those biases and try to get past them while others take biases for facts.
The truth is, it’s hard to get rid of biases especially when travelling. You can’t simply leave them outside the airport door.
So like most humans, when travelling to Colombia I took with me a suitcase and a bag full of biases. Watching the last season of Narcos in the airport doesn’t particularly help.
Two Decades ago, Colombia badly suffered from all sorts of things but that was two decades ago. People tend to remember the bad news, it doesn’t matter when the bad news happened, people seem to freeze in time, in those bad moments.
My parents, my friends, my boss, they all were not very enthusiastic about me travelling to Colombia because, you know, “It’s dangerous”. The Internet didn’t help either, the horror stories no matter how infrequent or minor they are, they showed up first.
It felt almost like Colombia is a battlefield between gangs and police, cocaine is floating in the air (you wish right 😉 ) and all taxi drivers are kidnappers.
I do my research before any trip to see what’s the best way to explore a city and what to see. It’s when I was doing this research that I started worrying. Hailing a taxi from the street as you’d do in most cities could end up badly in Colombia.
Even though this is not common , it’s common enough to have a name “The millionaire ride”.
That was about the only thing I needed to be extra careful about in Colombia other than the usual stuff I do in any country like being careful of my surroundings, not waving my fancy camera in the air, not looking lost or ending up in dodgy areas. To be clear, every city had dodgy areas.
Now, let me tell you what happened to me in Colombia. I HAD AN AMAZING TIME.
My trip to Colombia was one of my best trips ever, the people there were so friendly and helpful and the country was simply beautiful. I can’t highlight enough how much I loved my time there.
I’ve never been to South America before and Colombia is definitely a good introduction.
I guess the reason why I fell in Love with Colombia is because it has some of my favourite things :
I’m not sure I ever mentioned that on the blog, but everywhere else on the interweb, I made sure everyone knows I’m a coffee snob. I love a good cup of coffee or two, maybe three…
Colombia is one of the biggest coffee producers in the world, I believe the third biggest . But just because they produce coffee, doesn’t mean they know how to roast it. Luckily for me, they do.
That’s why Colombia was heaven for me.
Visiting a coffee farm in Colombia is one of the experiences I will never forget in my life.
If you are visiting Colombia and would like to go on a coffee farm tour, pretty much all tour companies have one. I went with Toucan Cafe in Medellin and we visited Luna farm in Fredonia where the lovely family who owns the farm spoilt us to some yummy organic food and coffee and showed us the full process of making coffee from picking the cherries to roasting them.
It was such a fun day!
They say South America is home for the best Graffiti in the world. They are probably right.
In Colombia, you don’t even have to look for it, it’s everywhere.
Another awesome experience I had when in Medellin is the Graffiti walking tour in Comuna 13.
Comuna 13 used to be the most notorious dangerous neighberhood in Colombia but now it’s seeing amazing transformations through art. Being able to stroll its streets, enjoying the art with my camera hanging in my neck without being worried about my safety was proof how far this area has come along.
I truly feel blessed to be able to travel , to walk for miles and to hike. I do love my vitamin green and I got plenty of it in Colombia. Whether you are in the city or completely in the countryside, the scenery is simply breathtaking.
Bogota city center is dominated by the beautiful Monserrate mountain which adds to the charm of the city.
Medellin is in a valley surrounded by mountains, the drive from the airport to the city is an adventure in itself.
Antioquia , especially Guatape was a real treat for an outdoorsy person like myself.
I feel like I keep telling you facts about myself through out this post. Brace yourselves for the next fact.
I love bright colours. And when Colombia offered me a whole colourful little town, it had to go on the list of my favourite things about my trip to Colombia.
Ladies & Gents, without further due, I present you colourful Guatape.
Another amazing thing about Guatape and just before reaching the town is the Guatape Rock aka El Peñón de Guatapé aka La Piedra or El Peñol.
The rock looks like something thrown from the space , standing tall in the middle of the countryside.
There are about 700 steps on the rock to climb. I’m really scared of heights but I couldn’t miss the opportunity to climb the rock so I did. I climbed 400 steps and it was one of the proudest moments of my life. Also the view is totally worth it.
I felt so silly when I was finally in Colombia interacting with its people using either my almost non-existent Spanish or their non-existent English. After all the horror stories I read online, all I saw in Colombia was kindness. People were so friendly and willing to help in any way.
I even like the taxi driver who made fun of me and how I said “Englaterrrrra”.
This is only a taster of what to expect in Colombia. I will definitely go back to explore the rest of the country, drink more coffee, eat more yummy food and dance more salsa. Of course I salsa-danced when in Colombia 😉
The traveller inside me