Medellin Living http://medellinliving.com Colombia Travel Blog Tue, 02 Sep 2014 04:20:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Cameo Teatro Club: House Music Has a Home http://medellinliving.com/cameo-teatro-club-house-music/ http://medellinliving.com/cameo-teatro-club-house-music/#respond Mon, 01 Sep 2014 12:00:13 +0000 http://medellinliving.com/?p=22541 Cameo Teatro Club offers the best house music with the finest DJs from across Colombia, producing an electric atmosphere that is hard to beat.

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Cameo Teatro Club - House Delicious

Outside Cameo Theatro

It was called ‘House Delicious’ and it certainly lived up to its name.

Offering mouth-watering delights, Cameo Teatro Club in Medellín promised an evening full of electronic beats and music guaranteed to get the Medellín crowd on their feet.

On August 22nd, the crème de la crème of electronic producers in Colombia took to the DJ booth in this intimate club located in Barrio Colombia. From as far away as Villavicencio, we saw DJ Demon take to the stage.

From Bogota, the venue welcomed Andrés Santhos (official DJ of Matineé Colombia), Steven Kass and Alxx (club140 resent Bogotá).

And then Medellín’s own Jose Galvis, Pablo Moreno, and Riskman whose birthday celebrations coincided with her set.

Cameo Teatro Club - House Delicious

Ready for a night of electronic beats

Feeling slightly underdressed (word of warning, if you go here, you need to dress the part), the red carpet was out in force just waiting for my black heels to adorn it.

Still getting used to the paisa fashion, the rule of thumb is “less is more” so wearing black shiny leggings and a long vest top was hiding too much flesh, and I definitely felt like a foreigner not being aware of women’s fashion in Medellín.

Having only ever experienced salsa and reggaeton clubs in Medellín, this was definitely more my scene.

Apart from the outdoor electronica music festival a few months earlier, I had yet to sample my favorite music in the city. I was ready for a night of breakbeats, bass and thumping house tunes.

Steel columns and psychedelic lights greeted me and although it was already 10:30 p.m. there was just a handful of people in the club, discreetly moving to the extra loud beats. Standing at the bar I could barely hear the bartender as I shouted across asking for the specials.

Being used to drink promotions in other bars, I was surprised to discover that there weren’t any and that the cheapest option was going to cost me 80,000 pesos ($41) for a small bottle of vodka. But, this was a top-notch club and hand in hand with any premium night, comes premium prices.

Cameo Teatro Club - House Delicious

Dj turn up the beats

Within minutes of being there, my feet were tapping to the music and I was shouting “I know this one!” to my fellow chica as tunes from my clubbing days in England were being blasted out across the floor from the DJ booth above.

More classics followed, mixed in with harder tracks such as Mammoth by Dimitri Vegas.

For Colombian DJs, I was impressed by their mixing skills, especially DJ Demon whose smooth transitions from track to track kept the paisas bopping to the beats.

Having seen some really poor DJs in my time, I was surprised at the skill this country had for mixing house music. DJ Demon is so popular that his music has even appeared in Mastercard commercials (apparently you can hire him for weddings too).

Cameo Teatro Club

Cameo definitely puts on a show

This was house music at its best, and I felt as though I had been transported to a venue in London, with beautiful people, an amazing sound system and a floor that just called out to danced upon.

Forget SE1, the End or Heaven (yes, I have sampled every London club), Medellín is definitely where it’s at for house.

There was no escaping the music here but an elevated floor along each side offered respite for your feet whilst the crowd bounced along to the base.

For such an intimate club, there was an upper VIP area on the next level which overlooked the dance floor and the dazzling display of lights.

Cameo Teatro Club

Turkish eyes watching over

Watching the psychedelic display as it shone across the ceiling and floor changing with each tune, I felt privileged to have found a place where I could be myself and dance to my heart’s content to my favorite music. My house music finally has a home…

Open until 4 a.m, expect to find beautiful people with an energy and teatro display to match.

Cameo is situated where The End discoteca used to be, around the corner from Luxury, and offers the best house music with the finest DJs from across Colombia, producing an electric atmosphere that is hard to beat. This is electronic music at its finest.

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Shopping at Santafé, Medellín’s Largest Mall http://medellinliving.com/santafe-mall/ http://medellinliving.com/santafe-mall/#respond Sun, 31 Aug 2014 12:00:14 +0000 http://medellinliving.com/?p=22384 Santafé is the largest shopping mall in Medellín with over 380 shops. With its size and location in El Poblado it is the most popular mall in the city.

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Santafé mall

Santafé mall

Centro Comercial Santafé is the largest shopping mall in Medellín with over 2.1 million square feet of space. The mall opened in May 2010.

Santafé is located in El Poblado along Avenida Poblado just south down the road from the Oviedo mall. The huge mall was built to target the higher incomes found in El Poblado.

