View from our sixth floor apartment patio in Pogradec, Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Pogradec, Albania .

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Gjyrokaster, Albania on October 6th.

Monday, December 14, 2015

What a fun public transportation system!

Note to city planners:

Want people to use the public transportation system? Then make it so that it's cheap, easy, and efficient. Then, add an element of fun, and everybody will use it!

Yesterday, Ruth and I used the public transportation system here in Medellin, Colombia to go from the Robledo neighborhood situated high on an eastern hill to the Parque Arvi (Arvi Park) situated high on a western hill on the opposite side of the valley that contains the city itself.

First, we had to take a bus.

There are very few actual formal bus stops for the small local buses, and no schedules. You simply stand beside the road, and when one comes by, you stick your arm straight out and wave your hand up and down.

Normally, a bus will come by within 10 minutes. Very rare that you would have to wait longer than that, and often it will show within 5 minutes.

And provided you live on a route, there is no walking to a bus stop. You simply walk outside your front door, and wait!

Sure enough, the bus came along. We asked the driver for "dos integrados" (two integrated) tickets that would include both the bus and the transfer to the Metro line. They cost 2,300 pesos ($1.00 CAD, or 72 cents US) each.

From our location, it is about a 10 minute bus ride through (sometimes steep) residential streets to do the 1.8 kms (1.1 miles) to the MetroCable station.

Medellin has a system of two above ground subway style rail lines, and two cable car lines that attach to that system. Plus, all of the small, nimble buses.

From the bus, we walk directly into the MetroCable terminal, wait in a short lineup to get on the cable car. Maybe two minutes at the most.

Kevin in the MetroCable car high above Medellin.

What a fun way to get somewhere! Each cable car seats 8 people. They're clean, comfortable, and with great views of the city.

Looking back at where we came from.

We traveled about 5 kms (3 miles) on that one cable car, and that took us directly into the terminal to switch to the MetroRail system. Again, perhaps a two minute wait and we were on the train riding the rails above the streets below. These trains get quite busy and you are often standing room only. But because they travel quickly between stops, you're not standing for very long. We had to transfer trains to the second line in order to get to the next MetroCable stop. Then, another transfer station. 

This time, the lineup was quite a bit longer. It took maybe ten minutes to shuffle our way through to the point that it was our turn to get into a car.

Soon, we were heading much higher up! This is looking back at where we had come from.

We went through to the end of that line, and that was the end of our $1.00 journey! Not bad, for a buck!

Then we had to transfer to a more expensive line. This is more of a tourist car because it takes you high up the mountain without any further stops until you get to Parque Arvi (Arvi Park), about 2 kms past the edge of the mountain. This line costs 4,900 pesos ($2.15 CAD) each for the one way journey. Many people simply go for the view and don't even get off at Parque Arvi.

Of course getting into enclosed quarters with six strangers can be interesting. You never know what you're going to get, and you're going to be spending 10 or 15 minutes with these people.

This time, we were with five women, a couple of whom were visiting from Venezuela. We had a great conversation with them in Spanish and after talking to them I think we would go visit Venezuela. Even with the political turmoil there just now, they say that once you are outside of the big cities, the countryside is gorgeous and the people are friendly. In other words, just like Mexico and Colombia...don't pay attention to the media reports!

They took a photo of us.

And we took a photo of them!

Once we got up over the mountain, we were surprised to see that the cable car route took us over a beautiful forest for about 2 kms. Then, it drops you at the station and you are free to explore.

When you get off, there is a market with stalls selling handicrafts and food. We bought a couple of empanadas and another type of corn bread product stuffed with cheese. Can't remember the name of it!


We had read that you're supposed to pay for entrance to the park and that you can't do any hiking without paying a guide. But the place didn't seem well organized, and the information booth was closed when we arrived. (We did notice when we left that it was open). So we just started wandering around and went off for a hike. Nobody ever stopped us or told us that we couldn't. We probably did about 6 kms (3.7 miles) just wandering around. Nice way to get out of the city for a half a day or so.

Ruth, on the trails.

Both of us on the trails!

Back at the market.

Fruit cup, anyone?

And then it was time to get back on the cable car and do the entire route in reverse. 

Here's a short video of the cable car ride over the forest...

And then, it was back down over the city. We should have gone on Saturday when there were clear blue skies!

Heading back down.

Looking towards downtown.

They ever decorate the road surfaces here!

This new highway only opened about six months ago.

And another shot of the city.

We enjoyed Medellin much more than we enjoyed Bogota. At half the size, (4 million people instead of 8 million), Medellin is still a really big city. But there's something about it that made us feel more welcome than Bogota. Not sure what it was...perhaps the fact that we stayed with someone local? Not sure. Thanks for having us, Andrea and Herber! We enjoyed our stay with you!

