Experience #1: Comuna 13
Comuna 13 is a must-do in Medellin. This neighborhood is one of the 14 districts that make-up the fabric of Medellin. Back in the 90’s, it used to be one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Medellin. Now, it is safe and welcoming to walk around in as it has lifted itself up on the foundation of art, innovation and small business.
When I visited the first time, I was met with the friendliness and warmth which now describes this area. It was down-pouring and one of business owners let my friend and I wait out the storm in her shop.
The second time I visited, another small business caught our attention. This business represents a coalition of single women who are single because of the violence that permeated the neighborhood in the 90’s. Present day, these women make locally sourced perfumes and beautiful jewelry to sell. Again, hope is seen in action in Comuna 13, from the messages in the street art to the business owner each marking a positive wave of change in the area.
Street art decorates the area around Las Escaleras (The Escalators)
in Comuna 13.
Experience #2: Botero
Fernando Botero, is a Medellin-born artist and his
love for his city and its people shows in the Botero Plaza, Old Quarter of Medellin. It is there that he gifted 23 of his sculptures to the Plaza. It is a joy to walk around this plaza, take pictures and involve yourself with this artist’s vision. At the museum facing the plaza, Museum Antioquia, the 3rd floor showcases his work and his personal collection of famous artist pieces. It makes for a wonderful afternoon to complete the story and walk and spend an hour or so in this museum for a fair price of 6 dollars. As an artist, he sculpted and painted in a style that was uniquely him. His sculptures and paintings give his audience something to think and giggle about. So often, fine art is neither
accessible nor playful and Botero champions both with his paintings and sculptures.
Daytrip to Jardin or Guatape. Experience #3 takes you out of Medellin but not out of the character of this area. The region that Medellin is in is called Antioquia. It is in this region, that the true essence of Colombia lives. We decided to do both of these experiences, but if you are short on time choose the one that is right for you.
Guatape: Our experience in Guatape was brightly colored, enlightened and breath-taking. One of the reasons it was enlightened is because we had a driver and a personal guide. This made the 2-hour trip to Guatape informative. Our first stop was the La Piedra de Penol. This beautiful boulder was incredible. From the bottom, the hike up looked substantial but it was do-able and the view made the heavy breathing all worth it. The beauty of this lake and island view is doubled when understanding that this reservoir powers 30 % of Colombian energy needs. Thanks for the background info Santiago!
Next, we went to Guatape town. It was exactly as we had seen in pictures, brightly colored doors and walls and cute standing lamps that take you back in time. What we didn’t see in the pictures but soon realized…all the people! PSA, don’t wander the streets as if you are in a dream because a crowd will interrupt this dream. Butttt to be fair, we went over Easter break which is one of the most crowded times of year. Additionally, it is a common understanding that if a place is crowded, there is a reason. For Guatape the reason was a feast for the senses, a beautiful town with kind people, great food and abounding natural sights.
*If you want to skip the crowds and still want to feel and see Old-World Colombia, I urge you to take the journey to Jardin…
Jardin: This is my vote for one of the quaintest, most charming towns in all of Colombia. The drive here is a bit longer at around 4 hours each way but it is an amazing drive! Back to Jardin, its name literally means garden in Spanish and once you go, you will smell and see why it is so fitting. Flowers bloom and drape all of the colorful buildings. Amongst the smell of flowers and nature, you will wake up to the smell of
Colombian coffee! Let your nose lead the way into a cute coffee shop, you will not be disappointed! Far from disappointment, my dad and I would agree it was the best cup of coffee we have ever had.
Thankfully, our love for coffee led us to an experience that coffee lovers and even non-coffee lovers must do.
Our driver and guide took us to a small, organic coffee farm about 15 minutes outside of town called Finca Los Angeles. Here, we learned about the whole process from harvesting, to drying, to drinking it. We were led by the most wonderful guide who works at the finca. He took us on a tour of the farm and with each step we could not believe our eyes at the beauty of the landscape.
After the tour and after being informed on each of the steps, we had lunch. Lunch was delicious, healthy and open air to the amazing environment around us. It was definitely a 5 star experience with 5 star coffee quality to match.
This is one of the most elegant places to stay in Medellin. It is worth the splurge to experience the delights of their spa and to dine outside at their lush outdoor space. The rooms are spacious and have every amenity you may need. Last but not least, the staff is extremely helpful and makes you feel right at home.
This restaurant offers a unique celebration of Colombian food and of the dining experience itself. It is perfect for a long, relaxed dinner due to its’ intimate cozy feel and delicious food. Here, you will have your choice of a 9 course, 11 course or 13 course meal. The courses are designed for all your senses and all your taste buds. My family and I can still smell and taste the delicious and exfoliating experience of washing our hands in chocolate and coffee!
The Charlee Hotel (for the rooftop experience):
There are a lot of great choices for nightlife in Medellin, but one of the most special experiences is enjoying a cocktail with a view. At the rooftop on top of the Charlee Hotel, you get a spectacular view of the city with drinks equally as spectacular. The atmosphere is cool with an aquarium type pool in the middle that sets the stage for the stage! Later in the evening, live music emanates from this very stage. Overall, a great not-to-be missed experience!