Escape the Cold
Updated December 22, 2019
As many of you know by now, I am originally from New York. When I was a child, I loved the winter weather or so it seemed. Nowadays, not so much. That probably explains why I moved to St. Thomas, Abu Dhabi and Florida. But hot is hot and I think I have had enough extreme heat for a while. My advice, if the cold and dreary winter weather in the States is getting you down, then I may have the perfect solution for you. Medellin, Colombia may be the perfect winter travel destination.
Medellin enjoys comfortable, spring like weather year-round. Thus, earning Medellin the nickname La Ciudad de la Eterna Primavera or the City of Eternal Spring. Although temperatures may vary slightly depending on where you are in Medellin, the climate is relatively moderate and temperate during the winter months in the US. Much to my surprise, Medellin is much warmer than what I assumed it would be in December and January.
If you are closer to Medellin’s city center, temperatures will be slightly warmer. If you are at higher elevations or in the mountains, then the temperatures will be a little cooler, especially at night. Medellin typically has two rainy seasons. Generally speaking, the rainy seasons run from April to May, and September to November. When it is winter in the US and frosty in other parts of the world, temperatures in Medellin average approximately 72 degrees (F) or 22 degrees (C). The highs can reach roughly 83 degrees (F) or 28 degrees (C).
I moved to Medellin about 6 months ago. I am still learning the culture and navigating everyday life here. What attracted me to Medellin? The fact that there are so many things to see and do in Medellin, and its beautiful landscape, mountain views and lush, tropical scenery. Currently, I reside in the Poblado area of Medellin. Yes, it is a major tourist hub but as a single, woman who moved here on her own and does not speak the language, I thought it was the safest bet. But there are lots of other areas to visit and explore in Medellin including El Centro (Downtown Medellin), Laureles, Envigado, Buenos Aires and Sabaneta.
Medellin has so many things to see and do that it is difficult to know where to start. Medellin has so much to offer no matter what suits your taste. Dance the night away or take dance or Spanish lessons. Check out one of the many trendy bars, clubs and restaurants that cater to every budget and taste. As for restaurants, Medellin’s restaurants serve up pretty much every cuisine imaginable, at reasonable prices.
If you are an art lover, Medellin is definitely the place for you. Some of my favorites are the Museo de Antioquia, Museo de Arte Moderno, Casa de la Memoria and El Castillo Museo to name a few. The Museo de Antioquia features artwork and sculptures from one of Medellin’s most famous artist, Fernando Botero. The Museo de Antioquia also features artwork from other famous artists but Botero’s work is a major draw for Colombians and international travelers alike. In addition to the art and sculptures displayed inside the museum, many of Botero’s famous sculptures are located in Botero Plaza, which is in front of the main museum.
The Museo de Arte Modern is located in the Cuidad del Rio neighborhood of Medellin. It features modern and contemporary art, but the museum is so much more than that. The museum is located in a former industrial building and host many community events throughout the year. The museum sponsors movie nights and international events that are attended by locals and tourists alike. I recently attended an international dance festival at the museum that featured performers from, among other places, Colombia, Brazil & the US. Please check the museum’s website for more specific information.
I am not necessarily a fan of museums, but The Casa de la Memoria is special to me. It touched my heart. At first, I was hesitant to visit the museum because the museum pays tribute to some of the victims, heroes and their families lost during Medellin’s not so distant and violent past. The museum is very modern. It is a great, interactive way to learn and experience a bit of Medellin’s history. It features a chronological timeline of Colombia’s history and events giving rise to Medellin’s violent conflicts and drug trafficking. For many, it is an important memorial and a beautiful tribute to the sheer endurance and spirit of the Colombian people. Some of which are their relatives.
El Castillo Museum is located in a castle. The grounds are absolutely stunning. The museum itself showcases décor and furniture from different periods in Colombia’s history. In all honesty, the grounds, fountains and gardens are the best part of the museum. To date, tours are only offered in Spanish, so the tour was not overly helpful for me (or the other non-Spanish speaking foreigners in attendance).
For graffiti lovers, visit Comuna 13 and other areas around Medellin to witness street art of many graffiti artists. On a guided tour of Comuna 13, which I recommend to be on the safe side, your tour guide will also give you an overview of what was once one of the most dangerous areas of Medellin. Although Comuna 13 still has a ways to go, you can gain a better understanding of the history and transformation taking place. The transformation of the neighborhood is still ongoing and is sponsored by both the government and private donors. When you take in the surroundings, you will see that the work of both local and international artists (including from the US) are predominately displayed. Once you view some of the artwork and stop in a few stores, it will become apparent that the people of Comuna 13 embrace their African and Indigenous heritages. This was one of my favorite tours. You will also be entertained, along the way, by street performing rappers, singers and dancers.
As many of you know, Colombia is home to some of the best, and strongest, coffee in the world. I am hooked and very fond of it. It rivals Cuban and Hawaiian coffee both of which I love. Consider taking a guided tour of a coffee farm, go exotic fruit tasting at local markets or horseback riding.
You should definitely visit Guatapé and the Rock of Peñol. The views from the summit are incredible. Wear comfortable shoes, though. If you climb to the top, you will climb up over 700 steps to the summit.
You can also visit many of the Pablo Escobar tour sites, but Medellin has so much more to offer. For the more adventurous types, you can also go paragliding, ride ATVs & go on off road tours or head to an eco-park in Envigado to hike and swim in one of the shallow waterfalls. You can also take a helicopter ride and get the best views of what Medellin and the surrounding areas have to offer, including seeing Guatape from above.
I also highly recommend taking a cooking class or attending one of the monthly dinners hosted by Via Cocina – Food Train. It is a community project that offers classes in healthy cooking, small business management and finance for low income community members and the general public. Via Cocina’s Chef and Director Brian has been working as a volunteer in International Development projects since 2003. He has travelled to more than 70 countries and studied the local cuisine in 25+ regions around Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. Proceeds from tourism related activities subsidize Via Cocina’s community mission. For more information, visit Via Cocina’s website at https://viacocina.wordpress.com.