7 espressos later...
Trip Start Sep 07, 2010
39Trip End Aug 13, 2011
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Where I stayed
What I did
We arrived late in Manizales and were disorientated as is usual in a new town or city. We jumped in a cab and told the driver the name of our hostel. The city centre runs along the top of a ridge overlooking a valley where the mas povre neighbourhoods are situated, and of course where the bus terminal is. The cab struggled with the steep roads up to the centre but we eventually pulled up outside a hostel, but not our hostel
I asked the guy at reception if he knew where Base Camp was, he said he did, and he said he'd go talk to the driver of our taxi, I suggested he draw a picture.
We finally arrived at our actual hostel. The driver tried to charge us extra for all these unexpected delays. Not a chance.
Exhausted and grumpy but laughing at the ridiculousness of what we just went through we went up and checked in and told the girl at the reception desk what happened...she then asked why we didn't just take the cable car that literally runs from the bus terminal up the hill, over the povo houses and stops RIGHT NEXT DOOR to Base Camp! Thats right, somehow we missed that one.
The hostel is amazing, it's clean, brand new and all the furniture and decor matches eachother...beds a quite comfortable too.
The next day we set out for the usual exploration drill, we really just wanted to take life easy and cruise around, check stuff out etc. We walked past a local bar with billiard tables in it, but these are not billiard tables of the common variety, these tables have no pockets
We continued out exploration and came across a couple of cool little plazas with weird random street art
Time to hit the town...and most importantly we wanted to see some of this fierce danger that the Lonely Planet describes in this City '...Watch out for the bollards that line the main streets, where you may bang your shin.'. After reading this we couldn't resist the urge to get drunk and take the piss out of this valuable travel advice. (See photos). It was a Wednesday night, and nothing was happening, but this did not stop us from finding a very well themed rock bar playing heavy metal which neither of us were that into, though we were pretty impressed with the rock themed decor, tables made out of guitar bodies and the like.
After the stupidity was out of our system we decided to do something cultural and check out a coffee estate named Hacienda Venecia
We arrived after about an hour of terror along a dirt road at 80km/h at a beautiful hacienda. We were invited in and were told we could have as much coffee as we wanted, I begun immediately. We were lead into the roasting room and showed the roasting process, and how it is possible to make as many as 12 different coffee aromas and end tastes just by roasting at different temperatures and times. The tour took us walking through the plantations and up to their cleaning and drying factories. They also explained why we have all been drinking such terrible coffee in South America. We got to see the difference between premium beans that have not been deformed or damaged and the beans that are not up to premium quality. The taste difference between these two beans are worlds apart. All beans get sold, the only difference is the price. The thing in South America is that people don't have a coffee culture, they can't tell the difference between amazing coffee and a cup full of dirt dug out from under a door mat, (though I think the reason this is, is because of the 7 tablespoons of sugar they mix into their coffee before drinking it) so when you put a bag of premium beans that costs $10 a pound next to a bag of average beans that costs $4 a pound, why would they want to buy the more expensive bag?
Shops like Juan Valdez target foreigners, of course some locals appreciate good coffee and are willing to spend a little extra on a cup but they are western prices for a reason
The tour was brilliant, it was so simple, yet so informative, and the more tours I do the more I find that the simpler ones that aren't hyped up are the best, like the waterfall tour in Paraty.
After the tour had finished we were allowed to use their pool and take further advantage of the espresso machine. After 7 black espressos I had a headache, but probably could have drank more had time permitted.
Kyle and I were debating on where to hold up for an Australia Day/Hottest 100 Party but still had a couple of days up our sleeve. Being so close to Medellin we we're trying to decide whether to stay or go. In the end we decided on staying in Manizales and head to Medellin the following day, which gave us a little extra time for one more outing. The Manizales Nature Park Recinto del Pensamiento appealed on price and convenience.
We just had to take a bus there which was straight forward enough. We were the first ones in the park, I guess we expected it to be a little busier, not that it mattered, in fact it worked to our advantage to see the place undisturbed by people
Our decision to hang about Manizales for Australia Day (Australia time) couldn't have paid off better. That morning a group of 3 Aussies (first people from Adelaide I'd so far encountered) rocked up at the hostel. I was ready for a two man Triple J countdown and explained to Kyle the awesomeness of the Hottest 100 so this sudden turn of events was well received.
We planned big. The hostel had a cool rooftop terrace overlooking the less fortunate Manizales population and the altiplano. Speaking of which, the Adelasians had a hike up one of the mountains the following day, which made for an interesting conflict of plans.
We hit the gas pretty hard, pretty early, rocked out to the first 50 or so songs before the group started deteriorating and calling it a night. We did achieve our mission for the night to get our photo on the Triple J website which was the most exciting moment of all our lives, sadly there were other Aussies in Bogota who beat us to it and got their photo up first