Gallery » CENTRAL/SOUTH AMERICA » Medellin 2018 » Detailed Diary
Thursday, 8 February: We enjoyed the lovely city of Medellin for four nights beginning on Thursday, 8 February. Our delayed flight arrived in Rio Negro, approximately 29km outside of Medellin, at about 3:00P. After clearing Customs & Immigration, we were met by our guide, Andrea, and our driver, Santiago. Both spoke English but Andrea's English-language skill was incredible. She also had such a cute accent! We drove ~40 minutes before reaching The InterContinental. It sits high in the city in the Comuna Poblado. Andrea assisted us with check-in and then we agreed to meet on Friday morning at 9:00AM. After settling into our lovely room, we enjoyed the Club Floor Lounge. We enjoyed many delicious types of Colombian empanadas along with some other snacks and a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon. At 8:00PM, we returned to our room as we were ready to relax after a long travel day.
Friday, 9 February: At 8:00AM we returned to the Club Floor Lounge to enjoy breakfast. It had a buffet with various hot & cold dishes. Also, there was a chef making eggs to order. Instead of having eggs, we decided to try some of the Colombian offerings. Our favorite was a bread made of maize and cheese; delicious!
At 9:00AM, we began our tour with Andrea & Santiago. We drove north toward the center of town and began our tour at Cerro Nutibara. Santiago drove us up the mountain on a narrow and winding road – not for the faint of heart. When we arrived, we first visited the Pueblito Paisa area. This is a replica of a traditional village and was quite beautiful. Then we walked to a viewing area where we could see various parts of the city. We had no idea that Medellin had such a large land area. Yes, many residents live in high-rise apartments but the city’s neighborhoods sprawl across numerous mountains and valleys.
After leaving Cerro Nutibara, Santiago drove us to Comuna 13, a revitalized residential area that was once very poor. In this part of the city, the poorest people live farthest up the mountain. This is because it was more difficult to reach on foot. However, some re-gentrification has occurred thanks to government infrastructure improvements. Now, the area is thriving with many small stores, restaurants and family residences. What truly helped was the installation of escalators – five in total – which whisk residents to the higher parts of the community.
Many of the streets are decorated with street art (as opposed to graffiti). This has been encouraged just as we witnessed on our visit in 2017 to Bogota. The artwork included works dedicated to social issues and others which were simply works of art. One of the key murals related to social issues documented the time when the neighborhood was under siege by the government and military as each sought out extremists and/or drug dealers (like the infamous Pablo Escobar).
When walking the streets with Andrea, we came across two young men working on a new mural. It turned out that one young man was the famous “Chota”. Obviously, we had no idea who he was but Andrea was very excited to have her picture taken with him in front of a finished work of art.
When we arrived at the top of the escalators, we walked along a “balcony” – a recently constructed concrete walkway which replaced a former dirt trail. Again, we had great views across the city.
After returning back down via the escalators, Santiago drove us to the mass transit station at San Javier. There we took a cable car (Metrocable) to the top of the mountain at La Aurora. We had great views of the city and some of the poorer neighborhoods. Indeed we saw one neighborhood where the access continues to be via a steep, earthen staircase. We returned back to the San Javier station and then took to the metro to the San Antonio station. We changed lines and went one stop to Parque Berrio. Directly across from that metro station is the beautiful Neustra Senora de la Candalaria church. Afterwards we had a short walk to the Palacio de la Cultura Uribe Uribe building. It looks very European as it was designed by a man from Belgium. We continued walking along the very, very busy streets until we reached Plaza de Botero. Fernando Botero was born in Medellin and he donated an amazing amount of statutes to be displayed in the area. Botero’s style is very unique to say the least. We were among many individuals enjoying the statutes.
Our final stop was a quick visit at the Iglesia de La Veracruz. It was a beautiful white-washed building that was made from blocks of volcanic lava. In front of the church was a lovely fountain made of the same material.
We returned to The InterContinental after a full day of touring. When we stopped by the Club Lounge for a cold Coke Zero, the sun was out in full and the surrounding area was very beautiful. We had to take a few photographs of this very affluent part of Medellin.
Then, at 6:00PM we once again returned back to the Club Lounge to relax over cocktails and snacks.
Saturday, 10 February & Sunday, 11 February: We spent these two days enjoying the facilities at The InterContinental. The hotel is more like a resort than a hotel as it boasts a full gym, spa, swimming pool, Jacuzzi, tennis courts, ping pong tables, etc., etc. We took time to enjoy these facilities as well as to just relax. We admit we did attend to a bit of paperwork but it took up only a small amount of our time but it will definitely save a great deal of time at home. On Saturday, it was a lovely sunny day; Sunday, on the other hand, was rainy and cool. On both days, we enjoyed the hospitality of the Club Lounge. On Sunday, we had breakfast at the hotel restaurant and were introduced to some local dishes. We especially enjoyed the arepa (a corn cake) which we topped with “calentado” - a mixture of beans & rice plus a spicy salsa. Needless to say, Colombian coffee is delicious and it was always available throughout the public areas of the hotel.
Monday, 12 February: We enjoyed a relaxing and leisurely breakfast at the Club Lounge. After saying goodbye to the staff there, we repacked our belongings in anticipation of an 11:30 pick-up by Andrea & Santiago. It was again about a 40 minute ride to the airport in Rio Negro. Our flight left late in the afternoon bound for Miami. After clearing Customs & Immigration, we spent one night in Miami (just as we had done on the way to Medellin).
We can definitely say that Medellin is an “Eternal City of Spring” and it offers an abundance of tourist sites and if you like to shop, many malls as well as traditional stores. Put this lovely city on your “must see” list!