Who does not have a pre-fixed image about this former violence ridden stronghold of Pablo Escobar and its drug cartel? Well, reality could not be more different! Medellin is a very modern city with lots of quiet, beautiful neighborhoods down in the valley and up on the hills. Its moderate temperatures year-around and an excellent infrastructure make it a great city to live. An ultramodern metro system zips through the valley and allows tourists to explore also the outer barrios.
The most fascinating means of transport are the two cable cars, one climbing the western hills, the other the opposite side. Of course, tourists use them to get a good vista of the city below, but they were built to provide access to the barrios on those slopes. Such a fancy and quick commute without traffic jam and pollution to the poorest neighborhoods of a major city is unheard of. It is at that included in the price of the metro ticket.
Medellin has relatively few tourist attractions. The Museo de Antioquia is probably the finest with its extensive paintings and sculptures of Fernando Botero. Apart from that, you only find a few others museums and parks.
Since we arrived by plane we got a view from above and that is impressive. At 1.500 meters, the city spreads out in a narrow valley tucked in-between what seems of endless cascades of high dark green hills. Neighborhoods climb the western and eastern hills. Some fancy, other come close to what defines a Favela. Other parts of the city are dominated by brown-colored high-rises. Since the airport is up in the hills, the 35 kilometer bus ride down in the center served as a super cheap tour of the city.
Medellin has also become a weekend destination for party animals, especially since its “Zona Rosa” is unequalled, an huge area of only jam-packed bars, restaurants and clubs. The streets running through are full of young people strolling, chatting and taking swigs from bottle of rum and Aquadiente, an aniseed-flavored, white, 27 % proof liquor.