Today is our last day in Colombia. This evening, we will take a taxi to downtown, and then the bus to the airport. At 1:00am in the morning we will be on our flight to Mexico City which is scheduled to arrive at 4:45am! Then, a subway ride and a two hour bus ride and we'll be back with our motorhome Sherman!

It's been a great first visit to South America, but we're looking forward to relaxing with our motorhome in Mexico for a while!

Need a last minute toy idea for a child? We bought one of these Stomp Rockets for our 4 year old grandson and he loves it!

You can buy them at Amazon...


  1. Absolutely loved following your journey! Thanks for the daily posts. Enjoy your trip back to Mexico :-)

    1. Thank you Tracy, we enjoyed bringing you our daily posts. Hopefully we have been able to entice a few people to come and visit Colombia.

      We had a long trip back to Mexico but everything went according to plan.

  2. That does look like a fun ride:) Being inexpensive is a bonus!

    1. I can't believe that the cable cars are part of the whole public transportation system here. What a fun way to get to work.

      There is no way you could ever get a cable car ride in the US or in Canada for that price. I know in the city of Ottawa you can't even get a ride on the public bus system for that price.

  3. We have been following your adventure through Colombia and now you are on your way "home" to Mexico. Wonderful!!!
    After spending an enjoyable time with you at Cabri, we know the people on the Caravan will be blessed with two amazing travellers.
    Sounds great and we are very excited along with you both.
    Have fun!

    1. I hope you enjoyed our travels! We are so looking forward to getting back to Mexico, even though we really enjoyed our time in Colombia, it is always nice to get back home.

      Thank you Barry and Lorrie, although we have always said we would never do a caravan tour, there is a difference being doing one and leading one. We think we will have fun with this and are happy that it is only a one month commitment, so if we don't enjoy it then we aren't going to have to do it for a long time. Looking forward to writing about our experiences with it.

  4. Now that was some serious out of the box thinking to come up with a transportation system like that. Other places could use that system.

    1. We totally agree with you Paul and Marti. Just imagine if they made a system like this in more cities and made it affordable, I think more people would use the system, I know we would!

  5. Fascinating transportation system! I can't imagine those cable cars being very cost effective.
    Medellin does look friendlier!

    1. the system definitely gets used a lot so maybe the MetroTrain helps to subsidize the MetroCar. All we know is that it does get well used! We agree, we think all around that Medellin is friendlier and prettier than Bogota.

  6. Riding the cable car would be a fun way to get around (as well as inexpensive!). Medellin sure looked hazy -- is that haze smog? Safe travels to Mexico!

    1. It is a fun way to get around but the MetroCable only has two or three lines. The MetroTrain gets used way more, but it is nice that they incorporate the two and the buses into one system.

      Yes the city was very hazy but I think it was just the weather, not because of smog.

  7. That was a fun journey , but now you need some downtime with Sherman, I am sure you will enjoy.

    1. Yep, we are really looking forward to relaxing for a bit. We still have more exploring to do in and around Valle de Bravo but that can wait for a few days.

  8. I've seen Argentine on travel channel and love the country including the snowy mountains. A lot of Germans live in Argentine. I liked Medellin and surrounding area i.e. the coffee plantation too.

    1. I have seen many views of Argentina and it looks beautiful too, one day we will make it there too. We really liked everywhere we went in Colombia for different reasons but the one place we like the least was Bogota itself. Although it has a lot to offer, it just didn't do anything for us. We loved the Gold Museum though!

  9. We had a great trip with you folks thru Columbia. We were somewhat surprised when you said you were going to lead A caravan in MX. We have never and never will take a Caravan however we have talked to some folks on the Caravans and they say there is always some folks who are a Pain in Ass. We were told about one guy who did fuel up at a "Fuel Stop" because it was not in his budget until the next day. What a Dork. Good Luck

    1. Thanks Tommy, we really enjoyed it too!

      There is a BIG difference between doing a trip in a caravan and leading a caravan. We have both said to ourselves that we would never do a caravan and that is still true but leading one is a different ballgame altogether. Having said that we are glad to be doing only one month opposed to a three month commitment that way if we aren't happy with it we haven't got a lot of time invested in it. We are going in with an open mind and apparently we have a lot of say into how we want to run our segment of the caravan. We love Mexico and hopefully we can show more people what a wonderful country it is and that they will return again and again.

      If that happens to us, we will tell them to either get the gas before we are ready to leave in the morning and it not then they will just have to catch up on their own, we will not put everyone else out because of one bad apple.

  10. Cool public transport. I checked ours here in Monterrey and it comes out the same, .72 U.S. for an air conditioned bus with wifi. In Canada we paid $4.75 but then again that's where the drivers make $100,000 a year.

    1. Love the WiFi on the buses, I think that should be incorporated into the public transportation system as well. There is a reason that more people take their cars to work in Canada and the US, and that is because public transportation is priced ridiculously priced!


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