Wash my expat mouth out with soap, but the ecclesiastical architecture of the city center lacks the wow factor IMHO. The church in the first pic is made of concrete, not stone, and the finish on the outside is quite rough where the workmen scraped the surface with some kind of tool but didn’t quite get to the smooth bit before they called it quits. It’s big, you gotta give it that, and it has a tower you can climb up if you want to get the view, but I took one look and kept on walking. The second church has a lovely plaza in front of it where I whiled away a few moments enjoying the hubbub from my perch in a shady spot on its margins, but I didn’t go into that one, either. I hereby delegate commentary and ooh-la-la-ing to somebody who musters more excitement than I. My problem must be old age (and too many visits to European cathedrals) since it’s too late in the day to ascribe it to the change of life. 🙂
As you can see from the street pics, we’re not talking the Avenue des Champs–Élysées. A modern sub-compact car is a bit wider than a donkey cart but you can still get two of them abreast on a city center street in Manizales with a bit of luck. If you were driving the kind of monster pickup so popular in my neck of the woods in the States, however, you’d be SOL from the get-go. The last pic shows one of the “pause that refreshes” cafes I enjoyed in the city center. It’s on the second floor so if you sit by the window you can nurse your macchiato and enjoy the bustle going on below you without the need to dodge the pedestrians. That’s the perfect combination in my book.
A bit uphill from the city center lies the area called Chipre. It’s a fashionable part of town and has lots of restaurants and bars. It also has stunning views because it’s perched on the edge of the hill that provides the city center its perch. There’s a big view tower (called a “mirador” in Spanish), which I neglected to ascend because I was content with the view from the ground level. See? I’m not really so tough a customer, after all. Chipre is the place to find the touristy things like the Museo del Cafe (Coffee Museum) and some typically melodramatic commemorative sculpture. I did go to the Coffee Museum and it’s well worth a visit. If you’ve gone to a coffee farm (“finca” in Spanish) before you hit the Museum, you’ll be disappointed because the spiel the guide gives will be old news. I haven’t done the finca thing yet so it was all news to me and I thought it very well done. There’s a cafe onsite in the museum, as well, offering freshly roasted local coffee. Scrummy!
As for the commemorative public sculpture, let me just say that Latin America goes over the top in that department and has every right to do so. We’re much more restrained in our public offerings in the States so it all seems a bit overwrought to me, but hey, I’m a foreigner so I should just keep my mouth shut. I’ll let the pics do the talking and you can form your own opinions. I’ll tell you one thing — if the hoorah you see going on in the sculpture scenes is what the founders of Manizales did in order to get things going there, I’m VERY glad it was them and not me doing it. Too much trouble by half from the look of it, that’s what I thought. When I saw the grouping with the wagon and the cow half falling down a hill I said to myself, “Maybe God didn’t mean for people to live here, kids, did you think of THAT?”