Medellin (pronounced ‘Medajean’), the city of Colombia’s proudest residents, the paisas, is an amazing place. It was once the world’s most murderous city, though you’d never know it today. With a perfect, perpetual spring-like climate, chic shopping malls, world-class restaurants and vibrant nightlife, the city seduces the senses and makes you feel instantly at home. It’s got culture, class and maybe the friendliest locals that I have so far met in Colombia.
In the words of Lonely Planet:
“In the 1990s Medellín was the centre of the worldwide cocaine trade, with motorbike-riding sicarios (hit-men) carrying out gangland hits for the city’s most notorious son, drug lord Pablo Escobar (who remains popular here, with some, for his generosity to the poor). Escobar was so rich he once offered to pay off Colombia’s foreign debt, and paid his hit-men US$1000 for every cop they killed. The city was a no-go zone for foreigners until the kingpin was gunned down on a Medellín rooftop by security forces in 1993.”
Medellin is a sleek, modern city that boasts Colombia’s only metro system – a clean, graffiti-free, safe and affordable public transportation system that shuttles you around comfortably and quickly. The cable cars that swoop over some of the poorer barrios provide a jaw dropping, birds eye view of this unusually positioned metropolis. It’s surrounded by lush, mountainous terrain, spilling north and south down a narrow valley, with soaring buildings either side.
Highlight of Medellin: Free Walking Tour with Real City Tours.
“The Free Walking Tour is based on tips, hence we make our best effort to make you happy and to get a tip. The tour is fully in English.
Walk around Medellin’s downtown (El Centro) with a local. Explore the historic districts and let this fascinating city come to life through stories, descriptions and urban legends.
During the 4 hours of the tour you will discover the most traditional parks, squares and streets of the city. We will guide you through the history of Medellín, the culture of its people, The Paisas, and their stories.
Morning Tours: 8.54am at the ticket booth of Poblado Metro station.
or 9.09am at the north ticket booth of Alpujarra Metro Station.”
Hostel Black Sheep, owned by Kelvin, from New Zealand, was a great hostel. My plan was to stay for a couple of nights only, in the end I stayed much longer – this appears to be a recurring feature of my time in Colombia – you soon start to set roots here. It could quite easily become home!
Next stage: day trips from Medellin.