Art Overdose

Madrid is an art lover’s paradise.

From el Museo Nacional Arqueológico to the Prado, once can see millenniums of portraiture, sculpture, architecture and prehistoric cave drawings.

In a few short days I scoured no less than five of the world’s greatest collections of art and artifacts. In addition to Museo Nacional Arqueólogo, I visited the following (with a brief description of the highlights of each):

Museo Thyssen-BornemiszaHome of one of the world’s most distinguished private art collections, this museum’s permanent collection spans a period from the late 13th century to the 1980s. Old masters, Renaissance and Baroque art, the Dutch school and Modern Paintings, including Cubism and Surrealism, covers seven centuries of the history of painting.

The Prado: The name, the reputation, the history speaks for itself. Unfortunately photos were prohibited, so I can only tease you with the names of the incredible works I was able to see. Velázquez -Las Meninas and The Spinners,    Titian – Bacchanal of the Adrian’s, Charles V,       Raphael  – The Cardinal and Madonna of the Fish, Caravaggio – David Victorious over Goliath,  Rubens –  The Three Graces and Adoration  of the Magi,     Heronymous Bosch  –  The Garden of Earthly Delights and Table of the Seven Deadly Sins,   Goya  – The Third of May and Saturn devouring his Child,   Dürer –  Portrait and Adam and Eve,   El Greco – The Holy Trinity and Knight with his hand on his Chest,   Fra Angelico – The Annunciation,   Antonella da Messina – The Dead Christ Supported by an Angel,  Rembrandt, Van Dyck.

Museo Nacional Arqueólogico The collection includes, among others, Prehistoric, Egyptian, Celtic, Iberian, Greek and Roman antiquities and medieval (Visigothic, Islamic Spanish and Christian) objects.

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The Lady of Elche was discovered at L’Alcúdia, an archaeological site near Elche, Spain. It is known as an Iberian artifact from the 4th century BC, with Hellenistic influences. According to The Encyclopedia of Religion, the Lady of Elche is believed to have a direct association with Tanit, the goddess of Carthage, who was worshiped by the Phonecian-Iberians.

Real Academia  de Bellas Artes: This academy, founded in 1752 during the reign of Fernando VI, was a place of study for painters, sculptors and architects. The Academia is one of the best art galleries in Spain, displaying collections that span 5 centuries and giving an overview of the history of art from the Renaissance to the twenty-first century. In addition to paintings and sculpture, the museum exhibits drawings, photographs, furniture, objects of silver and gold, porcelain and other decorative arts. The Goya rooms hold the second largest collection of the master’s work in the world.  El Greco, Rubens, Sorrolla and Picasso are also on display.

Museo Reina Sofía is Spain’s national museum of 20th-century art, and one of the art museums comprising the Golden Triangle of Art (located along the Paseo del Prado and also comprising the Museo del Prado and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza).

The museum is mainly dedicated to Spanish art. Highlights of the museum include excellent collections of Spain’s two greatest 20th-century masters, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. Certainly, the most famous masterpiece in the museum is Picasso’s painting Guernica. The Reina Sofía collection has works by artists such as Eduardo Chillida, Pablo Gargallo, Julio González, Luis Gordillo, Juan Gris, José Gutiérrez Solana, Joan Miró, Lucio Muñoz, Jorge Oteiza, Pablo Serrano, and Antoni Tàpies.

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Madrid!

When exploring a new city for the first time, I make sure to go around the block once or twice, then slowly branch out from there….making note of the parallel and perpendicular streets and landmarks. It saves time later and keeps me from getting lost.

Madrid is glorious! Modern, sophisticated and spotlessly clean, this Spanish capital is     beautiful, with spectacular buildings from historic architectural periods, including Baroque, Gothic and Neo-classical; an abundance of large, safe public parks and tree-lined avenues; heaps of trendy shopping spots with prices ranging from rock bottom department stores (Primark) to expensive designer boutiques, specializing in everything from shoes, handbags and stockings to styles hot off the runways.

