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I finally arrived in Medellin, Colombia on Wednesday March 7th late at night, after two terrible flights with Viva Colombia; the low cost carrier here. I wondered why the were so cheap when I booked them, well now I know. Their safety rating is fine, but they have never heard of the word service... Medellin has 2 airports and I flew into the international one, which is actually at Rio Negro, 45 minutes from town by taxi.

Now, many people will still have negative thoughts when thinking about Colombia and especially Medellin, many thanks to Mr. Escobar and certain guerrilla factions. I was no exception, although I had been told differently by many people, and I was a bit wary of taking a taxi at night. However, I needn't have worried - everything is very regulated here and I didn't feel unsafe for a second. The driver even stopped for a bit so I could take some pictures of the city from a viewpoint. Similarly, in the last two weeks I have not felt unsafe for one second - although I am obviously staying in one of the better areas of Medellin. However, as long as you know which area you are in, visiting Medellin is absolutely no problem from a safety perspective.

I had organised an AirBnB studio in the center of Poblado and this is where I will stay for the next month. The days after I arrived I took some trial lessons at different Spanish schools and I soon found one that really suits me. So the last two weeks I have been taken 20 hours of private classes per week, which really makes a difference I think. Next to that, the school also organises certain activities like visiting a market or hiking to a viewing point, which is also all in Spanish and thus a learning experience as such. I have met some nice people at the school and have been able to explore the nightlife as well.

The first weekend here however, was pretty quiet: there were parliamentary elections and because of that, no alcohol was to be served anywhere in the country from 6PM Saturday to 6AM on Monday (lay secco) - so not a great weekend to go for a drink. However, that did allow me to get up early to go for a hike for the next morning and explore some other barrios (areas) of Medellin later.

Some of the highlights of the last two weeks:

  • I went to the Nacional Medellin - Delphins (Ecuador) Copa America soccer game;
  • Hiked up to the hill of crosses for a view over Medellin;
  • Visited a Hydrangea farm an hour north of Medellin, which is owned by a Colombian - Australian;
  • See the sunset over Medellin from a Mirrador (view point) where delicious homemade sausages and beer are served;

Today I went to parque Arvi, a national park close to the city. To get here, I took the metro and from there two different cable carts. Quite a nice mode of transport. Here I hiked for a couple of hours, which is a nice change from the hustle and bustle of Medellin (8 million people). The metro is also the lifeline of the city, congestion is pretty bad and the metro, which intersects the whole town, has cable carts that connect to it, thus allowing people that live in the poorer outlying areas easy travel to the center of town as well. After parque Arvi I went to have a quick look at the grave of Pablo Escobar (when in Rome I suppose). However, once you see the impact that this guy had on Medellin, I can't call it a highlight.

Anyway, I'm going for a day trip to Guatape tomorrow and have at least another 2 1/2 weeks left in town... Hasta la vista!

For more photo's, see: HERE

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Posted by reinder.prins 17:19 Archived in Colombia Tagged spanish traveling colombia medellin learning

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