Medellin, Colombia. The city of eternal spring. A city within a lush green jungle. Where the the locals are hospitable and the only type of dancing around these parts is salsa dancing. Have you traveled here yet? If you haven’t, chances are you know somebody that has. Travel and Leisure calls this city, “South America’s best kept secret” but the secret is out of the cat’s bag. Now that this city is now very safe to explore, more and more people are seeing why Medellin is the perfect destination. I have a special place in my heart for this city upon traveling here twice in the last 5 years (and plan on traveling again very soon).
6. The Graffiti at Comuna 13
Go outside the tourist district of El Poblado to Comuna 13 where there is a commune of barrios (neighborhoods) in Colombia with walls covered with beautiful graffiti everywhere you look. Comuna 13 was one the most dangerous districts in all of Colombia. The artwork is a symbol of the history of Colombia surviving the trauma and the transition to relative stability. My boyfriend and I were on a time crunch and wanted to avoid walking up that steep hill and following a tour guide, so we were determined to do our own self-guided tour. However, our taxi driver dropped us off at the top of the hill instead of just mid-way of the hill so we were bit disoriented. We finally found our way after going down some very narrow stairs between houses but I felt like we were intruding on the residents living there. If you have time, I highly suggest the walking tours, to avoid our experience and to get a good grasp of the artwork and what it represents. When you get there, enjoy a free performance (donations welcomed) by local kids in a breakdancing crew. At the top, enjoy the breathtaking view of Comuna 13. Some families have painted their houses to match the murals, so you’ll see a colorful sight.
5. The Coffee at Perganimo Cafe
With Colombia being the 3rd highest exporter of coffee in the world, you wouldn’t want to miss grabbing a cup of fresh roasted coffee while you are here. 5 years ago, you wouldn’t have been able to get the quality coffee at this award winning cafe. For years, farmers were selling their best coffee beans to trade companies while Colombian locals would get stuck with the beans not good enough to export. But this family owned company broke the mold and decided to shorten the chain of farm to cup by selling directly to great coffee roasters and eliminating the huge trading companies. They have now opened multiple cafes in Medellin for everyone to enjoy with their mission in educating Colombians on their most important export, therefore changing the culture of coffee in Colombia. Relax and enjoy some
breakfast on their outdoor patio and don’t forget to buy some coffee bean bags for great souvenirs.
4. The Moments at El Cielo
One of the best dining experiences of my life was as at El Cielo. It is a molecular gastronomy restaurant created by Chef Juan Manuel Barrientos who was named one of 50 best chefs in Latin America. Each course is referred to as moment that appeals to your senses and arouses your emotions, all inspired by Colombian cuisine. Not only were the moments absolutely delicious and pieces of art but I felt like I was in a story, his story, the story of this country. You can pick between 10 or 15 moments and though not all of the moments are edible, you will not leave hungry. In fact, I had to have my boyfriend and roommate finish off 2 of my protein courses because I was stuffed. The cherry on top was the bill came out to $60 each which included a nice bottle of wine and all 15 moments.
3. The Nightlife at Rio Sur
Rio Sur is a mall with multiple trendy hotspots for nightlife on the top floor. Pay cover for both the Kukaramakara Club and Sixttina Discoteca across from each other for a discount. I found this to be worth it because both have very different vibes. We started off at Kukukaramakara Club first to grab some drinks and enjoy the lively band playing salsa and reggaeton music. I was totally enamored by the singers and their incredible voices. We headed over to Sixttina Discoteca which was a darker filled room with high ceilings, strobe lights moving, and a large disco ball hanging from the ceiling. On a tall booth, the DJ was playing top 40s. As the night went on, electronic dance music ended the night.
2. The Climb of El Penon de Guatape
El Penon in Spanish means the rock and Guatape is the town that the rock sits in. Buy a bus ticket for a 2 hour drive to the most colorful town in Colombia. Before reaching the rock, stop to snap a picture of the intimidating rock you are about to climb. But do not fear! It’s not as bad as it looks. The stairs have room for you to take breaks in the shade and the stairs aren’t narrow so the people behind you aren’t waiting if you are slowing down. There are a total of 740 steps to the top of a breathtaking 360 view of Guatape. The steps are numbered at every 50 steps to show your progress so when you reach the top, you feel accomplished seeing those yellow painted numbers of 7-4-0. Enjoy an ice cold Michelada at the top and browse the shops for some souvenirs. Before leaving, don’t forget roam the streets to view the colorful buildings around town.
1. The View from Above: Paragliding
The best way to see the beautiful cityscape of Medellin is to fly above it. You’ll notice the rolling green hills with red-bricked buildings interspersed. Looking back on it now, I’m not sure why I wasn’t fearful. I think it was because I was way too excited. But I’m sure it was also because when I arrived I already saw paragliders in the air, so I knew what I was getting into. The instructor, along with my tandem paraglider made me feel secure and comfortable. While we were in the air, I was asked if I liked roller coasters. I immediately said no. I realized afterwards that they ask this to see if we would enjoy paragliding aerobatics. I enjoyed the calmness of just floating in the air. My boyfriend on the other hand was thrilled to be doing spins.