Madrid has a gentle, quiet and well planned system of public transport with the Metro underground rail being the star attraction. (I say “gentle” in comparison to NYC’s screeching, graffiti-riddled subway trains, and well planned in the sense that it is easy to understand, even for someone who is new to the city and doesn’t speak the language).

The people are friendly and helpful, the city is crammed with world class art museums and a plethora of massive cathedrals, the tap water is delicious and safe to drink, and, as far as I can tell, crime is not an issue.

While Madrid’s street plan is archaic and confusing, the grand plazas, roundabouts, spectacular fountains and statues create an aura of spaciousness, even on crowded streets near packed tourist attractions. Outdoor cafes abound; the coffee is excellent; and prices are reasonable, and don’t vary much between residential and business or tourist areas.

Of course Madrid is a Mecca for tourists, students and international business people. With several lavish Royal palaces, including Palacio Real (former home of  King Phillipe V, the grandson of French King Louis XIV), the Palacio de Liria, the Santa Cruz Palacio, and Palacio de Cibeles Centro Centro, one can get a glimpse of what being in the top 2% of wealth was like during centuries past.

Madrid is also home to the Prado (Museo Nacional de Prado), the Real Academia de Belles Artes, the Museo Nacional Centro de Reina Sophia, the Thyssen-Bornemizma Museum, a naval museum, the Sorolla Museum, and the Museo Arquelogico. Where else can you see Carravagio, Rembrandt, Reuben’s, Goya, Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh, Dali, Velazquez, Raphael, Titian and Heironymous Bosch in the same day?

Home to the notorious Spanish Inquisition of Queen Isabella and King Fernando in the Middle Ages, Madrid’s cathedrals and monestaries are some of the most spectacular in Christendom. The Basilica de San Francisco el Grande, the Catedral de las Almudena, the Royal Chapel of St. Anthony de La Florida, and the Monestario de las Descalzas Reales boast items such as holy relics, like pieces of the True Cross, some of the bones of St. Sebastian, the burial place of Goya, the site on which St. Francis of Assissi built a chapel in 1217, and marble sculptures, and artwork by Titian, Reubens, Breughel the Elder, Goya and Pacheco (Velazquez’s teacher and father-in-law). There is even an Egyptian temple, called the Templo de Debod, that dates back to the 2nd Century B.C., that was dismantled and rebuilt in Madrid.

This world class city has something for everyone and every taste, so be sure to include it on your Bucket List!

 

 

Journey to Iberia: The Flight

“I am walking away from anything that gives me bad vibes. There is no need to explain or make sense of it. It’s my life and I’m doing what makes me happy.” — Anonymous 

March 28, 2017 — At last I’m on the road again, after a year-long hiatus, rife with medical dogma, like iron chains, that kept me lashed to Kauai and Honolulu. Toward the end of this dilemma I made a life-changing decision to forego the radical surgery and concentrate on naturopathy, homeopathy, positivity and resonant light/energy therapy, thereby freeing me to get on with my life — SOONER than later.

The journey began before I left Kauai, by finding the perfect pet-sitter to spoil my beautiful hen and three pampered pussy cats. With dear Dawn in charge of my hacienda and menagerie, I embarked on a two-month journey to Spain to explore alternative cancer treatments and to see all of the wonders that I’d never seen before in Europe or other parts of the world.

In addition to enhancing my appreciation and cultural knowledge of my birth country — Colombia — I also wanted to explore the ancient history of the Iberian Peninsula, where prehistoric remains of Phonecian seafarers and ancient necropolises are as common as shark’s teeth are in Hawaii.

My journey was preceded by watching many informative You Tube videos about what to see and do in Spain, as well as my arm chair discovery of the region’s ancient invaders, including Muslims from North Africa, Greeks, Romans, and the Germanic Visogoths, as well as numerous ancient settlements by Celtic tribes.

