Medellin Part 1
A little bit about Medellin; this is the 2nd largest City in Colombia after Bogota, and lies at an altitude of 4,900ft; in the Aburra valley. The climate here is steady all year round; about mid 80’s during the day and mid 60’s during the night. It is a little cooler than Cali. No need for heating or AC. Medellin was the stronghold of Pablo Escobar, the most notorious drug lord. Escobar made so much money from the cocaine trade to the US, that he practically “ruled” Medellin with impunity. In the fighting with other drug lords, the right wing and left wing guerilla groups, and with the Colombian Govt (with US backing) to stop or control the cocaine drug trade, Medellin became the most dangerous city in the world. About 25,000 people were killed in 1 year during the height of the drug wars. Escobar made over US$30 billion during his career controlling over 80% of the cocaine trade to the US. To protect himself from the police, he paid a set amount of money per policeman (based on rank) that was killed by his sicarios (thugs).
We flew from Cali to Medellin on Air Avianca, a Colombian airline; flight was a short 45min flight. It was getting dark when we landed, and we got an Uber, that took us over 45mins to get to Envigado (cost of about $18), where we had rented an AirBnB apartment. The drive was very pleasant, with great views of the city lights as the place is hilly. The apartment was a 3 bedroom apartment in a highrise, and it was in a hilly residential area, with no nearby shops or restaurants. The doorman gave us the keys and showed us the apartment etc; all in Spanish, of course 🙂 . So we took an Uber to go to Park Lleras, the most happening square in Poblado neighborhood. This place was a large square full of people enjoying the night a multitude of restaurants, bars, and night clubs. Lots of street vendors selling all kinds of things.
After grabbing a quick dinner, we headed back the apartment. Next day, we got our bearings, and figured out that we could take the local Metro bus that would take us the Itagui subway station, where we could catch the subway to all different parts of Medellin, all for a fixed fare of about 60 cents each, per person, fixed fare.
So we took the bus by flagging it down right outside our apartment, and at the Itagui metro station had our breakfast of Empanada o papas; which are potato chops like we used to make; and Colombian coffee, which is actually very good and not bitter at all.
Then we took the subway and did some touring. First stop was Plaza Minorista; which is a huge market for fresh food, fruits, vegetables etc. Have to hit the fruit and vegetable market 🙂 . Some scenes below from there
We found a nice little restaurant which turned out to be a “fancy’ place with chefs and white table cloths in the basement of this market for an Almuerzo (lunch) set menu, and fresh squeezed fruit juices.
Almost everywhere, we found that Colombia is very clean; there are plenty of people sweeping the streets and sidewalks. Very civilized.
Another interesting place we visited was Plaza Botero, which is a large open square with lots of people. Here is where the sculptures of Fernando Botero can be viewed; there is also a museum dedicated to his art in this square. See some of his sculptures below
One day, we took a trip out to Guatape, which is a very scenic area about a 2 hour bus ride from Medellin. To get to the bus stop, we took the subway to Caribe station, and walked about 2 blocks to the Estation du Norte. There were over 50 different bus company counters, so we had to find the right bus company’s counter (Sotrasanvicente bus company,counter # 14) for La Piedra. Bus tickets were about US$4 each) and after about 2 hours riding through some very pleasant green countryside, we finally got dropped off at La Piedra.
We finally arrived at La Piedra, where we got off with several other tourists; this place is a tourist place. The attraction is a large monolithic rock that one can climb for incredible views of very beautiful countryside. This is similar to La Pena de Bernal that we went to near Queretaro in Mexico (see http://alikarimtravelog.com/queretaro-part-2/).
We got off the bus and had a coffee and snack at the local restaurant, and then took a short tuk-tuk ride to get us to the base of the Penon; see pics below
The area around this is a dammed-up river, that ended up forming a large lake with many fingers. As a consequence, the area around here was very beautiful with a lot of water. At the base of the Penon, we bought tickets to climb up to the top ($6 each for tourists)
The authorities have built a staircase along a fissure in the rock, that are used to climb to the top of the Rock. There are 659 steps altogether to go up, and a different staircase to come down the same number of steps. The tickets were about $6 each
There were some astounding views on the way up and at the top
We then climbed back using an inner staircase; all 659 steps. At the bottom, we took a 5 minute tuk-tuk to take us to the town of Guatape, where we had local specialty of Trucha, or trout fish at a local restaurant on the lake
We then spent the rest of the afternoon checking out this quaint old prosperous Spanish colonial town; see some shots below
After a very pleasant afternoon in Guatape, we caught the 5:30PM bus back to Medellin from Guatape. Once back in Medellin, we took an Uber to Park Lleras in Poblado, to a Turkish restaurant to try out some schwarma’s. We then walked around the park; people & entertainment watching and then got an Uber back to our apartment
More Medellin next, before returning to DallasThis entry was posted in Cali & Medellin July 2017, Colombia, South America