Tag Archives: Medellín

Medellín Day 7: Trip Home & Final Thoughts


We didn’t have a choice on the return flight home time, but when your flight is at 6am and you need to be at the airport 2 hours early and the airport is 1 hour away, you get up VERY early. But the hotel had a car waiting for us at 3am and we got to the airport in enough time to take advantage of our Priority Pass lounge access.

Global Entry was kind of scary in Miami, in that the first step was taking a picture of us and then it printed our entry receipt. That meant the other steps, scanning the passport, fingerprints, questions about the trip were all skipped in favor of facial recognition. I guess that is our future.

Our last leg to DC went smoothly. Had to wait awhile for our luggage, but we were home to see Tashi by early evening.

Our visit to Medellín was wonderful. We were able to do everything we had planned without so much as a hitch. We used for Metro transportation, we took advantage of cheap and easy Uber and even figured out cabs when we had to.

The people were the best part. We were treated warmly everywhere we went. Very little English was spoken (it’s our fault we have never mastered Spanish), but people displayed patience and worked with us. The 3 guides we had for our tours were each wonderful. They were honest, open and we had real dialogues with them about culture and politics in our two countries.

We felt safe everywhere we went, being careful and aware of what areas were safe for our planned activities. We definitely want to come back and explore more of Colombia.

Thanks for reading along. You know there will always be new adventures!


Medellín Day 6: Comuna 13

Another day, another Medellín Travels tour.  This time we wanted to take the Comuna 13 tour to see an area of Medellín once violent and avoided, now a center of culture and arts. Much of the improvement comes thanks comes from the building of public transportation that connected the area to the rest of the city.

The history of Comuna 13 is dark, gangs, paramilitary groups, a brutal invasion by the government.

We started on the cable cars, taking us over the poorest part of the neighborhood.IMG_8804IMG_8789

I insisted on one picture of us together on the trip.IMG_8798

Next, on the far west side of town, we went up into the hills where a series of escalators replaced 350 steps up the mountainside. (Yes, that’s Ellen in front of me).IMG_8834

All along the way, there was just incredible street art. I’m going to publish a bunch of pictures, but I have many more. (clicking on an individual picture will bring up a larger image).

The view from the top was pretty spectacular.IMG_8841

We purchased a piece of art from one of the street artisans, an addition to our travel collection. On the way down, I noticed a soccer field that was brightly painted.IMG_8851

After returning to the neighborhood, we had lunch at the Sante Fe Mall. We then had a startling revelation. On the day after Earth Day here, private cars are banned during the day. That meant no Uber. Which meant we had to communicate our hotel’s name and address with a taxi driver who spoke no English. I showed him the address on my phone, he consulted with another driver, and off we went. An added experience!

Our last dinner was at Carmen, one of the finest restaurants in the city. We are tired but pleased with the trip. Ellen had the pez negro, the fish of the day,. I had the pato (duck), with potatoes and spinach. Ellen had a glass of cava, I had malbec. And we finished with a five chocolates dessert.IMG_8859.

Medellín Day 4: Jardin Botánico

Today we decided to add one mode of transportation. To get to the Museo Casa de la Memoria, we took the Metro and added figuring out the tram. It cost an additional 75 cents each, but it was 3 stops that got us within 500 meters of the museum. IMG_8669

The museum commemorates the memory of the murdered and their families in the many conflicts in Colombia. The stories were powerfully told with pictures and accounts from the survivors. IMG_8675

Our next destination was Jardin Botánicode Medellin Joaquin Antonio Uribe (that’s a long name!). A free garden with colorful plants, butterflies, birds, it was wonderful to walk around and experience it with everyone out on Easter Sunday.

We even found a friend!IMG_8684

Our most anticipated meal was lunch at In Situ, a fancy restaurant in the botanical garden. When this is your view from the table, you are likely to enjoy your meal.IMG_8690

We started with a great beef appetizer. (Well, Ellen started with the bread, she loves having it all to herself for 8 days). We both had salmon (2 different preparations) for our main course, followed by chocolate mousse. We watched birds fly between trees and people stroll by. It was civilized, relaxing and wonderful. IMG_8707

Saw some street art that caught my eye when leaving the garden. IMG_8695

We stopped for coffee and then returned to the hotel. Since we were staying in tonight, we had time to use the rooftop pool, with an infinity look out onto the skyline. We stayed until it got dark.IMG_8697IMG_8704

We had leftovers from last night and cheese/crackers (for Ellen of course) from the grocery store. Quiet night before our sojourn to coffee country tomorrow.

