After the exhausting, action packed couple days of Carnaval, a seat on a bus came as something I genuinely looked forward to. Quality, comfortable, modern coach busses equal to the standard you would find in Canada or the States but a word of advice, dress warm. Don't expect because its a warm country, flip flops and shorts will suffice, they absolutely crank the air conditioning!
To go from Barranquilla to many big cities in Colombia, including Medellin visit www.Clickbus.com.co or just showing up at the terminal you can jump on one in the after or evening, about 14 hours. You can also look at www.VivaColombia.co for cheap flights, sometimes as cheap as the bus! We took the bus because of timing, and arrived at about 7am in one of my favourite cities in the world. Medellin!
Looking up the climbing valley of Medellin, Colombia.
I had originally wanted to stay at Casa Kiwi again, as its one of my favourite hostels I have ever stayed in. Clean, well equipped facilities, great location in the Poblado area of Medellin and always a great vibe with great people. However, as it often can be, even with the great renovations and extra rooms, it was full! No fear, I remember a few years before being at the opening of another good hostel around the corner. Walked across Calle Diez (10) and checked into Tiger Paw Hostel.
Casa Kiwi Hostel, Medellin
Medellin is a sprawling city covering a giant valley, so more or less anywhere you go, you are travelling up or down something. Almost everything is made of orange and brown coloured brick, so when looking over the city it is very distinguishable by the brown-red brick colour filling the valley.
That first day arriving in Medellin, after a mediocre sleep on the overnight bus, we decided to do just a little walking around, relaxing, nothing strenuous as I
could get my bearings of the city and show Taylor some of Medellin.
Tiger Paw Hostel, Medellin
Staying in the Poblado district of Medellin is great for security, location and things to do, and a lot of time will be spent around Parque Lleras. A cool concrete park with over hanging plants, filled with a diverse mix of restuarants, cafes, and in the night, bright lights and bars. There are a few hostels and guest houses in the Poblado and Parque Lleras area, but for amenities, vibe and location, nothing compares to Casa Kiwi or Tiger Paw Hostel. We spent a couple hours taking in a few gorgeous Juan Valdez Coffees and doing some people watching, and then took a cab up to El Tesoro Mall which has a beautiful walk way between the mall with an outdoor view overlooking the city of Medellin. Day 1 in the books. Day 2, Pablo Escobar Tour.
Street art vendor in Parque Lleras, Medellin
Pablo Escobar Tour.
Medellin is mainly known for two very different reasons. Beautiful women, and the infamous ex-drug lord, Pablo Escobar.
A must do, when in the city, is to take the Pablo Escobar Tour. A lot of hostels have them organized, and you simply go to the reception and say you want to go, and they will have it sorted for the next morning, barring there are enough people. Casa Kiwi is no exception and I booked my tour for the following day and about 10 am a very unassuming van picked myself up and a few Swedish guys staying in a hostel down the road. Just around the corner from where we were staying was the first stop. A big thin white building with a giant black mark on it, which we came to learn, was left over from an elevator explosion which was an attempt to take out the drug baron.
On we went, with the driver speaking in Spanish, and his shotgun passenger translating for all of us into English. We then stopped at a place just next to a small river that runs under the highway. As we got out we noticed a lot of religious material, crosses and other things. Walking down, alongside a wall, are a number of plaques with names on them, one with none other than that of Pablo Escobar. “This is where he and his hitmen used to come to pray” … “oh for forgiveness I guess..?” one of us said … “No … so that they didn't miss.” Replied the straight faced tour guide. I really dont think he was kidding.
Pablo Escobar grave on the Pablo Escobar tour, Medellin
Many of the stops are locations where attempted murders took place, buildings he owned, and other areas of significance, but none more than the final two stops on the Pablo Escobar Tour. Where he was killed, and his final resting place. As we drove around the town, the tour guides explained the story of how he was being tracked in his final days, and to leave some wonder in case you do the Pablo Escobar Tour yourself,I will just say they create a very real atmosphere and feeling of suspense as you slowly crawl to his hideout where his reign came to a sudden end.
The final stop, is also his final stop, as you visit the grave site of Pablo, his bodyguard Limon, and a couple other members of his family.
After returning to the hostel, I logged onto my computer and spent time researching the infamous Pablo Escobar. Its hard not to become fascinated with the story of the young boy who stole gravestones and grew into a tyrant with an usual touch of kindness who put Colombia on the map, for all the wrong reasons.