Sunday, August 26, 2007

Traveling To Medellin, Colombia

My first trip, June 2007...

When I booked my first trip to Medellin I did not know what to expect based on all the negative media reports in the US regarding Colombia. It seemed that whenever I informed any of my friends, family and colleagues about my planned trip to Colombia, they all thought I was crazy. My flight was already booked and my hotel room was already reserved, so no turning back now. I was going to Colombia!

I did not come across any kidnappers upon my arrival. But, what I did discover was a wonderful magical world-class metropolitan city in South America. The culture, the food, the music, the warm weather, salsa clubs, vibrant nightlife, lots of modern and interesting architecture throughout the city, amazing views from the metrocable, a much superior metro system compared to the one back home. And a pleasant surprise that was not mentioned in any of the trip reports I read before my departure, an incredible expansive water park to rival anything in the states. I spent a whole day relaxing at "El Parque de Aguas" and found it to be a very enjoyable experience which divided my trip. I had a great time watching the locals spend their weekend running around the park with friends and family enjoying the beautiful weather and experiencing the varies water rides available. There were many families who brought blankets and picnic baskets filled with typical Colombian dishes along with treats for the children to enjoy.

There are parks everywhere were the locals meet to socialize and talk about the daily news as well as current events. Old men sit on park benches snacking on fresh fruit, sharing treats with the birds, which also seem to enjoy mixing with the locals. Young mothers busy taking care of their babies while the older children run around playing. The children are very friendly and love to play games and joke around with friends and tourist alike.

More importantly, what separates Medellin from other travel destinations are the generous and friendly locals known as Paisas (pie-sahs). I traveled to Medellin alone but never felt so much at home due to the fact that the Paisas made me feel like family. Everyone I met was eager to show off their great city. I was constantly being invited to travel across town to see many of the wonderful places a new visitor to Medellin must see during their trip.

One of the most frequently asked questions was, “What part of town does your family live in Medellin?” I told them I did not have any family in Medellin. To which they replied, “Who do you know in Medellin?” I said I did not know anyone. They all thought I was crazy but then responded with a smile, “You now have friends and family in Medellin.”

The only negative comment I have about my incredible experience in Medellin is that I put on a few extra pounds because almost everyone I met invited me to their home for a traditionally home cooked Colombian dinner, which I was always more than happy to accept all invitations. :-) The Paisas are great at making you feel at home in a foreign country.

The first thing I did upon my return to the states was book another trip. I have since been back and already have a third trip planned this year for my return to Medellin, Colombia.

Tip: I would strongly suggest anyone interested in visiting Medellin to brush up on their Spanish because there are not too many Paisas who speak English. No worries, an English program has now been added as part of the student courses. Medellin takes pride and promotes reading in all its educational institutions as part of its transformation into a world class destination for travelers from around the world to visit.

This blog was created to promote the positive side of Medellin. It will be updated with the latest news, articles, information, trip reports and recommendations for those who are interested in traveling to the city of eternal spring.

Vive Colombia! I love Medellin!


  1. Thank you for your good comments about our city “Medellín”. I am glad that foreign people is already seeing Medellín under other aspects which have always characterized us but that were not recognized in the 90’s decade due to the fact that our local and international media preferred to publish saleable and sensationalist news of some bad actions of a few persons.
    I think that resurgence of our idiosyncrasy “paisa” it is a result of a joint work of our President Alvaro Uribe with his democratic security policies, our Mayor Sergio Fajardo with his honest work and good energy and Medellín’s people. Optimism and good energies are spreading forming a collective conscience of well-being and joy and sensible tourists like you currently perceive it.
    Really there is still too much to do specially reducing poverty margin but we are now leaving from fear to the hope as our Mayor says.

