Friday, July 26, 2013

The big travelling fail: Santiago

Whilst I have a few remaining blogs in the pipeline about my last days in Medellin, I thought I would mix it up a bit and move onto my South American travels. Almost three weeks ago, I headed down to Santiago in Chile to visit my friend Julia. I would love to be able to regale you about Cerro San Cristobel or Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes but no, I did none of these must-do activities.

However, it was refreshing to not feel the need to do such "must-do" museums or bars or events.

Instead, I was able to acquaint myself with Santiago with an insider's knowledge. Whilst, I could have been more productive, I enjoyed the break Santiago gave me after a whirlwind last month in Medellin. Instead, I enjoyed getting empanadas at Amadeus, wandering around Bellavista or enjoying the best ice-cream outside of Italy at Emporio La Rosa.

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Leaving Medellin was never going to be easy especially when I found this Botero statue!

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Amazing ice cream at Emporio La Rosa

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Finally, real bread and cheese at La Jardin. The restaurant is in a greenhouse with lots of  garden-based paraphernelia - highly recommended!

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Some of the street art on offer in Santiago


I may have failed Santiago as a tourist but I fell hook, line and sinker in love with the place. Santiago, you haven't seen the last of me yet.

Have you ever been to a place and failed to do the touristy must-do activities?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The To-Do List: Salsa Dancing at El Tibiri

Colombians love any excuse to dance and as a traveller, it is pretty hard to avoid being coerced to dance here. Typical excuses such as "I don't know how to dance." "I can't dance." "I've got no coordination." will not stop the average Colombian from pulling you up onto the dancefloor. Therefore, knowing a few basic steps is a great idea to avoid the usual gringo shuffle.

Learning to salsa dance was one of my aims from my to-do list. I decided to brush up my next-to-none existent knowledge by attending one a few of the free salsa classes on offer at the Wandering Paisa Hostel. The teacher, Bill, gives the classes in both Spanish and English introducing to you to the basic steps and turns of Colombian salsa before going onto some partner work. The class goes at a lightening rate but Bill is always available to go through the steps one-to-one if you have any doubts or questions throughout the class.

Having finally mustered the confidence to give the real thing a go, my friend Laura invited me to El Tibiri. El Tibiri is an underground bar in the Estadio neighbourhood located on the 70 close to San Juan. We entered at about 10.30 with the place being relatively empty but it didn't stay like that for long. Within three-quarters of an hour, the dancefloor was packed to the roof!

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What ensued was a hot, sweaty night of being thrown around the dancefloor, limbs flailing and failing to keep up with the locals. Whilst I could be typically British and moan about the lack of fans etc. I had so much fun attempting to dance salsa that I can't complain. It was a great way to practise my Spanish and with no cover, amazing atmosphere and $3000 peso beers, what's not to love?

El Tibiri, Carrera 70 #44B-03. For more information, check out their Facebook page or Twitter account.

Where are your favourite places to dance salsa?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tejo: A Unique Colombian Experience

"You throw stuff and if you hit the target, here's explosions."

That was the way my Colombian friends described to me the game of tejo, a game that could be alikened to bowling with gunpowder. To say the least, I was intrigued. So when I was offered the opportunity to do it in Salento, I had to give it a go.

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To play, we had to buy a beer (or a gaseosa if you're not drinking) for 3000 COP. Not a bad entry price! We were then explained the rules of tejo:

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The target
  • You have to throw a heavy metal disc from the assigned line about 10 metres away
  • The aim is to land the disc inside the target
  • If you hit one of the gunpowder-filled triangles and cause an explosion 3 points
  • If you land the disc inside the circle 6 points
  • If you cause an explosion and land the disc in the circle 9 points
  • The group is divided into 2 teams and the aim is to get 15 points first.
Or at least that's what I understood!

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All of the group being tejo virgins, it took us a while to get points on the board. In fact, we decided to throw from a closer distance as none of us were getting anywhere! I, in particular, was having great difficulty having added no points to my team's total. This continued until the very last final throw when I nailed it on the top triangle! I was able to go home feeling proud as a lion.

Tejo is a great way to socialise whilst getting to know an unique part of Colombian culture. However, we bored quickly of the game as we were all so god-awful at the game. Overall, I'd recommend you to give it a go so if the opportunity crops up, go for it!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tres Cordilleras Beer Tour

Thursday nights for me in Medellin usually comprise of going to the language exchange at Wandering Paisa Hostel but a few weeks back we decided to shake up the routine. My friend suggested that we go to the Tres Cordilleras in Industriales to do the beer factory tour. For those that aren't in the know, Tres Cordilleras is a brand of artesanal beer produced in Medellin. We went to see how it's done.

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We managed to arrive a little late and only just made the last tour of the day at 7.30pm. The tour entailed of the guide going through the processes of beer production, although it was delivered in Spanish at a quickfire rate. I am told there are tours in English on offer but this didn't seem to be the case when we were there. Despite the fact that Tres Cordilleras has only been going since 2008, they already distribute to 6 cities in Colombia and are looking to export internationally. The tour was brief, informative and to be honest, not the most exciting but then we were let loose in the on-site bar. That's when the real fun began!

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Included in the price (20,000 COP Thursday and 25,000 COP Friday) are 5 tokens for any of the Tres Cordilleras beers in the onsite bar. I cannot say I am a beer connoisseur but the fact that it was beer on tap rather than in bottles (extremely rare to find in Colombia) and not mass produced made a real difference to taste. After much deliberation, I came to the decision that my favourite was the Blanca but my friends preferred the Mulata. The bar was full of people with a great atmosphere especially as a play-off match featuring Nacional was playing. Admist our discussions,we agreed that the tour would make a great date so if you are looking for something different, this is a brilliant spot!

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All in all, this was a nice shake-up to the routine and I really enjoyed my time at Tres Cordilleras. The one thing I would change is that I would arrive earlier as we were left with only an hour and a half to drink 5 beers. For most, this may be doable but I was left feeling a little fuzzy to say the least!

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Tres Cordilleras, Calle 30 #44-176, Barrio Colombia, Medellin. Tours run 5.30pm-7.30pm  Thursday and Friday with drinks being served until 9.30pm. For more information, check out their Facebook page or Twitter profile