Days 22-29 of our South America trip (read from the start)
How we arrived:
We got a morning flight on Viva Colombia the new budget airline part owned by Micheal O’Leary. Much like Ryanair, it has spacious seats and pleasant staff 🙂 The flight was grand. It only took 45 minutes and we didn’t have to pick up every man and his dog along the way like our Santa Marta bus experience!
We decided to stay in Medellin for a week during New Years just so we weren’t moving around too much and we had heard such good things about it.
The first few days we stayed outside of the city up in one of the surrounding hills near a town called Sabaneta. On the first evening we went to Sabaneta for something to eat and a look around. The town was very nice and they sure do like their Christmas lights (see photos). We had a really good night people watching and observing festivities, which was nice as it had quite a local and authentic feel to it away from the touristy areas. The next day we went on a 4 hour walking tour around the rough and ready city centre of Medellin. Although the tour was long, it was really interesting to hear about the city’s early history and also its recent troubled past. The next day we took the Medellin cable car which took you up to a national park and gave you views of the vast and heavily populated valley of Medellin.
For the next 5 nights we stayed in Poblado Park which is near the city centre and considered “gringo land”. Despite it having quite a touristy feel, its a really nice area with plenty to see and do during the day and definitely at night. LOLFEST. For New Years we went out with some friends that we made on the boat from Panama to Colombia. It was great to go out with people we knew and turned out to be a brilliant night.
New Years day was less fun and an emotional rollercoaster which concluded with a disgusting cocktail – kiwi margarita. I hate tequila and kiwis so it seemed like the obvious choice at the time…
Heathers obsession with Pablo Escobar after reading the book Killing Pablo and watching Narcos meant that we were obliged to go on one of the Escobar tours. We were taken to his old mansions up in the hills beside a small town called Guatape. In the mansion we got an insight into the glorious life of a drug dealer and the obvious risks involved. To finish off the tour in the mansion we played paintball (with no gloves-ouch!) including a game “killing Pablo”. I just hid behind a rock while a bunch of hyped up Americans and Israelis shot the shit out of each other. We then visited Guatape and a really large black rock. Both were very cool.
We found it difficult to get accommodation in the same place for the whole time we were in Medellin so we stayed in several hostels – all of which were pretty standard to terrible.
1. Secret Buddha – this is the “retreat” sister hostel to Happy Buddha, the party hostel in Medellin. It was outside of the city and a bit odd, but we found the funny side of it. The highlight being the outside toilet overlooking Medellin, best poop I ever had! I also met a big happy dog named Guapa.
2. Ivy hostel – This was the nicer hostel we stayed in Medellin. We could only get 2 nights here, which was a shame as it had a flat screen with Netflix and a big bed.
3. Poblado Park – The location was excellent but the staff were clueless and the room was basic.
4. Arcadia – Grimsville. I’d rather sleep in a shed.
Queueing doesn’t seem to apply to certain Colombians. Queued up for the cable cars and this dad and son didn’t think the half and hour queue was for them so they just went right ahead. Absolutely seething they ended up getting caught in a different queue behind a family and we got onto the cable car ahead of them. Its those little wins haha! This happened again waiting in a 2 hour line at Colombian immigration with 2 gypsy type women. If you don’t follow the queue rules then there will be anarchy. Complete anarchy.
The Pablo Escobar tour was an obvious highlight. It brought us to Guatape village and we climbed up the massive rock just in time for the sun set. It was a great day out. I wish we had stayed one night in the cute town to explore more!