When the large Santafé mall was built it started to take some business from nearby Oviedo, which was built in 1979. Even after some upgrades to Oviedo in 2003, it has begun showing its age, with some vacancies beginning to appear.

Santafé’s retractable roof, open on a nice day

Santafé’s retractable roof, open on a nice day

2014 flower carpet display in Santafé with over 150,000 flowers

2014 flower carpet display in Santafé with over 150,000 flowers

Santafé has a retractable roof that the mall operator opens when the weather is nice, which is pretty often.

Santafé also frequently decorates during holidays and other events. During this year’s Feria de las Flores, the mall set up a floor display with over 150,000 flowers.

The Shops in Santafé

The anchor tenants of Santafé are Divercity, Falabella, Jumbo and Cine Colombia.

Santafé has over 380 shops, which include stores selling clothes, shoes, home furnishings, mattresses, eye-care and several other categories.

Falabella in Santafé

Falabella in Santafé

Falabella is a large department store that sells a wide range of items including clothing, furniture, electronics and appliances, computers and sports equipment. Falabella is based in Chile and has over 70 department stores located in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Peru.

In Medellín, Falabella has two stores located in the Santafé and San Diego malls.

You can sometimes find good prices on computers in Falabella. I purchased an iMac in the San Diego Falabella earlier this year for less than the cost listed on Apple’s website at the time.

The iMac was on sale and I understand taxes and import duties don’t apply to computers in Colombia.

Entrance to Divercity in Santafé

Entrance to Divercity in Santafé

Divercity is a “theme park” popular with families that offers a world of fun and educational entertainment where children can become “adults” to live and discover roles, trades and professions of the “city.”

The first Divercity opened in Bogotá in 2006 and the Medellín location opened when the Santafé mall opened in 2010. The company also has a location in Barranquilla.

Jumbo supermarket in Santafé

Jumbo supermarket in Santafé

Jumbo is a large supermarket that also sells electronics, clothes, kitchen items and home furnishings similar to a Walmart in the United States.

Make sure to sign up for Jumbo Puntos (points). This is a frequent shopper program where you accumulate points that can be used to help purchase items on sale in the future. However, to sign up you need a cedula.

Jumbo has five stores in Medellín located in the Premium Plaza and Santafé malls as well as La 65, Envigado and Rionegro.

Foreigners that have been in Colombia for a while are aware that Jumbo used to be named Carrefour.

France-based Carrefour sold its stores in Colombia to Chile-based Cencosud in 2012. Cencosud uses the Jumbo brand for its network of hypermarkets that besides Colombia can also be found in Argentina, Chile and Peru.

Cine Colombia in Santafé

Cine Colombia in Santafé

Cine Colombia in Santafé is a movie theater with six screens located on the fifth floor of the mall. Cine Colombia shows movies in Spanish as well as some in English with Spanish subtitles.

Cine Colombia is Colombia’s largest movie theater chain in Colombia with theaters in 11 cities. In Medellín, it has five locations located in Los Molinos, Oviedo, Santa Fé, Unicentro and Vizcaya.

Victoria’s Secret in Santafé

Victoria’s Secret in Santafé

Santafé has hundreds of other stores to choose from in its five floors.

One unique store you will only find in Santafé is Victoria’s Secret – the only store found in Medellín. Victoria’s Secret in Colombia has three stores – two located in Bogotá and one in Medellín.

The Victoria’s Secret stores in Colombia primarily sell fragrances, body care, makeup and bags. Unlike stores in the United States, Victoria’s Secret in Colombia doesn’t sell much lingerie.

Victoria’s Secret products are popular with Colombian women, but many of their products are not available for purchase in stores here and must be ordered over the Internet.

The fourth floor food court in Santafé

The fourth floor food court in Santafé

Food Options

The main food court in Santafé is located on the fourth floor. It has over 40 fast food places and restaurants.

In Santafé you will find several of the typical fast food places in Medellín including Asia Wok, Burger King, Dogger, El Corral, Frisby, KFC, Kokoriko, McDonalds, Qbano, and Subway.

You will also find several restaurants, including Crepes & Waffles, J&C Delicias, Sarku Japan and Sushi Light.

For the city’s best cupcakes, Dave recommends O-Cake American Bakery.

Santafé mall

Santafé mall (photo: David Lee)

Conclusions

Pro’s – It’s the largest mall in Medellín with a Jumbo for groceries, a six-screen Cine Colombia movie theater, a large Falabella department store, a convenient food court and more shops than you will find in other malls. It is also located in El Poblado, which is convenient to where many foreigners are located.

Con’s – Since Santafé is located in ritzy El Poblado, the prices in many of the shops can be higher than found in malls in other neighborhoods. If you are looking for the best prices, Santafé is not the place to be.

My Verdict – As the largest mall in Medellín it is definitely worth a trip. Due to its location and size it is the most popular mall in Medellín.

