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Casa Quimbaya

Casa Quimbaya
Calle 16N # 14-92, Armenia, Quindio
+57 312.590.0066 (celular/whatsapp)
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casaquimbaya.com

Overview: Armenia is the third largest of the three major cities and is the capital of tiny Quindio state (or department as it is known in Colombia). It's located just an hour south of Pereira, in between Medellin, Bogota, and Cali, which makes it a convenient stop for backpackers and tourists doing a countrywide tour. Tragically, much of the city was destroyed in a devastating earthquake on January 25, 1999. The city's rapid resurrection gave it the moniker "Ciudad Milagro" or the Miracle City.

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Neighborhood: This is a great spot if you want to spend a few days checking out Armenia. You are on the nicer end of the city towards the north, but you are still close enough that you can easily walk downtown in 20 minutes. Close by you will find a supermarket just a block away, as well as numerous restaurants, bars, shops, and cafes. It is a very safe and upscale part of town.

How to Get There: You will either be arriving to Armenia by bus, or by plane. If you are arriving at Armenia's  Aeropuerto El Eden (AXM), it is about 20-30 minutes by taxi and costs $30.000. A taxi to Pereira's Matecana International Airport (PEI), is about one hour to the north, and costs $140.000. The price is much higher because the taxi has to cross state lines (from Quindio to Pereira).

Unlike many Colombian cities, uber is not common in Armenia. But not to fear: taxi service is convenient, cheap, and widespread, and the drivers are known to drive with courtesy.

If you are arriving at the bus terminal in Armenia, just take a taxi to the hostel. It should only take 10-15 minutes (depending on traffic) and cost around $8.000. From the terminal you can take buses to all major cities in Colombia. A bus runs every 15 minutes to Pereira, and costs just $5.000.

Management/Staff: A pair of sisters own Casa Quimbaya: Laura and Diana. They have had the hostel for seven years, and the restaurant/bar/cafe for over five.

Rooms: There are five rooms in total, with space for around twenty guests in total.

Shared Rooms: There are three private rooms. Two have a private bathroom, while one has a shared bathroom. These rooms cost $80.000 for one person, or $100.000 for a couple. During low season, however, those prices drop to $75.000 for one person and $90.000 per couple.

Private Rooms: There are two dorms: one with 4 beds, and one with 9 beds. They cost $28.000.

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Amenities: 

Breakfast: Yes. From 8am to 10am. Every day is a different breakfast, accompanied by coffee from the fincas in Quindio, supplied by a specialty coffee company named Azahar.

Kitchen: Yes. until 11pm

Restaurant:  Yes. On the ground floor is a restaurant offering wraps and sandwiches, among other things.

Bar: Yes. On the ground floor is a bar offering beer, wine, and specialty cocktails.

Terrace/Patio: Yes, in front of the hostel is a patio.

TV Lounge: Yes.

Computers: Yes. One computer available for the guests.

Wifi: Yes. Free wifi in the whole building.

Lockers: Yes. Locks are available to rent for a deposit of $10.000

Bicycles: No.

Credit Cards: Yes. with a 5% surcharge. Visa. Mastercard. American Express

Luggage Storage: Yes. In the reception

Check-in Time: 2pm

Check-out Time: 11am

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Tourism in the City: The main drag, just a block from the hostel, is called la Carrera 14, or Avenida Bolivar. It's a neighborhood in the north of the city, loaded with bars, pubs, and restaurants.

Just a 15 minute walk south on Avenida Bolivar, you'll find the charming Parque de la Vida, a green oasis in the midst of the city. In the downtown of the city, you'll find the Plaza Bolivar, the Cathedral, and the old railroad station which has now been converted into an art museum, dedicated to the art of the city of Armenia, and the department of Quindio.

To the north of the city, on the highway to Pereira, you'll find the highly recommended Museo de Oro Quimbaya. Here you can learn about the main indigenous group that lived in Quindio before the arrival of the Spaniards: the Quimbaya.

If you are interested in theatre, check out the Teatro Azul. They perform works by local playwrites. It is downtown, near Parque Sucre.

Tourism outside the City:  Outside of the city, recommended spots include Salento, the Parque del Cafe, Valle de Cocora, as well as other villages that are starting out with tourism, such as Filandia, Buena Vista, Pijao, and Genova, all villages in Quindio. You should also take advantage of "el paisaje cultural cafetero", a tour which enables you to experience the culture of Colombia's legendary coffee country.

Don Leo's coffee farm offers its own tour: it costs $30.000, and it lasts between 2 and 3 hours. Here you can gain an appreciate for the subtle and delicate flavors that distinguish Colombian coffee.

Live music is an important part of the experience, and it's offered every Wednesday to Saturday, roughly from 8pm until 11pm. Jisaac Juauque is the artist in residence, and he offers acoustic covers of rock in English and Spanish.

On the weekends, many bands passing through the area play here, offering nearly every different style of music. They have hosted everything from rock to salsa orchestras, to gypsy music, to DJs.

Conclusion: Casa Quimbaya is a valuable option for backpackers and tourists in Colombia. It has great information, a friendly and helpful staff, proximity to everything that you should see in Armenia, and it's a great social atmosphere with a bar and restaurant right on the premises. Casa Quimbaya comes highly recommended by Colombia Backpacking.

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