Senior Nomad Budget Travel

Easy, Safe, Fun!

Cali, Colombia — a Pleasant Surprise for Tourists!


If you’re like a lot of people, the words “Cali Colombia” conjure up visions of drug cartels and bloody violence in the streets. But please, think again. Thankfully, this dark night of the soul for Cali Colombia is now history. I recently spent a week there. I strolled along the river, enjoyed the street markets, hung out in modern shopping malls, and wandered around the artsy boutique shops and hipster bars of the San Antonio neighborhood.

Wherever I went I always felt safe and welcome, and I enjoyed myself greatly. So if you’re planning a trip to Colombia, I highly recommend adding Cali to your must-see list of cities.

El Gato Del Rio

This is a delightful little portion along the Rio Cali that is filled with cat statues. It’s not to be missed. A big brass colored cat sits at the beginning of the path. Stroll along the short path and admire each colorfully and uniquely decorated statue — each done by a different artist. Signs explain the artists description of their design. And when you’re done with your walk, go across the street to Ventolini’s. It’s a totally decadent ice-cream and dessert shop. You’ll be hard pressed to pick just one item from the huge mouth-watering menu.

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Old and New Style Shopping

You can visit tiny artisan shops nestled on the small hillside park of Loma de La Cruz. Or make your way to the humongous ultra-modern Chipichapi mall with it’s pleasant combination of indoor/outdoor spaces. You could easily get lost in this mall it’s so big. But no worries, there’s loads to eat and first run movies to see. I was able to see the just released blockbuster movie, The Last Jedi… in English!

And if you are too tired at the end of all that, just walk over to the Hotel Spiwak. It’s integrated right into the mall with it’s lobby filled with more shops so you hardly know where the mall ends and the hotel begins.

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Christmas and Food

Christmas is a big deal in Cali Colombia, so it’s a great time to visit. I went in the week between Christmas and New Years, when they have 6 full days of parades and celebrations. The entire park area along the river is beautifully decorated. Be sure to come at night when everything is lit up and filled with happily strolling families enjoying the holiday atmosphere. The culmination is on December 30 when the crowds are thick, music fills the air, and hundreds of street vendors are hawking their wares.

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Notable Tidbits

I had to include a couple additional photos just because. The above is my morning juice — a full 500 ml (about 17 oz) of fresh squeezed OJ at the neighborhood market. I watched them slice the oranges, hand squeeze them, and then present me with a small pitcher of delicious liquid gold! Cost? About $1.40 USD.

And at my favorite morning breakfast bakery spot I had to smile at the Cali Colombia version of a security guard. He sat attentively at the door every day, sporting a machete hanging from his hip! Nope, don’t mess with this him!

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