How to Get There – It is located on the main part of Avenida El Poblado aka Milla de Oro (Golden Mile). Every taxi driver knows where it is. The nearest Metro station is Aguacatala, but this is a pretty good hike from the mall.

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Gotas de Lluvia – Grupo Niche http://medellinliving.com/gotas-de-lluvia-grupo-niche/ http://medellinliving.com/gotas-de-lluvia-grupo-niche/#respond Sat, 30 Aug 2014 12:00:55 +0000 http://medellinliving.com/?p=22452 _____________

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Best Sandwiches in Medellín http://medellinliving.com/best-sandwiches/ http://medellinliving.com/best-sandwiches/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 12:00:48 +0000 http://medellinliving.com/?p=22021 Ryan aims to find the best sandwiches in Medellín, and enjoys a variety of them at places such as D'Andre Gourmet, Flora and Mezcla.

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Flip Flop Sandwich Shop

The Flip Flop Sandwich Shop

New York offers pretty much everything you could want, including one of my favorite things: the best sandwiches.

I once lived just outside the city, and then used to go back and visit every year, once or twice a year, after moving to South Florida.

Pastrami Queen was my favorite. Following a recommendation from my friend Jeff Platsky, I made a rare trip to the Upper East Side and bought a corn beef sandwich big as God, with a baked potato knish on the side. I could only eat half of each, and had the rest for dinner.

My other go-to place was a deli in SoHo, although the name and exact location escape me. I just remember that the chicken parmesan sandwich there was probably the best $6 I’ve ever spent.

I haven’t found anything like those places in Medellín, but the city is changing quickly enough that there are a lot of new places catering to the sandwich-loving crowd. I’d be a card-carrying member, if such a club existed.

So what makes a good sandwich? Well, you want it to taste great, and I think we eat them expecting to be full when we’re done. I also like creativity and uniqueness, the latter still very possible in a growing city like this one.

Apparently it’s National Sandwich Month in the United States so let’s honor the occasion by highlighting the places that qualify for the best sandwiches in Medellín.

The Buffalo chicken sandwich at Flip Flop Sandwich Shop is quite spicy, how I like it.

The Buffalo chicken sandwich at Flip Flop Sandwich Shop is quite spicy, how I like it

1. Flip Flop Sandwich Shop

Carrera 36 #8A-103, Poblado 

After the advent of buffalo wings, it makes sense that a Buffalo chicken sandwich would follow and Flip Flop Sandwich Shop has the only good one I know of in Medellín.

If I had to pick my favorite kinds of sandwiches, it would go: 1) chicken parmesan (like at that SoHo deli) 2) corned beef (like at Pastrami Queen) and 3) Buffalo chicken.

I can’t find the other two in Medellín, so that means I go to Flip Flop for the Buffalo chicken.

The sauce is spicy, how I like it, and the sandwich is huge. Throw in chips and a soda and you’re paying 15,000 pesos ($8), well worth it.

I already love the wings and the burgers here.

I hear a list of gourmet sandwiches is coming next, and I look forward to it.

The tuna sandwich at Mezcla Juice Bar makes for a good dinner.

The Mezcla makes for a good dinner at Mezcla Juice Bar.

2. Mezcla Juice Bar

Carrera 35 #7-108, Poblado 

It’s too bad Mezcla Juice Bar had yet to open when I wrote my story on the healthy restaurant trend because it surely would have had a place in it.

These sandwiches are amazing, and start at 12,000 pesos (about $6.25), and I love the variety.

There’s the Mezcla, with cilantro, chicken and other spices on toasted whole grain bread. And there’s the tuna, with tomatoes and several other ingredients that made it unlike any tuna sandwich I’ve had before. I mean that in a good way.

There is enough to choose from that you can eat here several times a week and never tire of the food, not with all the gourmet salads they have on the menu too.

Try the fresh juices as well. They go great with the sandwiches.

I love the barbecue chicken panini here.

I love the barbecue chicken panini here

3. Café Revolución

Carrera 73 #4-10, Laureles

Café Revolución, a new establishment, made my list of top cafés as much for the sandwiches as it did for the coffee, something an angry reader would have understood had he read my criteria more carefully.

They’re paninis.

I’ve loved these toasted flatbread sandwiches since the first time I had them, and at Café Revolución, you have four options: barbecue chicken, grilled zucchini, ham and cheese, and, my favorite, tuna.

They cost only 8,900 pesos (about $4.75).

If there is another place in the city you love for its paninis, please advise. I’d love to try it.

It's the only sandwich on the menu at D'Andre Gourmet, and it's a good one.

It’s the only sandwich on the menu at D’Andre Gourmet, and it’s a good one

4. D’André Gourmet

Carrera 37 #10-15, Poblado 

There is only one sandwich on the menu at D’André Gourmet, but maybe that’s all it needs.

Like a closer in baseball, if you’re going to do only one thing, make sure you do it well, which makes this place the Mariano Rivera of sandwiches.

