“You’re going to COLOMBIA??”
– My brother
I’d been travelling the world by myself for almost exactly three years at this point, and THIS is where my brother decides my travel plans are insane…
To be fair, he’s also the one that contacted the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs because he thought I was lost in Malawi…
It’s nice to have someone who cares, I guess ;-D
I literally used Skyscanner to see where I could go from New Orleans to anywhere in South America at the cheapest possible price. I needed to get the final continent (not counting Antarctica) in before I went home. I HAVE BEEN TO ALL THE CONTINENTS NOTCOUNTINGANTARCTICA. And it’s important, damnit.
My introduction to Colombia was Medellin, the second largest city with about 2.5 million people and such nicknames as “City of the Eternal Spring”, “Capital of the Mountain” and “City of the Flowers”. It was certainly colourful enough to warrant such names, I was in awe of all the street art, flowers, decorations and straight up colours on buildings. Also, Nicole, the receptionist at my hostel in New Orleans had been here and told me all about “seeing the mountains everywhere” when you’re in Medellin and she was right. I just stood and stared in wonder a lot of the time because you’ll randomly get these amazing mountain views from any odd place in the city. It’s close to the Andes so it’s fairly majestic to say the least. I’m a bit sad I couldn’t get a good picture of any of them, but it never quite worked out.
The first few days were all a blur of said colours, wandering the streets and eating various foods – everything was delicious. I had heard great things about the “El Poblado” area (The Village) and decided to set up shop right there so I booked a room at Orange Travelers Suites, a hotel, for the first night just to have some privacy and calm to get ready for a new country. It was originally $50 per night, but hotels.com gave me $40 discount because they love me now (and I mean, why wouldn’t they?). #Goldmember
The view from my room included some beautiful mountains with the sun peaking through the clouds putting on a show that waas impossible to capture with my camera (because I suck at using it, not the camera’s fault), and a construction area. So pretty much all I was used to from my trip so far. My door’s “Do not disturb”-sign said “No molestar” though. I find happiness in the small things, guys…
Using my trusty Google Maps I found “Chef Burger Golden Mile” a 10-minute walk away and figured that would be a perfect way to check out the surrounding area and get some grub. I ventured out and was already digging the vibe of Medellin, it was about 6pm and I was walking around by myself feeling perfectly safe enjoying the music and colours. After a bit more than 10 minutes (I always get lost) I found Chef Burger “smack in the middle of some plants”… Turned out to be one of the best burgers with the most avocado and yummy fries I had ever had. I was hungry though… But I would still call it excellent.
Walking home after dinner it was already dark, but I still felt safe. Until I needed to cross a massively busy street “because I don’t want to go around!” #LazyBitch
I gave up in the end and started walking downwards to find a safer place to cross and lucky I did because I walked right by a massive supermarket 😀 Finally, I could get toothpaste and Diet Coke, my two essentials.
The next day I packed up my new toothpaste with the rest of my crap and consulted Google Maps again to find Noah Boutique Hostel. I was carrying ALL my stuff, but it was (supposedly) another 10-minute walk so I decided to brave it. It took me past some of the coziest urban areas, small boutiques, cafés, shops, restaurants, Stinky’s Laundry… I was feeling very happy with my choice of area and had my fingers crossed the hostel was in a good location and not full of fungi.
It wasn’t. It was super nice, can’t even believe how nice it was. I stayed in a 4-bed dorm (snagged a bottom bunk!!), the bathrooms were clean and proper, the guys at reception were super friendly and helpful and the hostel could book any sort of tour you’d like, even the three I was considering. I remember it being three, but I don’t remember what the third one was.. I went on the Guatapé-tour (with the Pablo Escobar Hacienda) and the Communa 13 tour, but what the hell was the third option? I guess, I’ll never know, but at least with this blog I’ll remember that I don’t know… And that’s… something.
The hostel had an amazing rooftop bar where I would spend the evenings hanging out with such lovely people as British David, Jonah my room mate, German Kilian and Miryam and Valerie from Canada who helped me practice French.
My days went by hanging out with the guys at the hostel sharing stories from our lives and the various tours and stuff we were up to separately in Medellin and the evenings were spent eating at the many restaurants in the area and drinking beers on the roof. As I said, I went on two separate tours in Medellin, but I’ll have to make separate blog posts for them.
I also randomly stumbled across a March for Peace (Desfile Pacifico), trucks, people, bands, dancers. I had NO idea what was going on, I had to google it when I got back to the hostel
“A group of citizens convened for this Saturday what they have called a peaceful parade in Medellín, to protest against the vandalism that has been registered in the recent mobilizations of the so-called national strike. The meeting point will be the Hotel Dann Carlton, in El Poblado, at 9:00 in the morning.”
In the end I left Noah Hostel for another hotel room a 20-minute taxi ride away in an area called Laureles (another hot tip from one of my many travel aquaintances). The people were just as nice, in particular one of the girls in reception, but the area was less cozy around the hotel… I regretted leaving when I arrived, missing the people at the hostel and seeing the huge road right next to the entrance, but a short walk up the roads behind the hotel got me to another lovely area and: CHEF BURGER! Turns out it’s a franchise, who knew.
Other random stuff I remember… I remember the nice woman at the Laureles Hotel getting me a taxi to the gas station where the ride-share cars to the airport were, telling him to take good care of me because I was special to her… She was so lovely ❤
I got through security at the airport at Medellin with a 0,5 ltr bottle of Coke (the drink) with no problem, because as long as they knew it was Coca-Cola it was perfectly fine. It’s hot, you need your drink, everyone knows that…
David telling me his stories, me telling him he sounded more and more like a drug dealer with every story and him telling me he was once accused of being one back in the days when he had hair down to his bum.
I remember the pavement slabs in the Laureles area almost killing me cause they were super slippery, especially when I wore my sandals. I was lucky to avoid another sprained ankle tbh.
I remember making more Norwegian snaps than ever before describing the area, the food, the chill vibe, and sending them to my brother to make sure he knew I was safe 😉
And finally, I remember it hitting me again, at Medellin airport, how my trip was nearing its end and how much I would miss all of it. the constant repacking, the ins-and-outs of airports, the scouring the Internet for tickets and rooms, the bookings, meeting people, finding yourself in a completely new place, not finding any-bloody-thing at the store because just as you get used to the setup in one chain of stores you move to a new country with a completely different setup, the sad goodbyes…
I had hopes for Bogota, but would definitely miss Medellin. It’s one of those places where I know I will want to come back, maybe with someone, to show them the flavours of the city in all its shapes and variations ❤