Colombia - Medellin
spent a total of 5 nights in Medellin and had a fantastic time. Our
first real trip into the interior of Colombia, having been to the
frontera area just north of Ecuador twice, it was high time to visit a
bit more of this great country. Firstly let me give you the skinny on
where we stayed in Medellin, then I'll give you some info on what we
did while we were in the city.
We decided on the the Yellow House Hostel after checking out
several other hostels online. We made a good choice as this was a
great place to relax and feel very comfortable. Vincent, the owner is
very sociable and is always sweeping, moping, or generally keeping the
place basically spotless in some fashion. His breakfasts are very nice
and filling, whichever one you decide to have off of the menu. He has
two dogs, one a yellow lab and the other a golden retriever are very
friendly and playful...a joy to have around. Vincent does speak
English, as well as his native French and of course Espanol.
Our arrival into the Medellin airport was after dark and the views
of the city from the air were spectacular. We had Vincent have a cab
waiting for us at the airport and as soon as we exited the customs
area our driver was waiting for us with a large sign with our name on
it. The drive from the airport to the city is about an hour and that
made for some good conversation with the cab driver. Once we topped
the mountain and started to head down into the valley where Medellin
sits, well, it was amazing! The views of the city and all the lights
made for some great sensory overload. There are several miradors
(viewing spots, aka Kodak moments) along the road that afford a great
place to just soak up the views.
Another place we visited was the Medellin Botanical Gardens. This was a really well laid out garden complete with a slew of very large iguanas that roam about freely. Sometimes they were in the trees above you & sometimes they were lumbering around on the ground, but they were very colorful and made for some great photos. The garden also had a cool butterfly house which you can enter and surround yourself with many of these amazing creatures. You can also see them in various stages of development, through the windows of the lab in which they are propagated. The garden has plenty of walking trails and beautiful trees, I believe that it has been in Medellin for going on fifty years now. We spent a couple of hours walking around and enjoying all the greenery & animal life. It was hard to believe that a city of almost 2.5 million people lay just outside it's doors. The Botanical Gardens was free to the public, and that was a very good deal.
A stop by the Museo de Antioquia was also on the docket. If you like art you'll love this place. Botero, the world renown Medellin artist donated many of his sculptures and paintings to the museum. So many that they had to place twenty three outside in the plaza. His works are amazing and matched only by his paintings housed inside. His work is hard to describe, but I would imagine that you will not see anything like them anywhere else. Besides Botero, there was a whole slew of other fine works of art. It was another relaxing way to spend time in this very cosmopolitan city. The cost for the admission into the museum was $10,000 COP or about $5 US, pretty cheap admission and well worth it.
We spent some time one morning and afternoon walking around the Poblado area of Medellin. This is the place that goes nuts after dark, with bars, restaurants and all sorts of night life. We opted to walk through at a more sane time (while it was still daylight) and enjoy the relative peacefulness. We stopped at a small place for lunch and a couple of beers and to people watch. It was a nice afternoon for sure.
One thing to mention is that we took along our cell phone that we bought to use while in Ecuador. It's just a bit of peace of mind to be able to call the family in the US if necessary and we can also txt folks too. Anyway, it's a Claro based phone service and at first would not work in Colombia. I took it to a cell phone tienda that had a Claro sign on it and for $5,000 COP or about $2.50 US they installed a SIMM chip in it that would work in Colombia. Now we had a chip for both Ecuador and Colombia, so the phone was good to go in either country. This was a great and cheap option and kept us in contact with friends and family.
One final thing to remember is that we felt very safe and secure in Medellin. Common sense is always smart regardless of what ever city you are in on the planet. But overall the city was clean, friendly and very vibrant. It seems to have finally shaken off its past reputation of being the murder capitol of the world, which is a good thing. After Pablo Escobar was killed by the Colombian forces back in 1993, the city finally turned a corner and has not looked back. It was truly a beautiful city and one that we would like to return to again in the future.
Ok, I guess this is the real "one final thing"...the family of Pablo Escobar offers a tour (half day I believe) that highlights a bunch of places that are associated with Pablo, including his grave. You also get to tour his previous home, etc. We did not have time to take the tour, but folks hat have said that it was pretty good. The cost per person was $55,000 COP or about $30 US. The Yellow House Hostal has info on it, so you can ask Vincent about it. If you stay someplace else I am sure that the Hostel owners can tell you all about it also.
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