I embarked on my adventure by boarding several airplanes to Madrid. Who so ever can sleep on a plane is either drugged out of their mind or lying…. Being of the first category, I dozed on the Kauai to Phoenix and Phoenix to Philadelphia legs of the trip, contorted into a semi-fetal position, unable to read, and too crowded to comfortably plug into a headset to watch the movie on aisle-ceiling tvs.

But on the Philadelphia to Madrid leg I was BLESSED with an empty seat next to me, a tv on the back of the seat in front of me, and TWO meals, The first of which — dinner — was particularly enticing because it was served with free Spanish wine! I watched the suspenseful movie, Deepwater Horizon, about the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. After getting this rare, royal treatment from an airline (American), I stretched out to half my height on my seat and the empty one, and was embraced in the arms of Morpheus, Greek god of sleep! I know I slept because I had dreams, and I was pleasantly awakened to the aromas of breakfast and coffee as we made our descent into Madrid.

Being a ver high-tech, organized member of the European Union, Spanish baggage claim and customs were a breeze, and I was quickly able to catch a taxi to my Air BnB lodging at 52 Calle de García del Paredes in the university area of Madrid, only  1 block from the Museo Sorolla and a short hike to the historic Old section.

Since My flight arrived at 8 am on March 30, after having spent two full nights, and an entire day in transit, much more sleeping was necessary. I finally woke up refreshed early on Friday morning, March 31, ready to explore the first in a string of famous, historic cities, Madrid.

To be continued in the next entry “Madrid — Modern and Majestic”

Boyacá – Close to Bogotá, filled with history, and landscape to die for

 

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My “casa de campo”, a rental cottage in Oicata

Pastoral rolling hills dotted by small ‘casas de campo’, or farmhouses – their bricks the same color as the dirt roads and mountain side gashes from which these materials were obtained – provide the backdrop where cows and sheep graze under impossibly azure skies.

Regiments of clouds – fluffy, gossamer, cottony, cream white with varying degrees of grey and silver edges — line up obediently, like marchers in a band, to perpetuate their silent parade, moving across the sky in step with the music of the universe. Lining up in rows after rows, upon rows and rows, they herald the sunlight that gives their gossamer presence life, never hesitating in thier silent march to question or forget their purpose.

Dirt roads the color of sand slash through fields of green, scrub brush, crops and pasture, dotted by tiny yellow, purple and orange wild flowers. Blankets of dust, like mini-mushroom clouds, violently volatize and are quickly dispersed by the brisk winds that pummel these fields, when canvas-covered “caminos” (trucks) or a “moto” (moped) happen o to fly by.

Caballero

A “caballero”, country gentleman. near Iguaque

With skin as brown as the bark of an old tree, natives of the Muisca tribes that once dominated the area  and the Spaniards who conquered them, walk along the dusty roads. They are clad in a dark fedoras and weed-colored “ruanas”, thick, wool, rectangular ponchos with an opening for the head, that have been lovingly woven from the wool of their sheep. A dark skirt or black trousers complete this unusual local “uniform”, worn mostly by the elders.

 

A proclivity for “cerveza” (beer) is enjoyed by both the obsidian-haired women, who sport long braids beneath their felt hats, and the older men, who wear grey-stubble sprouts on their toothless visages, but they all are grinning in the bright mountain sunshine.

Subtle transformation of colors, moods, changes in temperature and season, the earth’s temperament, shifting breezes, and variations in the natural order, are as constant and as natural as the earth’s rotation. These elements create Boyacá’s unique beauty.

Three elements are essential in describing the aura of Boyacá:

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Casa Amezquita

The sky and landscape are constantly changing. Dawn’s awakens on some days as gentle as a drowsy kitten, and on others, precociously, like a hungry toddler who greets the morning with loud yells. There is no doubt that the chill and atmospheric changes of the nighttime hours has prepared the landscape for the events scheduled for this particular day.

As the morning progresses, the earth and sky converse, and sunlight dusts the fields. Clouds grow and billow, skies darken and rain begins to fall. As individual as an idol versus a God, the moods of these entities are as capricious as the tempests of the sea.

