Colombia Chapter One: Medellin

Abby’s post about arepas got me inspired to write about one of my past trips… Colombia. A few years ago, Dan and I had amassed enough frequent flier miles to go pretty much anywhere in the world. We wanted to go to Asia, but most of those tickets had been snatched up. Since we didn’t have many funds at the time, and I couldn’t take too much time off work, we set out to find places that:

a) wouldn’t be too expensive once we got there (food, lodging, etc)

b) wouldn’t take too long to get to

c) we could get to for free with miles

d) neither of us had been before

So, we found the perfect place that fit our criteria: Colombia! Dan and I spent a week in Colombia, and visited Medellin, Cartagena and Bogota. Our first stop was Medellin, the second largest city in Colombia, and perhaps best known for its history of drugs and the drug kingpin Pablo Escobar.  I will kindly ask you to forget about all of that.

Medellin was incredible.  There is almost no tourism from outside the region- so Dan and I stuck out like sore thumbs, and were stared at everywhere we went.  People struck up conversations with us left and right and were thrilled to have us in their city. People in Medellin are known to be the friendliest in all of Colombia and that was definitely our experience. We stayed at the amazing El Arupo Hostel for only $25 a night.

Foothills of the Andes Mountains

Foothills of the Andes Mountains

Medellin is nestled in a valley in the foothills of the Andes and is visually stunning.  There are gorgeous little chunks of jungle all over city. The town is also obsessed with Medellin native, sculptor Fernando Botero and his sculptures are all around town.

The highlight of our time in Medellin was going to a street festival called the Alumbrados.  Every year around Christmas, the city gets turned into a huge light display.  There are vendors selling arepas, ice cream, beer, cotton candy and tons of other goodies. Even small little squares are decorated like so…

Christmas decorations at the Alumbrados street festival

Christmas decorations at the Alumbrados street festival


We also visited the botanical garden which was really cool because there were tons of plants that I had never seen before. There was a lake in the gardens and there were awesome green and orange iguanas EVERYWHERE. Dan and I were really into them because that isn’t something you see everyday.

Iguana in Botanical Garden

So we take a few pictures (like the one above) and we’re like damn that is cool and then we see a huge crowd congregating. And, no joke, there were 30 or so people all crowded around a tree to see a SQUIRREL! They were so excited about it that they were taking photos! There was also a large group discussion about what squirrels eat. There were a lot of vendors in the gardens so there were a lot of foods and the people were all in a group discussing what they could feed a squirrel. They were like “I think popcorn would be OK” and “let’s not give it chocolate, because that is bad for dogs” and “we should give it ice cream!  everyone likes ice cream!” There were like 30 adults trying to feed a squirrel with literally 10 people recording the entire episode. It was literally one of the funniest things I have ever seen.

Rare squirrel sighting in Medellin

Rare squirrel sighting in Medellin



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One thought on “Colombia Chapter One: Medellin

  1. Too funny! My mom’s cousin just visited us last weekend, and he has traveled all over the world for work. I asked him about his all-time favorite city and was surprised that he picked Bogata. He had nothing but nice things to say about Colombia, and now I want to go too!

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