Colombia travel blog by Mark Berman -
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Colombia's capital of music, Ibague, located west of Girardot (90mins by bus) and north-east of Cali was the next stop on my travels around the middle of the country.
Known as the capital of music for its Music Conservatory founded in 1906, it's quite probable that Ibague produces some of Colombia's finest musicians because the
children here learn to play an instrument from a very young age in order to preserve the musical heritage of Colombian folklore. I spent a couple of days exploring
some of the sights in and around Ibague!
Around Plaza Bolivar
Ibague has an awesome pedestrian-only zone in the central commercial area, nice and wide with all kinds of shops on each side, it leads from downtown right up to
Plaza Bolivar. Up towards the Plaza Bolivar end is Kokoriko - a burger chain with nice salads. I ate here a lot during my stay in Ibague because I couldn't find
anything else to eat in town apart from fried chicken and basic meals. At Plaza Bolivar are some of the cities important buildings including the Justice Palace,
the Cathedral (Inmaculada Concepcion) and government buildings. Plaza Bolivar is much like a park with a big fountain and lots of hedges and trees. On one side
of the plaza are a small group of sculptures including Ballet Azul (Blue Ballet), Columnas (a Korean piece) and Loto (a German piece). One block from Plaza Bolivar
is the Park of Music (Parque de la Musica). The park sits beside the Conservatory of Tolima - another university in Ibague specializing in programmes in music,
performance and dancing. The Park of Music has sitting and standing around it, several black painted iron scultures of musicians playing instruments - bongos,
trumpet, flute, bass drum, violin and guitar. There's not a lot more here than that.
San Jorge Botanical Gardens
From central Ibague take a taxi 5-10mins to the botanical
gardens of Jardin Botanico San Jorge and make sure you bring mosquito repellent! The gardens are located right next to Ibague's famous conservatory of music. From
the gardens office beside the conservatory you can get some information about the botanical gardens and someone may walk you down to the entrance if a tour is not
scheduled. While at the gardens office I was lucky enough to see many great photos of birds photographed here, shown to me personally by one of the rangers on his
computer. The botanical gardens are large with several ecological paths that cross around the natural reserve. There are various mirador lookout points including
Mirador Sindamanoy with great views of the city in the distance. Stroll over bridges, see the turtle pond, stop to sit down, eat lunch and relax in the rest areas,
watch for butterflies and enjoy and photograph the beautiful flora and nature all around you. I love these kinds of attractions in cities - a place to take a break
from the sound and smell of the city and it's good for the heart and soul!
Art Museum, Street Art & Churches
I visited the museum Museo de Arte del Tolima while in Ibague where you can
see bronze sculptures, ceramic works and paintings etc. Around the city there are quite a lot of murals and street art with musical themes to see. Churches I saw
include the main cathedral - Catedral Inmaculada Concepcion de Ibague, the Santuario del Senor de los Milagros and the Iglesia del Carmen.
Ibague Arts & Crafts Fair
The fantastic Arts and Crafts
Fair in Ibague is located at Plaza Murillo Toro, just 1 block from Plaza Bolivar. Among many things here, you'll find - colorfully designed and fashionable shoulder
bags, woolen hats for kids, jewelry with colorful feathers, small musical instruments, bohemian and hippie jewelry and other items, womens and mens fashion, a variety
of candles in different shapes and colors, stylish leather sandals, Colombian hats and souvenirs, sugary sweet things and varieties of Colombian coffee. It's well
worth a look and is a great attraction in Ibague! Across the road from Plaza Murillo Toro is the El Boga sculpture (1963), made of polished granite and sculptured
by Julio Fajardo Rubio (1910-1979). El Boga looks like an indigenous warrior. While to the side of the plaza is the very large wooden violin sculpture.
Ibague To Armenia To Cali
I wanted to get to Cali
but first you must get to Armenia
, 88km west. Do you know long it takes to do this leg of 88kms? 3hrs and 30mins, that's right! Why? Because
the road winds through the mountains, is one lane each way, has no passing lanes and is clogged from one end to the other with trucks carrying huge loads. If you
get past 1 truck you'll be stuck endlessly behind another within 30 seconds! Once you arrive in Armenia
, get on another bus heading south-east to Cali
, this leg of 179kms takes 2hrs 30mins.