Coffee and a Crazy Cathedral in Manizales, Colombia

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We decided our last stop in Colombia would be the small city of Manizales. The new bus terminal is conveniently located right next to a new metrocable station (another cablecar similar to the one we rode in Medellin) that heads up to the town center. This is quite unique, as usually the town or city center is located in the valley and the residential areas are up on the hill. Luckily for us, our hostel, Base Camp, was located literally steps from the metrocable. Although it was quite cold and rainy while we were in Manizales, our hostel had a great view from the dining area, kitchen and rooftop terrace of the surrounding city and countryside.

Shortly after arriving, I convinced Erik to take a tour up to the top of the Cathedral, which was built by the people of the city. The exterior was quite impressive and the interior was full of gold and beautiful huge stained glass windows, which we got to see up close during the climb to the top.

The Cathedral of Manizales.  We climbed to the small balcony circling the top of the center spire.The Cathedral of Manizales. We climbed to the small balcony circling the top of the center spire.
The Cathedral of Manizales. We climbed to the small balcony circling the top of the center spire.18-Sep-2010 15:41
 

Erik has done far more adventurous activities on this trip (i.e., scuba diving, ziplining, etc.), but was still petrified of the walk along the roof of the Cathedral! It only got worse from there as we climbed some 400 steps on circular stairs to the top of this tiny 106 m (350 ft) tall tower. It’s rumored to be the tallest in the country.

Erik climbing the cathedral's steep roofErik climbing the cathedral’s steep roof
Erik climbing the cathedral's steep roof18-Sep-2010 16:11
 

I was soaking in the fantastic panoramic views of Manizales, while Erik stood inside the doorway and told me to hurry up and take photos so we could head back down.

View from the top of the CathedralView from the top of the Cathedral
View from the top of the Cathedral18-Sep-2010 16:20
 

Our crazy tour guide climbed up on the metal fence to take this amazing photo of us. We loved the photo, but agreed that he was totally nuts.

The tiny balcony at the top of the Cathedral tower's pointy tipThe tiny balcony at the top of the Cathedral tower’s pointy tip
The tiny balcony at the top of the Cathedral tower's pointy tip18-Sep-2010 16:21
 

Our second day in Manizales was spent scaling the Nevado del Ruiz Volcano. We still felt pretty rough the day after, and decided to take it easy visiting a coffee finca, since we were in the Zona Cafetera coffee-growing region.

Just 40 minutes from Manizales along the scenic “coffee highway”, Hacienda Guayabal provided a wonderful look into the production of Colombian coffee.

Ripened and unripened coffee berries at Hacienda GuayabalRipened and unripened coffee berries at Hacienda Guayabal
Ripened and unripened coffee berries at Hacienda Guayabal20-Sep-2010 11:17
 

Although we had visited a coffee finca in Guatemala, this tour was more personal and the process seemed a lot more traditional with less machines and more work being done by hand. We saw the entire process from the coffee plants to the cup. The small plants, the red berries, the other fruits and flowers growing on the finca.

Beans going through a washing and separating processBeans going through a washing and separating process
Beans going through a washing and separating process20-Sep-2010 12:47
 

We saw men high in the steep hills picking coffee berries, the washing process, the sorting machines, the roasting oven and even saw a man who’d worked there for years handpainting wording onto a large coffee bag. We also met the sweet old woman who owns the finca and she served us a nice cup of coffee and a small lunch. It was a wonderful day and we were so glad we took the trip out to the finca.

One of the workers at the finca in the process of adding labels to the coffee sacksOne of the workers at the finca in the process of adding labels to the coffee sacks
One of the workers at the finca in the process of adding labels to the coffee sacks20-Sep-2010 12:57
 

There were some cool people staying at our hostel – one guy from Ecuador and another from Argentina. We were happy to add some notes to our guidebook since both of these places were on our itinerary.

Although we had only planned to spend two weeks in Colombia and even though I was a bit nervous entering the country due to its reputation in the past, we loved the four weeks we spent there. That old saying really is true – you can’t judge a book by its cover.

About Heather

Heather and Erik set off on a round-the-world trip in April, 2010, travelling overland through Central and South America before getting engaged in Antarctica. In 2011-2012 they tackled Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

2 thoughts on “Coffee and a Crazy Cathedral in Manizales, Colombia

  1. Betsie Larkin

    It’s nice to know that Colombia can be travelled safely! You both look really happy and healthy in the pictures… I think all of the time outdoors is doing you good 🙂 I’m really enjoying your posts!! Cheers.

    Reply
    1. Heather Post author

      Thanks, Bets! Yes, we really loved exploring Colombia, and felt very safe. Thanks for saying that about the photos, so sweet! Hope you guys are well – miss you! 🙂

      Reply

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