Since I reside in Medellin, I am going to start with Medellin. After Bogota, it IS Colombia’s second most visited city. Medellin is ideal as a base for your travels within Colombia. It is famous for its coffee regions located on the outskirts of the city, its many museums and most notably for its tempered climate.
There is a reason why Medellin is commonly referred to as the “City of Eternal Spring”. In Medellin, year-round temperatures remain constant and relatively steady. It is worth noting, however, that I made the permanent move to Medellin in July. For me, it was hotter and more humid than I expected. But the heat and humidity were nothing compared to what I experienced in Abu Dhabi, St. Thomas, Cartagena and Florida. As a side note, December and January are a bit warmer than I expected too. Yikes!
Medellin has two rainy seasons. The months of April-May and September-November are typically when it rains the most. That being said, as I started writing this post in October, it was a beautiful, sunny day in Medellin. The high was approximately 79 (F) degrees. In October, it was raining at night, which cooled down the temperatures in the evening.
Personally, I do not mind the rain at all (except for the humidity). If it is an issue for you or your travel companions, you might want to plan your trip accordingly. Medellin’s climate is often described as good and tropical. The average yearly temperature is estimated to be somewhere around 72 (F)
Medellin has one of the largest and most sophisticated transit systems in South America. Medellin is definitely home to the largest public transit system in Colombia. The government started planning and developing the transit system in the 1980s. I am originally from New York. Even I was surprised by how clean and modern the trains were given the number of people in Medellin using the metro system. I did not even see one rat (thank goodness)!
All kidding aside, Medellin’s metro system is innovative. One of the most innovative in the world. That being said, the transit system is struggling to keep up with Medellin’s growing population (both locals, tourists and expats). Although trains and buses run fairly frequently, transit lines can be long during both the morning and evening rush hours. Also, public transportation does not run all night. From what I have been told, the trains shut down around 11pm.
In addition to trains and buses, Medellin’s metro system includes tramways and cable cars that run to more remote areas of the City. As an added bonus, the transit system is relatively cheap when compared to other metropolitan areas. Currently, it cost less than $1 USD to ride the train. Medellin’s transit system is hailed as one of the most innovative systems in the world. The sophisticated and modern transit system is part of what makes Medellin a very livable and attractive city. Traffic can be horrible most of the time. Public transit is the preferred way to travel for many locals.
Many travel to Medellin to learn Spanish or to take Salsa lessons at one of the many dance or language schools. There is a price range to fit every budget. I will admit it. I tried Salsa early on. Quite frankly, I was horrible. It simply was not my style. Plus, I think I was put off by the whole “the man gets to lead” thing. That being said, Salsa is a beautiful and sensual form of dance. It is all about finding what works for you, and what style of dance you take a liking to. I think I will love Salsa, but I need my lessons to be less formal. I am told that Cali may be the right place for me to find Salsa lessons and a different form of Sala that I will enjoy.
Since Salsa classes in Poblado did not work out for me. Being me, I had to break with the norm, and I ended up taking hip hop dance classes in Poblado. My instructor, Julian, is the bomb (fire). We have fun simply laughing, clowning and dancing. Do not get it twisted, though. My moves are nothing compared to Julian’s. In all fairness to me, Julian has been dancing and performing his entire life. He has more than just street credit. He has danced, on tour, professionally.
Dance lessons and school options seem to be popping up everywhere these days in Medellin. There are lots of options available in Medellin. Try a few and find one (or a few) that work for you. Nowadays, my Spanish school, Toucan in Medellin, offers both free and paid dance classes. Personally, I like one on one classes. There is no sense of me making a fool of myself in front of everyone. Yes, this coming from the girl who posts her dance lessons online. That is simply because Julian is the bomb.
In case you did not know it, Colombia is one of the largest exports of flowers in the world. You will hear many rave about the annual Flower Festival that takes place in Medellin every August. The Festival is an international event that draws spectators from all around the world. I planned my move to Medellin around it. Visitors and locals alike flock to see the brightly colored and ornate flowers grown locally in Colombia. Many of the flowers come from an area close to Medellin known as Santa Elena.
Medellin is also home to one of Colombia’s most famous artists, Fernando Botero. Medellin is also famous for its street and graffiti art. I took a tour of Comuna 13 when I first starting visiting Medellin. Comuna 13 has been and continues to undergo a transformation. I was with a safe and reliable guide who appeared to know everyone. That was definitely a plus and the type of experience I want to create for you. Check out the Tours page (when it is up and running) for more information on that.