After a very warm stay in Mompox, we were really looking forward to the “city of eternal spring”, Medellín, in the Antioquia region of Colombia. A city of about 2 million inhabitants it is very different from the other places we’ve visited in Colombia.
Medellín has a less than favorable reputation, with a history of drugs, terror and violence, hosting the Medellin Cartel and Pablo Escobar in the 80’s and 90’s. In 1990 it was actually more dangerous to be in Medellín than in Beirut, Lebanon (where there was a civil war!), and it has only been safe for tourists (and locals) for about 10 years.
Now, thanks to a math teacher (who was elected mayor), Medellín is a modern city with an efficient metrosystem, beautiful parks and many museums, and we really enjoyed our 5 days there. We stayed in a newer area of town called El Poblado (or: Zona Rosa, Gringolandia) which is where most hostels, nightclubs, etc. are at. It’s also the safest area of town, so a good place to stay.
Some of our highlights here were:
- Parque Explora: a technical museum for children of all ages, where we learned about the mind, the body, Darwin, fishes, and laws of physics. Maybe we’re just nerds, but we had a lot of fun (we spent more than 6 hours there)!
- Museo de Antioquia, which features a lot of paintings and sculptures from the great son of Medellin, Fernando Botero (those voluminous people, animals and other things), and also some other art collections.
- Watching a soccer game: the two local teams played a match in Copa Colombia, so a lot of noise, and crazy balancing on the top of the stadium
- A walking tour in the center of town with Pablo of Free Walking Tours Medellín (the tour was free, but most tipped around $20, because it was so good)
- Riding the MetroCable where we got some great views of different parts of the city, the slums of Medellin and the surrounding mountains. It is connected with the rest of the metro and can be used on the same ticket (only costs $1 for a trip). The cable also takes you to the impressive library and Parque Arvi, which is also worth visiting if you have the time.
More photos from Medellin and the rest of our travels in Colombia can be found here.