Pensamientos en Medellin
(Thoughts on Medellin)
I planned this excursion to Medellin with no prior expectations, no great knowledge of Colombia (other than drugs, to be honest), and an open mind. I was completely rewarded by approaching it this way. To be fair, I don’t think that I ever have any expectations for a place when I travel. I still approach new countries, cities, and people with the wide-eyed awe of a child. I am a-okay with this because it was served me well.
So to start, we felt like we were in uncharted territory - which is totally silly because many Americans visit Colombia but we each only knew a handful who had been between the three of us. We arrived, went through customs together as a trio (behind a Bachelor party who entertained my friend on our flight there, hehe) and then got our $25, hour-long taxi into Medellin from the airport.
Whoa, so getting to the city requires a drive up into the mountains and down, on both sides. We were packed into a tiny Fiat or Toyota Prius-sized car with our luggage, all three of us in the back seat, and our carry-ons. The very winding roads were kind of nausea-inducing and it was pouring rain as motorcycles, trucks and other cars zoomed around us. Driving in Medellin is a sport that requires ultimate concentration. Once we got into the city, we saw that the city is laid out very interestingly as well, as far as the roads are concerned. There are a lot of streets where you have to drive all the way down and make a U-turn instead of there being round-abouts or turn lanes. So going a short distance often takes longer than one expects. These things are okay, because I like car rides where I can see a city and speak as much Spanish as possible with the taxi driver to practice!
We arrived to our Airbnb around 2:30 in the afternoon and watched the rain turned into HAIL. HAIL NO, not on vacation, you say! Well, we were exhausted since we were out until 3:15 the night before (that morning, ugh) and we happily napped through the storm to wait it out, unpacked in our amazing 3 bedroom, 2 bath rental and went through all of the tourist info in the apartment to plan out our long weekend. We wandered out in the drizzle for a snack and drinks around 5:30/5:45, and to get our bearings in the neighborhood, and found a place to eat dinner. As I did with Panama, I will review all the Medellin restaurants in one post.
We started by booking a 4 hour group walking tour on our first full morning around 10 with Real City Tours Medellin. I highly recommend this tour, our guide, Juan, was so knowledgeable and interesting and explained a lot of the history and politics of Colombia and Medellin in general. We also walked all over and got a great idea of how the city was laid out so we could come back and stop at some of the places along the way later in our trip. Oh, did I mention the tour was free? We tipped our guide well but it was thoroughly enjoyable. And that is where I am going to leave it today. I think I can take an entire post to explain our tour and a bizarre thing that happened to me on it, so I will. But I will review our highlights in Medellin on Monday and wrap it up next week, hopefully.