City life has found us once again, albeit for a brief interlude before heading back to the countryside. For the last day-and-a-half, Mark and I have spent a good amount of time exploring Medellin, a city we were prepared to take in with a large grain of salt. As with other large metropolises we’ve visited on our trip, Medellin (the third largest city in Colombia) is plagued by fellow travelers’ stories of theft and strange (but oddly creative) types of muggings. It also has the reputation, like most large cities, of being noisy, hectic, and difficult to digest in a short visit. But as with many of our experiences thus far in Colombia, we were pleasantly surprised to find that Medellin is nothing of the sort—at least not by any abnormal standards. The people we came in contact with were, like the majority of Colombians we’ve come across thus far, extremely friendly and obliging. The neighborhoods we visited were bustling with activity. The parks we strolled through were well-groomed. The streets are relatively free of trash and clutter. And the above-ground metro? Immaculate, always on-time, and refreshingly easy to navigate. (Good ol’ NYC Transit could learn a thing or two from these guys.) In short, Medellin is a pretty happenin’ town.
As we only had a day to spend in the city, we decided to make the most of our time by trying to fit in as much as we could. Our trip to the popular El Poblado district (think glitzy shops, fancy houses and high-rise apartment buildings, bumping bars and discos) to find an English-language bookstore we’d read about turned out to be a failed mission (random, uninteresting selection), so we went to fill our tummies instead. Serendipitously, we stumbled across a vegetarian buffet-style restaurant in the city center that was run by a group of Hare Krishnas. The place was jam-packed. I gotta say . . . people will high-tail it in the other direction as soon as they see a man in a peach robe handling out flyers on a street corner or in the subway, but put a bunch of them behind a counter serving delicious cauliflower curry, quinoa soup, fresh salads, and rice pudding? Magnets, I tell you.
After stuffing ourselves silly, we headed to the next spot on our list: an art museum. As it was Monday, most of the city’s museums were closed. Fortunately, the one we wanted to see the most, El Museo de Antioquia, was open, so we spent a few hours traipsing around its halls and gazing at art. It has been a while since we’ve been in the company of paintings and sculpture, so the experience was soul-refreshing, to say the least. While I enjoyed much of what we encountered, here’s a favorite (there are others in the slide show below):
Oh. And this one . . .
(Kidding. This one adorned the wall of our bedroom in the hostel we were staying in. Nice whale tail, eh?)
A number of works by Fernando Botero, an esteemed contemporary Colombian artist, were scattered around the museum’s grounds and on its top floor. The pieces mentioned above came from his personal collection and were donated to the museum throughout his life. This one is an example of his own work.
I’ll say it again: A thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours.
Not so much, the next few. Every so often while on a trip, you make the bad decision to go shopping. Not the energy-fueled, salivary trips to the market to buy fruit and vegetables. Not the meandering stroll through artisanal shops hocking one-of-a-kind wares. No, I’m talking the delusional time you actually convince yourself it’s a good idea to go to a mall to buy jeans. Or worse yet, a bathing suit. I won’t go into what transpired in that dressing room, but needless to say, it wasn’t pretty. Latin America’s love-affair with spandex is simply beyond me.
But the evening wasn’t fully lost on us altogether. A few delicacies caught our eye while at the supermarket: a jar of pesto, fresh salmon, natural shampoo & conditioner (no parabens!), gorgeous yellow squash, box wine from Chile. Back at the hostel, we whipped up a ridiculously tasty dinner of salmon glazed with pesto, squash and onions marinated in white wine and garlic, and baked potatoes. These lovable rascals, the two Skin So Soft-smelling protectors of the hostel, kept us company.
While we got the feeling we were leaving Medellin prematurely, it was time to head off to Guatape, a small town northwest of Medellin, for a bit of R&R. We’re planning to stay there at least a week. Stay tuned.
Architectural photography AND skin-so-soft in the same post? Crazy! Glad you are still having fun- can’t wait to see you guys soon!
Love the sexy whale pic. I just about peed my pants! xoxo, Lins
Loved seeing the paintings. A very pleasant juxtaposition when comparing your more rural environs. Medellin looks very upbeat. The metro looks a lot more comfortable then the bus rides.
the tramp stamp painting is breathtaking. speechless.
Glad you enjoyed Medellin. A very pretty city with a lot to offer. We loved it there (despite a few incidents). We were even featured in a local newspaper which welcomed and introduced us to the neighbourhood.