What to do in Medellin? Medellin was some sort of dream destination for me and also a delayed, but very welcome escape from oppressing Bogotá. Also, I really can’t deny that some of my curiosity for Medellin came from the stories about the notorious cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar… Yep, I own up to the fact that my fascination for the city and region were nourished by all the hype around his (dis)repute. But to be fair, I had also heard and read many great things about the City of the Eternal Spring itself! In fact, Medellin has undergone a few changes in the recent years to attract more travellers and reposition itself as a welcoming tourist-activities-site.
As I said, Medellin is called Ciudad de la Eterna Primavera (city of the eternal spring). The nickname comes from its enjoyable climate – it’s never too cold and never too hot. In fact, after leaving rainy and grey Bogotá behind me, the eternal spring was a godsend, and after the first day discovering the neighbourhood and conquering the steep up and down hilled roads that came with it, we decided to celebrate the good weather and the eventual beginning of our summer holiday. So there we were, comfortably installed on a crowded terrace with 25°C by night, savouring a delicious bottle of chardonnay, listening to live jazz music: Boy, that was definitely holiday heaven and one of my favourite moments!
And by the same token, I made the discovery of the century that night: Let this be news to all women and girls with curly, frizzy or wavy hair: a hair-straightener-service-vending-machine in the ladies’ bathroom… I am dead serious! I understood the presence of this hair straightener thing a bit later, when I discovered Medellin’s upper class women and their immaculate appearance: women with 2 metre legs and a monster cleavage, trying to climb out of the biggest SUVs with dignity because you could mistake their skirt for a belt! In their presence, all men tend to lose it and backslide into teenage hood! So, women of the world, be warned, cause you might feel a tiny tad left out here! Narcomoda, that’s the name given to the style of those divine galls, due to the fact that the guys from the cartels used to pay (or are still paying) for their wives’, mistresses’ or girlfriends’ boob jobs. Yes, plastic surgery is big in Colombia!
Just a word about cartels
Apparently Medellin, Pablo Escobar’s former stronghold, is now free of drug cartels, money laundering and other dubious activities! A majority of Colombians will loudly and proudly tell you that there’s almost no drug activity whatsoever in Colombia… But what about international reports, what about those massive pimped up SUVs touring around the city, and what about all those Colombians who are not counting amidst that majority and dare tell the truth? Just sayin’.
But don’t let my private concern put you off visiting Medellin, because it’s definitely worth a visit. I found Medellin revitalizing, fun and very entertaining…one of my favourite spots in Colombia!
Art, trekking and local transport
Our trip to Medellin went on like it had started: eccentric, steep and somehow astonishingly refreshing! Here a few musts while staying in this fabulous kerfuffle of tourists, hipsters, paisas and extremely rich people with dubious sources of revenue:
The Plaza Botero
The Plaza Botero is with not less than 32 Botero statues a free open-air museum in the city centre. You are literally surrounded by a 3,8 million-populated and buzzing city and some weirdos that come with it, while contemplating art. It goes like this: you will be looking at art and the people around you will be staring at you. But Plaza Botero is an absolute must and I never felt unsafe.
Metro de Medellin
Medellin is the only Colombian city owning a metro transportation system. Medellin’s Metro is therefore worshiped by Colombians and proudly recommended as a tourist attraction, because of its good state and cleanness… Other people see it as just another public transport in another city. But I took a picture anyway (which I unfortunately deleted by mistake shortly afterwards).
After taking the Metro to Acevedo, take Linea K of the Metrocable to Santo Domingo, where the Spanish Library is standing, all dark and mysterious, on the hillside of the city overlooking the Comunas (poorer neighbourhoods). Continue then on the Linea L to Parque Arvi. Other Metrocables will take you to other parks where you can practice activities like paragliding or climbing…
Parque Arvi is one of the largest nature reserves in the region and the perfect destination for trekking fans or soft-adventure-aficionados. Here you can trek, camp and observe birds. I strongly recommend you to take a trip up there. And if ever you should get lost, there are very nice policemen watching out for you and offering doughnuts to every lost soul they can take care of (been there, done that… and promptly forgot to take a picture of those 10 doughnut offering policemen. What a cliché!)
Parque Lleras is truly the heart of Medellin’s Zona Rosa in El Poblado. This is also the neighbourhood where Medellin’s nightlife is thriving. Zona Rosa is packed with bars, clubs and restaurants and people party as well outside in the streets and parque Lleras over the weekend. A pleasant atmosphere is always guaranteed over there.
Centro Commercial Santa Fe
If you feel like treating yourself to some indoor shopping, then there’s only one place to go: the Centro Commercial Santa Fe. Where else can you see such a gigantic indoor flower garden? … and the shops are great as well!
Would you like to read more about what to do in Medellin? Read Ariane’s original article here.