Total distance travelled: 41,379 kilometres (25,701.24 miles)
It may have been an overnight bus ride from Cartagena to Medellin, however the mountainous views come morning certainly didn’t disappoint, and made for a wonderful distraction from any sore necks or other bodily aches and pains after a night spent in a reclining seat!
On arrival in Medellin’s northern bus terminal, we’d already researched in advance the proximity of the metro station, so it was merely a matter of finding the correct direction, purchasing ourselves tickets and awaiting the train.
Along the journey, we bid farewell to Chris & Faye yet again, their hostel being in a different part of the city, and continued on to El Poblado, a more affluent suburb, and also home to our hostel.
Our walk proved a lengthy uphill affair, but shortly after check-in we were back out again, for a brief reunion with Luisa & Viviana, two Colombian friends from Australia, currently back home (they were back visiting family whilst Luisa had also come home for the birth of her 2nd child).
An invitation was offered for us to come and join them for the weekend at one of their farms, an offer we accepted. We did however we opt to delay our departure until the following day.
After all, we had only just arrived here!
Not to mention we had other friends to catch up with, in this case Melissa & Max, yes more of those English folk!
Having already spent a couple of weeks in town (they’d rented an apartment), we left the particulars to them, and back on the metro made our way downtown to begin our catch-up.
With a hot tip on a good local eatery, we began our search, with Max seeking local landmarks from the daylight hours, now no longer visible in the night.
Eventually we found the place, and asked to see a menu before we committed (us being on a backpackers budget and all). At this request, a small ceramic cup with a cord attached was draped over our necks and filled with (we assumed based on the smell) Aguardiente, an anise flavoured Colombian spirit.
We, after prompting, downed these drinks, then eventually a rather overpriced menu appeared.
Not appealing to our tighter purse strings, we prepared to leave and explore a second option, when the lady who had served us became quite animated. Promptly, a more senior staff member appeared asking what was the matter and why were we leaving?
We promptly advised him that we were off to assess another venue, but that there was a chance we would return… Okay, so the chance of us returning was ridiculously low, however it appeared to placate him.
Instead, we found across the road a nice cheap option, where we were able to eat to the sound of horrible singing and Sarah was served under cooked chicken.
The only way from there was up really!
We made our way back to El Poblado, in search of a bar Melissa & Max had already patronised and were quite eager to show us.
This particular part of the suburb is known as the Zona Rosa, and really is the hub of all nightlife activity in this section of Medellin.
In time we did eventually find it, and although the beers were a little pricey, the place, Eco Bar, was pretty cool.
Essentially a wooded, outdoor area with felled parts of tree trunks for seating, a young crowd, and some cool musical tunes.
We also found ourselves the recipients of 4 more free shots when the manager kindly compensated us for having to move… as we were seated where he wanted to set up the band.
2 shots apiece, several beers and age eventually caught up with us, and we eventually called it a night.
The following day (Saturday) saw us head to Ebejico for some adventures I’ll give an account of later, so it wasn’t in fact until the Monday that we finally had some time we could devote to a little exploration of this city.
Medellin has a very modern, impressive public transit network, and it was this we planned to utilise for our days sight-seeing.
Sure, there’s the incredibly clean, eco friendly (and regular) Metro train system, however we planned to capitilise on another arm of the network, their cable cars.
That’s right, Medellin has a cable car system, built not for tourists, but for commuters to get up and down the steeply hilled valley on which the city is built.
What it meant for us however, was that on a single fare (both the train and cable car on 1 ticket), we were able to get some incredible views of the city from high above!
When we’d eventually had our fill and waved to the obligatory Jesus statue high above one of the neighbourhoods (this is a god fearing country after all), it was time to check out the downtown area again, but this time in daylight.
In truth, Medellin doesn’t have the immediately apparent beauty and charm like some cities, but there were a few cool sights to be found. One of those, an urban park/plaza dedicated to sculpture artworks from Fernando Botero, a local from the city, and possibly Latin America’s most famous artist (at least according to Wikipedia).
One thing that is very obvious in his works that we’d seen thus far (there was plenty of it represented in the street vendors of Cartagena as well), was his propensity to portray people in a literal larger than life manner (read into that oversized).
Still it was free, some of it we warmed to, some a little odd…
The same plaza was also bordered by what was apparently a ‘cultural palace’, in itself an impressive looking building, but that’s as much as we can tell you.
We couldn’t find an entrance open to the public, so admire its exterior was all we could do!
Medellin was a nice city, probably not a favourite (to be fair, we have visited a lot).
But with the friends we managed to catch up with and the couple of side trips we managed as well, we still managed to have ourselves a great stay.
* Our overnight bus from Cartagena to Medellin cost us $120,000.00 pesos per person for what was a 14 hour journey.