Remove Your Fear, and Travel to Colombia!

I know I know! Most of the people that saw I was traveling to Medellin, Colombia had the face like…

More than likely they are familiar with Pablo Escobar, and their mind is still stuck in the 80’s.  No worries though. I’m here to tell you why and how you need to travel to Colombia despite what you THINK  of this beautiful country.

Colombia was not the intended country for my spring break, but I am so happy that it became my destination. I made it my business to ignore what some had to say about me visiting this country. I know safety is a concern for many people but to totally dismiss a country based on something you’ve seen on television or heard someone say, nope not my m.o. There’s no way I would’ve experienced as many places that I have if I operated with that mindset.

But enough of that! Let’s jump into this nitty gritty!

Flight (price and layovers)

Originally I was supposed to head to Costa Rica, but my friend Ebony that I traveled with, was departing out of L.A. The flight from L.A. to Costa Rica was hecka expensive. (Costa Rica) Next on the list was Panama, but then we found out that it was their rainy season. Oh naw! (Panama) Next came Colombia. (^_^) My flight from D.C. was $463.00 round trip. I can’t remember the exact price Ebony paid to fly out of L.A., but let’s just say it was affordable and reasonable. So Colombia was the green light! I booked my ticket on the site I use most, called Yapta. It is similar to Kayak but I find better deals on Yapta.

Now for the ONLY part of the trip that irked me

Layovers don’t really bother me especially if they are short and/or if I’m with someone. BUT I hate a layover that feels unnecessary. Here’s what I mean. My flight from D.C. went to Miami first, and my layover in Miami was for 7 hours. Ya’ll….. 7 hours!

Whyyyy????

I’m sure I had this layover because I left in the evening. I could have left earlier in the day, and only had a 1-hour layover had I purchased the more expensive flight. See, I am fully aware that when budget traveling, you get what you pay for. Yes, I said BUDGET! I am definitely a budget traveler. (I’ll talk about that in another post)

So anyway, it felt unnecessary because I was so close yet so far. Colombia is only 3 hours from Miami so I wanted to tell the pilot “Just keep going pleasseee!” Once back on the plane, I had to then stop in Bogota for about 90 minutes. That wasn’t too bad until I asked a woman where do I go, and she told me I was in the wrong area and to “get out”. I had to double back like ummm did you just tell me to get out??? What was that for? Then I had to remember that culture, and how people speak in other countries can be very different from what we are used to. But I know body language and she was definitely being rude. 70 percent of communication is body language, and she hit me with one of these …

I was a little vexed because she clearly had an attitude, but I let it go. It really wasn’t worth the argument. Plus I was way too excited!

Lodging

My girl E got us all set up at the Marriott in Medellin. This is a 4.6 star Marriott and in a great location. We were in the center of  “the posh El Poblado neighborhood. This upscale hotel is within 15 minutes’ walk of both lively Lleras Park and nightlife in El Poblado Square.- Marriott Hotel. The staff was overwhelmingly nice and attentive to their guests. Every time we left or entered, they were ensuring that we were ok. The food at the hotel was delicious, and we even dined in just for dessert one night (Ebony’s idea. I never met someone that loved going to restaurants for dessert solely lol) We had two king-sized beds and the room itself was pretty spacious for two people. They also had a pool that we utilized but it just so happened to rain that evening, so we weren’t there long. For four nights, we paid $123.00USD pp. Not bad at all!

 

To view and read other reviews about the Medellin Marriott, go here

http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/mdemc-medellin-marriott-hotel/

Food

After all of that traveling, the first thing we wanted to do was eat! Near our hotel was a small food court called La Strada. They had a few different restaurants but we ended up going to Hacienda Origen.  Oh. My. Gosh! When I say this food was so good! HUNNY! it was everything! This food was so awesome that we decided to eat there twice. Each time the food and service didn’t disappoint. For all of the food we got, we paid around 23USD bucks per person. I would highly recommend this spot even if you don’t stay in the same area as we did.

 

 

I know I often stress how much of a foodie I am NOT! So eating is usually a concern for me when I travel. I think I’m easy to please when it comes to a meal. I can eat rice beans and chicken or shrimp every day. But in some places, this is hard to get without pork and beef being involved. Then when you try to modify the menu to what you want, it kind of comes off as disrespectful. I was good in Colombia though.

Arroz con Camarones

Currency

1USD=2,760.50COP The peso is the currency of Colombia. I can’t speak for all South American countries but Colombia doesn’t really accept USD as payment. They will shoot you a look and kindly deny. I mean I get it. We don’t accept other currencies here in the United States so why would we expect other countries to accept ours?

