As if Ciclovía weren’t already enough to make Sundays in Bogotá magical, the second half of the weekend is a shopper’s heaven in the capital. From north to south, there are tons of options for browsing antiques, handcrafts, jewelry, bags, leather, housewares and all those weird things that will probably never get sold.
The US gets a lot of (well-deserved) attention for its stellar breakfast food, but Colombia knows how to hold its own when it comes to the most important meal of the day.
From the bustling central cities to the laid-back Caribbean coast to the rural campesino communities in the south, everyone stocks up on energy food – and, of course, lots of carbs – before heading out to greet the day. Any Colombian will tell you that food here varies immensely by region – and the battles between different areas for culinary supremacy are fierce. Each part of the country has its own spin on the beloved arepa, its own fruit juices, its own cheese, bread, potato dishes, rice – you get the picture. This is just one of the many things that makes traveling throughout Colombia such an adventure: you’re always trying new flavors and dishes, no matter where you go!
It could take pages to go through all of the options available for morning foodies, but here’s a quick primer on a few of the most typical Colombian breakfast dishes, ranging from the positively mouthwatering to the ones that might make you wish you’d never gotten out of bed. Of course, all of them come with a fresh-brewed cup of Colombian coffee!
Photo: Omar Baez Camarena
Colombia is a music-loving country. From the northern tip of the Guajira peninsula to the southern reaches of the Colombian Amazon, the nation pulses with the beats of drums, guitars, percussion and, yes, accordions.
But it’s not a homogenous sound – rather, it’s a symphony of different rhythms, instruments and beats. Each region of the country has its own distinct musical tradition, developed from different cultural influences and the backgrounds of the people living there.
Sometimes it seems like each and every individual town has its own particular musical styling. One of the most important and uniquely Colombian genres, however, is cumbia, a traditional rhythm that blends the musical influences of many of the diverse cultures and ethnicities on Colombia’s Caribbean coast and continues to provide inspiration for many of the most popular Colombian bands today.
Photo: La Noche en Blanco Bogota
This weekend, Bogotá’s bohemian La Soledad neighborhood stayed up well past its bedtime to celebrate the city’s artists and creative types with La Noche en Blanco (“White Night”).
The event, now in its second year in the capital, closed the streets of a popular central neighborhood to cars and opened them to pedestrians, bikers, dogs and art enthusiasts, who strolled freely between performance spaces and projection screens from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Saturday, September 27.
It’s nearly impossible to go anywhere in Colombia without hearing music or seeing people dancing, but the second weekend of September kicks that rhythm into another gear, offering not one, but two world-class events for jazz lovers traveling to Colombia; from the Andean interior to the Caribbean coast.
Photo: Renato Ganoza
Colombia’s most famous caffeinated beverage may come from beans, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing around for the tea-lovers out there (the sheer number of British expats living in the country should reassure anyone with concerns on the matter). Though tea isn’t literally growing out the ground like coffee, there are a number of cafes and shops dedicated to the fine art of producing a great cup of tea – if you want the leaves read, though, you’ll probably have to go elsewhere.
With its chilly Andean climate and international influence, Bogotá is one of the best places in the country to find a quality cup or two. So if you find yourself without much to do on a rainy Bogotá afternoon, grab a good book (or your iPad) and head to one of these steamy spots.
As if there weren’t already enough happening in Colombia in August — with Bogotá’s Summer Festival, Medellín’s Flower Festival and the Petronio Álvarez celebration of Afro-Colombian music and culture in Cali – central Colombia’s favorite colonial town, Villa de Leyva, has to get in on the action with a colorful celebration of its own.
Though ceviche originated (and may have been perfected, depending on who you ask) in Peru, Colombia’s Atlantic coast has put its own distinctive spin on it – camarones en salsa rosada, anyone?
Cartagena’s diverse and excellent food scene has the challenge of trying to cater to locals and international tourists alike, which has led restaurants to try to outdo each other when it comes to this coastal favorite. Each place – and each resident — has an individual interpretation of what makes a good ceviche, and the possibilities, from Asian fusion to traditional corvina, are almost as colorful as the city’s famous architecture. These are some of the best places in the city to go to get a taste of the full spectrum of flavors.
Photo: Jorge Gomez
I know August isn’t a popular month back where I’m from, but it’s my favorite month in Bogotá. For Bogotanos, there are generally only two seasons: if it’s sunny, it’s summer; if it’s raining, it’s winter. This can be intensely confusing for anyone who was taught that it’s impossible to have more than one season in a given day, but that’s generally how it works. Except in August.
When Nobel-prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez passed away on April 17, it felt like Colombia as a whole went into mourning. Though Gabo, as he was affectionately known, had lived in Mexico City for years prior to his death, Colombians still felt a strong connection to the grandfather of magical realism. He was a beloved figure among Colombians of all ages – upon his death, Colombian President Santos described him as “the greatest Colombian who ever lived.”
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