Two people exploring the world, seeking adventure & unique experiences.
What about the drugs?
We’d have to admit that growing up in the 1980’s, neither of us really knew about the problems in Colombia in that era. This is another of those countries that people tell you not to visit or be extremely safe. This city is the centre of those stories due to the Pablo Escobar cartel we described in our previous post. The truth is that the past 20 years in Medellin there have been some very smart people making the decisions. You don’t have to look beyond the modern and sleek Metro system that connects the city. It’s the only city in Colombia with a metro system. Not even the capital of Bogota with over 4 times the population at 10 million has a metro system.
Where to stay in Medellin
We very nearly skipped through Medellin. We’re not fans of cities since we’ve both spent our lives living in a city and realistically they’re all just about the same the world over. Luckily we’d decided that we should explore it for one or two nights to give it a try. We arrived into the Yellow House Hostel (21,000ea / $10.50 for dorm inc breakfast) near the metro station of Floresta and knew we’d made the right choice in this middle to upper class quiet neighbourhood. We were instantly greeted by a very helpful owner by the name of Vincent who answered our fairly lengthy set of questions.
There is a range of hostels in the area of Santa Rosa and Poblado. This is also the centre of nightlife and all the noise it attracts.
Pablo Escobar’s place of death
There is no official tours related to Pablo Escobar and the locals tend to like it this way. They don’t want a tourist industry based on such things, but we tend to think it’s a missed opportunity. When we arrived at the hostel we stumbled across the fact that it is only a 10 minute walk away from the place of Pablo Escobar’s murder.
With a lot of thanks to an online blog, the address is Carrera 79B #45D-94.
Being a tourist on the metro
The metro is a great way to explore the city very cheaply. A single trip ticket costs 1,900 pesos ($0.95) and can take you from end to end and even on the newly developed metrocable. We took the metro the end of the western line and station called San Javier. You then walk almost directly onto the metrocable which is what most of us would know as ski gondolas. This then takes you on a scenic trip up the hillsides of Medellin and even a view of the much less wealthy of the city. The metrocable was built in the past 10 years to help the people living in these areas have easier access to the main city. It’s a genius idea and shows a fantastic level of ingenuity.
We went up and returned straight down to then take the metro out to Acevedo station and the second metrocable terminus. This takes you up to Santo Domingo terminus. From here you pay another 4,200 pesos ($2.10) on a different metro cable out to Parque Arvi along a 20 or so minute ride. We arrived at 5pm not really prepared for hiking, but that’s the major thing to do here. You’re better off getting here early in the day to explore much more than we did as the last metro cable going down departs at 6pm.
Real City Tour of Medellin
This tour was recommended by our Hostel and was absolutely worth it. It works on a pay what you can system of tipping at the end of the tour. You need to book at least a day in advance and in peak seasons even more as they are popular. We had about 20 people on our tour as we met at 9.15am for a 4 hour tour. Our first stop was the original railway station that is marked by a train engine.
We continued our way around the city centre as we visited the Administrative centre, town hall, Square of lights, National Palace shopping centre, Botero Square, Bolivar Park, Metropolitan Cathedral and San Antonio Park.
Our guide was extremely informative and told many great stories as we continued on our tour.
Exploring more of Medellin
We then took an hour or so to backtrack on some places we saw on the tour to get some better photos. Initially it was some better photos of the Botero statues outside the Palace of Culture. This is a world famous sculptur who donated these pieces to the city for public display. They are truly unique and quite interesting as photography subjects.
We’d been told to go into the Palace of Culture and go to the top, which was free. The building is currently under some major renovations, but we still got to the top. It is well worth the 15 minutes of your time.
Botanic Garden of Medellin
This is located next to the University metro station not far from the city centre. It’s free to enter and could be gone through in under an hour depending on your interests. We went into the butterfly exhibit where we got up close to many beautiful butterflies.
We then continued on our way around the garden where we found a very curious but semi aggressive Iguana to take a look at. We both got pretty close, but Toby was closest as the Iguana seemed quite intrigued in him.
Plenty more to explore. Keep following the blog and our Flickr account for updates. http://www.flickr.com/photos/toraadventure/