October 28, 2018, 11:25 pm
As you may know, there isn't much information about Filandia on the web. I had heard it was similar to Salento, just without the tourists and that's probably as good a description as your going to get. Hopefully this post will give you some valuable tips for travelling to Filandia, Colombia.
I departed Casa Quimbaya at about noon. I picked up the bus for Filandia on its route out of Armenia. I paid my 4,600 Colombian Pesos, had seating to myself, with the window open as I marvelled at the landscape. It's quite a climb and takes just under an hour. When I arrived the Filandia, I saw that it had a very similar look to Salento.
Centred around a church, Filandia is a traditional Colombian village with much colour. I decided to take a walk down the lane ways, in search for intriguing cafés & restaurants.
While walking towards a nearby mirador (the main viewpoint was closed for reservation) I noticed a group of people at the back of one restaurant gathered in front of a garden. After a quick peek in, I left only for the owner to follow me in an effort to market his business. As in Salento, tourists here do not get bothered by eager sellers. As this man had such a pleasant demeanour, I promised to return.
First I continued my search and quickly came across the coolest cafe that I've encountered in Colombia. From the outside, Helena Adentro had an interesting appeal. But as I walked in, it got even more interesting. It reminded me of some of the 'hip' cafés around east London.
First of all, De la Soul were playing from a large wooden speaker in the background. Rarely will you hear old hip hop artists in Colombia! Secondly light was been emitted via creative suspended fixtures, while wine bottles were also falling from the ceiling. The bar itself was a large wooden structure, displaying the ingredients and instruments to make smoothies and cocktails. The wall was adorned with interesting art and murals. While the menu had a varied offering, based largely on tapas. The food smelt and looked delicious. Even the actual menu itself was presented in style.
When I was presented with my coffee, the owner explained it's heritage and as I replied with one or two questions, I learned that the coffee comes from a farm one hour away, ran by his brother. They also export their coffee to New Zealand. The friendly, young owner had spent time in Australia before returning to his homeland to begin the cafe.
After my promise to return, I ventured back to the aforementioned restaurant, Alla Te Espero, and was greeted by the same man and his wife. I chose the mondongo based on their recommendation. Mondongo, especially for those new to Colombian cuisine, is not a meal for the apprehensive diner.
As I chatted with the owner about our countries, his business plans Etc., I learned that he too had returned to Filandia after 15 years in the US. After being kindly given a fruit cocktail on the house and charged only 8000 pesos, including coffee, the owner showed me their beautiful guest rooms overhead.
I left to enjoy the now more lively Saturday evening atmosphere in the plaza. After a few beers and some reading, I returned on the bus to Casa Quimbaya, Armenia as the sun set over the hills.
It's difficult to say if I prefer Salento or Filandia. In Filandia, I felt that the people had the time and wanted to talk with wanderers like me. If you are looking for something more authentic, then maybe this is the spot. But again, for little money, you really get to experience Colombian culture. Very satisfying indeed!
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