7 Great things About Medellín

After being in Medellín for a short time, I realized some great reasons to visit this mammoth Andean capital of the state of Antioquia.

●  The high Andean valley boasts clean drinking water.  I’ve been drinking the tap water.  This saves money and minor logistics.  You don’t have to compare costs of different water brands and sizes.  You’re spared the tasks of having to purchase and lug liquid back to your place.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to make special trips to a store because my water supply was scant or even empty.

TIP: Carry a water bottle around, preferably an aluminum one.  You can usually refill it wherever you are in Medellín.

●  Because the city’s altitude averages about 1,538 meters or 5,046 feet, Medellín has a virtually perfect climate.  The temps range from 15 to 30º C or 59 to 86º F.  It’s never too hot or too cold.  Air Conditioning isn’t needed.  A fan is nice at times.

●  Friendly People:  I had a girl walk up to me in the subway station just to make sure that I’d find my way.  She’d noticed that I looked a little bit lost.

While walking beyond the city in Parque Arví, I started talking to some locals that asked if I wanted to join them.  I got to hike woodsy trails that I wouldn’t have figured out on my own.  I was able to practice speaking Spanish for hours.  The group wouldn’t let me pay for anything, including local treats and drinks that they wanted me to try, and two metro cable rides down.

I took two taxi rides; both drivers were genuinely happy to talk about their city.  Everyone I interacted with seemed very relaxed and happy to have a foreigner in their city.

It seems that: as in India, in Colombia the people want foreigners to have a good experience in their beloved land.

While flying to Colombia, a Colombian who’s been living in the US for a while told me to lie about my nationality.  He thought it would be best that I tell people that I’m from Europe when they ask.  He said it’s not a good idea to say the US.  So far, in two weeks, at least 30 people have asked me where I’m from.  Without thinking, I’ve told everyone that I’m from the US.  Not one person has seemed to have a problem with it.  From my experience so far, Colombians seem to like Europeans and North Americans equally.  I’ve yet to come across one person ignorant enough to judge me by the passport that I was born into.

The Spanish is nice and smooth but perhaps I’m not used to some of the jargon.  I often have to say:

Que dices?  Otra vez porfa.”

Having any Spanish is a huge help in Medellín.  Unlike many other cities in the world, in Medellín it was seldom that anyone tried to practice their English with me.  That’s great if you want to learn and improve your Spanish.

●  If you like to drink beer, it’s in your face.  There are guys walking city streets with beer carts.  I sometimes took advantage of the novelty.

Unlike the guys in the streets who sell only Pilsen, a light beer, you can get a darker, fuller Colombian cerveza in or outside one of many shops that are located in and around el centro.   These little shops also sell the premium Medellín añejo rum. This añejo boasts an ultra-smooth, optimum quality.  The beer is tasty and costs anywhere between 1700 to 4000 COPs or $.93 to $2.18 depending on quality, fullness and size.  The latter price will get you a giant cup of Pilsen on the street.  A tasty dark beer or glass of mouthwatering rum in a little bar generally costs 2500 COP or $1.33.

●  Contrary to erroneous hype abroad, Medellín seems extremely safe.  Apparently the city had one of the highest murder rates on earth back in the 90s.  But, wonderfully, things have changed for the better and now it’s as safe as any city in Latin America. Bling or flashy designer clothes aren’t advised unless you plan to stay in Poblado or Floresta which are ritzy and well-protected neighborhoods.

●  Free Outdoor Gyms: I managed to exercise in Poblado’s workout station on a couple of occasions.

●  The only metro system in Colombia allows for efficient transport to many points in the city.  It’s modern and fast.

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Does Medellín sound like a place you’d like to visit?  Feel free to leave a comment below.


11 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Al on January 24, 2012 at 15:04

    Nice town. I was looking at google maps and I saw a national park next to Salento, and quite a few others around the area. Looks like Colombia is big on national parks. You´re not too far from Bogota or Cali, looks like. Do you know where you´re going next yet?


    • AL: If I were to make the decision right now: I’d say I’m going to Cali.
      The National Park is called Valle de Cocora. Ideally I’lll make it there tomorrow.


  2. Posted by Mamma on January 20, 2012 at 23:26

    It sounds wonderful. I’m so glad it’s safe these days!


  3. Posted by Pru on January 20, 2012 at 19:59

    Sounds like a great city! How long are you staying?


    • PRU: Yeah it’s a very interesting city. I actually left and headed to Manizales. Haven’t written about that yet as I’ve been catching up on Medellin. So far it looks like the whole region here is great. I hardly see foreign tourists. That is apparently changing as the country offers so much.


      • Posted by Pru on January 22, 2012 at 22:40

        Are you still planning on settling in one spot for a month, or have you decided to keep moving/exploring? Glad you are having a great (and safe) experience in Columbia!


        • PRU: For now I’ve gone into drifting mode, I was in Manizales for a week need to get a post up and now I’ve just arrived in a small town called Salento. I’m heading south, which means that Ecudador is tentatively on the radar.


  4. Posted by Annie on January 20, 2012 at 12:55

    So nice to read that you enjoying your new destination so much. You seem much more relaxed and less stressed. No horror train or bus rides! Looking forward to more photos. Love the Holiday light photos you took. Enjoy your stay!


    • ANNIE: Thanks! So far just one four and a half hour mini-van ride to another mountain town, kinda like BOS to NYC. Ideally none of the transportation becomes too tough like the two experiences in India became. 🙂


  5. Posted by noel on January 20, 2012 at 04:53

    Wow, I enjoyed reading this post a lot. I can almost feel and hear the genuine charm of the city, as you describe it. Glad you don’t have to lie about your citizenship, that would be a shame. and plenty of fresh drinking water from the tap, that in itself speaks volumes about the city. The people seem great too, not to mention the weather. After reading this, i’d surely consider a trip there. Enjoy every moment !


    • NOEL: Thanks! I’m now in another city called Manizales and supposedly the tap water is ranked in the top 10 best drinking water on earth. I agree, über-clean tap water’s a boon to a community. Also, being at a high altitude so close to the equator allows for a close-to-perfect climate.


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