There’s a chicken sandwich, with ham, lettuce, tomato, onion and a tarter sauce I actually like. (I usually hate tarter sauce.)

It’s a very generous sandwich that comes with fries, all for 12,900 pesos ($6.70), enough to fill me and fulfill me.

Flora will fill you up in a healthy way. (photo: Flora)

Flora will fill you up in a healthy way (photo: Flora)

5. Flora

Circular 4 #73-04, Laureles

While I like the sandwiches at Mezcla more, Flora is still my favorite among the health-conscious restaurants, the reason they’re on this list.

They make a good sandwich and you feel good after you’ve eaten it, even though you’re quite full.

I love that there are so many toppings to choose from, everything from zucchini to sun-dried tomatoes. How many you choose affects the price of your sandwich, which can start around 13,000 pesos (about $7).

You can still get meat on your sandwich if you like too, chicken and calamari among the options, but I think next time I’ll go with veggies only. I haven’t had a sandwich like that in forever.

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Edificio Coltejer: Medellin’s Iconic Skyscraper http://medellinliving.com/edificio-coltejer/ http://medellinliving.com/edificio-coltejer/#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 12:00:30 +0000 http://medellinliving.com/?p=22460 A look at the history and relevance of the iconic Coltejer Tower in downtown Medellín.

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Coltejer Tower

The iconic Coltejer Tower can be seen from all over Centro (photo: David Lee)

Looking at the wider skyline of Medellín, there are few truly distinctive buildings on the horizon. The one major exception to that would be the Coltejer Tower.

Since its completion in 1972, the Coltejer Tower was that structure that was most often symbolically identified with Medellín, at least up until the construction of the Medellín metro system.

The Coltejer Tower stands at 574 feet (175 meters) and 36 stories and is the tallest building in Medellín, and the fourth tallest in Colombia.

It was designed to resemble an industrial sewing needle–thus the gradually tapering shape, pointy crest, and even the hole near the tip where one would thread the needle.

The structure was completed as the headquarters for the Coltejer textile company, the largest textile company in South America and one of the most important companies in Colombia.

Looking up from the base of Coltejer on Junnin Street.

Looking up from the base of Coltejer on Junnin Street

The Coltejer textile company was started by Alejandro Echavarría, a prominent businessman and industrialist, who imported discarded looms from the United States during the Great Depression to expand his business.

Echavarría was also intimately involved in the exportation of coffee in addition to the importation of other goods.

The company annually processes more than 30,000 tons of cotton fibers, polyester, linen and nylon, with 186,776 spindles producing 100 million square meters of fabric.

The company has struggled in recent years to respond to the growing import of cheap textiles from Asian markets and the government has taken some protectionist measures.

It was individuals like Echavarría and his company which brought Medellín to the forefront of the industrial revolution in Colombia.

A look at the other side of Coltejer Tower.

A look at the other side of Coltejer Tower

To this day Paisas are renowned for their business acumen, negotiation skills, and the level of development and progress they have achieved in Colombia.

An interesting side note is that the Echavarría Family is also tied to another prominent attraction in the city: El Castillo, the French-inspired castle overlooking the city from Poblado.

Echavarría’s son, Diego Echavarría Misas purchased the castle in the 1940s to serve as his family home.

Unfortunately, a series of tragic occurrences befell the family, including the death of their young daughter to a rare disease, and Diego’s kidnapping, purportedly orchestrated by Pablo Escobar, and eventual execution at the hands of his kidnappers.

The Coltejer Tower makes for a great reference point when traveling around Centro as it can be seen from virtually everywhere.

If you ever get lost, just find an open vista in the street and find the tower.

Located only a few blocks east of the popular Plaza Botero and the Museo de Antioquia, the tower also sits at the base of the popular pedestrian shopping area, Junnin Street, and just half a block from the delicious Astor Repostería.

Junnin Street below Coltejer Tower

Junnin Street below Coltejer Tower

The Coltejer Tower also sits near the Teatro Pablo Tobón Uribe, the oldest theater in town, and near Avenida Oriental where one can find buses and transportation options to virtually any part of the city.

Unfortunately, there is no public access to the building or observation decks, which is too bad as I am sure it would make for a compelling tourist attraction and vantage point.

Given the lack of public access and the Paisas general disregard for “old” things like Coltejer, it may have lost some of the luster and high regard that it once held.

Nonetheless, Coltejer Tower remains an iconic piece of architecture and the most distinctive skyscraper in Medellín.

No visit to Medellín would be complete without a visit to Centro, and no structure provides a better point of reference than the looming Coltejer Tower.

You can reach the base of Coltejer Tower by walking a few blocks east from the Plaza Botero metro station.

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Happy Buddha Boutique Hostel Creates a New Market in Medellín http://medellinliving.com/happy-buddha-boutique-hostel/ http://medellinliving.com/happy-buddha-boutique-hostel/#respond Wed, 27 Aug 2014 18:00:02 +0000 http://medellinliving.com/?p=21927 The Happy Buddha Boutique Hostel offers all the amenities of a hotel and the fun atmosphere of a hostel, filling a void in the Colombian market.

