Medellín: Botanical Garden and the Metrocable

For my second day of sightseeing in Medellín I decide I head down to the Jardín Botánico (Botanical Garden). I like Medellín but it is busy and there is pollution; I am craving some nature today.

I walk from my hotel Diez Hotel Categoría Colombia down to the metro station of El Poblado. It is a 20 minute walk but it is all downhill. Even with the downhill walk it gets hot walking to the station since it is pretty warm outside.

Along my walk to the metro
Active streets today

Once inside the station it takes me a little while to get the confidence to purchase a ticket and determine which direction I should go on the metro. I finally figure things out (note: There is no electronic ticket booth to purchases passes. You must visit the attendant at the ticket booth who speaks no English.). I purchase a pass with a balance on it. It is hard to determine how much I should initially put on the pass and they attendant isn’t much help (the line is long so I don’t want to hold up everyone else asking many questions). The balance enough for the current ride so everything is fine for now.

The metro system so far seems to be efficient and clean. I later learn that the metro is a huge thing of pride for the city. Other parts of the city may occasionally get destroyed but NO ONE messes with the metro. Building this train was a public works project when things were still so grim for the city. One can say it represents a beacon of hope.

It is pretty easy to reach the botanical garden once I exit the metro. I am happy to discover the garden is free to the public.

First thing I notice some of the same plants that grow pretty well where I live. It makes sense because we have a similar climate back home.

One thing we don’t see in central Florida is iguanas randomly walking around.

We do see many of lizards of the smaller size back home, like this one.

The butterfly garden is closed for some reason.

I basically wander through the park and admire all the plants.

Gardens

I finish out my visit with the succlents.

It isn’t the best botanical garden I’ve visited but it is good that it is free. It appears like some of the bigger exhibits are closed during my visit.

When I leave the botanical garden it is still early so I try to visit a sculpture park – Parque de Las Esculturas Cerro de Nutibara. The sculpture park is supposed to contain interesting sculptures and a charming replica town among other things (according to descriptions). I map out a route for a metro/bus to what I thought was one of the main entrances. I get dropped off in a quiet industrial area on one side of the hill. This area does not seem like the correct place. I wander around trying to find a park entrance and I come up with nothing. I search on my phone and it appears that where the entrance should be is blocked off due to construction. If I want to visit the park I am going to have to try to get to the other side. The problem is at this point that I am tired, not familiar with the safety of the area, and not even sure it is feasible to get there by foot. I give up and take the metro back to my hotel area.

Once I get to my metro stop it is a long, hot walk uphill. I make lots of stops to catch my breath.

More street art
Street performers

Instead of going back to my hotel I hang out in a park for a little bit. This area is quiet now but I know it gets busy in the evening. I end up calling early night once again.

The following day I decide to try at nature once more. Today I want to visit Arvi park. According to my research all I have to do is take the metro to the Acevedo station (on line A) and take the metrocable (K-Line Metrocable).

The metrocable gives me an arial view of town.

I arrive to the top of the line where I am supposed to switch to the L that will take me to Arvi Park. The only problem is the L line is closed. There is no reason posted. My only choice now is to wander out into an unknown neighborhood to find a taxi or take the cable line back down the way I came. I end up taking the line back down. I wish I would have known the line was closed so I could have arranged another form of transport. At this point a good amount of the day has passed so I decide to just go back the neighborhood I am staying in. Hopefully I have time to visit the park on my next visit to town.

View from metro

Once back at the hotel I do research on how I am getting to my next town tomorrow. I have been using the app Rome2rio the past couple months for travel research and up until now it has been pretty reliable with routes and time frames. The app is not accurate in Colombia. I tried using it to plan my travel to Jardin tomorrow. It is completely wrong. First it has me leaving from the wrong bus station; there are two bus stations in Medellin (north and south) and it is very important to be clear on what station you need to leave from. Secondly the app routes me through the wrong town. Luckily I discuss my travel plans with the concierge at my hotel prior to leaving. I would have had a very unhappy travel day tomorrow.

Medellín: Day 1

My view from my hotel room

I have just left Bogotá DC Colombia and now I am in Medellín where I continue my Colombian travels. I am here for a couple days but I take things easy because I will return with a friend in a couple weeks. Medellín is one of those cities I wanted to spend extra time in and get the feel of. Slow travel is my style so spending lots of time in a city makes me feel like I don’t miss out on too much and at the same time don’t have to rush my travels.

Medellín was once the most dangerous city in the world and now is a popular place for tourists to visit. Medellín is no Disney World but you are very unlikely to get murdered on its streets anymore. Pickpockets are still an issue as in any big city but if you keep your wits about you then your visit should be relatively pleasant. It is pretty tough to get around if you don’t have some understanding of Spanish. It might be easier to visit in a tour group if you have no grasp on the Spanish language; I know enough to get by (or to be dangerous they say).