Medellín Day 2: Pablo

We wanted to see the Medellín of Pablo Escobar from a historical perspective, not to in any way glorify his activities. So we chose a tour that brought us to the significant places, without enriching his family or his former associates.

We started at the building he was in when the combination of good guys and bad guys (hard to always say who was who) surrounded him.IMG_8557

Pablo went out the back window (which is now bricked up) and was shot on the roof of the building behind it.IMG_8558

We visited the cemetery where he and his family are buried. IMG_8562

When you want your hits to go well, you take the bullets to church of course. In this case, a church where a vision of the Virgin Mary has appeared, Iglesia de Santa Ana. We got there just as a Good Friday service was finishing up.IMG_8566

Next to the church was a restaurant where they were preparing buñuelos, a fried corn and cheese ball.

There were as big as your hand!IMG_8572

The square was full of people and color.IMG_8576

Our last significant stop was at La Catedral, Escobar’s “prison” high on a mountaintop.IMG_8585IMG_8583IMG_8582

Now used by Benedictine monks, they are quick to point out that they are not making use of Pablo’s buildings.IMG_8588

Our guide from Medellín Travels was young and had learned his history well. He had answers to every question and did not in any way romanticize the believed 100,000 murders that took place during the time of Escobar. We were glad we did the tour, we came away with an understanding of the period.

We got back to our hotel in time for a late lunch. We were going to walk to get a last pizza before Passover, but the afternoon rainstorm timed itself to thwart that effort. We found a small restaurant open across from our hotel and had a not-so-great lunch.

For dinner, we had a reservation, but our Uber pulled up to a darkened restaurant. We had tried to plan for Good Friday, but our plans were only as good as the reservations taken for the night. We had the Uber take us to an area with plenty of restaurants, and we decided Greek was calling our name. So we ate at Greek Connection, complete with lamb, plate smashing and belly dancing. So a traditional Passover seder!


Medellín Day 1: 6 Hours South

After trips to Argentina, Peru and Chile (and a little begging by my childhood friend Maria), we finally planned a trip to Colombia to add to our South American countries. We will be visiting for 6 nights, staying in Medellín the whole time, with two tours and the rest on our own exploring the city.

Getting to Medellín was pretty simple–a 3 hour flight to Miami and a 3 hour flight from Miami to Medellín. American Airlines was fine, and when we heard the travelers assigned to the exit row for the 2nd flight couldn’t stay there, we volunteered for the hardship of more legroom!

Immigration, getting our luggage and Customs at Medellín’s airport was a breeze. The airport had an ATM, so I got Colombian pesos. Only problem was, the car from the hotel that was supposed to meet us didn’t. After looking around and trying to call, we went to the Information desk and a very nice woman called the hotel and determined there was no car. But she negotiated for the hotel to pay for a cab and got us in a car.

So while the Hotel Sites didn’t wow us from the start, it is a lovely hotel in a great location. We dropped our luggage and headed for the Santefé Mall, as we wanted to get SIM cards before Good Friday, since things may be closed. The mall was truly something to see.IMG_8541

We came upon the Movistar store first, so that was our choice. While the employee spoke no English, I communicated that we wanted data only cards, at least 2GB. And maybe 15 minutes and 70,000 pesos later ($22), we had cards with 2.5GB. One of the easier SIM purchase stories.

The mall had a sporting goods store, so I got my desired souvenir, a national soccer jersey.IMG_8553

It had a Starbucks, so we got a Colombia mug. And it had a grocery store in the basement, which had Ellen giddy as she loves little more (maybe Tashi) than foreign grocery stores. IMG_8542

We were going to walk to dinner, but it was pouring so we got an Uber instead (less than $3). Our reservation was at one of the best restaurants, Oci.MDE. We had a great meal, tuna tartare as an appetizer, beef tenderloin for me, short ribs for Ellen as the main course, and then a delicious ice cream sandwich with salted caramel. Not a bad start!IMG_8552