Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Caffeinated Ride


Imagine combining your two favorite things. If that might be cats and ice cream you're going to end up with either a sticky kitty or a furry cold treat. Let's try again. Baseball and taking naps isn't going to work. Neither is grabbing a cup o' joe and riding a roller coaster...or is it?

Believe it or not there is a theme park in the middle of Colombia that combines the country's love of coffee with amusement park thrills. The Parque National del Cafe outside of Armenia is a juxtapositionist's dream come true.

Roller coasters, water park rides, restaurant stalls, several stages with hourly shows (one with dancing robotic orchids), and a gondola-like cable car combine with Juan Valdez Coffee to create a "only here" type of experience.

On a recent trip here, my travel companions and I decided to purchase the cheapest of the ticket options - which allowed us to ride the gondola and basically walk around. It was worth it though, as none of us felt the desire to ride a coffee bean ferris wheel.

The park is littered with coffee plants and, as our gondola passed over one field of them, the aroma of them filled the air all the way up to where we were. It was like being in one of those Folger's Coffee commercials where the thought of drinking coffee somehow makes every rise from bed with a smile on their face as the smell hits their noses.

And, of course, we finally got to meet Juan Valdez himself...so to speak.

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