Ahhh Medellin, the ‘City of Eternal Spring’, what a lovely city. The majority of people live in apartments or condominiums from the valley right up to the peaks surrounding the city. It is very dramatic and beautiful. The material of choice is brick, so tall red/brown structures are backed against the lush green hills. And it seems this ‘dry season’ is unusual as we have been getting rain and thunderstorms each day, so lush it will stay!
Our first 2 days here we took the local TuriBus, similar to a Hop-On, Hop-Off, however at each stop they give you 15-20 minutes to check it out. Great concept as you can see what is at each stop and then decide if you want to stay longer. We had missed the earlier bus that was narrated in English, so I translated as much as I could to Fero, and just enjoyed the city.
Medellin has come a long way over the last 24 years since Pablo Escobar’s death; building, improving, educating and working very hard to rid themselves of the stigma of the drug trade. They have done a fabulous job from what we can see. There are, as in all cities, less safe areas, however many of these neighbourhoods have undergone huge changes. There is a very noticeable police presence on almost every corner, which is reassuring for visitors. We were slightly intimidated by articles on the Internet expressing caution at all times, so we have chosen the ‘safer’ hotels and areas. I am not sure this was necessary as even in the bus terminals I did not feel a sense of danger. The people are absolutely wonderful and very friendly, accommodating and helpful – a very pleasant experience!
Our tour ends at Parque El Poblado, a short distance from the hotel. We head straight to the hotel pool as it is now about 26C – lovely! Our stay was relatively short as the clouds rolled in and covered our glorious sun. We spent some time deciding on a restaurant for dinner, and after recommendations on Trip Advisor, we chose Osea, just off Parque El Poblado. It was a small restaurant tucked away on a non-descript street, but was the food good. The menu was as small as the restaurant, therefore each dish was fresh and amazing. A good choice!
Today, Jan 12th, we head over to Parque El Poblado just before 9:00am for the TuriBus tour in English. Much to our surprise I was told, the English tour would run at 10:10am as they like to change it every day – huh???? So off we go for a walk to kill some time.
We come across an Empanadas take out restaurant that had a long line up. I commented on the line up and one patron told me “y son muy ricas” – they are very delicious (or exact translation – very rich). We had just finished breakfast so made a mental note of the location to return later.
At 10:00am we board our very nice double decker open, air bus for the English version of yesterday’s tour. We start out and the guide is speaking extremely quickly in Spanish and when she changed to English, her accent was so thick it still sounded like Spanish! If we really concentrated we could understand parts of it. The guide yesterday spoke very clear, concise Spanish which was a dream to understand. Well, not to worry, today’s guide must have decided it was too much of a bother to carry on with the English (I think we were the only two) and never spoke it again for the balance of the tour. What a shame as Fero didn’t get the full benefit of the tour, although it was still a nice way to see the city again.
First stop following the tour, you guessed it, Empanadas El Machetico for their delicious empanadas. Originally I asked for four of them, until I saw the size and changed it to two – after all this was just a snack. They were hot, fresh and oh so delicious. While standing there we noticed the factory in the back making the Empanadas, likely at a furious pace as the line ups were still there!
Back at the hotel, we did a repeat of yesterday and headed to the pool. Mother Nature gave us a little longer today, and then did a repeat of yesterday as well, only this time clouds with rain – oh did it rain, a torrential downpour!
The rain only lasted about a half an hour and I then trudged back to Empanadas El Machetico for our dinner. One can never get enough of a good thing!! The lines ups were even longer and I had to jostle to keep my place in line. Shouting ‘seis Empanadas para llevar por favor’ (6 to go please) before they served someone else, I got my Empanadas, paid a mere 10,000 Pesos ($5), and rushed back to the hotel while they were still hot. We sat at the table overlooking the city from our window and happily munched on the best Empanadas I have ever tasted, and sipped red wine. This is heaven, isn’t it?
What will tomorrow bring? One never knows!