Medellin – The Other Side

The city of Medellín, located in north-central Colombia, has an inspirational story. Only two decades removed from the height of its notoriously violent past with Pablo Escobar and the cartels, it is now considered to be one of the safest big cities in Latin America, with character, nightlife and public art that any urban area would envy.

On our first night in Medellin, we went to the restaurant “Carmen” where everyone got the sampler menu with delicious plates made with local ingredients.

The dessert was one of the best dishes.

On the next morning, we went on the Pablo Escobar tour, but I will talk about it on another post. I think it is important to let you know that Medellin offers a lot more as a city than just the story of Pablo Escobar.

We started out the day with a stop at a bakery for some breakfast. I was not hungry so I started talking to these super friendly police officers. They were very curious asking about Mexico, and I flooded them with questions as well.

We walked towards the beautiful “Metrocable” (gondola) !  It was designed to reach some of the city’s informal settlements on the steep hills that mark its topography. It is largely considered to be the first urban cable propelled transit system in South America.

My group happened to take the gondola before the guide, so we did not know where to drop off.  Of course, we messed up, so here is the second gondola making fun of us!

The stations are clean and modern.

Prior to the completion of the cable cars, people stranded in the favelas wanting access to jobs, education, healthcare, and even basic shopping had to make a slow and arduous journey down the mountainside to get into the city. Sporadic and unpredictable buses were available in some areas, but mostly people walked – sometimes for hours. This isolation contributed substantially to Medellín’s famous and now rapidly fading history of crime and violence.

On the way back we took the tram.

But a few minutes later the tram stoped completely.  It had a mechanical fault so we needed to walk down with everybody else.

Here we started our culinary street food tour. Beginning with some empanadas. Unfortunately, these empanadas don’t even compare to the Argentinian counterparts.

They had a hipster market with some food stands. We got some delicious mojitos from the stand.

The next step was a gelato place that is considered the best gelato outside of Italy. It was superb!   

It was getting late and we were already passed the tour duration, but our guide was nice enough to let us stop at the Botero Plaza for a few minutes. In this space exists a perfect mix of art, culture and nature in which 23 of Botero’s bronze sculptures are on permanent display and exhibit. Donated by Medellin’s own Fernando Botero years ago and put into place during 2002, they adorn the surrounding area and create an amazing outdoor exhibit.

Some of the sculptures are very funny. Botero is famous for his style of making everything and everybody obese.

The Palace of Culture is behind the plaza and it gets beautifully illuminated at night.

The next morning some of us went walking around the neighborhood we were staying at. Some biker event was happening around here…

We stopped at a crafts market and then headed back because we were about to go to the airport.

But not without a  last authentic Colombian lunch all together.

I ordered the traditional soup called Ajiaco. Typically made with chicken, three varieties of potatoes, and the Galinsoga parviflora herb, it was absolutely delicious!!

Stay tuned for the next post about the Medellin you might have heard before… spoiler alert! Pablo Escobar is part of it…

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