There were mix reviews about Medellín but then I figured my litmus-test is if you don’t like Lima and Bogota, then we are on a different page; Medellín is within that category. Medellín have an incredible metro system, good nightlife, credit cards are accepted almost everywhere, food is great, so much history, and people are super-friendly.
The incredible metro system where the trains and stations are super-clean, they come on-time, never too crowded – it sure puts Sydney’s Shity Rail to shame. The only thing I would complain is that you cannot get a return-ticket so after lining up for a long time for the first ticket, you will have to line-up again for your return ticket – they need a ticket-machine or even better make it easier to get the rechargeable card. In Bogota, you can get a rechargeable metro card.
I stayed in El Poblado where most hostels and obviously tourists are, the streets are lined with restaurants and bars – find El Social and crawl from there. El Poblado is a stark contrast to the rest of Medellín, it is where I saw my first designer handbag in the last three months.
The cheapest tour would be the metro-tour by yourself, it is $1 if you don’t get out of the station, otherwise it is $1 every time you get out of a station. I went to the last station in the north, and then to the last station in the south, entertained by the people on the train, relaxed by the view outside with the occasional questions to my self. I noticed that almost the entire city is in orange terracotta colour. I later found out that it is the colour of poverty where money is not readily available for cement or paint to cover the orange bricks.
While I appreciate free walking tours or doing it all on my own, the tour that I would spend money on is the Graffiti tour in Comuna 13. You can make your own way there by train and bus but it is more educational, interesting and personal to have a local artist explaining the history, the emotions, and the arts.
I found that Mondongo soup of Colombia is similar to Soto Babat of Indonesia – I went to Mondongo’s Restaurant (TripAdvisor) three times (twice for the soup and once for the Bandeja Paisa).
Medellín is like one big salad bowl with its high hills and low valleys, people commute to work via a cable car; it is impressive that these houses are resting comfortably on these hills.
Upon returning to Sydney, when people ask me what my highlights were, I would say Machu Picchu, Cotopaxi, Quilotoa, Cartagena, and surprisingly Medellín.