72 Hours in Medellín, Colombia (Part III)

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Day 2 in Medellín

Chapter 1: Getting there
Chapter 2: Day 1 in Medellín
Chapter 3: Day 2 in Medellín (the post you are reading)
Chapter 4: Day 3 in Medellín

One of my favorite aspects of traveling is the opportunity to experience the city I’m visiting like a local. For me this involves walking the city as much as possible rather than driving. I will take the Metro/Subway to go long distances if it’s available, but I will walk as much as possible otherwise; plus it’s good for you! Just make sure you have a comfy pair of kicks 😉

Rather than have set plans or an itinerary, I like to have a general idea of what I want to do and see and let the pieces fall into place on their own. However, before I set out for a full day of wandering and exploring I like to start my day right, and as often as possible that includes a 30 min session of yoga…

Medellín is cool and crisp in the morning. This view is from the rooftop balcony of the condo I stayed in during my visit. What better way to start your day!?

Breakfast/Brunch in Medellin Day 2: Botanika Lounge – Parque Lleras

"If traveling empowers your soul, eating delicious food while you travel will enrich it." - unknown

It goes without saying that breakfast/brunch is my favorite meal of the day by a long shot. Moreover, I find when traveling it’s a fantastic way to experience traditional food and drinks as breakfast tends to be one of the more specific/unique meals around the world. Lastly, we showed up right around 11:45a and they stopped serving breakfast sharp at noon. Some people were able to get breakfast orders in while others (myself) just went with lunch.

  • Drinks:
    • Bloody Mary, extra spicy
    • Cappuccino
    • Cold brewed coffee, vanilla and cinnamon

  •  Appetizers:
    • Plantain chips with guacamole
    • Summer bruschetta

  • Breakfast/brunch/lunch dishes:
    • Spinach and four cheese crispy chicken
    • Vegetarian lasagna
    • Eggs benedict

The ambiance and staff here were terrific. You could tell it was a place that locals frequent as well as tourists (given the area), but once in the restaurant and seated you transcend into a rainforest-esque environment with courteous and friendly staff that are supremely concerned with your experience. It was also fairly inexpensive… $630.000 COP for 12 people! About $18 USD per person.

Daytime activities in Medellin Day 2: City tour with an English-speaking local paisa (4 hours approx.)

Our tour began promptly after brunch/lunch in the heart of Parque Lleras. Since there was 11 of us (12 including our guide) we needed a large van. This was about $50.000 COP per person for the 4 hour duration.

We departed Parque Lleras and headed straight for the southern part of the city as our first sight to see was the Museo el Castillo (Castle Museum). Unfortunately, it was raining pretty heavily and there was a good bit of cloud cover, so our tour guide called an audible and took us to a nearby “attraction” where we were able to observe from the vehicle: The original Medellin Cartel’s office/HQ which was car bombed by the Cali Cartel during the height of the two international cartel’s drug war.

While this is a somber reminder of what life was once like in Medellín, it’s now a government owned building that is crumbling away much like the image of Medellín as an unsafe, war-torn drug city.

From here we took a 20 minute ride through the heart of the city on the Autopista Regional (highway) towards one of Medellín’s more well known sites, the Plaza Botero.

While on the highway keep your eyes peeled for more phenomenal street art/graffiti as well as the one-of-a-kind architecture many of the building possess.

Plaza Botero is world renowned for its “fat” statues. There are several of them and they are all unique and interesting in their own way. Definitely take the time to check them out.

Palacio de la Cultura Rafael Uribe Uribe is at the heart of Plaza Botero and is a beautiful structure with original/historic Spanish and South American architecture.

Unfortunately, the Palace was closed due to renovations. Still worth checking out, even if you can’t go inside.

One of the downsides of the Plaza on a busy day (Friday through the weekend) is the homeless people and the pushy merchants. You’ll quickly learn that everyone wants to sell you something and they all will try multiple times, even after your politely say “no gracias”.

After about 30 minutes at the Plaza it started to rain once again. Our guide decided to take us to another “Pablo” historic location in hopes the rain would subside while we were en route – which she was correct about. We arrived at a quaint neighborhood near the Estadio Atanasio Girardot and drove up to what looked to be an abandoned home and stopped. Turns out, it was the safe house where Pablo was discovered and subsequently shot and killed on the roof while trying to evade Colombian policemen and US DEA officers. Again, a somber site to visit but interesting nonetheless.

Dinner and pre-gaming at the house Medellín Day 2: Food from the grocery store and drinks at the house before we hit the town

Grocery stores in Medellín (at least in the Poblado area) are great. A wide variety of fruits and vegetables to choose from (any of which you cannot get in the states) as well as meat, meat and more meat.

I cooked up a meal of marinated cerdo (pork) with lettuce, berries and grapes.

And of course, lots of drinks, beers and cocktails with the guys before we headed out for the night.

Night out in Medellin Day 2: Discoteca Bolívar – Parque Lleras

There’s really only one way to describe this nightclub: Upscale and chic Colombian dance club with great music and beautiful people! Since we had a large group we opted to get tables and bottle service. I would recommend this if you have more than 5 people in your group for the following reasons: (1) it’s extremely cheap and the service is excellent. (2) you’re going to get drinks WAY faster if you have bottles and mixers at your table rather than waiting in line at the bar, especially if you don’t look or speak Spanish. (3) it’s a great way to mingle with other patrons as they’ll want to find out who you are and drink your booze! 🙂

We got lucky the night we were there due to the Halloween festivities and general busyness of the area. A local Colombian rapper performed so it was extra crowded for that, and extra fun as well.

One of the things that sets Bolívar apart from some of the other nightclubs is the ambiance and the “shows”. Upon walking in you’re greeted by aboriginal dancers and artists that are not afraid to get up close and personal… go with it! Again, this could have been due to the fact that it was Halloween weekend, but I’m sure they do something similar on other busy nights.

At one time they had these guys swinging from the balcony inside upside down almost rappelling into the dance floor.. It was so cool!

One last thing worth mentioning, or at least that I noticed – wear bright colors and/or white when you go to the dance clubs. I’d say upwards of 60% of the people in the club were wearing white and/or bright colors. Unlike here in the states where it is common to wear dark tones and jeans; that is not the case in Medellín, or Colombia in general. They wear light and bright colors and like to standout!

No late night escapades for me this night. We stayed out till almost 4am and a lot of us were still tired from the night before. Gotta get some sleep at some point!

Continue to Chapter II: Day 3 in Medellín