One Month In Medellín: Nomadlife In South America

BY JAMIE
Our month in Medellín is coming to an end. I am a bit bummed out about it, Lukas is rather psyched — he is just not a fan of cities. Only if they have mountains next to them ;-) We will provide you with all the recommendations we have in the next blog posts. But this one is just my personal opinion of the city. I have heard tons of great things about Medellín already way before we arrived. That is because the city is flourishing and developing into a huge nomad/expat destination. My expectations were therefore pretty high — but were even exceeded.

Living In Laureles

Aguila
My favorite Colombian beer

Differences between our time in Peru were imminent right from the beginning: There are no stray dogs. There is no trash on the side of the road. There are actual traffic lights that people (mostly) stop for! Say whaaaat? Are we in South America or are we suddenly back in Europe? This was honestly such a welcome change for us. We did enjoy our time in Peru a lot but the constant “having your guard up” is getting tiring. Despite its former reputation for being the most dangerous place in the world, in Medellín, we were finally able to let our guard down again. For me, that was the first time since we left Lima.

I decided that we should live in Laureles — probably the second most popular district of Medellín after El Poblado. I stick with that choice, I think it was the best things to do. Laureles is modern and cute, you can find all you need in all the shops, but it is not yet “polished up” and nonpersonal like El Poblado. From what I have gathered pretty much all the tourists go to Poblado — which makes it know as “Gringolandia” — not really what we were looking for.

Hipster Poblado
Hipster Poblado

Our apartment was perfectly located in a quiet neighborhood. From there we could reach all the important things by a short walk: A mall with shops and movies, a huge supermarket, vegetarian restaurants, a running path, party street and the Metro station Estadio. Because our host was annoying us quite a bit and the room we have was like a stuffy attic we were looking for another Airbnb after a few days. But we just couldn’t find another place so well located — so we decided to suck it up.

Medellín In General

Statue in the center of Medellín
Statue in the center of Medellín

Medellín is known as the city “of eternal spring” — my verdict of that is that the Colombian people must have a very different understanding of what “spring” is. It is fucking hot in here :D Like 30 degrees every day. Nights are pleasant but still really warm and we mostly were lying around like insects on our back — too warm to move.

But opposite of Lukas I actually enjoy this kind of weather. I love that you can sit outside in the evening and have a beer or just chill in a park. Having a beer is exactly what we did — like every second evening. Because here is another thing about Medellín that I love: Micheladas! You take a glass and apply a salty border (think: Margaritas) then you put in some lemon juice and pour a beer over it. Aaaaah, delicious! My new favorite drink! Hopefully, they will have that also in other parts of Colombia, not sure what I would do without it :D

Apart from Laureles, we tried to see as much of the city as possible. A few areas are still not the safest — but I am not talking kidnapping and drive-by shootings… more like pickpocketing and such. That is why we didn’t go to the center alone for example — we did it with a walking tour. Hands down, the best walking tour we ever did. More info in another blog post though. We also visited Comuna 13 which is decorated with street art, the area around the botanical garden, Parque Arvi, and El Poblado.

The latter really is pretty nice and I can understand why people chose it as their base. But I think if we would’ve stayed there we wouldn’t have had a “real” Medellín experience. Especially because we would’ve probably just been too comfortable to leave the area altogether. It reminded me of the Schanze in Hamburg — so you can imagine what I am talking about when I am talking about comfort: Hipster-live-galore.

Medellín: Jamie In Comuna 13
Jamie in Comuna 13
Medellin from above
Medellín from above

On Colombians:

I always felt like that Peruvians were ok and nice enough. Cusco is the exception but even there we were able to get around and find someone that would help us when we were lost. But Medellín is a whole new world also regarding friendliness. The people were so eager to chat, to help us, to give us recommendations — even without us asking. It was just so soothing and nice.

The only thing that really annoyed the hell out of me was their attitude towards customer support when shopping :D You would go into a clothes store and someone would be greeting you with ultra super huge beam and “welcome to store xy! I hope you had an amazing day so far! Please let me know what I can help you with!” I would mumble a slightly reserved “Thanks, I just want to look around”. But instead of letting me just look around said sales person would then be on my heels the whole time while being in the shop. Possibly ranting about the nice brands and offers they have. Umph! I am sure there are people that like this kind of “Help” but it has driven me out of a bunch of shops around here. I don’t take it as a reflection on Colombians in general, don’t get me wrong. They just seem to have a different understanding of the term “good service” ;-)

Medellín: Colombian Humor
Colombian Humor

The Foodie In Me:

Other than in a lot of places we have been to, we haven’t eaten out a lot. We have a good kitchen here and so we are mostly preparing our foods here. Groceries were a great thing here, we were usually able to find everything we were looking for. Laureles even has a few health stores with vegetarian food, seeds, fair trade objects and biological hygiene products. And those shops were even cheaper than the big supermarkets. But of course, there were also days where we were just too lazy to cook and would eat out instead.

Vegetarian Paisa Menu
Vegetarian Paisa plate

The normal “Paisa” menu wouldn’t have any vegetarian dishes on it. But we were always able to ask for a veggie option. That one was the same everywhere but at least it was a great offer: A plate full of beans, platano, rice, salad, avocado, and egg — probably for around 3 Euro. Not bad, huh? Other than that I discovered two amazing places in Laureles that even serve a vegetarian lunch menu. Those were our go-to places :-)

The Verdict:

I love this city. I am not missing a thing — not even oceans. The cute little town of Guatape is about two hours away from Medellín — and it comes with beautiful lakes and a less hot climate. With an option like that close by I can live without ocean for a while ;-) But of course: There is always more to discover. That is why we are heading out of Medellín on Sunday to explore: The coast of Colombia!

Medellín: Beautiful Guatape
Beautiful Guatape

Originally published at Two Sundowners.

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