The sky: the atmosphere as the sun climbs her celestial escalator causing the day to bloom, as nature mixes in her cauldron humidity, temperature, sunlight, dust and wind to determine the weather for this particular day, peaks and declines across the hours of the day. One never bores watching the colorful transition – from silky fog that blankets the lowlands at day break, to the increasing brilliant colors of the day as the sun marches west, to the diving submission of the sun, sinking below the mountain ridges and coughing up mountains of blue-grey clouds that grow and shift into a million different forms as the sun cools the land. When all the color and shapes have pulled their chilly atmospheric blanket across the mountains, the light show begins, with bursts of orange and white lightening. Against the backdrop of the black, foreboding cordillera oriental, the intensity and variations of these electrical charges continue late into the night, leaving little time for interruptions or breaks from the show.

The Boyacá landscape is eternal, providing more than a lifetime of images and vistas that could rarely be imitated on canvas.

Jurassic Park Colombian style!

Although I live on the island where the movies Jurassic Park, the Lost World and Jurassic World were filmed, I never imagined that I would be able to see and touch the ancient creatures that once terrorized geologic history.

Until I visited Gondova.

Gondova is a huge theme park located near Villa de Leyva. Here, life size replicas of dinosaurs and other extinct creatures frolic on the dry hillsides and swim in the volcanic pools of turquoise water — their true, ancient, natural habitat. Gondova is the best representation of ancient geological history outside of a natural history museum.

crestThe word Gondova, as it turns out, means “the great valley of the dinosaurs”, and the park is aptly located in the Monquirá Valley, a high altitude valley of semi-desert terrain that once met the sea.

In ancient times Villa de Leyva rested on the banks of the ocean, prior to the great upheaval and creation of the Andes Mountains. ancientseaRich in fossils from the Cretaceous period (145 to 65 million years ago), and the third and last episode of the Mesozoic Era, the area is a paleontologist’s dream. As the sea receded it left behind the bones and fossils of thousands of ancient species.

Bernardo Salamanca, a Bogotá businessman and expert in animation and special effects, saw an opportunity to combine Hollywood special effects with actual excavations of the area. A theme park  that would bring education, the environment and natural history to life.

When the monumental discovery of the largest salt-water crocodile in the world — the Kronosauras — in 1977,  was found three miles west of Villa de Leyva, Salamanca ushered his theme park  into reality, and opened Gondava.

With no cars in the parking lot, we were instructed to wait for our guide. We sat on a stone wall that surrounded a pozo azul (or pool) of emerald green and turquoise water. In the pond were prehistoric creatures that broke the surface of the crystalline waters.

Trilobites, GerrothoraxIchthyosaurus (dolphins that breathed like whales) and Ammonoidea basked on the shoreline and swam in the waters. Our guide, a young local woman, provided a running commentary of the incredible creatures that we passed on our round trip trek up and down the hillside.

On the excursion more ancient creatures roamed and foraged in the desert landscape, guarding their off-spring and hiding under bushes for shade. Suddenly there was a grand roar from further up the hillside. Was it a Brontosaurus or T Rex? So life like were the models (and the sound effects) of these prehistoric monsters, that a child with his family visiting from Bogotá, ran to his mother and clung to her legs.

A mother Pterodactyl hovered over her hatchlings, wings outstretched from the branches of a tree. A Pentaceratops, with its head at attention and its great scaly crown and huge horns poised to attack, appeared to charge out of the bushes. Further down the hill a giant sauropod – a huge, long necked, herbivore – was still under construction. At the time a ladder allowed visitors to enter the sauropod’s belly and view the ribcage, lungs and the creature’s hypothesized two hearts — needed to supply enough blood to the brain and organs.

