Since arriving by bus into Medellin from Salento our trip has been anything but short of experiences. From the crazy Colombian bus drivers who consider themselves Mario kart ‘racers’ to the curious locals who like to peep in your face and ask to have photos with you. For once it was a country, only few would enter, but now the tourism is slowly building.

Medellin – a city on the move

Medellin is a city different to most South American cities, it’s a place where the locals feel proud to call it their own. Take the public transport system – the metro. Here you are going to see a train that is in pristine condition, not a speck of graffiti or dirt in site. The metro system has opened up parts of the city that were before considered to be dangerous territory. This is has had an influence on the culture and community, as they mend the feeling of being an outsider. The city has been through tough times, and through community actions they are improving the stigmas around certain areas. They are actively improving education to the areas that need it most and bringing new life to areas with dark histories.

For a culture which has a dark past, they are some of the happiest people. With the mindset of each day will be better and celebrating the smallest accomplishments, they have turned their life into a more positive one, in which I am envious. Drawing with Germany in 1990 for instance is a cause for celebration that they still celebrate at times today.

Or maybe they are just so happy because of the amount of sugary treats they have for offer, boy do Colombians love their sugar, and their cheese. For instance I don’t know any other country who would dare put cheese into their hot chocolate. On the topic of cheese, you can find it in everything, from cheese stuffed bread to cheese filled empanadas and deep fried cheese balls, they truly know how to indulge on the good stuff. But us gringos sometimes need a break, this is where the area of El Poblado comes in. An area built almost for us travellers, filled of good coffee and some western type food. It was a place where I finally understood what good Colombian coffee was. After all majority of the time all the good stuff is exported right?! Alike most travellers coffee is about flavour and strength and that is exactly what you can find with most espressos in this area. With no shortage of cafes, you are bound to find a good cuppa or two. Check out Pergamino cafe for true Colombians flavours made into a western style.

Guatape and Piedra del Peñol

After the hustle and bustle of the big city, Guatape is a great getaway only 2.5 hours west of Medellin. Close to Piedra del Peñol, the big rock, home to over 600 stairs that provides sweeping views over the multiple islands nestled in the emerald green water. The town itself is bursting with colour, with every house, shop and building painted a different shade, it brings a smile to anyone’s face.

Full of some of the kindest people and a small town vibe, stay a night or spend the day before heading back to the hustle and bustle of Medellin.