Trip Start Sep 20, 2010
Trip End Dec 18, 2011

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Our next stop was Medellin, the city famous for Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Cocaine Cartel. It was once one of the most dangerous cities in the world due to the war between the Medellin and Cali cartels. There were numerous car bombs, and drive-by shootings were apparently commonplace. It is still a dangerous city with a murder rate in 2009 of 9 deaths per day but most of this happens in the poorer suburbs. From what we saw it seems a very safe, clean and modern city. We stayed in El Poblado, a rich modern suburb so were perfectly fine.The first thing we did the day after we arrived was go on the Pablo Escobar tour. It's what it’s famous for! This was actually really good and involved driving around a lot of the city seeing some of his buildings, the house where he died and his grave. The guide was able to fit in loads of info as she spoke English at a Spanishesque pace! They had lots of photos from newspapers at the time of car bombs and his shooting and I would definitely recommend it. That night we headed to the Zona Rosa for dinner and drinks. There is a thai restaurant there that does 50% food before 7 and 3 for 1 cocktails and 2 for 1 beers all day every day!! Brilliant. The food was pretty good but the mojitos were better. We paid for 3 beers (which means 6) and 5 cocktails (which means 15!) before stumbling into a few more bars and then home. Liz had maybe had one too many as she did get unusually annoyed when the taxi driver short changed us 100 pesos (about 3p)!!

Over the next few days we saw Medellin’s other sites including a cool park with a whole load of fat statues by world famous local artist Botero, a very 70s concrete government central area, and the barefoot park. The Lonely planet bigs this up as a place to chill out where you encouraged to kick off your shoes and wade in the shallow pools. It turned out to be nothing more than a dirty sand pit full of fag butts and a small pool with a cascade into it. Nice, but not really worth an entry in a guidebook of the whole of South America. We also took a trip in one of the cable cars that forms part of the cities metro system for some cool views over the whole valley.

While in Medellin we took a side trip out to Guatape, a small town that has a big rock nearby that you can climb up for some views of the area. The whole area was flooded when a dam was built and is now a huge lake full of islands which looks pretty cool. The town itself is pretty with all the houses having these plaster designs along their base. Apparently originally for stopping the chickens from pecking away at the walls!

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