Colombia never ceases to amaze me, and here was living proof: having seen the towering skeletons and dinosaur bones at the Smithsonian, watching block buster films about the Jurassics, and now witnessing an entire reconstruction of these magnificent monsters close enough to touch, I felt a heightened sense of appreciation of ancient geologic history and the diversity of life cycles on our planet. Walking through Gondava– a real Jurassic Park — where Colombian paleontologists had just recently excavated creatures such as the Padillasauras and Kronosauras, was like walking into the past while looking forward to its lessons for the future.

Hollywood, try and top that!

Colombian Cost Co

Typical Boyaca farmer with hat and ruana

Typical Boyaca farmer with hat and ruana

Market day in Tunja was a surprised I hadn’t expected. On my last day in Boyaca, we went to the “market” to have breakfast.

Sounds easy, right?

First of all, traffic was backed up for miles with huge covered trucks, collectivas, cars, carts, bicyclists, huge busses leaving for Bogota, and masses of people on foot, wandering between stopped vehicles as they converged on the market.

For stray dogs, moms trailing kids, old men in dusty ruanas with black fedora hats, old women in the same costume, younger men in baseball caps ond ruanas, people in jeans and denim jackets, nuns, and families, market was the place to go, very early on a Friday morning.

Bananas for sale

Bananas for sale

We finally parked and headed for the main attraction. Huge pallets laden with onions, papayas, pineapples, vegetables that I’ve never seen before, medicinal plants, potatos, livestock (little piggies for sale! — chickens and roosters, baskets, espadrills, hats to ward off the high altitude sun, clothes, sneakers, and hand made ruanas, covered an entire city block and the entire interior of a public stadium!

Young farmer girl selling peas

Young farmer girl selling peas

If you can name it, you can probably buy it here.

If only CostCo was as colorful and as well stocked!

Dogs like the market, too!

Dogs like the market, too!

Pummeling through the crowd, we came to the “dining area”. Wood fires and huge grills smoked merrily in the early-morning light, exuding the delicious aromas of sizzling, fresh (like hours fresh!) chicken, pork and beef.

We entered a crowded restaurant — a semi-temporary structure with a tarp overhead, and quickly-constructed rough wooden walls. I ordered chicken “plancha” — a whole chicken cut into flat strips resembling something  that looked like it had been ironed on an  ironing board — that was accompanied by tasty little round  potatoes, rice, salad and a healthy glass of the juice of local fresh fruit.

My friends ordered a thick, hot, delicious soup — a regional favorite — made with aromatic stock, tiny round potatoes, maize, cilantro, and chunks of pork — steaming hot and very filling.

Boyacanese woman preparing fresh chicken and pork

Boyacanese woman preparing fresh chicken, beef, and pork.

Considering the fact the shoppers — and especially the farmers, who brought their goods to the market at around 3 AM — a hearty breakfast was in order. We sat in the crowded dining room with many locals, ate, chatted with other diners, then paid the bill — more than satisfied with the hearty meal of which we had partaken. After leaving the market we fought even more traffic on the way out, and left for Bogota.

I can’t wait to go back!

Colombia, an overview

Colombia truly is the “Land of Magical Realism”, a phrase used to describe the style of Nobel-prize winning literature written by Colombian native, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Just like Marquez’s ethereal writing, weaving fantasy and reality like a thick ruana[1], the country and its people possess many dream-like attributes layered with dark deposits of a harsh history.Bogota

With extremely varied landscape, proximity to the equator, two oceans and five other countries as borders, Colombia is situated between a land bridge to central and North America, serves as a gateway to the rest of the Southern hemisphere, and is a keystone in Latin American politics and the continent’s economy.

Mountains, jungles, rivers, rich, fertile soil and invaluable natural resources contribute to a promising future in the scope of the world economy, while history, political differences, isolation of different cultures, poverty and crime have detracted from the political and social aspirations of the country.

Bordered by Panama to the north, Venezuela to the west, Brazil to the southwest, Peru and Ecuador to the southeast, Colombia is the only South American country with coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and boasts more than 300 beaches.

