Josie’s Colombia

Colombia invites us to live an intense journey through its incredible diversity and charm, which shows us great contrasts in its different natural regions, great abundance of flora and fauna, ethnic diversity and a great richness in its cultural and artistic heritage.

The aroma of the coffee plantations and an infinite green horizon are the benefits of this land that evokes the magic of nature. The coffee cultural landscape of Colombia was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2011, as was Cartagena de Indias, the best preserved colonial city in the world, declared a World Heritage Site in 1984; the magic of this city can be sensed in each of its corners, walls, stone roads and ancient fortifications.

Every corner of Colombia immerses the traveler in a story full of mysteries and adventures, which we are more than willing to discover with the help of ProColombia.

Bogotá

We begin our trip in the capital of the country, for a private tour, with Spanish-speaking guide and private car, through the historic center of Bogota, through the famous neighborhood of La Candelaria.

History, politics and urban art intertwine and flood its narrow and steep cobblestone streets, combining modernity and tradition that can still be seen in its museums, churches and colonial houses, once home to the most distinguished of the Spanish and Creole aristocracy.

Our visit begins at the Plaza de Bolivar, the main square of the city where we can see the Cathedral, the National Capitol, the colonial church of El Sagrario, and the Casa del Florero (House of Independence), as well as other emblematic monuments of the colonial and republican eras of the old Santa Fe de Bogota.

©Javier Biosca_Calle de Bogotá

Here we also find the Botero Museum, an essential stop when visiting the city; located in an old colonial house, it houses one of the most important art collections in America, and not only exhibits more than a hundred works of the master Fernando Botero but also paintings by great artists such as Picasso, Renoir, Dali, Matisse, Monet and Giacometti, among others.

We continue to know also the Pasaje Hernandez; the building divided into two floors and built in the nineteenth century, has retained for more than 100 years its republican style, and groups inside several shops dedicated to the trade of old goods. Almost considered the commercial center of an earlier era, its aquamarine and cream-colored walls stand out among the surrounding buildings.

©Javier Biosca_Calle del Carmen ©Javier Biosca_Josie en Bogotá.

We started the next day with a visit to Paloquemao, one of the most important market places in the city. Designed in 1972 by architects Dicken Castro and Jacques Mosseri, it is today a hive of people; very busy and visited, cooks, restaurant owners and lovers of good food come to it in search of the best ingredients, as well as travelers who find in it a sweet, diverse, generous and smiling Colombia, waiting to delight with the varied and delicious cuisine that exists in the country.

We continue with a tour of the galleries in the area, including La Cometa, one of the most important galleries and artistic platforms in Colombia; a place of reference for art lovers, which encourages dialogue between artists and spectators, in addition to focusing on the representation, promotion and dissemination of Colombian and Latin American artists of modern art that provide a fundamental context for contemporary artistic production.

In the afternoon, we set out to discover the amazing Colombian textile studio of Verdi, which celebrates the tradition of creating unique home, fashion and art pieces by interweaving natural fibers with contemporary materials in a unique technique of weaving their threads together to create unusual pieces. Its showroom is an authentic local design experience, with a space inspired by family heritage and craftsmanship, reinforcing the idea of exceptional craftsmanship as a genuine expression of luxury. We ended the day and said goodbye to the wonderful Bogota delighting ourselves with the exquisite modern cuisine, in which local ingredients predominate, of one of the best restaurants in the city.

©Javier Biosca_Josie en Bogotá

Coffee Axis

We left Bogota behind and left with our driver and private guide to the airport, to board the flight to Pereira, in the heart of the Eje Cafetero; this is what Colombians used to call a mountainous triangle in the western mountain range between the cities of Armenia, Pereira and Manizales where it is said that the best coffee in Colombia is grown. A scenery of rolling hills with endless coffee plantations, banana plantations and picturesque villages with colorful houses that has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2011.

©Javier Biosca_Josie en el Eje Cafetero

We moved to our hacienda, a boutique hotel hidden like a jewel in the heart of the Eje Cafetero, surrounded by nature and with spectacular views of the Cordillera. Among its private experiences we decided to take the Cocoa Tour and Horseback Riding, touring and discovering the area, and the 180 hectares of this farm, mostly cultivated with cocoa, make the Hacienda the ideal place to enjoy nature.

And, the next day, we traveled to Café San Alberto, to enjoy one of the most recognized products of the country, coffee; a luxury coffee, specifically, and the most awarded of Colombia, which awakens our senses in a “Coffee Baptism”, a unique experience and a sensory journey of smells and flavors, in which to learn about the production process, raw materials and the ritual of preparation of Colombian coffee.

©Javier Biosca_Hotel boutique ©Javier Biosca_Planta de café

We begin a new day in a new lodging, without leaving the heart of the Eje Cafetero, renowned for the spectacular bird watching it offers. We drove to the beautiful town of Salento to embark on a 33-kilometer trip in a traditional Willys Jeep along the old road that connects Salento with Ibagué and Bogotá. Our guide, a local guide, transmits us all his knowledge about nature and life in the region, while we enjoy one of the most beautiful views of the Cordillera Central and the Nevados National Park.

