Updated: Jul 28, 2019
After an hour plane ride from Barranquilla to Medellin, we began our descent from airport atop the mountain to the bustling city. The drive into the city was beautiful, green and winding. It felt like the plane ride was shorter than this drive! The views of the city were marvelous, I couldn't believe how many houses and buildings were compact into the valley.
No photo could really do the city justice, but hey - I can try (to find a good internet one)!
I had to include this photo from our drive down the mountain. A woman in heels and work attire on her motorbike. The traffic was crazy, and the three of us often wondered why they painted lines on the road if no one used them. It definitely took some getting used to, but by the end of the week we were pointing out a rare SUV to one another. I'm also feeling inspired to start scootering around Miami, because if they can do it in Colombia - I'm sure I'll be fine in the 305...
We arrived at our hostel, The Wandering Paisa, just steps from La Setenta. We loved our stay: the staff was incredibly friendly and helpful and the location was perfect. There were tons of restaurants to choose from on La Setenta, and the metro was just a short walk away. Like most hostels at the Wandering Paisa they host nightly events. On Thursdays they had a Language Exchange between the guests! This seems like a great way to get to know other travelers and make new friends, especially if you’re traveling alone or spending a little more time there.
The Wandering Paisa’s hammock set up. You can actually rent these out for cheaper than a room – sorry for taking a siesta in your bed, friend!
A balcony view from the W.P.
After we booked our trip and the rain let up a bit, we headed out to find dinner. The Wandering Paisa had a suggestions book, so we followed their lead and ate at a classical Colombian food spot: Restaurante La Margarita. We each had the Bandeja Paisa (and ended up having it several more times after that…).
Bandeja Paisa translates into “tray of the Colombian” where "Paisa" refers to a native of northwest Colombia. Traditionally, a Bandeja Paisa consists of two types of Colombian sausage, ground beef, rice, red beans, a fried pork rind called chicharrón, an arepa, a plantain, a slice of avocado (you know the healthy fats) and a fried egg on top. Just thinking about it is making me hungry...I miss you, Colombia!
During dinner, the three of us noticed the streets were filled with people in bright green soccer/football jerseys. As we ate, the street continued to fill with laughter and people. We asked our waiter if there was a celebration or game on TV, and he told us that in a few hours there would be a game right down the street. We agreed that this was an opportunity of a lifetime – we couldn’t miss it!
We went back to the hostel and met a few travelers who also were heading to the game. They suggested we sit on the south-side of the stadium, so we parted ways and headed to find a shirt and a ticket. Luckily both were relatively easy to come by. The three of us sported various Atlético Nacional jerseys and some bartering landed us just about midfield, closer to the “south side.”
The atmosphere was electric (until it wasn’t). An hour before the game began, the south side was jam packed with fans. A full band played nonstop and flag bearers waved their flags wide and high. The band did eventually stop for the national anthem, but quickly returned to an up tempo beats and loud, endless chanting and cheering. People danced and sang the entire game. A few of the chats were easy to follow along, so we sang too.
As I eluded, during the second half THE POWER WENT OUT.
While the three of us were a bit startled, the crowd went crazy & the chanting got louder. This was the perfect time to snap a few pictures and for the players to get some rest. Unfortunately, A.N. lost the game – but it’s safe to say the three of us won the day!
The next day, the three of us had a grand adventure, but that's a story for the next blog post!
Thursday night, we moved hostels to Tiger Paw. We really loved the Wandering Paisa, but Tiger Paw was on the other side of town in an even more lively area known as Poblado. Around Poblado there were tons of bars, clubs and restaurants. We saw really posh places and explored a few salsa clubs. When the night was winding down, there were food vendors and restaurants open for business. The city did not seem to have a curfew and everyone was happy to be out and enjoying themselves.
This was the bar at Tiger Paw – we agrees that swings might not be the best for intoxicated patrons but alas, we made it out just fine. If you’re interested in learning more about Tiger Paw you can visit them on trip advisor or hostel world.
The accommodation was very affordable, the bathrooms were clean and the staff (again) were very nice. They also had free breakfast. However, because Poblado is a lively place – it was noisy till around 4am. Depending on what you’re looking for in a hostel and experience, this might be the place for you! I wish we had another night at the Wandering Paisa, but loved our time at Tiger Paw!
My final day in Medellin, we went on a Real City walking tour.
This was another highlight from the trip and I wouldn't suggest leaving Medellin without this experience! We had an amazing guide, Juan, who told us both historic and personal facts about the city. It was a really beautiful experience, and there was time for snacking and independent exploring built in. If I had another day, I would definitely go back to the malls with all the Nike and Adidas shoes – but it's probably best we didn't have time!
Juan shared with us that this marvelous building in El Centro was only half completed when the artist (who wasn't from Colombia) decided his work wasn’t being appreciated and he wanted to leave. Because they didn’t want to leave it half finished the right side was completed in a less ornate fashion. I love the contrast of this building and the metaphorical resilience it displays. Though the right side is not as beautiful – it was completed with hard work and is something to be proud of.
Outside this building is the Plaza of Botero, a famous Medellin artist. His pieces are scattered throughout the plaza, each with a million(s) dollar price tag.
After our Real City tour we headed to Communa 13 to see the iconic graffiti walls. Unfortunately, due to in-climate weather (aka it down-poured on us and we stood in it for 15 minutes before the tour cancelled) we had to head home.
By the time we got back to Tiger Paw, it was time for me to dry off and head out on my next adventure. I said bye to my friends, old and new and set off back up the mountain.
This is me post Juan Valdez coffee and chocolate cake slice. Would definitely recommend.
My next stop was Bogota, Colombia where I would begin my experience with the US ISPO learning about the prosthetics production & practicing PT with amputees of the Colombian conflict. I'm looking forward to sharing what a life changing experience this was with you!
If you’re interested in learning more about my travels to Medellin or have any questions feel free to contact me on twitter at @SPTKlee or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Missed my other travel installments?
El Penol Adventures
Physical Therapy, Abroad!