We got a super remodelled colonial house, with private pool, in the heart of Santa Fe de Antioquia, this weekend past.
We headed off by micro-bus 🚌 from Medellín to Santa Fe de Antioquia.
There are large conventional Greyhound style buses, then there are the minivans, we opted for the latter as they are faster.
I’m nearly 6ft 4” and built like a proverbial outhouse, so I confess to being sceptical about this option!
However we got front row reclining seats, with wind blowing in from open windows, so it was actually a bearable trip.
Certainly value for money at 30.000 COP for two, compared to the 150.000-200.000 COP it would have cost by UBER.
At least the van journey was surprisingly comfortable, that is until just outside Medellín, the driver let a farmer hitch a ride.
He heaved himself on and plonked himself down next to me, with a 40 kg sack of grain, closing the window and man-spreading for added comfort.
Depending on traffic, it’s roughly a 1.5 hour journey, but be advised not to travel after 16:00, as rush hour starts.
Also on Fridays best head out by 11:00 to avoid getting caught up in the exodus.
Anyway back to the bus ride, we rose up through shanty’s towards the rim of the sugar bowl mountains, which hem Medellin, into its narrow valley.
We then passed under the very peaks of the Andes.
I tried not to think about the infinite weight of igneous extrusion above, as we sped under the peaks of the Andes, in a long tunnel, emerging the other side, into the sunny, rain-shadowed zone beyond.
The other side of the mountain is baking hot and it rains less.
Most rainfall shed, as clouds rise from the Medellín valley floor, falling on the peaks.
We wound our way past the toll gate, queued for the road works and then zig-zagged onwards past spectacular mountain scenery.
Coffee plantations littering impossibly steep and picturesque slopes, with the peaks wreathed in rain cloud.
Down the other side of the mountain, towards San Jerónimo, (where we had already stayed) and on towards our destination, Santa Fe de Antioquia.
Santa Fe de Antioquia is about 40 minutes further on from San Jeronimo.
The scenery is breathtaking, the roads are gut wrenching, with sharp curving bends on a perilously steep descent.
As you hit the valley floor and enter the county of Santa Fe, you see a proud billboard welcoming your arrival to this celebrated coffee growing zone of Antioquia.
A Gaucho (cowboy), beaming down, arms outstretched from the giant poster.
His cowboy hat perched proudly, over a round moustachioed face, which bore an uncanny resemblance to Pablo Escobar.
We crossed the impressively wide Cauca river, where tree trunks swept by, as if match sticks on the powerful current.
As we approach Santa Fe’s bus terminal, we pass the many a tourist complexes and gated holiday communities.
Santa Fe De Antioquia, is firmly on the map as a tourist destination and resort town, for the well heeled of Medellín.
Arriving at the bus terminal was what it must feel like as a Hollywood A-lister, emerging to the burst of flash photography, at a red carpet event.
We were mobbed by tuk-tuk drivers, furiously clamouring for our custom, yelling “mototaxi mototaxi…. !!!” like a hoard of angry vultures.
We kept our heads down, dodged the scrum and made a bee line for a bakery across from the station.
It was time for a can beer and to regroup after the sometimes white knuckle mini-van ride, down the Andes, to Santa Fe de Antioquia.
Google maps, indicated where our Airbnb was, so my Paisa girlfriend headed out on a solo mission, to scout our Mototaxi, avoiding the risk of a “gringo tax”!
We got a cheap $1.29 ride to our pad and were welcomed by the host.
After navigating the hi-Tec keypad entry system, we were finally in!
Once past the secure entrance, we found ourselves in quaint and characterful cottage.
It had been recently renovated with wood beams, door lintels out of a hobbit im house and other traditional touches.
However, the star of the show had to be the amazing private swimming pool.
Bigger and deeper than in the fotos, which do not do it justice.
As ever in Colombia a Madonna on the wall looking down to safeguard the highest standards of mixed bathing.
It was spotlessly clean and a spacious pad, to which I share the link here.
The owners were very helpful and kind, leaving us a basket of fruit and items in the fridge, as a welcome.
At night it was a treat to sit out on the authentic gallery style balcony as the aroma of rose blossom wafted in on the tropical breeze.
Once suitably freshened up, we headed into to the historical town.
What a splendid atmospheric place it is, so well preserved, it transports you back to the time of the Spanish Conquistadores.
Santa Fe is the ancient capital of all Antioquia. With reason it is celebrated for its immaculately restored colonial era architecture.
The huge main square, with its cathedral taking pride of place, is made more elegant for a rather splendid three tiered water fountain and the manicured ornamental gardens at the heart.
The square has a delightful park in the centre, with lively bars and reataurants all around.
As the town is also home to the prestigious University of Antioquia, there is a youthful buzz about this ancient place.
Check other photos of Santa Fe De Antioquia, below
We wandered the cobbled streets aimlessly, in complete safety, before circling back to the first restaurant we had come across.
The steaks and ribs and cuts of meat in this area are all world class, chargrilled and delicious.
Washed down by amazing black currant hand pressed juice with milk and brown sugar.
The Aguardiente seemed to flow freely and there certainly seems to be a burgeoning peace dividend, as the locals are out relaxing and promenading the main square.
In conversation, I later learnt that until recently, there could be curfews in this area due to the brutal civil war.
Indeed the inhabitants of the town are among those recently indemnified, under a USA funded scheme for losses suffered during the conflict.
My verdict is that the town is well worth a weekend visit or even a day trip.
I’d probably stay in a posh hotel in the centre next time.
We were shattered after suffering from the flu that is doing the rounds of Medellín and in hindsight, would have benefited from the more cloistered atmosphere of a boutique hotel, rather than a self-catering unit.
Also, if I came back regularly, I’d look at nearby purpose built resorts.
Some of which look immaculate and exclusive, with stunning nature and mountain views.
But all in all worth the trip if only to wash away the stress of Medellín’s big city life.
One last tip as I sign off is, don’t miss the rope suspension bridge “el puente colgante”, one of the longest surviving versions of its kind in the world.