I was definitely ready to get to Medellin, very interested to see what one of the most dangerous cities in the world is like nowadays! I arrived at the airport late-morning and thankfully had Wifi but had to meet my Uber in the parking lot (which I later had to pay for unfortunately). The driver was a younger Colombian ("paisa"), and he was very friendly, offering me rides wherever I wanted to go later on during my stay by giving me his personal cell phone number (many drivers tried to do this so I just went along and deleted it afterwards ;)). It took about 35 minutes to get to my hostel, with curving roads and a beautiful scenery...as soon as I saw the middle of the valley of Medellin I was shocked - it was a breathtaking view I’ll never forget. Literally had no idea what to expect of what the city of Medellin looked like from afar as I was just going off what I had seen in the Netflix show, Narcos, from back in the 80s. My snapshot of Medellin will always include those windy roads and red roof buildings in the center of surrounding mountains.
I was happy to find that the hostel I booked (suggested by someone along the way) was very comfortable with air conditioning and a nice TV and bed. I was so tired after checking in that afternoon, but knew I should probably socialize a bit and figure out my next move. I eventually went to the rooftop bar across the street (the hostel had two sister locations across from one another). Thankfully right away, I ran into a guy from the UK and we hit it off for a bit as we enjoyed a couple of happy hour specials while dissing our country's politics. Turns out he had already been staying in Medellin for a couple months and had suggested this Italian place around the corner for dinner so I went and ate there and then we met back up at the hostel bar for another long conversation, which included life history, present being, and some politics. I actually enjoyed talking politics with him for some reason, maybe because we both agreed on the same thing. The next day I took myself to Guatape (famous for its views of small surrounding islands on top of bright blue water) instead of following a tour or going with a group, I went solo and it was fairly easy and I actually really enjoyed it. I found that when you do these types of things on your own you become more aware of your surroundings and really actually experience more of what you're doing in the present moment.
I loved Guatape, hiking up La Piedra Del Paol was a tiring unexpected experience as it had 650 steep steps with a breathtaking view at the top. Thankfully had brought snacks and didn't have to pay the overpriced food locals were trying to sell, so I ate and chatted with a couple of Germans at the top and then walked around the town (which I had to get a tuk tuk to get to). Ended up getting Gelato and then empanadas at this place called Namaste. I also met a couple in the tuk tuk from Costa Rica, very sweet. I knew it was time to leave around 3:30pm and thankfully did because by the time I got back I had enough time to go on the free hostel bike tour at 8pm. I quickly showered and got a salad and joined the group. It ended up being me and another solo traveler from Germany and then these two girls together (one from Holland, the other from Switzerland). Then there were two local guides and their friends (a local couple). I had a great time at first, biking around the city at night and learning about the different comunas in Medellin. They took us to where all the college students hung out by the university and it was nice to get a local feel in such a "dangerous" city. Then we biked to a restaurant where we had to wait a while and it was almost 11pm and I wasn't hungry so was getting tired and annoyed quickly. I had a lot to do before leaving town the next day so I was trying to rush everyone to leave and we finally made it back to the hostel around 11:45pm (after getting caught in the rain might I add). I had to be up and ready for the 9am free walking tour. I was going to skip it and just walk around on my own but I'm so glad I made it because I met these people who I eventually spent the whole day and night with. These two girls were 24 years-olds from Holland and this guy from France, 26 years-old. We had an awesome smart young tour guide that lasted about 4 hours which included going to a local market to get arepa con queso y pan de queso, took the metro (which was the most impressive/modern metro in South America in my opinion), went up my first cable car (they had about 4 lines), learned about Botera art, and the history of Medellin including Pablo Escobar's impact. The four of us also wanted to do Comuno 13/Graffiti tour so we ended up going together after the free walking tour and that lasted another 3 hours, so by the time it was over, I was extremely exhausted. Thought I ended up showering and meeting up with them again around 7pm for dinner and then we went to this square surrounded by all these bars/clubs - a 10 minute walk from our hostel around 10pm. Saw a bunch of prostitutes, got free beer and shots, and danced to reggaeton music while watching Latinas shake their booties all night. Then I caught back up with the UK guy and had another great convo while looking over the city of Medellin, smoking weed and drinking wine until 2am. Got up the next morning to pack and meet up with those two guys I had been with in Santa Marta who had just gotten to Medellin that morning (yay I was able to see familiar faces again and say my last goodbyes). It was great seeing them again even though it was just for 20 minutes and then I ordered an Uber to the bus terminal, in which I caught the 1pm bus and was on my way to a small coffee town called Jardin!