August 10th, 2021
For this installment of Touring with Tell, we are being transported virtually to South America. More specifically, Colombia, which sits on the Carribean coast. It has been a pleasure to talk to our technical producer Chris Villota about his home country. Though Colombia is a hotspot for many avid travellers, as someone who has never travelled to any part of South America, it was fascinating to hear about the hottest spots to visit.
When to go?
Chris spoke highly of December in Colombia, expressing that Christmas is like a month-long party between the 6th of December to the 6th of January! The celebrations kick off with the ‘Dia de las Velitas’ or ‘Day of the little Candles’ where houses and streets are lined with candles and lights and neighbourhoods compete to have the most dazzling Christmas displays. The month is filled with joy, drinking and lots of dancing in the streets, concluding with the annual ‘burning of the old year’ NYE celebration.
Where to stay?
Hostels, hostels, hostels! They’re great value for money and an amazing way to meet people while travelling. Chris suggests San Antonio in Cali, the salsa capital of the world, which has plenty of great hostels to book into.
What to Eat?
As people tend to cook a lot at home, Chris vouches that the best food can be found around the dining table with a group of close friends and family who “just turn up at your door”. He says his grandma would almost always have some food on the go just in case company arrived.
However, if you are eating out, Chris swears that the fish by the coast is the freshest there is! There are also lots of great local restaurants that will do ‘almuerzo ejecutivo’, an executive lunch. This usually consists of a soup or broth, a main of rice, beans and grilled meat, and a drink which shouldn’t cost more than the equivalent of £2-3. He warns that if you’re paying more, you’re being ripped off!
As of 2020, Colombia is the third biggest producer of coffee in the world, so where better to get a cup of coffee than here? If you want, you can even visit one of the big coffee farms dotted around the country. According to Nomad Coffee Club, the Paisa Region aka ‘The Coffee Triangle’ is the best place to find them.
Where to visit?
In terms of entertainment, Chris suggests trying out the traditional colombian game ‘Tejo’. Tejo is a fun throwing game in which you aim stones at little targets that have small amounts of gunpowder in and make mini explosions on impact! He also says that Colombia is very big on sports and fitness, with paragliding and cycling among the most popular pastimes. However, if like me and Chris you’re not very sporty, don’t worry! There are plenty of salsa bars to visit for a good time.
What to bring back?
As all avid travellers know, it's commonplace to return from a trip with a souvenir to mark your latest adventure. Chris’ suggestion is a Colombian bracelet; “I’ve been wearing mine for about 15 years now”. He also once returned to the UK with a suitcase full of Colombian cheese bread, Pandebono.
Chris is extremely passionate about his home, and so we couldn't think of anyone better to take us on this virtual tour! With a range of beautiful sights to see, from mountains and rainforest, to deserts and coasts, Colombia has some of the world's richest and most diverse environments. Just be prepared for the hustle and bustle of Colombian life; We’ve been warned that it's LOUD.