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You'll feel like you're in a hostel in one of the private rooms at Happy Buddha Boutique Hostel.

You’ll feel like you’re in a hotel in one of the private rooms at Happy Buddha Boutique Hostel

The words “glam” and “hostel” don’t seem to mix, but Happy Buddha Boutique Hostel, located in the heart of Poblado, does just that, aiming to please travelers who seek luxury and style, but who are also frugal-minded.

It is the first place in Colombia that mixes your favorite qualities of a hotel and a hostel, in one location.

The Amenities

This 3-year-old renovated boutique hostel features:

  • Chic décor
  • Stylish bar terrace
  • Pool and ping-pong tables
  • En suite bathrooms with complimentary soap, conditioner, shampoo and towel
  • In-room flat screen TVs, free Wi-Fi
  • Spacious lockers with shelves and charge ports for your electronics
  • Individual bunk bed lights
  • Balconies
  • 24-hour bilingual reception

Dorms start at 30,000 pesos (about $16) per night per person. Private rooms start at 110,000 pesos (about $57).

The price at the Happy Buddha also includes a great breakfast — eggs, toast and sausage, and on the weekends, calentado, the popular mix of rice and beans that’s a staple in Colombia.

Giant Jenga is one of the fun things to do at Tree Bar.

Giant Jenga is one of the fun things to do at Tree Bar

Tree Bar

Tree Bar is actually what drew me to the hostel in the first place. This fun bar is open to everyone, whether they’re staying at the hostel or not.

The bar overlooks Via Provenza, one of the trendiest streets in Medellín that is home to or near some of the most popular locales in the city, such as Bogotá Beer Company and the Santo Baile dance studio.

As I sat there, I noticed how clean and organized the hostel is, so much so that there is a shine to it.

Some people were playing pool, some playing beer pong, others just enjoying a drink and getting to know the locals.

Tree Bar, part of the Happy Buddha Boutique Hostel, is a great place to socialize.

Tree Bar, part of the Happy Buddha Boutique Hostel, is a great place to socialize, especially during hostel events

Hostel Events

There is a blackboard near the reception area that spells out events for each night, everything from a free salsa class (with free shots for those who dance) on Wednesdays to unlimited happy hour drinks if you wear a costume on Thursdays. Only on Sundays is there a day of rest.

The staff, dressed in sharp uniforms, is really friendly and makes you feel right at home.

I later learned that the employees receive full benefits and were trained by a seasoned hospitality veteran on how to handle the 100-plus savvy travelers who fill this place nightly.

The dorms start at 30,000 pesos per night at Happy Buddha Boutique Hostel.

The dorms start at 30,000 pesos per night at Happy Buddha Boutique Hostel. (photo: Happy Buddha Boutique Hostel)

Future Location

Maybe the best part of the Happy Buddha is this: as great as it already is, it’s going to only get better.

Another Happy Buddha will open this year in Guatapé, with over 80 beds, a floating lakefront bar, a massive infinity edge pool, and a vast array of water sports.

I have never seen a hostel with cleaner bathrooms than Happy Buddha Boutique Hostel.

Happy Buddha Boutique Hostel has the cleanest bathrooms I’ve ever seen in a hostel. (photo: Happy Buddha Boutique Hostel)

The hostel was inspired by Luna’s Castle, a hostel in Panamá City.

The owners noticed a trend of boutique hostels in Europe, the United States, and elsewhere, and they wanted to bring that to Colombia.

As they like to say: “We’re pioneering a new segment in the hospitality industry.”

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This post was brought to you by Happy Buddha Boutique Hostel and Tree Bar. 

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Café Revolución: Quality and Variety for Your Coffee http://medellinliving.com/cafe-revolucion/ http://medellinliving.com/cafe-revolucion/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 12:00:07 +0000 http://medellinliving.com/?p=22353 Melissa's take on the popular Café Revolución located in Laureles, where they sell different kinds of quality coffee from local farms in a great atmosphere.

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Shakerato 7,900 Pesos ($4.20)

Shakerato with liquor: 7,900 pesos ($4.20)

After pondering the thought for a while, I’ve decided that the best cafés are in Laureles.

Then again I might be biased because I live here. Café Revolución is one of my favorite cafés in the area.

Owners Bryan and Zsolti opened the café, located right in front of Primer Parque de Laureles, in May 2014 and they have been doing great ever since.

They get their coffee from several locations like Tolima, Caldas and Antioquia. If you want to brew your own coffee at home they sell bags of ground coffee or full beans from these locations and about every week they switch their coffee so clients can try different beans.

Café Revolución differs from other cafes because they don’t limit their coffee to one farm. They are always mixing it up and changing the flavors, while never sacrificing the quality.

