Thursday, 20 September 2012

Back on the road in Colombia!

Hello South America! After a 2 month pause back home in Edinburgh, we finally return to Latin America and where better to start than in Colombia? We flew into Bogota on the 17th Sept to be greeted at the airport by our lovely friends, who live in Bogota, only to spend the night before heading off to Medellin city.
The view over Medellin from the northern hills
Our massive bus tailgating on a blind corner

The first difference I realised between Central and South America is the travel time! We took the Boliviano bus from the Bogota terminal to the nearest city Medellin (50,000 Columbian Pesos (COP) or US$25) which took 11 hours! We were told it would only take 9h however. 

The driver was crazy! Swerving around tight bends, tailgating every vehicle, overtaking on blind corners and slamming on the brakes every couple of minutes! And with sheer drops on the other side the mountain road, it was a long journey!

Grateful to get off the bus, we took a taxi (COP 15,000) to Medellin's "Zona Rosa" (red light district) to Casa Kiwi which was one of the coolest (and busiest) hostels we have stayed at. It had a cool, chilled vibe with a bar and seating on the terrace. Best part is it is located in the safest area with the most active nightlife. Dorms COP 20,000pp.

Medellin was a rather impressive (and a bit overwhelming) city. The infrastructure was well beyond anywhere else in Latin America (or Edinburgh for that matter!), with an easy and efficient Metro (monorail) system that takes you to all the key points of the city (COP 1,800pp all routes). 

It was a great place for all the locals to stare at Harry for being so tall and blonde!

Metrocable over the city
On our first day we took the Metrocable (Line K) up to the hills in the north of the city to get a fantastic view over the city. The cable cars continue to the Arvi Nature Reserve Park (Line L, COP 4,000pp)
It took about 45mins to actually get to park and we had no idea how big it was! You could easily spend a whole day there renting bikes, visiting museums and taking nature walks. 

Arvi Nature Reserve
View from the veggie restaurant
However, it costs a fair amount to do a lot but the buses were cheap (COP 1,000) to get around. Best advice we can give is to ask on of the staff as you get off the Metrocable to explain the park and the prices. But before you start, there was a fantastic (cheap) veggie restaurant at the entrance that served a brilliant traditional lunch!

We took a break in the park to play the Swing-park!
On our second day in Medellin, we went exploring the other touristy parts such as the botanic gardens. The gardens were free entry and beautiful with strange-looking trees and a butterfly garden.
One of the many cool odd looking trees in the botanic gardens
Harry not quite sure what to make of this art...
We decided to explore the city by walking through the main areas only to discover it was far too busy and noisy (especially near the Metro). But inter dispersed among the crowds and people yelling special prices to the gringos (us!) we found some beautiful churches and squares, the main one containing many of Botero's fat people statues. These were really cool and boosted our self-image quite a bit!

One of Botero's statues in Berrio Park
Having had enough of the big city, we retreated back to Zona Rosa to get some cheap (but strong!) cocktails and then prepare for our journey back to Bogota in the morning. 

The Metro took us directly to the north terminal (from Metro stop Pablado to Caribe) to get the bus to Bogota (COP 50,000pp).

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