Estamos en Cali

Cali – our next destination was a pretty big city… in fact – depending on how you measure it, it is either the SECOND (if you go on population size!) or THIRD (if you go on physical area) BIGGEST city in Colombia!

As with all BIG cities – we were expecting there to be some areas of Cali that we would need to avoid – what we weren’t expecting was a nicely laid out tourist map of the city with this information ready to go! YEP, that’s correct – the tourist map of the city of Cali – that our hostal gave us – had a clear colour scheme – green, yellow and RED!!! According to the map you could wander freely in the green areas, but needed to take extra care in the yellow areas and well basically you should AVOID the red areas… How cool is that!?!

The downtown area of Cali (a mix of green and yellow on the map!?!) was a nice area to walk around – the contrast of the old and new buildings built side-by-side made the architecture of the city really interesting – as did the different styles used… from the neo-gothic style of La Ermita church to the Moorish style of the Capilla de la Inmaculada and the Mudejar Tower…

Iglesia de la Merced – the oldest church in Cali – with modern skyscrapers looming in the background.
The Cathedral de San Pedro on the historic main square of Cali.
The Capilla de la Inmaculada and the Mudejar Tower (part of the Church of San Francisco complex) on Plazoleta (small plaza!) de San Francisco.
PB on Plazoleta de San Francisco.
La Ermita Church.

Having seen most of the buildings in the historic centre ‘safe zone’ πŸ™‚ it was time for a riverside stroll – on a pedestrian path winding alongside the RΓ­o Cali (Cali River). Some parts of the walk were nicer than others… but as it was all coloured in green (on our beautiful map!) we kept going. There were a few things to see on the walk but the highlight for me was El Gato del Rio (the cat of the river)Β  a huge bronze statue of a cat… that is quite iconic in the city of Cali πŸ™‚ The Cat of the River isn’t the only cat on the riverside walk – there is now an area with FIFTEEN additional cat statues… all made of garish plastic… but each with a whole heap of character πŸ˜‰ After the cats we strolled a little further until we were able to cross the river and then head into suburbia in order to make it back to our own area of Cali – the barrio of San Antonio.

Looking back towards La Ermita from our riverside stroll..
PB and two of the cats of Cali πŸ™‚
CC finds a CALI sign that’s perfect for a bit of a rest…
Check out the Orange-chinned Parakeet we spotted in a random suburb in Cali.

Back in our own pretty nice neighbourhood – it was time for a bit more sightseeing… The neighbourhood of San Antonio is home to a cool hill with a church on the top of it! So before it got dark we strolled to the top to take in the view!

Looking at the city of Cali from the top of San Antonio Hill.
The Church of San Antonio.

Then it was time to celebrate an awesome day with a beer!!! San Antonio neighbourhood is FULL of cool hipster bars with different beers… we, however went for a lower end option – beer from a small shop! Thing is – in Colombia most small shops have tables outside them so you can enjoy a beer from them while it’s still cold!!! No need to take it home and drink it in our hostal room – luke warm… as the hostal didn’t have a fridge… even in the shared kitchen!?!

CC enjoying her supermarket beer on a table on a terrace outside the shop!

It wasn’t only the good cheap beer that you could get that made our suburb pretty good… it was also the food and coffee πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ We found a pretty good arepa place that we went to a couple of times, AND a GREAT place for a REALLY GOOD coffee – both just around the corner from our hostal πŸ™‚

PB and cheesy arepas!
PB in our favourite Cali coffee shop – Pao.

And seeing as I’ve now mentioned our hostal twice – I have to share this picture of PB in our room… our room wasn’t quite as we were expecting – the sleeping area was upstairs… kind of mezanine style… there was a ladder that you had to climb to get to bed and PB liked hanging off it…

PB does a balancing act in our room in the hostal!

The final Cali tourist destination that we visited was Loma de la Cruz – an artisanal market – and while the market itself wasn’t that exciting, the view from the top of the hill was pretty nice – as was the walk there!!! On the walk we even caught glimpses of Jesus – yep, Cali is another South American city that has its VERY OWN Cristo Rey (Jesus) statue…

A cute colourful doorway in San Antonio – seen on our walk to Lomo de la Cruz.
A view on the walk.
The view from the market.
A view of Jesus!

All in all we really liked Cali, but after a few good coffees we were excited to be moving on as we were heading to the coffee region… and we were really looking forward to trying more Colombian coffee πŸ™‚

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