With 340 different types of ecosystems, Colombia is one of the most bio diverse countries in the world, and is home to 1,879 Regional Costumesspecies of birds, the highest diversity of birds in the world. And it is not very hard to find Colombia’s flora and fauna. Colombia has 58 National Parks (the same number as the US) that cover 55,000 square miles, or 11% of the country.

From ancient times when the indigenous people crafted gold and silver for ceremonial purposes, Colombia has been known for rich and abundant natural resources buried in the earth’s crust and cultivated on verdant sun-drenched fields. Farmers of today raise world-renowned coffee on the Andean slopes. Colombia sells much of the world’s emeralds and considerable amounts of gold, silver, and platinum, and has the continent’s highest coal production. Development of oil resources and investment by large corporations are currently Colombia’s most important economic activity. Last year, Colombia produced 1 million barrels of oil per day of petroleum, including crude oil and natural gas.

gramamaColombia is equatorial. Seasons consist of “rainy” and “dry”, summer comes in December, and winter in June, but variations in temperature depend on altitude. High mountain towns and villages, like Tunja, range from the mid-sixties during the day to lows in the mid-forties, Fahrenheit, at night, while coastal towns like Cartagena and Barranquilla bask in humidity with highs in the 90s with lows in the mid-70s.

Colombia’s multiple climate zones and varying landscapes are divided by three huge cordilleras (mountain ranges) of the Andes that contribute to the concentration of Colombia’s people into separate clusters. Distinct regions of population include the Caribbean lowlands in cities like Barranquilla and Cartagena; isolated mountain valleys include the population centers of cities like Cali and Medellin. Bogotá, the capital and largest city, is situated in a remote mountain basin at 8,200 feet, while steamy, sparsely populated low-lying areas, like Leticia, and Puerto Alegria, situated on the banks of the Amazon River, are gateways to the famous Amazon jungle.

Most Colombians today are of mixed ethnicity, including the ancestors of slaves imported by the Spaniards and Portuguese. (About 90 percent of all Africans forcibly imported into the Americas went to the Caribbean and South America). About 20 percent of Colombians claim European descent. Remaining indigenous populations make up approximately one percent of the population.TemploDoct

The Spanish conquistadors arrived in 1499, conquering the peaceful native inhabitants, who had a highly developed civilization that excelled at agriculture, gold and silver metallurgy and textiles. Colonization rapidly followed by 1525, and the people of “Nueva Grenada” (modern day Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador) gained independence from the Spanish crown in 1820. Since then Colombia has had a turbulent history. Between 1899 and 1902, civil war claimed 100,000 lives.  La Violencia erupted in 1948 when a popular candidate for president was assassinated, and lasted until 1957. Bogota’s downtown was decimated by riots, buidings destroyed and trolley cars burned, causing around  300,000 deaths and the near-overthrow of the Colombian government. From the 1970s to the 1990s the explosion of drug cultivation and exportation brought more violence and crime.

The Rafael Uribe PalaceColombia, however, has made a remarkable transition in recent years from “off-the-radar crime hotspot” to “exotic must-see destination”. An era of headline-grabbing crime cartels and drug wars during the 1980s has ceded to social, legal and legislative reforms that have made the country a safe option for a new generation of curious travelers. Within the last 10 years Colombian drug production has decreased by 60%, violence has markedly abated, and the murder rate is lower than in some US cities, including New Orleans and Baltimore.

According to Luis German Restrepo, executive director of ProColombia, the country’s tourism agency, Colombia is steadily increasing in popularity among North Americans. The total number of visitors to Colombia in 2014 was 2,879,543 a 9.5 percent increase from 2013. The main market for Colombia in 2014 was the United States with 376,410 travelers. Restrepo cited hotel infrastructure, economic stability, investment and product diversity as a few of the reasons Colombia has become a top-notch destination in Latin America.

Colombia’s people are warm, open, polite and friendly. Modern conveniences, like huge supermarkets, malls and freeways lessen the impact of being a foreigner. Retention of the old traditions, tiny villages, and unique regional styles of dress and food, however, keep the experience of living in Colombia fresh and exciting.

