So, I have found out a little more about this Colombian city that may be of interest to you.
Due to city planning rules requiring that public art be part of any new construction, central Medellin has become a fantastic open-air art gallery.
The Metro here, also known as Metro de Medellin, links north and south, east and west, as well as rich and poor. We found that out today on our Metro ride. It is very reasonably priced, three of us rode round trip for less than $5 USD.
They say Medellin is the Paris of South America. To some extent, I agree, as the women are more stylish here than in Ecuador. The textile industry accounts for one-third of Medellin’s employment. Labels from Brooks Brothers to Oscar de la Renta are made here.
The most famous sculptor is Fernando Botero, known for voluptuous nude figures in many of Medellin’s plazas. Locals believe his sculptures bring good luck, particularly by touching the breasts of the “Reclining Nude.” And all the local citizenry was out doing just that. And the young girls were touching the golden penis while snapping photos!
Traffic is quite heavy here. To reduce congestion, Medellin bans private vehicles on certain days of the week, Monday through Friday, from 6:30am to 8:30am, and 5:30pm to 7:30pm. They use the last digit of the license plate, much like Quito. The weekend was much better.
One idiot on the plane yesterday decided to stand up, and retrieve his bags out of the overhead as soon as the plane hit the runway. If that was not enough, so did about fifty of his countrymen! Rules, particularly when driving, are not followed.
I am still in search of Juan Valdez. We are also in search of a good steak. We may have found a pretty decent steak in an area called Parque Llerus. It is also the busiest bight club area for young people. Many were still celebrating Halloween. But it was all good clean fun, with many under age youth mingling, as well as families, and the usual date night crew. It was so nice to see a busy area, about 6 to 8 blocks, some lines to the most popular clubs, and busy restaurants. We should be so fortunate back home. And thank yous to the young lady at the front desk who sent us there.
Cabs still try to do the old trick of leaving the meter off as they load you up, and take you to your destination. Do they think we are still that stupid? And every guidebook I have ever read tells tourists to beware of the scam. I had a cab driver today who could not read. When he went the wrong direction, I told him. He got upset, and I threatened to leave without paying. He finally corrected his course. Even then, I got out before he got there since he took the slowest route possible!
But I must tell you that our driver from the airport to the hotel, about a 30 mile drive, was most quick and efficient. We saw Jon again today, and can only hope he drives us to the airport on Wednesday. We also had a good driver yesterday to Santa Fe.
So far, Colombia has been the most pleasant surprise. We expected Ecuador to have more joy and frivolity, but it has been Medellin that steals the show. Perhaps our guide in Quito was not as keen on the latest and greatest that Quito offers. People there were certainly not as affectionate with each other, nor did they dress as stylishly, at least the women. The guys still do the funky jeans and T-shirts here.
The trip is getting better by the hour. Thank goodness, we came a long way to experience something good. And Barry the V came all the way from Cape Town to participate. He asked if Mike has an “off” button. Obviously not!!!
We did the Turibus Medellin hop on, hop off tour bus today. I have done these in most cities, just to learn the lay of the land. This was certainly not much more than just stopping at a few points of interest. However, they stayed too long at each place, thereby negating the “hop on, hop off” benefits of the typical tour bus.
Watching Dr. House speak Spanish is one thing. But then, watching our other beloved US television characters in Spanish is downright out-of-place. When Clint says “Make My Day” in Spanish, it just does not compute. Or Jack Bauer saving the world from total destruction. Sunday Night Football is even more strange. Michele Tafoya, the sideline reporter, sounds like a Spanish man. And now I see that Al Michaels is speaking Spanish, along with color commentator, Chris (Where Is My Wife Now?) Collingsworth.
Mike and I finally found the coldest beer in town, right near our hotel, at the huge new shopping mall behind us. Finally, someone knows how to serve beer! I ordered a bottle of champagne for our farewell dinner this evening. I hope they know how to chill it properly!
We need to get out of the city, perhaps visit one of their fabulous coffee farms, or go digging for some emeralds. Or both! And I am still searching for Juan Valdez. We actually went to Santa Fe, not the one in New Mexico!
We also drove down the street where notorious drug kingpin Pablo Escobar was killed. I have always wanted to use the word kingpin in one of my emails!
We found some decent pasta Sunday evening for Barry the V. But the best part was the gelato. By the way, foreign wines, like the malbecs from Argentina, are priced at a premium here, though my bubbly is not so harshly priced.
The thunderstorms here are quite frightening. It sounds like bombs exploding! The rain consists of huge, wet drops. And it seems to last for more than just a few hours. Monday night was an all night rain and thunderstorm.
Today (Tuesday) is our last full day here in Medellin, as well as on this trip. We leave mid-day Wednesday, get into Quito in the early evening. We will have a farewell dinner with Barry the V, and head out around midnight to SFO via Houston. Barry will leave early the next morning for London, via Miami.