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Published: October 17th 2014
We arrived into Medellin on the night bus from San Gil and checked into a Kiwi owned hostel, The Black Sheep. As our beds were not ready we decided to go off and explore.
Medellin is the second largest city in Colombia and used to be the most violent city in the world due mainly to the drug cartels (Pablo Escobar's turf) and gangs. This situation has improved in recent years and we felt safe while in Medellin.
Medellin has a great metro system, which is the only one in Colombia, so it was easy for us to get around. We thought the metro was a recent addition to the city however this is not the case, it just looks new as everyone looks after it and there is no tagging or graffiti on the trains or in the stations. The metro system also includes a cable car which travels over one of the poorer parts of the city up a steep hill. We took this metro cable and then carried on up to Parque Arvi. On our way up we shared the ride with two local ladies that were so excited that we were visiting Medellin.
we got to the top it wasn't quite what we were expecting as there was no view of the city and to go walking in the park (forest) required a guide. We passed on the walk as we were feeling a little tired from our night bus and headed to Piedra's Blancas, a park inside the park. It includes a hotel, restaurant, zip lines, boats for hire and a museum. We chose to simply walk around the grounds, enjoy the views and take it easy. When we got back to the cable car we took advantage of the food festival that was taking place and tried some empanada type things and some of the fresh fruits.
After an early night we were up early to take the local bus to El Peñon de Guatape, a large rock approximately 200 metres high with over 700 steps to the top and a view worth the climb. The view from the top reminded us of the lake district around Bariloche in Argentina, with all the islands and waterways. On our way back down it started raining so we took cover at the bottom and waited for it to pass. We were planning
to walk to Guatape but as we were leaving there was a shuttle on an old American school bus, so we took that.
Guatape is a small lakeside town with beautiful bright coloured tiles along the lower walls of many buildings in the town centre. The tiles are sculpted and painted with images that are tied to the products being sold in the shops, or the beliefs of the residents. I loved walking the streets and seeing all the different tiles.
We visited on a Sunday so the waterfront was full of market stalls selling everything from souvenirs to jewellery to food and cakes. We walked along the waterfront enjoying the busy atmosphere and watching people on the zipwire over the lake which ended by crashing into some large padded mats.
We signed up for the walking tour of the old town in Medellin which was great as it gave us a more local perspective on Medellin, its violent history and recent changes in the city. Places we visited included the Old railway station, Alpujarra administrative centre and town hall, Plaza Cisneros (Plaza of lights), Vasquéz and Carré buildings, National Palace (shopping centre),Veracruz Church, Botero Square, Murals
and Berrio Park, Bolivar park, Metropolitan Cathedral, and San Antonio Park.
Next stop is Colombia's carribean coast.
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