I am staying in El Poblado which is a 30 minute cab ride from the airport. El Poblado is very popular with tourists due to its safety, comforts and party like atmosphere at night (think South Beach). I am not much of a partier anymore but it is neat to hear the music and fun on the streets below, even if I choose not to partake. (side note: The weather reminds me of back home in central Florida where it gets hot & humid and randomly rains throughout the day. My first things I notice on my drive from the airport is the intoxicating smell of delicious BBQ from street-side grills and then pouring rain for the rest of my ride.)

As for accommodations, I took advantage of my friend’s great research skills and decided to stay in the same hotel that I will stay in later in my trip. It is an upgrade to my normal travel but it is my last month of traveling so I don’t have to be as budget conscious. The friend I am traveling with is a fantastic planner so I trust the research she put into the hotels. She made a good choice.

My room

My first night is uneventful as they often are because travel days wear me down.

On my first official day I am heading down to Plazuela Nutibara.

Medellín has a tram that can take me across town but I don’t yet have the courage to take it (Don’t worry I’ll be on it by tomorrow). I take a very scary taxi ride down to the Antioquia Museum to look at art (and more Botero).

Outside the museum at Plazuela Nutibara are lots of Botero statues:

Inside the Antioquia Museum I find more Botero art.

I really love Botero’s expressive animals.

I like this mural by Pedro Nel Gómez.

I take note of other Colombia artists.

Liberación, La Boca Roja – Wilfredo Lam

I really like the work of Carlos Correa and similar artists. I wish they had prints for sale.

There is a religious art room that doesn’t have your average gothic or renaissance art.

While the museum has some great art, the layout and organization of it is confusing. I see signs for exhibits but the doors are shut and locked with seemingly no reason. (Just a note in case someone wanders around the place confused like I was.)

After the Antioquia Museum I wander to a nearby park (Parque de Bolívar) where I walk around and people watch.

I walk down nearby streets and as time passes I get further away from what would be considered commercial tourist areas (Though most tourist areas have the feeling of more crowded with locals than tourists). Not wanting to get lost I turn back and head onto main shopping streets. Streets are busy with consumerism (shops and street vendors) as well as street entertainers.

guama – I didn’t try this until my next visit to town.

I eventually walk to Parque San Antonio. It is a large outdoor space. I hear music playing all around.

There are some Botero bird statues. There are two because one is destroyed from a bomb in 1995 killing 29 people. The destroyed bird remains and a new one is placed nearby. They serve as a reminder of that day.

A little further down I come to a bridge area. I seem to be walking in the general direction I need to in order to reach the my hotel. However since I am not really familiar with the neighborhoods I decide to call it a day and take a cab back to my hotel area.

After the cab drops me off at El Poblado I walk around to get a feel of the area. I later order dinner at an Asian fusion restaurant.

I enjoy the performance artists at the red lights. This guy juggles on a tight rope.

Pezetarian Medellin (temporarily closed)

The restaurant is on a street that becomes lively at night. I am missing out on the fun tonight. Perhaps I’ll partake in a few weeks when my friend visits me?

Arthur’s Pass, New Zealand

Yesterday we took the train from Kaikoura back to Christchurch. According to the maps it seems like our bed and breakfast is in walking distance to the train station. We set off with our luggage but unfortunately it seems in the wrong direction. We hike over an overpass and seemingly going out of our way. We walk past some office buildings and then finally we see our lodging, Addington Bed and Breakfast.

We booked the cheapest room, the twin room. It is tight for the two of us with all our luggage but the home is nice. The breakfast is quite good and the house is clean. I am happy there is a washer and dryer available so I can do some laundry while I am here. Space is tight but we don’t plan on spending too much time in the room; besides I’ll have the whole room to myself for the third night anyway.

Today we visit Arthurs Pass National Park and seemingly the best way to visit is by train, a couple hours from Christchurch. Accommodation and amenities are limited at the national park so we visit as most do as a day trip by train. There is also an option to rent a car and drive to the pass; in the interest of time we didn’t take this option.

The weather is quite uncertain as it often is. We hope to get some time to look around before the rain sets in.

We start off with a walking tour provided by a park ranger. We meet at the temporary visitor center.

Learn about animals introduced that became pests. New Zealand is very strict about people bringing in foreign plants and animals, even checking our hiking boots on the way into the country. Unfortunately they weren’t always as strict and now they are paying the price with foreign introduced animals wreaking havoc on their ecosystem.

Our guide takes us past a waterfall, a church with a great view and some other notable landmarks.

Only about 30 people actually live at Arthur’s Pass. As far as visitors go I think many who stay the night do tramping (similar to backpacking, the recreational activity of going for long-distance walks in rough country).

