I arrived in Medellin on a 13 hour overnight bus and checked into the Black Sheep hostel, after a few missed attempts at finding it on behalf of the taxi driver. The owner, Kelvin, is extremely helpful and very chilled out, a trait I have become accustomed with kiwis! He gave me a map of the area and pointed me in the direction of the local attractions…too easy…so all that was left to do was freshen up and head to the bakery for breakfast and a coffee.
I met Stephanie almost immediately as she was still in bed in the dorm. She is half Swiss and half Peruvian and has been living in Lima for the last 2 years. She had arrived the night before with her friend Janine, also from Switzerland and I told her my plans for the day, to which we decided to all go into town together and look at the sights. This didn’t take too long!
The metro system in Medellin is extremely easy to use and costs a flat rate (1500 pesos) per journey, regardless of where you want to travel. We looked around the central area first, which doesn’t offer too much
apart from a few colonial style buildings and a handful of churches, to which I am now very familiar! We then took the metro to the Botanical Gardens where we had a drink and enjoyed the surroundings for half an hour and then went for a wander round. It was nice for a walk but didn’t appear to have a great deal for the visitor, so we left in search of the cable car which is an extension to the metro system and serves 3 other stops into the hills, providing some panoramic views of the city. It was also noticeable that these stations served the poorer part of the city, not to the extent of the favelas in Brazil, but still at the level at which we would refer to them as slums in the UK. You could see quite clearly how poorly these people lived and although very interesting, was also quite intrusive.
That night we tried to go to an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant, but the queue was out of the door and hardly moving, so instead I settled for all-you-can-eat pizza, which seemed a fair trade off. The Black Sheep and these restaurants are in a
part of town you would not disassociate with the western world - very upper class and far from the sights and sounds I had left behind on the northern coast! I certainly didn’t feel as though I was still in Colombia.
The next day was very chilled out, speaking to people back home on Skype, uploading pictures and generally catching up with emails etc. In the afternoon the 3 of us headed back into town and went to the Botero museum, which although bigger, was very similar to what I had already seen in Bogota and provided little interest for me.
On the Wednesday a group from the hostel arranged a day trip to a place called Guatape, which was a couple of hours out of Medellin and into the hills. The trip there was non-eventful, however the scenery that awaited us was really quite breath taking - the area had been purposely flooded, leaving a landscape of man made lakes, with aqua blue water. We climbed a monolith (a big rock set in the ground) which is the main attraction, providing a better view of the area and I think you’ll agree from the pictures that it
Views from the cable car
is a stunning setting and not a bad place to relax for a few days. We had a late lunch at one of the local restaurants that served fresh trout - a local speciality - before heading back to Medellin around 19:30.
The Friday started off fairly relaxed, with lunch in one of the close by hill towns, but unfortunately the rain put pay to us staying out any longer, so we went to the supermarket and stocked up for not only the evening meal but also the evenings festivities, which involved me drinking more beer and Aguadiente (sugar cane based rum style drink) than I should have. It was a good night though with a good crowd. Damien, who I met on the Amazon cruise, randomly reappeared and was good to swap stories of what each other had been doing in the interim, which invariably is always pretty similar!
On the whole I liked Medellin, although I think I chose a bad time to visit. It is famed for its night life and party scene, which doesn’t really ‘go off’ on a Tuesday or Wednesday night, or indeed on Good Friday when everywhere closes down for Easter.
Views from the cable car
Inconsiderate, I know! We did our best to make up for it and I will remember Medellin more for the friendship with Stephanie and Janine, who were lovely girls and so easy to get along with, than the place itself, which for a visitor offers seemingly very little during the day.
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