Top sites to see:ClaustroSanAugustin

Each region offers a fantastic array of activities that can be enjoyed every day of the year thanks to tropical weather with indiscernible seasons and no hurricanes.

Caribbean Coast:

  • Cartagena, a UNESCO World Heritage site, whose centerpiece is “Cuidad Allmurada,” the city’s huge colonial-era walled city, evokes more than 500 years of history.
  • Barranquilla, best known for its bacchanalian, annual “Carnaval”, with elaborate costumes, parades, music, and dancing in the streets, has earned Barranquilla UNESCO’s World Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
  • Santa Marta, the first permanent Spanish settlement in colonial Colombia, is a major domestic tourist destination. Here, in Tayrona National Park, Cuidad Perdida (the Lost City), discovered in the mid-1970s by treasure hunters, was one of the most important settlements of the indigenous Tayrona people.

Boyacá and the Santanderes:

  • hs2edNorth of Bogota and located in the mountainous highlands, the countryside is dotted with beautiful, well-preserved colonial towns, including Villa de Leyva and Barichara. The area is rich in history, natural beauty, and outdoor activities.
  • Paipa’s thermal hot springs, the magnificent Lake Tota, Colombia’s largest lake, Raquira and other small native villages, and the chilly but European-style capital of Tunja are delightful to explore.
  • Miles of secondary roads serve as training grounds, where international cyclists sharpen their muscles at elevations of 10,000 feet and more.

Medellin and the Coffee Region:

Spanish style architecture and filled with coffee plantations, the region is bordered by a mountainous landscape and is rich in traditions echoed in its crafts, gastronomy, and festivals that preserve its rural folklore and heritage.burroheavyload

  • A UNESCO World Heritage City, with unique traffic-saving cable cars and an elevated Tram, has a vibrant cultural scene and nightlife.
  • Guatape and Santa Fe de Antioquia are rural villages a short distance from Medellin with rustic, colonial charm and friendly locals.
  • Manizales, the capital of the Caldas department, is situated atop meandering mountain ridges. Nearby coffee farms and national parks are perfect day-trip destinations.
  • Salento, located on the western edge of Parque Nacional Los Nevados, is home to cowboys and coffee growers, and close to Valle de Cocora, where wax palms, Colombia’s national tree, rise to dizzying heights of 200 feet.

Bogota:

Colombia’s lofty capital city, located in a mountainous bowl at an elevation of 8,200 feet, displays the fantastic vibe of a modern city full of history and culture with unmatched cuisine and exquisite taste for fashion.

  • IMG_0241The legend of El Dorado is displayed at Museo del Oro (The Gold Museum), tourism thrives in the historic and quirky La Candelaria, and the Plaza de Bolivar serve as the centerpiece of the nation’s capital, where Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos resides in the grand Presidential Palace.
  • Many outstanding art museums, theaters and concert hall, too numerous to name, reside alongside Bogota’s more than one hundred universities, earning Bogota the title of “The Athens of South America”.

Cali and Southwest Colombia

  • Cali, Colombia’s salsa capital is a warm, relaxed city in the Valle de Cauca, where sugarcane fields go on forever. Settled by the native Calima people as early as 1200 B.C.E. Cali’s later railroad system linked it to the rest of Colombia and the world.
  • Popayan, the White City, lies along the banks of the Rio Cauca, and is proud of its place in history as the home of priests, presidents and poets.
  • Tierradentro is an ancient site settled by an agricultural society from 500 to 900 A.D. that is a major indigenous Sogamoso Arch hutsnecropolis with monumental funeral statues and huge burial chambers decorated with anthropomorphic and zoomorphic geometric designs. This archaeological park was declared a World Heritage site in 1995.

[1] Ruana – a very thick, soft poncho-style rectangular or square outer garment with a slit for the head, that can also used as a blanket or cushion. The word “ruana” comes from the Chibcha language meaning “Land of Blankets,” woven by the indigenous Muisca natives.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruana#cite_note-1s with sheep’s virgin wool