One Week in Medellín, Colombia

A few people have expressed shock at our choice in Colombia as a vacation destination, but it has been on my radar for a while now. One reason was because of a man; the other because of its transformation. Read below for how we spent our one week in Medellín, Colombia fka the most violent city in the world and now, according to Urban Land Institute, the most innovative city in the world.

View from our Air BnB

Colombia got on my radar for a few reasons but originally because of a dude. Marquez is my favorite (fiction) author. His writing is so magical that even a logical heart like mine will suspend all reality and get lost in his fantastical stories. So yeah, we’re here because of Gabo.

“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”

We spent the first day getting the lay catching up on rest and getting our bearings. The area we stayed in has a very Santa Monica vibe — including the weather which was in true 70s — plus a little street vibe. But then we were bustling around. Here are some of our adventures.

El Poblado neighborhood

A Tale of Two Houses – El Castillo and La Casa De Las Piedritas

El Castillo (the Castle), which is really just some rich dude’s house.

Views everywhere are spectacular.

La Casa De Las Piedritas

Gloria and Santiago share their amazing, hand-built, fairytale, family home full of love with everyone! You just walk up to their house, knock on the door, and they give you a tour of their home (give a donation). We caught Gloria in the middle of cooking soup lol. They accept visitors between 2 and 8pm and are the best hosts ever!!

‪Santiago is a well-known local artist, and in reality this home is one giant love letter to Gloria — they have been married 43 years. He handmade each brick, did the intricate tile work, and handpicked all the glass (some from former traffic lights). Throughout the house are stone hearts, and there is a book of notes and drawings he has made for Gloria and their two daughters. He had even brought her flowers while we were on our tour. ❤️

Dude told us to just knock.
In the corner is some chicken and potato soup cooking.
Daughter Marisol’s room. She is in Miami now.
Santiago & Gloria.
Our hostess served us sweet tea, coffee, and cheese balls (?) after our tour.
The Library.
Me and Gloria.
Their bedroom. Yes, they let us into their bedroom lol.
I asked Gloria why Santiago loved her so much. She just shrugged haha.

Guatape

Day in the countryside seeing small towns and stopping at fruit stands on the way to Guatape to walk up El Pinol (The Rock). My fave part of the day was visiting a small family coffee farm. You guys, I will never take my Starbucks cup for granted again — it takes about 2-5 years from planting to roasting for a packaged bag of coffee. Lastly, PK’s traditional breakfast of Bandeja Paisa aka the South American weapon of mass destruction. Ick.

One of the fruit stands along the way.
El Piñon.
Worth the view.

The sorter.
You only pick the red ones — I got a few!
Town of Guatapé

 

Enter a caption

 

Mangostino.
One of the fruit stands along the way.
El Piñon.
Worth the view.

The sorter.
You only pick the red ones — I got a few!
Town of Guatapé.

 

Mangostino.
One of the fruit stands along the way.
El Piñon.
Worth the view.

The sorter.
You only pick the red ones — I got a few!
Town of Guatapé.
La Replica de Pueblo Guatape.
Extra.
Bandeja Paisa – Fried Meat Fest.

Comuna 13

What intrigued me the most about Medellin is its transformation from the most dangerous city in the world, and today we visited the part of the city which I most wanted to see: Comuna 13.

This was the most notorious part of this most dangerous city. Gangs controlled the community; no cars could drive in, and there was a 5:30 pm curfew. Five policeman jumped into a policecar to test this…and were gunned down within five blocks.

And then a miracle. The government stepped in seven years ago and did a couple things: negotiated a peace with the gangsters and built an escalator so the people could go up and down the steep incline (see video). This showed the people in this community that someone cared — and they responded.

Today it is a vibrant, optimistic, and livable community. The graffiti along the walls serve as a creative outlet and tells the story of this resilient community.

It was inspiring to see what happens when a government cares about those suffering and intervenes. Imagine.

Mood.
Graffiti on every wall. Spectacular.
View from the first of three hills in this community.

Random

Best advice: “Don’t offer the papaya. If you offer the papaya, I must take the papaya.” Translation: If you’re not paying attention, it’s your fault if I steal your stuff.

Best Bad News/Good News: “No habla espanol” can make getting around more challenging since most people don’t speak English. But if you’re an introvert, it’s a fast conversation stopper!

Best Ugh-America conversation: When we took our downtown tour with a bunch of Europeans, and the English girl complained to me about how she only got 5 weeks vacation, and I told her how much vacation time most Americans get. The gasp and look of horror she gave me.

Best Scary Moment: Two young women brandishing knives and yelling at each other in San Antonio Square (Papaya Level 4) while their boyfriends held them back.

Photos of favorite vegan restaurant, favorite coffee spot, and the downtown tour – pillars, Boteros, and a strange way to make money.

Papaya Level is high on the metro so I turned my backpack forward.
Downtown.
More Downtown.
img_8074
Botero donated million dollar sculptures of his work after terrorists blew up the old ones.
Guandolo is a sweet cold brew coffee drink made with café Lomaverde (Pergamnio’s signature coffee, and the only single origin that they have year-round) with panela and lemon juice.
People watching in cafes are one of my fave parts of traveling.
Streets are so colorful!
Fave vegan joint – ate here twice.
Our group tour.

I cannot recommend visiting Medellín enough! We will definitely go back to Colombia to see Bogotá and Cartagena.

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s