From Bogotá our group flew directly to Medellin; or rather to Rionegro, a small town about 45 minutes away. Medellin, once dubbed “the most dangerous city in the world,” was a lot of things, poor, rich, hot, messy, clean, classy, trashy, posh, hipster… It immediately felt different from Bogotá, but not at all in a bad way.
I somehow managed to not take any photos of the hotel. We stayed at the Hotel Park 10 and it was very spacious and comfortable. It was a suite-like room with living space slightly separated from the sleeping area. And the hotel has robes! I’ve come to appreciate hotel robes lately. I never wear a robe at home, but for some reason it makes a hotel stay that much more special. #Spoiled
The location of the hotel was great, especially if you’re in town on business or want to go for a morning run, more on that later.
Ah, now I remember why I didn’t take any photos of the hotel, I was a bit, eh, under the weather. So there were no photos of our first lunch spot – Cafe Botero. I do remember the food being good, plus they’re located right in front of the main plaza with lots of attractions nearby.
El Patio del Tango
For dinner on our first night we were treated to a tango lesson at El Patio del Tango. The food was – ok, but the neighborly atmosphere and the friendly owner were worth the experience! After a small tango lessons, we got to observe a few regulars in their dance and listen to a live performance by some skillfully talented and equally passionate singers.
Mistura was great! I had dinner there on the second (and last) night in Medellin. This was my second dinner alone, and by now I was getting a hang of it — a drink makes lonesome dinners a bit less awkward. It was also here that I have finally discovered my favorite drink. I’ve always admired people who know what they want, and have their “the usual.” I ordered a Moscow Mule and then a second one… Since that night it’s become my “the usual.” Don’t worry, there was also sushi and it was delicious. Just beware that prices are definitely American and you won’t find a local bargain here.
A morning run in El Poblado neighborhood
I used to hate running, I still do a bit. It wasn’t until Medellin that I discovered that where, when, and in what temperature I run makes a huge difference! Hotel Park 10 is located in a great neighborhood — El Poblado, the commercial mecca of Medellin. One morning I woke up super early without an alarm clock; it was the only time I’d have to check out the area on my own, without the tour group. Running seemed to be the best way to wander around and see more of Medellin in a limited time.
It was then and there that I re-discovered running. The weather was a perfect 70F, the streets smelled fresh after a rainy night, and the usual city hustle and bustle was just beginning to wake up. There was so much cool graffiti to explore, too!
Parque De La Presidenta
During my run I passed through the Parque De La Presidenta. The park is not huge, but it is very nice; they have free WiFi and free outdoor exercise equipment, which many people were utilizing even in the waking hours of the morning. Needless to say, I was impressed!
EPM Building and Park
Medellin is aggressively focusing its efforts on cleaning up the city and promoting renewable energy. EPM is Medellin’s main energy provider and they pride themselves for occupying a green and energy-efficient building. They also installed a park in front of the building for employees and general public to enjoy. Everyone is also encouraged to hug a tree in the park (and it’s not weird at all!).
As I mentioned in the Bogota blog, Botero is HUGE in Colombia! The Botero Plaza is a great place to see his statues for free in open-air. This area is also very central and fun to explore, just be ready to buy a hat from a street vendor who will follow you on your journey (bring pesos!).
And if you just can’t get enough of Botero, visit the Antioquia Museum. Their gift shops is pretty neat, I found some cute souvenirs with Botero’s images for my friends.
Ride the metrocable
Medellin is very proud of its public transportation system. It is also one of the cheapest and best ways to see the city. There was brief rain and wind the day we went up on the metrocable, which cause the transportations system to close for an hour. Luckily, it re-opened when we got there, but the lines were long. Still worth it!
Don’t just ride the metrocable, actually exit and explore the neighborhood of Santo Domingo. Once the core of violence in Medellin under the rule of a notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar, Santo Domingo has now become an example of how a bad neighborhood can be turned around. It still felt a bit eerie and it is definitely poor, but now there are banks, shops, movie theatre, and other businesses, which did not exist before. Just be wise, use caution, and don’t flash your valuables; otherwise, enjoy! This was my favorite part of visiting Medellin!
Santa Fe de Antioquia
Santa Fe isn’t necessarily the closest attraction, but it makes for a perfect day trip. Located 40 miles from Medellin, it was once the capital of the independent state of Antioquia. Antioquia remained independent for thirteen years from 1813 to 1826. The town has retained much of its original colonial architecture and remains a charming place with Spanish flare to visit.
Santa Fe is small enough to wander as a pedestrian, but it may be worth getting a motochiva to go to the Puente de Occidente, an over-century-old suspension bridge. An awesome view of the Cauca River opens up from the bridge. Jose Maria Villa, the engineer who designed the bridge, also worked on the Brooklyn Bridge after he finished his studies in New Jersey.
Stop by the hotel Mariscal Robledo; it has some very cool decor that any photography and film lover can appreciate. Grab a drink, relax, and enjoy!