  2. I just wanted to respond to the post by Medellin Traveler; this blogger sums up in several very concise paragraphs EXACTLY how I feel about my own travel to Medellin.
    When I first began planning my trip, I too felt a bit of the same tension strictly because of what our American media tells everyone about travelling to Colombia; despite the sensational nature of US broadcasts I've always seen about this country, I must say that visiting Colombia and specifically Medellin ranks as my #1 international travel experience.
    Upon landing in Medellin, my initial nervousness dissipated and I began what became the most fascinating exploration of this beautiful Colombian city.
    A few of my most lasting impressions: the juxtaposition of traditional colonial architecture blended with ultra modern facilities and, like the blogger stated, the best metro train system I've ever been on that offers some stunning views of the city. I also thoroughly enjoyed the metrocable that takes you from the river level up the side of the Andes mountains (you have to see these mountains to believe them!) and affords some of the most spectacular views imaginable.
    You have to visit Pueblito Paisa, a recreation of a traditional colonial village situated on a small mountain in the middle of modern downtown Medellin, and also take what I believe they call a "vuelta oriental," a ride up and over the mountains and around the plateaus: breathtaking views of the whole Medellin valley.
    I was fortunate enough to be hosted by a wonderful family in Medellin who welcomed me with open arms, sharing their city of which they are extremely proud and their hearts which are as big as the mountains that surround them. I travelled to France about two months before, but in terms of hospitality and warmth there is no comparison: paisas beat hands down! We spent a Sunday afternoon going from family home to home, and in every place we visited there were people who made me feel accepted and welcomed, who fed me (another thing: the food is UNBELIEVABLE!!), and the question on everyone's lips was, "Would you like to come back to Colombia again?" No question about it, this is definitely one of my top return trip destinations.
    My advice to Americans travelling to Colombia: DO IT!! Of course do it intelligently, as you would anywhere else in the world you travel. I was fortunate to have hosts who helped me get through the city via taxi, train, private car, and I never once felt unsafe or threatened.
    The people of Medellin are warm, hospitable, very proud of where they come from, and love showing you what makes Colombia such a beautiful country. Visiting Medellin is such a departure from typical international travel, and one I highly recommend!

  3. I am a recent traveler to the city of Medellin , Colombia Myself. A little background on myself if I may. Im a Law enforcemen officer in the United States for the Past 23 years. Until 7 years ago like most Americans All I knew about Colombia was bad(news, movies T.v. and the Colombians I arrested for bringing very large amounts of cocaine into the U.S.).Then I met a very Wonderful woman Who was my next door neighbor. This wonderful person tuned out to be Colombian and after two years we married. I Like to think I know crime a little bit after being a cop for 23 years. My first trip to Medellin was in March of 2007 and I went with my wife. Once in Colombia I did not really know what to expect. My wife who lived in Medellin the first 26 years of her life was very nervous. I spent 10 days in Medellin and to tell you the truth I never once felt nervous myself. I would go off for walk by myself (which drove my wife crazy) through part of the city I would say were lower middle class. I did not venture in to the poorer neighborhoods on the advise of my wife and her family. I did not dress flashy while I was there. I did have one of the best times of my life. As far as safety goes I felt safe but I kept my guard up at all times. Just like a U.S. city you can see where You belong and where you dont. When asked by Americans who know I went to Medellin I say go but go with someone who knows the city. I look forward to many more trips to Medellin.

  4. I wanted to thank you for your positive comments about Medellín, I think it is very important to people outside Colombia to know that our city is changing and getting better and safer every day.
    Paisas are very nice and hardworking people, we always receive the tourists with a smile.
    thanks again for spreading the good news about my beloved Medellín.

  5. Wow! this sounds like me, i'm planning a trip to medellin next year and might be going alone, well maybe not alone but what an incredible experience! and hope that my trip will be the same as yours!!! from New Mexico to Medellin, Colombia! vive colombia!

  6. Thank yOu!!!!!
    It is so nice to find an American who sees our country the way you do !! It is sad that most of the time all you hear about Colombia are horrible news , this was definitely refreshing.

  7. I cant' say in just words how much I love Medellin but im in love with your city. Im from the u.s.a. and went with my wife of 24 years on a visit to see her family and had the time of my life. We took the metro, taxis, walked and never once felt unsafe. Im as gringo as it gets and I will make Colombia my home one day soon. To have a paisa family is the best it can ever get. God bless Colombia.

  8. You want to know something? Its not that hard to change the mind of people once they see my pictures and video of Medellin. They say "thats Columbia" and I respond no "thats Colombia" Im an anglo from america and any person who has any concerns about your amazing country can call me here in Florida and will set them straight on the beauty of your country. call 561-574-2555 ask for Jesse B.