After the TEP we stayed in Medellín for a while to see the city outside of the frisbee field and we loved it. The quick summary is that Medellín has had a very violent and tough past but has turned itself around in recent times.
The first thing we noticed was that the people were the friendliest we’ve met so far in Colombia. Having suffered from the violence of the drug cartels, the guerillas and paramilitary and government forces over the years, the people we spoke to were genuinely happy to live in peace and welcome travellers to their city. They were also pretty good at bigging up themselves. The Paisa have the best food, football and women. Everything in Colombia is better there according to every taxi driver we spoke to.
The best example of the turnaround was the morning we spent in Comuna 13. This is one of the traditionally poorest neighbourhoods in the city with a dark history that has become a example of hope and reconciliation. The houses sprawl up a steep hill with winding streets and aluminium rooves and red bricks. Supposedly in the past this was a “no-go-zone”. A few years ago the city built escalators to provide easier access for the residents to go up and down. Today every wall is covered in amazing street art and the people of the neighbourhood are welcoming a new wave of visitors. We had beautiful views of the city and a wander around the the streets snapping photos of the art and spoke with some of the locals.
We spent a morning in Casa de la Memoria which is a free museum dedicated to remembering the stories of the victims and people who lived through the violence. Highly recommended.
We took a day trip with our Molly Bravo team mate Cal to Guatapé. It’s a town near a gigantic (Supposedly volcanic) rock, surrounded by little hills and man made lakes. We had amazing views from our hostel and did our best to explore the area. Remember that shitty mountain bike you had in 1996 that got stolen well we rented it in guatape. Honestly they were some of the worst bikes we’ve ridden but it just about allowed us to see a bit more of the region. The kayak was a much better call.
The strange part was the rock is owned by a private owner, who charges 18k pesos to go up where you find 4 shitty souvenir shops and a couple of over priced bars and restaurants. Beautiful views but a very bizarre experience.
- Almost all taxis in Colombia, especially Medellín are tiny Hyundais.
- The drivers get particularly annoyed when you “bang” their doors which means anything stronger than a butterfly.
- Medellín has great metro etiquette. Everyone waits until everyone has gotten off before trying to get on. Barcelona take note.
- Medellín is the home of the artist Botero, who donated most of his collection for the regional museum and the city squares.
- When it rains in Medellín it doesn’t mess around.
- Views from the cable car up to santa domingo and beyond are amazing.