Are you missing Colombia? Perhaps you travelled here a couple of months ago and are still feeling the withdrawal symptoms; maybe, like some of us here at Colombia Travel Blog, you lived for a while in this country and have headed home; or maybe you are Colombian and have relocated abroad. Well, never fear, because here at See Colombia Travel we are always looking for ways for you to experience Colombia, even if you aren’t actually here. With that mission in mind, here are our insider tips on how to enjoy Colombia in London (coming soon: New York).
So…Londoners: how can you get that little slice of Colombian culture now that you’re back in the Big Smoke? The good news is that London is full to bursting with hidden Colombian gems just waiting to be discovered and enjoyed.
Maybe the first thing many people miss about Colombia is the constant music, and the infectious enthusiasm Colombians have for all things salsa, vallenato and cumbia. Whilst you probably won’t be able to convince ‘Transport for London’ to start booming out reggaeton on its buses à la Colombia, London has plenty of Latin music to suit every taste if the prospect of another Friday night mentally strangling David Guetta doesn’t appeal. Particular highlights include Arriba La Cumbia!, which is probably Britain’s only dedicated cumbia party. Taking place at Passing Clouds in Dalston, next week’s event features Independientes del Vallenato, a London based band who can regularly been seen entertaining crowds in the capital. Another highlight of the Anglo-Colombian music scene is Mauricio Velasierra, a master of traditional Andean instruments, originally from Medellin. He and his quintet of talented Latin musicians regularly play around London, just check out his website for more information. Just remember, these are Colombian parties, so none of the ‘I don’t dance, I’m British’ attitude!
Arepa cravings? Could really murder a bandeja paisa? Or do you just fancy a quick empanada? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then pull out a tube map and get yourself down to Elephant & Castle (I’d go with the Bakerloo Line from Piccadilly Circus myself). This borough of London is the centre of the city’s Colombian expat community, and, consequently is the best place in London to find Colombian cuisine at its finest and most authentic. La Bodeguita in the E&C Shopping Centre is the best of the bunch: a friendly, laid-back atmosphere, and a menu straight from the streets of Antioquia. Patacones, bandeja paisa and yucca jostle for attention on the deliciously varied menu. Also in Elephant & Castle, Leños & Carbón offers similar options, but the menu executivo is a nice reminder of Colombia, and not too expensive either. Outside E&C, Brixton is another good option to get some good Colombian food: buñuelos can be found in Brixton market, and La Mazorca restaurant is a lively Colombian eating spot with great steaks. Problem solved.
Colombian Drink (*excluding coffee…if you need our help to find Colombian coffee in London then you just need help.)
You’ve had the food, now you need a drink, right? The good news is that London still has you covered! Aguardiente? No problem: La Bodeguita’s deli section sells imported bottles of Aguardiente Blanco sin azúcar for your enjoyment (their restaurant drinks menu also contains Postobon Manzana, Pony Malta and Colombiana. I’m moving to Elephant & Castle, no joke!). Just want to have a cheeky shot of the good stuff? Still not a problem: Latin Corner on the Holloway Road can sort you out. Or maybe you fell in love with Colombia’s enviable selection of fruit juices? I bet you think you can’t find lulo, guanabana, mora juice etc. in London, right? Wrong! Juna Fruits, a new fruit juice company based all over Europe have started importing all of these juices and more, and they are available to buy in selected retailers all over London: Harrods, Selfridges, and Birley’s all carry their products. They won’t quite compare to Colombian juice prices, but who can put a price on lulo. I’m also reliably informed that Tesco Tropical Juice Drink©, contains lulo…although, as I’m pretty sure no actual fruit goes into those drinks I’m not quite sure how…
Colombia Travel Blog recommends a good pair of Leica 10x42s and a comfortable but discreet park bench in Elephant & Castle (*disclaimer: we will bear no responsibly for your likely arrest)…
If you are interested in any other aspects of Colombian culture then check out ‘Colombiage’: a festival designed to showcase contemporary Colombian culture in Europe and to let people in the U.K. see different sides to Colombia.
So there you are: Colombia in London. Just remember to e-mail me to say thanks as you wash away those Colombian withdrawal symptoms with lashings of guaro and cumbia! And if you have any other suggestions to add to this list, please let us know.
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Thanks for visiting our Colombia Travel Blog. If you want to learn more about coming to Colombia please check out our Colombia tours. Remember you can CHAT WITH US at any time. Follow us on Twitter, and be sure to ‘Like’ us on Facebook.