This morning we had a flight to Medellin. We were sitting in the airport wondering why everyone was lined up for their flight 2 hours too early. We decided “well, I guess that’s what they do here” and got in line. Only once we were in line did we realize it was for the earlier flight.
It was a short flight, but it was a nice one – there wasn’t much of a ceiling so we were able to see the coffee plantations on our descent into Medellin. That seemed like a real treat until…well, I’ll tell you in a moment.
The international airport is in Rionegro, which is not in Medellin:
In fact, the valley the airport is in is 6,972 feet above sea level whereas Medellin, in the valley to the west, is 4,905 feet above sea level.
We didn’t know this at the time our flights – we didn’t know it was such a long trip and we didn’t know there was actually an airport in Medellin that we could have flown to. However, given the trip into Medellin, I’m not sure I regret it.
In order to get to Medellin from the airport, you have a couple of choices: cabs or one of the various shuttles. The cabs cost (I’m guessing) 80,000 pesos (CAD$35) – we didn’t actually ask, because we didn’t want to know. That’s a perfectly reasonable sum in Toronto (actually, it’s a deal given the distance), but not in Colombia. The shuttles cost 9,000 pesos flat (CAD$3.91), albeit per person, and they don’t take you to your hotel! We opted for the shuttle. I don’t know if the cab would have taken us the same way. It was the right decision.
I have only ever descended into a city like we descended into Medellin once before and that was descending the Trans Canada into Osoyos, BC from the east. However, there were a few couple major differences this time (aside from the fact that Osoyoos is on a lake in a desert and Medellin is on middling river in the Andes…
- When I drove into Osoyoos, I drove into it, i.e. I was driving and I couldn’t fully appreciate the view like I could in the bus on the way into Medellin. I had to concentrate on the road.
- The descent into Medellin starts something like 8,900 feet above sea level – we’re talking about slightly less than 4,000 feet down to the city by road, whereas the descent into Osoyoos is only about 1,700 feet down (again, by road).
- Finally, Medellin has a metropolitan population of just under 4,000, 000 whereas Osoyoos has a population of 4,855. What I mean by this is, the view is significantly greater in breath in addition to height.
Basically, what I’m trying to imply is that I’ve never seen anything like it. I didn’t take pictures (my camera doesn’t do well through glass) so you’ll have to take my word for it. If you ever go to Medellin, and you fly into Rionegro, take the bus. (I say that because I have heard that cabs often take a different, less scene road.)
Once we got to the bus stop, we had to take a brief cab ride over to the neighbourhood of El Ploblado / La Provenza (far as I can figure, La Provenza is in El Poblado).
I have never been to Kitsilano, but I think La Provenza is like a tropical version of it. (Just a guess.) It’s got bar streets, and I guess those are kind of shitty in terms of the vibe of the neighbourhood, but the rest of the neighbourhood is just wonderful. There are these ravines that run through the neighbourhood and at least one has been turned into a park that descends down the hill. (Medellin is not a flat place. I don’t know how wide the valley is at it’s widest, but I wouldn’t guess more than a mile or mile and a half.) La Provenza was the only neighbourhood / town / city where I thought “I could live here” with any kind of seriousness.
Anyway, it’s a nice spot and it’s the place to stay if you come here.
We were kind of beat and so we had a rather expensive (for Colombia) lunch. Jenn then dragged me to a mall for the first time on the trip, which was nice of her for waiting so long. It was a rather tall mall, so I can’t really comment. Don’t remember what we had for dinner, which means it must have been fantastic.
Then we watched Planes, Trains and Automobiles before we went to bed.