Mexico City to Medellin return for $216 USD ($276 CAD) each. Not bad for a four and a half hour flight.
It was a night flight, with the sun coming up only a half an hour before we landed. First impressions of Colombia from the air? Green, lush, and mountainous. Looks like we're going to love the scenery.
The fee is 160,000 Colombian pesos ($75 CAD) each. Not small change by any means. Paid it by credit card, right at the immigration booth.
Stamped our passports, and then we were in.
First stop was the airport tourist info booth. The girl there, Joanna, was very helpful and gave us a guide to Medellin as well as a map of the entire country. She warned us of the areas to stay away from (we had no plans to go to these areas anyhow) and gave us some other info. I asked her how to get a SIM card for our iPhone and she pointed us towards a small shop the next floor up.
We went up there and the guy was also very helpful. There are three major cellular carriers in Colombia and he said that Claro was a tiny bit more money, but it had the best coverage. The cost for the SIM card and 2GB of data was 47,000 pesos ($22.18 CAD). Hey, we're connected now! He did the activation and everything for us, and showed us that we were online. Nice guy. The 2GB is valid for 30 days, but we're here for six weeks so we'll have to try and make that last three weeks and then sign up for another 2 GBs.
Next up, the bus ride into town. There is a special airport bus that takes you right into the center. Cost is 9.000 pesos ($4.25 CAD) each for the 45 minute ride.
Tough to take decent pictures from the bus.
Inside the bus!
Haven't yet figured out if that is in kilometers or miles per hour.
Coming in to the outskirts.
Medellin is a city of about 4 million people. Built into a valley with steep mountains all around, and a lot of the city is actually on the side of these mountains. Very interesting how they've dealt with the geography.
First impressions from the bus? Overall, cleaner than Mexico. Very green.
A farm with a view of the city.
We got off the bus right downtown. Next up was to flag a taxi. There are little yellow taxis everywhere! As I had read in our Lonely Planet guidebook, taxis are cheap and plentiful!
We had made arrangements to stay with a couchsurfer and had received directions from our host to get to their place from downtown. Also, I had previously found the approximate location on the map on our iPhone and was able to show that to the driver as well. He seemed to have a pretty good idea of where it was, so off we went into the nightmare of traffic. Motorcycles zipping in and out of everywhere. How they survive, we don't know. Some don't, I'm sure!
Arrived about 15 to 20 minutes and 5 kms (3 miles) later. I congratulated our driver on his skills, and paid the bill. 12,000 pesos ($5.65 CAD). Nice...taxis are cheap like they were in South Korea.
Andrea was there to greet us. Her boyfriend Herber was at work. They are a 30 year old couple who are both biologists but effectively still in school. She is doing her Phd and he is finishing his masters degree. They met at school.
She was heading off to school herself, so left us alone with the two cats. She had kind of given us a bit of idea of the neighbourhood and where the nearest shops are and said she would be back around 6:00pm.
But we were zonked. Never left the house. They have good wifi here, so got caught up on that, and I had a nap.
Sure enough, they returned about 6pm and we met Herber as well. They both drive motorcycles to get around which is a very popular thing here in Medellin. We discussed what to do about dinner, and decided to head out. Flagged a taxi right outside their door. Like I said, those little yellow cabs are everywhere!
They took us for "arepas", a typical Colombian dish made with white corn flour and stuffed with meat and cheese.
Yummy! One arepa will leave you stuffed!
So, we each had an arepa, Herber and I each had two beers, and the girls each had a lemonade. Total bill was 48,000 pesos ($22.66 CAD), tip included. I can see us eating out a lot in Colombia!
Then, they suggested we take the cable car to see the lights. I mentioned earlier that Medellin has dealt with it's geography in interesting ways sometimes and they have a cable car system that is actually part of the metro public transportation system.
Getting on the cable car.
There are a couple of stops along the way if you wish to get off, and then we get to the top.
Our couchsurfing hosts, Andrea and Herber.
Looking down on Medellin.
In bed asleep by 10:30pm, and slept like a rock. Today, they are showing us the city!
Women's slippers on sale today only. They look comfy....