Medellin: murderous or misunderstood?

The next destination in Colombia was Medellin – former murder capital of the world. Our flight from Santa Marta arrived without any problems. Little did we know that the airport was actually an hour away from the city and it was almost impossible to get a bus to where we needed to be. Luckily, a Colombian man who spoke English approached us and suggested we share a taxi.We obviously agreed and climbed into a taxi with the man, his wife and their son. It was pretty cramped but much cheaper. Our hostel in El Poblado was Garden of Blues; a nice hostel with poor communication and not much functionality. It transpired that our dorm room was in a completely separate house further down the road which we had to find ourselves (not a fun thing to do with huge backpacks). You also had to ring a doorbell to be let in AND OUT of the building. Someone didn’t think that through very well. On the positive side, the room was lovely, clean and quiet at first. The peace was later ruined by some very loud French girls but that’s just me finding something to complain about! We decided to go to the supermarket and buy some food – the start of our eating in after spending far too much money on restaurants – and grabbed a beer in the local BBC (Bogata Beer Company). We cooked pasta and had a chill night in. I was starting to get the hang of this travelling lark. 

The following day we walked to the Metro station to start a 4 and a half hour walking tour of Medellin. I’m not a huge fan of walking but I thought I’d give it a go. It turned out to be one of the most fascinating and enjoyable experiences of my travels so far. Our tour guide took us all over the city and showed us plenty of sights. However, it was his enthusiasm and and knowledge that made it so great. Being a Paisa (look it up), he wasn’t short on confidence and we learnt so much about the history of Medellin from him. The drugs, the murders, the politics, the corruption, the money, the building of the Metro and the new hope that the city has of writing a new history – one that doesn’t involve the negativity of the past. In one of the city’s plazas was a Botero statue that had been blown up decades previously. The resilience of the city is shown with that statue. They kept it where it was, refused to take it away, and put an identical (in-tact) statue next to it. They wanted to show where they had come from and where they hoped to be. We realised that the stories we had read, and the reputations that Medellin and Colombia have, are completely wrong. 

After walking for almost 5 hours on the tour, we went back to El Poblado and walked a massive hill in the boiling heat. That was not fun. We had a rest in the hostel and then ventured out to find somewhere to eat (the previous vow of eating in gone out the window). We found a really cool, almost secret, restaurant (it was very hard to find the entrance) called Casa Comedor and had some interesting beer cocktails (my kind of thing!). Unfortunately the food was cold and tiny but I would recommend it for cocktails.

Our final day was just as busy. We chose not to visit Guatepe (the 2 hour bus journey sounded awful) and instead got the cable car all the way up to the top of the hills. We were able to see the whole city and the stark contrast between the poor areas of the hills and the hugely built-up city. Then we travelled further up and into the forest to visit Parque Arvi. We took the wrong path on our walk and didn’t enjoy it but it was an interesting place to see anyway. 

The highlight of our day was (I’m sure you can guess) finding an amazing coffee shop to drink REAL Colombian coffee. We went twice in one day. Oh how we love coffee shops. For our last night in Medellin we settled for what would soon become our staple diet – instant noodles. 

Off to sleepy Salento next!

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