M and I head to Medellín Colombia today. It is the second time for me and the first for her. A couple weeks ago I spent some days leisurely around the city. I hope to see more this time around.
The flight to Medellín from Cartagena is only around an hour and ten minutes so our travel journey is not long. The flight is in the morning and I order a cheese and ham toasted sandwich to hold me over before my journey.
When we arrive we check into the same hotel I stayed in prior, Diez Hotel Categoria in El Poblado. It is a good choice. Our room has two beds and a hammock that overlooks the neighborhood.
I wasn’t sure how we would feel when we arrived so we didn’t have much booked on our first day in Medellín. Luckily we are early enough to take a free walking day tour with Real City Tours (pay guide by tips).
Fortunately I already navigated the metro during my prior visit so we took the metro to meet our tour.
We are a little early for our tour so we stop for a beer in a old charming bar called Salón Málaga. Most were not drinking, in fact we thought we were getting a sneer from the table next to us but we ended up chatting with the girl and her mother instead. They were Spanish speaking but actually live in the USA and were tourists in Medellin as well. We made plans to share a taxi with them to Guatapé the next day but plans fell through when they had to leave town early.
We meet up with our tour guide who then takes us around the city and points out different landmarks.
At one point we sit by an old train station (Edificio Antigua Estación del Ferrocarril de Antioquia) where our guide gives us a “real talk” about the history of Medellin – tells us the history of all the factions that caused turmoil: the government, the military, drug lords, right wing militia, left wing militia. The losers are the ordinary people who had to live through the war and terror.
We are taken to a shopping district where there are lots of pop up stands you can get cheap goods (Carabobo pedestrian street).
National Palace Mall
Sex workers hang out in front of this church.
We end up at the Botero park where we can see lots of Botero statues.
Our guide talks about the metro and the pride the locals have for their train.
We are told the area under the train is where people go to exchange goods. We don’t have time to watch but we go back later to see it in action. Mostly men take items to exchange (belt buckle, watch, coins or whatnot) and engage with conversations with others to see if a deal can be made. It is interesting to watch and seems to be a sport of its own in the city.
We walk by some musicians playing outside at Parque Berrío. People are dancing to the music.
Our guide talks about some local fruits. I finally get to try that weird looking fruit (guama) from my first visit to Medellín.
Finally he takes us to the Parque San Antonio where he tells us the story of the bombed statue.
At the end there is a question and answer session about the city. Some was asking about seeing a futbol (soccer) game while in town. The guide tells us about the upcoming El Clásico Paisa game. I don’t listen too carefully because at this point going to a soccer game in Medellín seems too intimidating to me. Plus I am not sure we’ll have time. M pays attention though and is able to talk me into attending the game. More on that later.