After exploring Medellín for close to a week, it’s difficult to believe it is the same city that experienced such intense violence only a few decades ago. To be sure, like most cities, Medellín is far from perfect – I was asked by two different cab drivers to put my phone away while inside the car, for fear that it’d be snatched from me through an open window – but the ease with which my friends and I were able to navigate the area safely was a welcome change from Bogotá, even.
A secondary advisor to my research project is a retired professor in Medellín, and I wanted to meet him in person before the year’s end. Those plans happened to coincide with a puente in Colombia (a 3 day weekend), which gave my friend Mary and I the chance to fly in a little early.
Medellín is a short 40 minute flight from Bogotá; so Mary and I were able to land around noon, go by our hostel in El Poblado neighborhood, and begin sightseeing almost immediately. After some food, our first stop was Museo el Castillo and it’s gardens, a decent uphill walk from El Poblado. The outside was beautiful, and the inside was… interesting. It’s basically a family’s old mansion that they converted to a “museum”, complete with their daughter’s doll collection. It was as creepy as it sounds.
That evening, we met up with some Fulbright friends living in Medellín, and some who happened to be in town for the long weekend, like us. A lot of the bars and restaurants in El Poblado, where we spent our Friday night, remind me of Santa Monica– something about the mild climate, the relaxed style, and the way the buildings incorporate the outdoors into their indoor design.
The next day, Mary and I went shopping in a few of Medellín’s shops before hiking up to a lookout spot at Pueblito Paisa. We made the mistake of attempting to eat lunch up there at a touristy stand (don’t do it; our chicken was served raw), but the few colorful buildings above the city were cute to wander past.
Later that day, we went to Medellin’s Modern Art Museum. I was, I admit, quite skeptical of the museum, but Mary convinced me to give it a try– and I’m so happy she did. It was one of the best modern art museums I’ve visited because of its diversity of exhibitions and paintings. And, by chance, as we walked in to buy our tickets, we saw two people who we had met the night before out in El Poblado! The four of us were able to spend the afternoon together, enjoying the art and taking tons of pictures.
On Sunday, we went to colorful Guatapé. If you haven’t already, you need to see the colorful pictures of the pueblito here.
On Monday, Mary + I were back in Medellín. We spent most of the rainy morning in a cafe until the storm cleared, then went to see the sculptures by Colombian artist Fernando Botero in Plaza Botero.
We rounded out our touristy weekend with a ride in Medellín’s metrocable, the cable car system that’s connected to the city’s metro. It can take you from downtown Medellín to the hills surrounding the city in under 20 minutes, which feels like a pretty incredible feat as you’re watching stretches of homes and trees pass underneath you.
My final two days in Medellín passed much quieter, as I was back to my research. But, with everything we were able to fit into a short time frame, I definitely look forward to another trip in the spring.