We have been home now since the end of January after spending 5months living in Medellin, Colombia. What a city! We never thought we’d see the day where we actually enjoyed living in a big city but Medellin changed that. Located way up in the mountains, 1495m is the average altitude. It really is a sight to behold driving from the airport and over the hill down into the city below.
Medellin is known as the city of eternal spring. The weather here is the same all year round, sunshine and warmth and then almost daily a storm will pass over. Really cool lightning shows too. Sometimes it rains more than other days and sometimes its bloody hot but the average temperature is 22degrees.
Where we stayed in Medellin
We started off in a super local area called Sabaneta, and by super local I mean we were the only foreigners there. Everywhere we walked the locals would stop and stare, especially at Daniel with his glow in the dark blonde hair. He soon learnt to always wear a cap. It was really cool living in this part of the city and experiencing more of the Paisa culture. We had our first taste of Aguardiente, the spirit of choice with many of the locals. Purchased by the bottle for the table you have shots and then a chaser of something else until the bottle is done. Make sure you have some panadol next to your bed ready for the next morning. We also tried to salsa for the first time (hilarious) and sampled some of the local dishes.
After Sabaneta we moved into my brothers apartment in El Poblado. Lucky for us we met Luca – our Italian neighbour with a gorgeous dog called Dexter. Never had such delicious risotto/pasta/pizza ever!!!! Thank you for keeping us well fed and entertained with the now angel Dexter. El Poblado and Parque Lleras is where most tourists would stay. Poblado has heapssss of restaurants and the massive shopping centres and everything you need really. Lleras is the party centre and about 5mins by taxi away from Pobaldo. You can walk it, we used to during the day but don’t do it late at night and definitely not alone.
Getting Around Medellin
Getting into South America is expensive but once you are there it is very cheap! Taxis in Medellin are super cheap compared to everywhere else in the world. To go from Sabaneta to El Poblado was about 25mins and cost about $10. We got taxis everywhere, there are a few apps- Easy Taxi and Uber. So if you cant speak Spanish download one of them and they will come to your door, you enter in the address of where you are going on the app too – no need to struggle through a conversation. You can also get the metro, it’s about $2 and so are the buses.
If you are vegetarian/vegan then you must visit Prana in Envigado, it’s open from 12-3 everyday and they have a set vegan menu- soup entree, delicious (big) main and tea +fruit all for 11,000 pesos – $5. My favourite restaurant in the whole world!!
Very very very few people speak english in Medellin, so we started going to Spanish school. Learning a language is SO much harder than I imagined but we persevered and learnt a lot. Our teacher was really good and when you need the language to survive you are a bit more driven to learn. I miss speaking it so much! For anyone interested our school was El Dorado and is in Envigado and we both really recommend it. Gracias Eli & Polly for taking us out and about too 🙂 can’t wait to come back and visit!
Things to do in Medellin
To be honest we didn’t actually do too many touristy things. We were always like oh next week we will do this and that and then it was the last week and we couldn’t do it all!! Here are a few things we got up to-
These are the botanic gardens of Medellin and a cool spot to visit, we got the metro there as the stop is right opposite the gardens. There is a restaurant inside but you have to reserve a table. They also have an area that you can walk through that is full of butterflies- all free.
Parque Explora – This was on our to do list, its an optical illusion type of place that looks really neat to visit.
Shopping- Paisas (the locals) love their shopping. There are SO many malls around and everything is really well priced (cheap if you are coming for Australia). Santa Fe is a few stories high and has just about everything in El Poblado, as well as Oviedo almost opposite. There are malls everywhere! In Envigado/edge of Sabaneta there is another giant mall called Mayorca which has everything as well.
Go to a Salsa bar (any bar really!) – People will pull you from your seat and attempt to salsa with you. Everyone is born with Salsa skills in their blood and dancing is clearly something that doesn’t come naturally to Westerners! Next trip I’m booking us in for proper lessons.
Pablo Escobar Tour
We did this, the guide didn’t tell us much- we learnt more from reading/watching Patron Del Mal (the more accurate version of Narcos, and of course Narcos too). But went to see the sites of the infamous Pablo Escobar. Pretty crazy imagining what it would’ve been like in Medellin 20+ years ago.
Parque Arvi – Get the metro and cable car over the comuna up to Parque Arvi. All you need to do is purchase your metro ticket (cheap) swap at the top of the metro and jump on the cable car to Parque Arvi. Just don’t go on a Monday like we did. Mondays are maintenance days so parks and pools are closed.
Paragliding – Over the last week we tried to do it but the weather had other plans! Would be an amazing view flying over the city.
Apparently there are some really cool food/coffee/beer tours you can do as well. Buy a good mountain bike and riding down the hills is really popular here too!
If you find yourself in Medellin over Christmas/New Year you should make an effort to see the Christmas lights. The workers spend the whole year creating all the beautiful decorations used in the light show at the end of the year.
Visit Guatape! If you missed our post about Guatape- check it out here: http://sunsurfsoul.com/weekend-away-guatape/
5 months flew by! Both my brothers came to stay for 1 month each too which was good fun. Also my oldest brothers girlfriend Manuela is from Medellin so we had a bit of insider information before we arrived 😛 We met her family and best friend, they invited us over for a traditional paisa meal and we spent Christmas there as well. Or should I say Christmas Eve because that’s when the people of Medellin celebrate! They stay up until midnight then open their presents! For us a highlight of travelling is meeting locals in the places we visit so it was very cool! Muchas gracias Diana y Manuel ( y Lupecita) para invitar nosotros a tu casa! Y Juliana por estar nuestro traductor! Fuimos una alegría conocerlos, esperamos verlos más adelante.