Something I’ve noticed is that they love their customers and make sure that each time they come in they are treated right. Customer service is a big deal here.

The paninis are great, and so is the art, like the painting called La Negra, the only one not for sale.

The paninis are great, and so is the art, like the painting in the background, the only one not for sale.

As Ryan mentioned in his Best Cafés post, they have delicious paninis. I loved their ham and cheese panini for 8,500 pesos ($4.50) and the BBQ chicken panini is also really good for 8,900 pesos ($4.70).

Every day they have coffee specials on the blackboard outside. Every day there is a 2×1 special, sometimes a new drink creation, and there are always great coffees.

A big plus about the café is that it is a place to go and sit for a while, whether you are working or chatting with a friend. Music is always playing in the background and it has a great energy to it. It is not just a get-your-coffee-and-go kind of place.

If you’re looking for something stronger than a normal black coffee try the Shakerato with Amaretto in it 7,900 pesos (about $4.20) and cinnamon sprinkled on top.

They make a delicious espresso and cappuccino or iced lattes when it is too hot for normal coffees, as well as cold and hot teas for the non-coffee drinkers. They have two coffee grinders and they switch up the coffee in the second grinder for beans from different farms once a week.

If you’re not into tea or coffee they have delicious fruit smoothies that go great with the homemade baked treats, like muffins and oatmeal cookies, that Bryan makes.

These paintings will set you back about 300,000

These paintings cost about 300,000 pesos ($160) each.

Café Revolución not only supports local coffee farms but they also help local artists.

The paintings they have hanging (with the exception of the biggest painting, the one on the red wall) are for sale. All of the paintings are originals and come with a letter from the artist.

Make sure you get a card before you leave. For every eight drinks you purchase, you get the next one free.

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Negra Noche: An Evening of Multicultural Music http://medellinliving.com/negra-noche-multicultural-music/ http://medellinliving.com/negra-noche-multicultural-music/#respond Tue, 26 Aug 2014 12:00:10 +0000 http://medellinliving.com/?p=22501 With a variety of festivities taking place for the Feria de las Flores, Negra Noche was just one of the events being held during the ten day celebrations.

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Negra Noche

An evening of international artists

What I love about Medellín is its culture and what better time of year to showcase its diversity of music than with the Feria de las Flores.

This annual event isn’t just about celebrating flowers, and with a variety of festivities taking place in August 2014, Negra Noche was just one of the evening events.

Taking place Sunday, August 3 in the Parque de los Piez Descalzos, Negra Noche (translating to “Black Night”) promised an evening of international artists, and was just the beginning of a week’s worth of evening entertainment at the Parque Cultural Nocturno.

World Music was to follow Monday night, a Night of Humor on Tuesday, Son and Bolero that Thursday and the festivities closing on Friday with Tropical Night – an evening of Cuban salsa, bolero and merengue classics.

Negra Noche

They certainly know how to put on a show

Being free to the public, I couldn’t resist making the most of this open-air concert and went along to check out the evening’s entertainment.

It was a Sunday night yet that didn’t stop the paisas from coming out and having fun. The night just wouldn’t be Colombian if it didn’t begin with some salsa dancing.

Bamburazo, a local singer from Medellín, started the evening with some Latin American folklore, to the delight of the paisas who were out of their seats and wiggling their hips to their favorite music.

Negra Noche

The crowd enjoying the beats

The music couldn’t have been more diverse, as an hour later saw Caribbean-born Elkin Robinson, a singer-songwriter from the Colombian island of Old Providence, playing Afro-Caribbean music. Known as “the new voice of Providencia” he definitely made his mark.

Only ever seeing Colombians dancing in the bars and streets to salsa, bachata or reggaeton, it was refreshing to see them so open to other genres and as the reggae beats blasted across the floor, the crowd were up and dancing, especially to the rendition of Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry.”

Then the ambience changed as Chicago-born, Richard “Rip Lee” Pryor took to the stage with his rhythmic blues, as the crowd took their seats to listen to the sounds of the harmonica.

Negra Noche

The big screen displaying the artists and their talents

No stranger to touring South America, it seems that the blues are in his DNA as his father, Snooky Pryor is another renowned blues musician. For music not that well-known in Colombia, “Rip Lee” certainly seemed to capture the crowd.

Then we were transported back to South America as a four-piece Peruvian band called Novalima took to the stage with their Afro-Peruvian sounds; a mix of Latino beats with bursts of electronica.

Known for their influences from other genres (reggae, hip hop and afrobeat), they are that big in Latin America that their third album was nominated for a Latin Grammy.

The paisas partied on until the evening ended and after the last song of the night had played, I walked away with aching feet, new sounds to listen to, and a new appreciation for the city. It’s not all about the flowers…

Here’s a snapshot of the evening’s festivities:

Note 

Although this event was held for the Feria de las Flores, Medellín holds other open-air gigs which are also usually free. The events here are so organized, you don’t even need to step away from your seat as people selling snacks and beer come to you.

