Warning: long post ahead because the copy/paste function on this app sux.
We got a great nights sleep at our cute hotel and got up at 8 for breakfast. We didn’t have to check out until 1, so we headed out for a walking tour of the city. Our first stop was this little park along the river that runs through the city. It features several large cat statues all painted differently. Very strange, but kinda cool. Then we tried to go to a museum but it didn’t open for another hour so we went up to this statue that Ethan thought might have good views of the city. It didn’t, but the park it was in was nice even though you have to walk up a bunch of stairs to get to it. Then we headed through the park to this little old church that was super cute. We walked through an artsy district with lots of theatres, cool restaurants and really great street art. Then we went by a big plaza with a huge church, another plaza with lots of trees and finally this little blue church. From there, we could go back and get lunch or there was one more church that Ethan wanted to see. It wasn’t that far away, but it was in the opposite direction of the hotel. I wasn’t super jazzed, but I gave in. The walk was down a super busy street with lots of street vendors and people walking. Not super fun. Then we got to the church and it wasn’t at all very impressive. Bummer. Oh well.
We walked back to the hotel down some side streets to avoid the people and then through the park along the river. Back at the hotel we showered and packed up. I used my Google Translate app to ask if we could stay until our bus left later that night and the owner was like “Si, si! Claro!” Yes, yes! Of course! It was so cute. We put our bags in a storage room then went to a vegetarian restaurant for lunch. I had veggie lasagna that I didn’t really like and Ethan had what we think was a soy meat steak of sorts and French fries. I ate a lot of the fries….😜
After that we hung out by the pool and tried to do a little more planning for the next few days. Ethan really wanted to go up to Calí’s Christo Blanco (big Jesus statue) above the city, but I wasn’t interested and we weren’t sure how long it would take or if it was safe to take a taxi back down. We could take an Uber up, but since we don’t have wifi we couldn’t get one back and would have to rely on a regular taxi. Instead we got a pita sandwich to share from the same place as the day before and decided to head to the bus station after that.
Our first thought was to take the city bus that would get us really close to the bus station, then walk the rest of the way. By the time we got to the stop the sun had gone down and it was getting dark quickly. One of the main things we’ve heard about Colombia is to try and not be out long after it gets dark. So we decided to skip the bus and get an Uber. We went back to the hotel and used the wifi. The Uber got a little lost on his way (sound familiar, Ali??), but we eventually made it and he dropped us off right out front. We had been able to buy our other bus tickets with a credit card so we assumed we could do that here as well. Ethan found a company that was leaving at 8 for a good price, but we miscommunicated about paying with a card and they didn’t accept credit cards. So we went to the company right next to that one and they did accept cards, but it was more expensive. Argh. We started to walk away and the lady dropped the price real quick to the price we were going to pay with the first company. Okay, then! Note to selves: Bus ticket prices are negotiable!
To Medellín we go!
The bus ride was 1000% terrible. The seats went back way too far and the girl in front of me put hers all the way back. I couldn’t put my legs in a good position for my back if I had them down, so I had to curl up in my seat and put my legs on Ethan. Obviously that wasn’t super comfy for him. So neither of us slept much and the bus rolled into Medellín at 4am, 2 hours earlier than we expected. So we waited in the bus station until it got light outside and thankfully the station has free wifi so we used that to get an Uber. We definitely could’ve walked but we didn’t feel alert enough to attempt it.
It was still only like 6am so we had to ring the buzzer at our hostel several times before someone finally came down the stairs basically still asleep. Sorry guy. We got checked in and he was taking us to a room, but then he remembered someone had rented it and we couldn’t get in until they checked out probably around 12. I was not happy, but that’s how it works. Luckily the hostel has a nice hangout area with couches made out of pallets. We both fell asleep for a while until the heat and noise of the city below woke us up.
Our hostel stay came with breakfast but it was some pretty gross looking papaya and stale cereal. No thanks! We went out and got eggs, toast, fruit, ham and cheese for like $2. Annnndd there was a Dunkin Donuts (haha so weird), so of course we got some donuts and I got a Chai latte. It was no Starbucks, but did the trick. We also exchanged some $ and by the time we got back the room was ready. Ethan showered and we got ready for the day then headed back out.
Medellín is in the mountains, but it’s still hot and muggy. Not as bad as Calí though. They have a pretty extensive metro rail system that includes a cable car up to an amusement park of sorts called Arvi Park. The cable car was meant to connect the downtown area with the poorer communities up the hill so they could more easily access jobs, etc. It’s a neat concept that turned into a tourist attraction. We took the metro to the stop that transfers to the cable car, then had to transfer to another cable car that takes you to the park.
We thought the park would be like overlooking the city but the cable car takes you back pretty far into the forest. The temperature up there was much to my liking, but Ethan had another walking tour planned so we didn’t stay long. We did a little hike and chatted with some girls from Montreal who are also teachers. There was a little market near the cable car so I got a sandwich for a $1, then we headed down. We stopped in the town that you change cable cars and walked around a bit, but it was super crowded so we left. Back in town we got off the metro in the downtown area and began our tour.
Right off the bat, we walked down a street with a number of unsavory characters that made us both a little uneasy. One guy flipped Ethan the bird for no reason as we crossed a street. Very strange. It seems like there are a lot more homeless and destitute people here. People also don’t really seem happy that we are here and they really stare and laugh at Ethan which is weird. I think that they think he looks like Jesus and you don’t see any South Americans with big beards. It’s just unnerving to be scowled at all the time. Anyway, we made to a more populated street and tried our best not to do that again.
The main thing that was cool on the tour were the Fernando Botero sculptures. Botero is a super famous artist and sculptor and his works depict people and animals in large and exaggerated volume. So everything looks chubby. The sculptures are outside this building that looks like it’s from Alice in Wonderland or Beetlejuice. Very interesting stuff. On our way back to the metro we walked by some government buildings where there were lots of police and security guards. We weren’t sure if it made us feel more or less safe.
We made it back to the hostel and watched part of a soccer game on tv before heading out for dinner. We found what I’m calling the “Taco Bell” of Medellín and got 6 tacos did $2. It’s a street stall so we stood on the sidewalk and dripped guacamole and salsa all over the ground as we ate. We also go approached by a homeless dude who maybe wanted us to buy him a taco?? We weren’t sure so we just ignored him. He stood right behind us while we ate for like 2 minutes. So weird and uncomfy.
We got ice cream for desert and talked to two dudes from LA that had been living in Medellín for 9 months, but somehow hadn’t learned any Spanish in that time. They couldn’t order a chicken empanada. How is that even possible?? Anyway. We’re exhausted and getting up early tomorrow. Showers and bed time!