Restricted traffic makes it refreshingly quiet, it has one of the best spas in town and with restaurants overlooking the rooftops of the city, it’s perfect. The Zona Rosa or Zona T, are still the hip places to meet, full of bars, restaurants and clubs. I go easy on lunch to save myself for the evenings – particularly as breakfasts involve everything from soups to thick hot chocolate. Specialities include thick seafood soups – cazuela de mariscos and lobster bisque.
It’s elegant kitsch, wood-panelled, with a nautical theme and spectacular views; ideal when you’re tired of meat and for treating local friends. Start by wandering around Usaquén – protected “Colonial” buildings, squares and museums, humming with markets, bohemian art and restaurants.
Look out for “orchestras” playing salsa and boogaloo. Taxis can be networked with criminal gangs, and some bus routes are famous for leaving tourists fleeced. But use something inconspicuous, and only carry what you’re prepared to lose. My sons insist on arequipe (a kind of milky molasses), which we then all fight over once we get home.
If you can’t dance, no matter, someone will come forward to teach you. More seriously, don’t stray into unknown areas without security advice and having a plan to get back. Just never hail taxis from the street – drop into a nearby hotel/restaurant and ask them to call one for you. Emeralds are obviously seriously pricey, but pre-Colombian replica jewellery, sold at La Galleria Cano, is beautiful, reasonably priced, and makes a great gift. El Centro Commercial Andino, Carrera 11/calle 82 has many good stores under one roof, (including La Galleria Cano), from leather goods to knitwear and jewellery.
Most believe Medellin actually has a population of over 3 million. There are so many cars that some drivers aren’t allowed on the road during certain days (this is based on their license plate number).
The infrastructure in Bogota just isn’t spectacular. As well, Bogota has no real metro transportation system.
Perhaps in defiance of the history of violence and economic hardship, Bogotanos seem to know a thing or two about celebrating life.
I’ve yet to come across a traveller who hasn’t been bowled over by the people, nightlife, and art.
Costs in Medellin have been rising in recent years due to the influx of digital nomads and foreign travelers. For being the second largest city in Colombia, you can find some incredible deals here.However, moving around the city is much easier than in Bogota. Bogota will get rain 3-5 times a week in the afternoons. You’ll typically find temperatures fluctuate from a high of 70 Fahrenheit in the late mornings to a low of 55 Fahrenheit in the middle of the night.Plus, the metro system in Medellin is truly world-class and allows residents and tourist alike to get around easily and efficiently. On the contrary, weather in Medellin is typically spectacular.Detours to take in the fruit and vegetable markets are always worthwhile – there will be things you’ve never seen before and villagers in traditional costume selling their wares.For the evening, I’d head to the nightclubs on the mountain road to La Calera; they’re informal, and the music is fantastic. Hammocks, coffee, rustic black earthenware that you see everywhere in restaurants (moyas de barro), leather goods, and knitwear, including ponchos.
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Many a digital nomad may find the idea Medellin isn’t God’s gift to South America to be blasphemous.