I even went back for the finale, Tropical Noche, which although the heavens opened, did not deter the resilient paisas who stayed and danced in the rain. You’ve got to love Medellín.

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Brie Bon Leads French Revolution in Medellín http://medellinliving.com/brie-bon/ http://medellinliving.com/brie-bon/#respond Mon, 25 Aug 2014 12:00:15 +0000 http://medellinliving.com/?p=22312 The trend of French restaurants gives paisas and visitors many options for this popular cuisine but Ryan believes Brie Bon is the best of the bunch.

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The beautiful setting and trendy location make Brie Bon a great place to dine.

The beautiful setting and trendy location make Brie Bon a great place to dine

It had to arrive eventually.

French food, some of the best in the world, was no doubt going to someday permeate Medellín, a city becoming more international by the year.

Well someday is today, and the best restaurant for French cuisine is Brie Bon.

It’s the newest French restaurant serving paisas and the growing foreign community, one of about a half-dozen open today if you count Le Panetier, the café overlooking Primer Parque Laureles.

We at Medellín Living have been on a mission to try them all, all of them offering good food, with atmosphere, authenticity and pricing being the primary differences.

Let’s run through these variables, shall we? Then you’ll see why Brie Bon tops them all.

La Cafetiere de Anita is the most famous, one of the places Martha Stewart went when she came here last year. It’s also the most expensive.

You know you’re in a fancy restaurant when you’re there, with the well-dressed waiters, immaculate table settings, and the location along the Milla de Oro.

Dave went recently when a reader invited him to dinner, and he had the salmon. It was fine for 46,000 pesos (about $24), but it didn’t blow him away. He did love the desserts though.

Until trying Brie Bon, I was struggling to decide between Ganso & Castor and Paris Paris.

I love the escargot at Ganso & Castor, a dish many people find strange, or inedible. That’s fine. More snails for me. The garlic butter sauce they come in makes them delectable.

Once mainly a café, and still with the quaint elegance of one, the place evolved into a restaurant, a place with dishes range from 18,000 pesos (about $9.50) to 30,000 pesos (about $16).

Paris Paris is slightly more economical, but with the same theme, only entirely set on a breezy patio.

The blue cheese chicken is my favorite dish. A friend of mine loves it so much, he orders only that, every time.

Mickael, the founder, is from northwest France and opened the restaurant to share his country’s cuisine with Medellín at affordable prices. Nothing on the menu is more than 26,000 pesos.

Beouf Bourguignon is one of my favorite French dishes.

Boeuf Bourguignon is one of my favorite French dishes

The mission at Brie Bon, I learned after several trips there, is to replicate French cooking to the point where you feel like you’re in France when the mix of flavors dances on your tongue.

I think they’ve succeeded.

I’d make a more declarative statement but I’ve never been to France, unlike Juan Florez, one of the owners, who was inspired by the food during his trip.

This I can say: the boeuf bourguignon was incredible.

The beef was tender, marinated mostly in red wine, something done a day or two before it was ready for cooking, and when it was finished it was perfect.

So were the mashed potatoes, and I loved the way they prepared the asparagus, shaved into thin slices that were slightly crispy.

It was a big plate and for 30,000 pesos (about $16) I was full.

I looked around while my food digested, appreciated the finer details of the place, such as the options to sit indoors or on a patio, the canopy they can use to cover the outdoor tables during the rainy season.

I loved the iron chairs and their classic European design, and the wine room at the far wall, and the location along the green and soothing Vía Provenza.

You could unwind here after work with one of their many drink options, such as martinis and cosmopolitans.

After enjoying my meal, I found out about the special brunch menu, something that really caught my eye. Brunch is available starting at 10 a.m., Thursday through Sunday.

I just had lunch the previous Sunday with my two good friends from the states, Jen and Mike, and Jen had mentioned how she wished there were a great place for brunch in Medellín, a place with trussed-up eggs and all the sides, and mimosas too.

I think I might have to make Brie Bon a weekly stop for brunch, and I will probably order the eggs benedict quite often.

I think I might have to make Brie Bon a weekly stop for brunch, and I will probably order the eggs benedict quite often

When I made this new discovery I hit her up immediately in Facebook Messenger:

“Found a great place for brunch…eggs benedict, mimosas, all that stuff!”

She was teaching her class but responded shortly thereafter:

“We’re going! Let’s get the group together, and by group, I mean you, me and Mike, jaja.”

We went, we ate, we fell in love. With the food, not with each other.

We all had the eggs benedict (13,500 pesos, or about $7), Jen’s with a mimosa and Mike later ordered the French toast, the perfect Sunday preceding a national holiday, in this case the Assumption of Mary.

Later, when I thought about my experiences at Brie Bon, I realized there was one thing about them that was not 100 percent French, and being authentic is something for which the restaurant takes great pride.

