What, you might ask, do they have in common?! Both are natural treasures of Colombia! Our last day in Medellín began with a luxurious departure time of 9:30, and on our way to the airport, we stopped to view two national landmarks: the Plaza of Simón Bolivar and the Museum of Antioquia, which houses the largest collection of the works of Fernando Botero, both inside and outside the Museum. The Plaza and the Metropolitan Cathedral which faces onto it, are in a pretty gritty part of downtown Medellín.
Even though the Museum of Antioquia is also downtown, it is much more tourist-friendly, and the plaza surrounding the museum is filled with 23 immense brass sculptures of the artist Fernando Botero. The statues, as fantastical as they were, were only an appetizer to all the works of Botero housed in the museum. Although the museum contains many other works and exhibits, truthfully, we spent all of our time in the Botero wings, particularly because there was a current special exhibit of his work focusing on circus themes. We enjoyed this museum even more than the one we previously wrote about in Bogotá, largely because there were so many of his sculptures on display here. Even though Botero is an accomplished artist in multiple artistic media, I confess, I like the sculptures best of all!
We finished up our time in Medellín with a lunch overlooking the whole city.
Then it was off to the airport for a trip to Pereira, one of the three main towns/areas in what is known as the Coffee Triangle of Colombia (the other two areas are Manizales and Armenia). Not only is this area the center of the entire coffee producing culture of Colombia, but the area surrounding it has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its natural beauty! After landing in Pereira, we drove to our lodgings, which are a beautiful old hacienda built in 1737 called Hacienda Castilla. In classic Spanish colonial style, there is a large main house on one level where all of the rooms face onto an interior courtyard. We took a refreshing dip in the pool on the gorgeous, flower-studded grounds, and then enjoyed a glass of wine on the courtyard listening to the fountain while we awaited dinner. Tomorrow, we will immerse ourselves more deeply in this coffee culture as we learn how to pick coffee, but for tonight, we just enjoyed the peace of the hacienda!