Sunday, May 2, 2010

Medellin Trip Report

Medellin Colombia — After I win the Powerball drawing tonight, I think I might just pack up my belongings and move to Medellin Colombia.

Though the city was being labelled as "the most dangerous place on Earth" just a mere 8 years ago, it's a totally different place today. Thanks to VERY aggressive action by the Colombian government against FARC rebels, narcotrafficking crime organizations, and various paramilitary splinter groups, Colombia has become a FAR safer place for its citizens and for visiting foreigners. Nowhere is that change more apparent than in Medellin.

Today, Medellin life is as tranquil as any good-sized city of 2.5 million inhabitants anywhere else in the world. The arts community is surprisingly strong and there's wonderful nightlife with live music clubs, experimental theatre groups in the city center, large glitzy modern shopping malls for the consumers of the world, and a remarkably clean, modern, quiet Metro system that makes getting around easy and affordable.

Medellin does something with their Metro system that I've never seen done anywhere else in the world --- they incorporate cable cars into the mass transit network. This makes sense, given that the city lies in a valley, with rugged mountain peaks on all side (and with communities up in the hills, and on other sides of the mountains). They call the cable car system "Metrocable" and the cable cars connect seemlessly to the Metro trains (no extra cost either). Metrocable is great for the locals, but tourists love it too because you get wonderful views from up on the cables, plus its one of those things you just can't do anyplace else.

I highly recommend taking a good half day to fully explore the excellent Museo de Antioquia. It's an art museum, and a darn good one, focusing on Medellin's favorite local artist: Fernando Botero. I just LOVE Botero's works because he's got an apparent innocence to his style that belies his ability to cut deeply to the core themes that make human beings human. He's sometimes dismissed as "that artist who paints fat people", but his focus on using fat people helps him avoid the insignificant attention paid to physical appearance while focusing more tightly on actions, emotions, and values --- things that are sometimes harder to do in a purely visual medium. Most of the 4th floor of the museum is dedicated to its collection of Botero works, and there are galleries on the 3rd and 2nd floors with international contemporary artworks (many collected by Botero himself). The first floor has a gift shop and special exhibits --- they're currently doing an exhibit on Spain, which is excellent.

Getting to Medellin is easy. There's 2 airports: MDE is the international airport, located about 30 miles from downtown in the town of Rionegro --- it handles all large jet traffic. The smaller domestic airport, Olaya Herrera (EOH), is just off the main autopista near the upscale Poblado section of town. It's mondo convenient but only handles smaller regional aircraft (lots of turboprops and regional jets).

For nightlife, you have many options. There's small, funky bars downtown where you can hear the most cutting edge music, though tourists will feel more comfortable in places like Parque Lleras, where the streets are chock-a-block full of upscale nightclubs, bars, elegant restaurants, and the HOTTEST women who ever walked the face of this planet. I had no idea there could be one spot on earth with so many women who looked like well-tanned, swimsuit models. Ssssss!

There's several festivals throughout the year. Medellin boasts about its fashion festival and its festival of flowers. During the Christmas season, drive along the road that parallels the Rio Medellin --- the city puts on the most elaborate lights display you can imagine, and the reflections off the water only intensify the effect...stunning! But if you've got a bit of blood lust in you, this time of year could be right up your alley because their Festivo Taurino Macarena is all about classic bull fights, and there's a bull-fight every weekend through at least the end of February. (One of these days, I'm convinced, the bull will win...)

Medellin today is a modern, attractive city with fun things to do and see, a blistering hot nightlife scene. I can't wait to go back!

Nice Place to Visit, but a GREAT Place to Live!

Report By mrkstvns from Austin, TX - USA

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