The portions at Brie Bon are big. In France, from what I understand, they’re small.

If you’re going to dare to be a little different, do it in a way that pleases your clientele.

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MAKAIA: Strengthening the Social Sector in Colombia http://medellinliving.com/makaia-colombia/ http://medellinliving.com/makaia-colombia/#respond Sun, 24 Aug 2014 12:00:18 +0000 http://medellinliving.com/?p=22285 Learn more about the non-profit organization MAKAIA and the work they are doing to strengthen the social sector in Colombia through technology.

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Children learning in the library

Children learning in the library

In the second edition of our series featuring NGO work in Medellín, we talk to Camila Urbina, the Communications Coordinator at MAKAIA – a charity that is committed to strengthening the social sector in Colombia through technological advancement and capacity building.

What is the mission of MAKAIA?

The work we do is focused on strengthening the social sector in Colombia and Latin America.

We work with not for profit organizations, the private sector, local government and civil society organizations, and aim to create partnerships where we bring accessibility and technological development to increase the capabilities of organizations in the social sector.

Why was it started and when was it founded?

The organization was started eight years ago by three young Colombians professionals who had been working with the World Bank and the Organization of American States in Washington D.C. in the United States.

They decided they wanted to give back to Colombia and use the professional skills they had developed to benefit their home country.

Catalina Escobar, then returned home and directly ran MAKAIA from Medellín.

Their intention was to create an organization that strengthened the social sector and specifically focus on using technology as a transversal.

What problems are you currently trying to solve?

In the past there was a lot of improvisation by the social sector in Colombia.

There was a lot of invisible work being done and we wanted to drive their potential, so we work a lot in capacity building and our aim is to create more organized and more effective organizations through technology.

What projects are you currently carrying out and where are they based?

We have many projects across a range of different themes but our main ones are working with libraries in Medellín and other areas across Latin America, strengthening the social sector through our innovative NodoKá platform, and working with people with disabilities.

We offer training and capacity building tailored to the need of the social sector in Colombia and digital literacy for vulnerable populations such as people with disabilities, children and indigenous communities.

Helping people with disabilities access IT

Helping people with disabilities access IT

MAKAIA is also part of the Beyond Access a movement of people and organizations around the world committed to the idea that modern public libraries help drive economic and social development for the most vulnerable.

We are currently the hub for Latin American development projects of the movement in Peru and Uruguay.

Beyond Access looks to use libraries to power development and provide people who use libraries across the world with more access to opportunities, and turn libraries into centers for community capacity building through ICT training, access to information and capacity building.

Everything from women empowerment workshops in Bhutan, helping farmers’ access agricultural information and subsidies in Romania, to digital literacy programs in Peru.

The NodoKá is an online platform that we believe will revolutionize the way the social sector finds opportunities, and creates partnerships.

That includes not for profit organization working across such diverse themes, as access to clean water to HIV awareness.

It is kind of like a filtered search engine where non-profit organizations can create and receive personalized alerts of relevant cooperation opportunities, an opportunity mapping tool and a social sector electronic market.

For example the organizations can find and source old computers that companies want to donate them to a worthy cause.

It also features a social sector job market and has a huge directory of Colombian and International NGO’s.

We are excited about its potential to be a tool that makes NGO’s lives easier and helps to connect organizations with the same values and missions.

We have also been working with digital literacy and empowerment project for people with disabilities and senior citizens the past eight years, with different allies including ministries, mayorships and other non-for-profit organizations.

In our latest project where we have trained 30 librarians across Medellín in how to teach and use software for visually impaired people.

This approach where we train trainers in the libraries creates a snowball effect and helps more and more people with this type of disability.

What is the impact of the projects and who are the beneficiaries?

The projects impact all the community of NGO’S we work with and helps promote the overall development of the social sector in Colombia.

Our beneficiaries are many, for example our project helping disabled and elderly people to use computers, reached over 600 people last year alone.

Group discussing the project

Group discussing the project

How is the NGO funded and what charity status do you have?

The organization is a Colombian NGO and is funded by a combination of grants and services we provide for other non-for-profit organizations, Social Corporate Responsibility initiatives and projects with local and national government.

How is the program sustainable?

As MAKAIA grows and evolves with time to meet market needs and tech advancements, it launches products and services that will enable the organization to be sustainable. We work with a variety of partners and we see these long-term partnerships as key for our future development.

How can people get involved?

There are various ways people can get involved, they include:

1) Volunteering on one of our programs, such as the IT training for disabled persons, or working in our office on information gathering
2) Donating to our work
3) Spreading the word about the work of MAKAIA and creating awareness of our programs
4) Setting up partnerships with other organizations interested in supporting not for profit organizations

What are the requirements for people getting involved?

We have ten people in the office and appreciate any help we can get, so if you are interested in supporting us with any of the above themes please get in touch with Camila Urbina Escobar at camila.urbina@makaia.org or at the phone number +57 4 448-0374.

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