We arrived in Colombia, a country we were sceptical about visiting due to its notorious history. We bordered our night flight from Panama City to Medellin and some how departed half an hour early, something unheard off. We were even allowed to bring our 1,5l bottle of water on board! The Security seems very relaxed compared to Europe. Our flight left early evening, we were able to see an amazing sunset as we waved good bye to Central America, on to our next adventure.
After arriving into Colombia and seeing a massive dog dancing on the conveyer belt looking for illegal substances, we took a night bus to Medellin are first stop. A city based in a huge bowel like valley, the bus descended down the windy roads into the blanket of lights, the city is spread across the hills and down into the distance, it’s been a while since we’ve been anywhere like this.
Once “the most dangerous city in the world”, at Pablo Escobars presents Medellin was ruled by the cartels running havoc with drugs and violence. Today seen as a miracle, due to the hard work of the government and citizens of the city, its under gone a huge change. When coming from Europe its hard to believe some of the commodities we all take for granted. They have built an amazing public transport network, connecting this hard to get around city and making it a lot more assessable. Trams run along the valley bottom while cable cars were built in order to connect the districts in the hills, even escalators are present in the hardest to reach neighbourhoods. This has really brought the city together making people feel a part of it.
There’s a huge number of poor, they have done an amazing job to keep all the classes connected. With a huge drop in crime rates, it now feels like a very pleasant place to visit. The people are friendly and happy to help you. Everyone now has access to libraries full of books which are present all over the city. They also give the poorest access to their first computers and Internet. A very impressive turn around to a once failing city, the notorious history being pushed aside.
The next day our adventures began by exploring the city centre, it was extremely crowed and polluted maybe by its geographical position in this “bowel”. Here for the first time we got to discover Botero’s work – a Colombian artist famous for his fat sculptures and pictures of everything you can think of, from fat humans to animals, objects and food, it’s very visually entertaining.
Once the most dangerous part of the city, today painted in bright, cheerful colours and full of amazing graffitis. It has received a real push in the right direction. It is probably the first place we have been to where non of the graffitis have been ruined by stupid taggers. Here escalators have been built in order to help people get around easier. Set on the steep hillside, it used to take people about an hour to climb all the way up to their homes, so it seems this has made a huge difference for the city’s integration. We spent the afternoon exploring the tiny streets and snapping some great images of the district, before taking the escalators back into the city.
On our last day in the Medellin we went to the botanical garden, and what a visit it was! Lucky we coincided with a week long flower festival, so the gardens were full of very impressive exhibitions. While walking around the gardens you can see massive iguanas, a palm tree and cactus garden as well as lots of orchids. It’s Very impressive to have such a space in the middle of the city.
Only 2,5 hours from Medellin lies the amazing manmade lake of Guatape. It’s probably one of the most beautiful lakes we’ve visited. In the middle of which lies a massive 200 meter tall rock, 750 leg burning steps zig zag there way to the top. From here the 360 degree views were increadable.
We spent two nights staying in the small town of Guatape, a 10 minute tuk tuk ride away from the huge rock. The town is a ray of colour where each building has hand painted walls, and decorative paintings. Such a lovely town to chill in for a few days. We even discovered a view point from which we could see the town surrounded by the lake and a rock in the background.