After our tour ends we take the hike up to view some waterfalls.

Devil’s Punchbowl Falls (Māori name is Hinekakai) is up and down a good amount of stairs (2.2 mile hike). I may have cursed and whined a little on the stairs but it is worth it.

After the water fall hike I’m hungry so we head to lunch at one the two restaurants at Arthur’s Pass.

Even with no competition, The Wobbly Kea isn’t bad.

I love my halloumi and pear salad.

After lunch we go for a short nature hike. At this point I am focused on seeing a live kiwi but from what we’ve been told it is more likely to see them at dusk. My ears are actively listening but we are unsuccessful in the quest. However we do happen upon some beautiful lichen lined paths that are other worldly.

Wide open spaces

After our hike we head over to the general store and watch a very naughty Kea bird try to steal everything.

We walk back to the station to await the train. It starts raining but fortunately the rain was not able to ruin our day.

While we wait for the train we start chatting with the guys next to us. We find out they are in Christchurch for a quick stop back home (California I believe). They are scientists that work in Antarctica. They are responsible for fixing and setting up important scientific equipment. They are fascinating to speak with.

Our ride back to Christchurch begins and the rain stops to open up some beautiful views.

Once we are back in Christchurch we head to dinner before walking back to our bed and breakfast. My aunt leaves me tomorrow and I am once again alone for at least another month. It is nice to have a companion while it lasts.

Melbourne Street Art

It is boxing day in Melbourne (what Aussies, Kiwis and British call the day after Christmas).

My Christmas Day yesterday was I spent mostly inside eating and watching movies. I like to celebrate my holidays the lazy way.

Today I decide to go for a tourist walk around town.

I start at the nearby park Fitzroy Gardens. I am obsessed with the beautiful purple flower trees – Jacaranda I believe.

Earlier I downloaded tourist walking tours. I use the maps to wander around town.

Princess Theatre: Now contains Harry Potter

Tattersalls Lane

It is the day after Christmas and shoppers are lined up around the block waiting for who knows what.

More artwork

Presgrave Place

Centre Place

Stopped for lunch at a cafe down a funky street (Eliana Lulu).

I could not resist these doughnuts. I picked up one for later.

Hosier Lane

AC/DC Lane

AC/DC Lane, named after the famous rock group, is one of the most popular tourist spots in town. Here you find street art mostly music related.

Strachan Lane

Finally I finish out the day at Strachan Lane where there is some more rock art as well as Alice in Wonderland themed art. I am heading back toward my apartment so I decide it is a good time to call it the day. Besides I have a very good looking doughnut just waiting to be eaten.

Another great day completed in Melbourne!

Day in Munich Part 2

We finally make it to the English Gardens (Englischer Garten). I read in the guide book that people surf here. I look for where there could possibly be surfers. My husband doesn’t believe me. I never find the surfers. The park is 3 miles long. We only conquer a portion of it. As we walk past some large meadows we witness people picnicking and playing in the first one. We walk a little futher and we view a very tan man standing at attention with his fists on the sides of his waist. He is totally naked and facing the walkway. I did read it was clothing optional in the park but we were not expecting Sargent Naked Dude (my name for him). He seemed really proud of himself and appeared to be seeking attention. We continue to walk past him.
We soon find the peaceful stream we viewed when we entered the park developed at some point to a lazy river of sorts, only with a faster current. We sit and watch many floating down the river.

After viewing the river fun for a little while we head down to the Chinese Tower beer garden. It is a lively beer garden with lots of food vendors.

We decide to try the Stecherlfisch like the locals.

On our way out of the garden we cool our tired feet in the stream. It refreshes us for the rest of the day.

On our way out of the park we hit another park and find a group playing bocce ball.

After selfie time we walk back to closer to where we are staying the night.

It is a beautiful evening and I am not ready to go back.

I talk Carlos into stopping at the famous Hofbrahaus for one last beer.

It is loud and crowded. Even though the fun band is indoors we decide to try our luck outside since it is hot and steamy inside.

We stand around for a bit but now is not the time to be shy. Full tables don’t just open up. You invite yourself to sit with others. We sat down at a not so lively table. The people at our table are not in a good mood. We soon learn why, service is terrible and very slow. And it seems like the tour group of drunk teens at the table next to us get high class attention while our table is ignored. They finally take our order, but before the others at our table….I feel bad. At least we have the fun stag party to watch while we wait forever for our food and beers.

We also see an example of the beer garden cookie that men are supposed to by for the lady they are sweet on. I did not get one 😦

I am glad I went at least once but not sure I will return to this beer garden. It was too touristy. The music was fun though.

We decide to call it a night. We need to pack our bags to leave for Nuremberg and later the airport.
I wish we budgeted more time in Munich. Vacations are way too short!!!