As we ascend to 3,340 meters above sea level, we make a stop to enjoy the view of the Paramillo del Quindio, at 4,750 meters above sea level, and then begin to descend through a spectacular valley full of history, until we find a great sanctuary of flora, fauna and Wax Palms, where we have the opportunity to enjoy a private lunch.

And there is no better way to end the day than enjoying a massage, an exfoliation and a coffee mask, to relax and absorb everything we have experienced during this magical day.

©Javier Biosca_Josie

Medellín

We say goodbye to the Eje Cafetero, with the aroma of coffee still in the air, and head for Medellín. Located in the Aburrá Valley and surrounded by the eminent Andes Mountains, the city has experienced one of the best success stories in Latin America, becoming the innovative metropolis it is today.

Walking the streets of the city through its various districts, is to know its present without forgetting its past, mixing tradition and innovation. Here we discover Comuna 13, one of the greatest examples of Medellín’s transformation. Epicenter of the problems that plagued the city 20 years ago, today we find a colorful neighborhood that has managed to overcome the past through art, as an example of cultural development, without leaving behind the tragedies that have lived.

Following major changes in infrastructure and public education, Medellín, known as the “City of Eternal Spring,” is one of the most innovative metropolises in the world. We then drive to Cerro Nutibara, the highest point of the city, where we will appreciate the landscape of the Andes valley.

To end the day, we enjoyed dinner at one of the most special restaurants in the country; a signature cuisine restaurant, with tasting menus that create sensory and gastronomic experiences in which to stimulate the senses, with Colombia always as the protagonist; all accompanied by a modern and current decoration and design, at the height of the wonderful dishes served.

©Javier Biosca_Josie en MedellínWe started a new day by traveling to Guatapé, one of the most striking and visited towns in Antioquia, but we moved away from the most conventional routes to get to know it… from the air!

A helicopter flight takes us to discover the wonders of the Guatapé reservoir and La Piedra del Peñol, the famous 220-meter monolith that rises between the two towns as a wonder of nature. Once on land, we entered the nature that surrounds this traditional village, known for its colorful houses and distinguished skirting boards.

©Javier Biosca_Josie en helicóptero ©Javier Biosca_Josie sobrevuelo en helicóptero

Before heading to our last destination, we took advantage of our last day in downtown Medellín to visit Plaza Botero, where some of the artist’s most famous works are exhibited, such as the sculptures of “Sphinx”, “Walking Man” or “Horse”; sculptures that have become a landmark of the city and are a reflection of Botero’s recognizable style, based on the use of rounded and voluptuous figures.

Near the Plaza, we also find the Rafael Uribe Palace of Culture, the Museum of Antioquia, a temple of Colombian history and its great artists, and the Duque & Loft Art Gallery which, since its inception, has been a reference for the diffusion of established and emerging artists.

©Javier Biosca Guatapé

Cartagena de Indias

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, Cartagena adds to the charms of its colonial, republican and modern architecture, the attractions of an intense cultural life and an excellent gastronomic offer.

Arriving in this spectacular new city, we start with a private walking tour of the historic old city of Cartagena, a colonial jewel of the New World, where time seems to have stopped centuries ago.

Walking through the narrow cobblestone streets, among old colorful houses with solid wood doors and balconies full of flowers, we visited the Palace of the Inquisition, which was the Court of Punishment of the eighteenth century, the Church of Santo Domingo, the oldest in the city (1551) and the bastions, the greatest exponents of Creole architecture of the old colony.

©Javier Biosca_Josie en Cartagena de Indias ©Javier Biosca_Josie con un hombre local de Cartagena

We continued with a spectacular Caribbean food class and a fantastic lunch with Chef Alejandro Ramirez, followed by a private tour of Malva and St. Regis. Dom, accompanied by their stylists. And we could not end the afternoon without putting the finishing touch to the day, enjoying a tasting of rum and Colombian chocolate, unparalleled.

After falling in love with the Caribbean city of Cartagena, with all its art and culture, we started the day aboard a private boat to reach the paradisiacal Rosario Islands, in the middle of the Caribbean Sea and surrounded by impossibly blue waters. After discovering this work of nature, we moved for lunch to Blue Apple Beach House, a nearby island known for its quiet and relaxed atmosphere during the day, where you can rest, enjoy yoga classes and massages, and for its nightlife, much more modern and fun.

©Javier Biosca_Josie en Isla del RosarioAnd to say goodbye to Colombia in style, we are picked up at the pier and taken directly to our hotel, where we have time to prepare for a spectacular dinner. In the heart of the Historic Center of Cartagena, we discovered a unique space, with a gastronomic proposal inspired by the routes of the Colombian territories, rescuing their local products, learning from the matrons and their recipes, finding the best techniques to represent them at your table. A gastronomic experience that puts the finishing touch to an unforgettable trip.

©Javier Biosca_Josie con la bandera de Colombia

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