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…
Having seen most of the buildings in the historic centre ‘safe zone’ 🙂 it was time for a riverside stroll – on a pedestrian path winding alongside the Río 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) a huge bronze statue of a cat… that is quite iconic in the city of Cali 🙂 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 😉 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.
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!
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!?!
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 🙂 🙂 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 🙂
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…
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…
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 🙂