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Excerpt from the Journal of Olds – Day 417-418 – Colombia – Medellin

We reached Medellin and were glad to see the back of an exhausting bus journey. We hopped in a Taxi to the Arcadia hostel where we’d secured dorm beds for the first night and a suite for the second. The place was lovely – perched up a hill on the edge of a nice modern part of town amidst a lot of greenery. After scramming some pancakes and coffee for breakfast we set out for a walk to explore our surroundings.

We’d not known what to expect from Medellin – it had been the centre of operations for the Pablo Escobar drug cartel at its height and that meant a history tarnished by some truly awful events. It turns out that the place is a very modern, wealthy, sophisticated city these days – Madonna was performing at some point around the time we were there and it was a generally lovely place to wander around. After booking our flights up to Cartagena we caught the metro into the centre and took a wander around the Fernando Botero Sculpture park. Like Bogota his work has a major presence here – not least as it’s his birthplace.

The streets were busy and dotted with quaint, if persistent, market stalls selling a myriad of things that no-one needs – these days we’re completely immune to hawkers such is the conditioning of experience.

We came upon an odd red brick cathedral that we stopped to take some photos of before heading in search of the modern art museum. No dice – we couldn’t find it where we thought it was supposed to be. Disappointed we set off wandering again only for the rains to return, forcing us into a café for some liquid refreshment of the beer kind.

Broken but enjoyable conversation with the staff within while torrents of rain came down eventually lead to us being able to happily inform them that we were not in fact in town for the Madonna gig and instead here for the merits of the city itself.

After a couple of beers it was clear that the rain had no intention of letting up so we nabbed a taxi to a supermarket for wine and the ingredients to whip up a Spag Bol back at the hostel. We enjoyed this while talking to some fellow travellers about American Football [of which I have almost zero knowledge despite living stateside for over a year] before retiring for a good night’s sleep in the dorm.

After breakfast the next day we relocated to the Pantheon suite – which was spectacular. Balcony, sunken bath, huge – we took one look at the weather outside and decided to take advantage of our temporary palace. We spent time working on photos and blog stuff and just generally relaxing – and in the afternoon even took a bath in the marble tub. That evening the hostel put on a Greek BBQ which we signed up for and wolfed down while supping some beers in the company of the other residents. We did hear a few horror stories about bent cops and muggings in Cartagena which did wonders for our expectations of Colombia’s jewel of the north coast.

Forgetting that it was Monday we decided to try again to find the Modern Art Museum via a direct Taxi this time only to find out it was closed (as more often than not museums are on Mondays). We took a wander around and had some Mexican food for lunch before deciding to squeeze in the underwhelming but nice enough Botanic Gardens.

We made our way back in ample time and after getting sorted hopped in a transfer for our flight to Cartagena. While check-in was typically protracted, inefficient and annoying once we got through we were happy enough to munch on a ‘Dogger’ each for dinner (it’s amazing what you can pick up in airports these days…though they are just poorly-named hot dogs). The flight was swift and simple and gave us a taste of what to expect from Avianca for our flight home – the planes were pretty swanky.