The best thing to do is exchange your money or withdraw money from the ATM. When you withdraw money from the ATM it will give you back Colombian pesos. It is a given that your bank will charge you a fee. Not a huge fee, but still a fee. When you get COP, their notes are $1000 $2000 $5000 $10,000 $20,000 and $50,000. While you will feel like you are extremely rich understand that $1,000 COP is only worth $.37 USD. So from there you kind of understand the difference in value. We were able to swipe our debit/atm card while in Colombia. This was a huge relief for those moments where we were low on cash and an ATM was not nearby. I know people have concerns about using their debit cards because of the sensitive information that it contains, however, this was extremely safe. Overall, your best bet will be to carry cash and have your debit card in the case of emergencies, or if you’re getting low on cash and can’t find an ATM.

Use this app: Unit converter. It is free and a lifesaver!

Nightlife

PARQUE LLERAS! This is definitely the place to be in Medellin for a good time, some music, good food, and drinks. You could sit in the park location which is in the center, and people watch, hang out, or just enjoy the view. If you’re up for a night on the town you can bar hop, experience different vibes at each location without traveling far at all. Most of the bars and clubs are on the same strip or just across the way. I will say this for my ladies, most of the women on the strip are not dressed in heels. They are cute but comfortable. E and I learned our lesson, and the second night we went out trust and believe we were very comfortable.🤣 What I really loved outside of just the vibes was the variations of music. There were many places that you could go where you would hear different genres. For example, you could find places playing Latin trap music, which by the way is on the rise, and I love it. You could also find salsa and bachata for the dance lovers. We heard hip-hop as well as pop music. With that said, Parque LLERAS is a good time where you can enjoy great energy and beautiful people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things to do (adventure time)

One thing I love to do before heading to a new country is research the activities and culture. There were a ton of things that we were planning to do while in Colombia.

Fly to Cartagena and San Andreas

Flying to Cartagena was on the itinerary. It costs about 80 bucks and is only an hour flight. From what I saw and heard, Cartagena is the city where you would go to see to see the beautiful Afro-Colombians and immerse in the African culture. Someone even said to me that “Cartagena is the heart of Africa in South America.” We also learned that Cartagena has the beautiful beaches along with San Andreas. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to either of these cities due to time constraints, and we were truly enjoying Medellín. However, Cartagena and San Andreas are on my list of places to go.

Pueblito Paisa (Cerro Nutibara)

If you are all about views, this is the place you must visit. This location is on the top of a hill in the center of the city and you get spectacular views of Medellín. There’s also a cute small village where you could go to buy souvenirs, sit and eat, and even go pray all while enjoying the scenery. Nutibara is also a sculpture garden where you can find historic sculptures from Colombian artists. The best times to visit this location would probably be sunrise and sunset. We went in the evening and it was just as beautiful. The park is free and open from 6am to midnight.

 

 

 

Guatape (Climbing the 650ft Rock)

I knew about Guatape prior to heading to Colombia because it came up in my searches. This is on the outskirts of Medellin, more so the countryside. There were two things that really grabbed my attention about Guatape. One was the Penol Rock which is 650 ft and contains 650 steps.  You climb all the way to the top and the view is breathtaking. We hung out and then eventually made our way back down.  The next stop was the colorful town. It was so alluring in pictures and I knew I had to see it in person.

We scheduled a day trip through the hotel and they set it up with the company. We left at 7am and got back to the hotel around 7pm. Yes, the trip was literally all day lol, but well worth it. You experience a ton of sights and history during the tour.  Oh, and by the way, they feed you breakfast and lunch. This is definitely a must do if you’re in the area!

Company: Viajes Maxitours

Price: $79,000COP= $28.84USD

 

 

 

Medellin Metro (Cable Cars and train)

The Metrocable has become a new tourist attraction in Medellín. The views are amazing and you get to see another side of Medellín that you probably couldn’t see by car. The Metrocable has done a great deal of improving poverty and decreasing crime within the comunas.

“Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime”

“Prior to the completion of the cable cars, people stranded in the comunas wanting access to jobs, education, healthcare and even basic shopping had to make a slow and arduous journey down the mountainside to get into the city. Sporadic and unpredictable buses were available in some areas, but most people walked – sometimes for hours. This isolation, deprivation and hopelessness contributed substantially to Medellín’s famous and now rapidly fading history of crime and violence.” <—Information from lonelyplanet. com

Medellin also has a metro train service that is a lot cleaner than most Metros that I’ve seen here in the states. I only say that to help readers understand that this isn’t some third world location. They are very developed and you can really see it through the infrastructure.

 

 

 

 

Transportation

This is pretty simple. We used Uber and taxis. There is no Lyft so be sure to have the Uber app available on your phone. It’s better to use Uber because then you don’t have to worry about the exchange of money in the taxi. Taxis are really cheap, but Uber is not much different in price. We were in the cab for about 35 minutes and only paid $8,200COP which is $2.91USD.

Cab Ride

The End

I hope I’ve provided you with all the information you need to plan a successful trip to Medellin! Colombia is such a beautiful country and I can’t wait to get back PRONTO! The people, food, views, and culture were all love! If you have any additional questions feel free to drop a comment and I will get back to you asap.

Thanks for checking out my post and as always,

Continue to Inspire Vibes for all Tribes!

#traveltribe

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