Medellin: Ending in El Poblado
We ended our last week in Colombia, our last week traveling abroad this year, in El Poblado. It’s a celebrated neighborhood among travelers.
And we used the week to transition our mindsets and our lifestyle to back to a more conventional way of living.
El Poblado’s immediate draw for those visiting Medellin is the array of accommodations and choice of bars and restaurants.
There’s certainly not as many locals around El Poblado, and perhaps it isn’t as emblematic of Medellin than let’s say, Laurles, but our time feel meaningful nonetheless.
El Poblado is smaller than surrounding neighborhoods, but boasts swanky boutiques and upscale sky-risers.
Regardless, it’s vibrant and funky and there’s no doubt of the allure for a younger crowd.
We, too, stayed in a sky-rise. We splurged. It was our last week, after all.
For roughly 50 dollars a night, our massive studio had floor to ceiling windows with views of the entire city.
Furthermore, we had Netflix! A real treat. We got into a routine. I’d make dinner, we’d watch an episode of The Bodyguard. It became dangerously comfortable.
To me, it felt like the week would never end. I was so focused on living presently, almost to a fault, that it seemed like life in El Poblado was our new reality.
I loved going for walks, taking in the vibrancy of the city.
One constant phenomenon were the malls. They were…elaborate.
We stayed across from Centro Comercial Oviedo, which felt something like a wonderland.
Now, I’m not necessarily a mall person, but the half indoor, half outdoor structures were decked out with plants and lights and it felt like an escape from the bustling city.
And since it was before Christmas, it made it even more extreme.
Like so much you come across when traveling, we learned not to question it, and simply embrace it.
We’d easily get lost, coming across picturesque sets and even children choir’s singing Spanish Christmas carols.
In many ways, this false reality grounded me, reminding me that Christmas was indeed coming up and we’d be stateside for it.
The thing about Medellin, is that everyday is beautiful. A comical 75 degrees and sunny. So, though Christmas felt out of place, we took full advantage of the weather.
We walked to Envigado, primarily a residential neighborhood.
It’s tree-lined streets lack the business that inevitably comes with rows of hostels in El Poblado.
It’s able to remain a suburban neighborhood largely because of enforced building height restrictions. And there are walking paths, that quickly make you forget you’re in one of the largest cities.
If we were staying longterm, I’d like to live in Envigado.
Although Envigado boasts the most green space of anywhere else in the city, parks aren’t hard to come by.
We loved a park that appeared to be by a TV studio.
Food stands lined one side, and there were some of the cleanest public restrooms. All great cues for a place to camp out.
We came back a few times to play cards under the shaded bamboo trees.
On one of our walks, we came by the Chicken Box, up by Los Balsos. It was a spin on a gastropub from the States, with far better chicken.
It felt festive and celebratory and a final hurrah. We toasted with Moscow Mules and enjoyed chicken and waffle sandwiches.
On one of our last days, we ventured to Arví Park.
It’s a wonder. The ecological nature preserve is a Pre-Hispanic archeological site, and generously open to the public.
Located on the eastern slopes of Aburrá Valley, it’s situated up in the northeastern part of Medellín.
Perhaps the most exciting part of the adventure was simply getting there. Which, could be analogous for the entire year.
Metrocable, or cable cars, jettison you above the city.
And it’s part of the public transportation.
Whereas in Barcelona, a cable car ride up Montjuïc hill cost 11 Euros one way per person, here it was the same cost as taking the bus a couple stops. Naturally, we felt validated we walked up to Montjuïc.
The 20 minute ride up glided over the mountains to the east of Medellin.
But the glimpses of the neighborhoods below was the most fascinating.
The eclectic neighborhoods displayed representations of graffiti and public art.
As we neared the top, it wasn’t solely colorful artwork, but a window into more realistic living conditions.
Once we reached the peak of the ride, the National Park felt like we were transplanted into another world.
There are various exhibits and hiking tails and camp sites.
We decided to try to get to the waterfall and an alleged picnic area. However, we became quite turned around with the Spanish map. We stepped over snakes—which I deemed harmless.
Although scenic in it’s own right, we were walking down a main road, which was certainly was not the way.
Fortunately, I did find a mango stand, never far.
We took a detour down a questionable path, that led to the most beautifully manicured trail.
This was more what we had in mind.
It led to a park oasis, with bridges and colorful apparatuses.
We even found a waterfall, of sorts.
It quite literally felt like nature’s playground, excuse the cliche here.
We continued to meander, until we were desperately in the need of lunch.
However, it was as if we couldn’t escape this nature paradise.
When we finally found an opening in the trail, we were able to resurface to what then felt like the mainland.
We went to El Tambo Restaurante along the main road, solely because it had the most people.
I got the Sancocho, a Colombian chicken stew. Pretty sure it was made with an entire chicken and could feed a small family. If nothing else, it was reviving.
I think a risky part of traveling is staying put. When we had our apartment in Poblado, and I made dinner and we really lived there, it felt doable. I could almost envision us relocating and living in Medellin.
There’s no doubt moving around is exhausting. Slowing down for the last couple of weeks was a needed transition.
We’re leaving Medellin feeling fulfilled, yet nostalgic for a moment we’re currently living.
I found that to be a reoccurring feeling for me. To miss a moment I’m in. It’s the ultimate lesson of living presently. And knowing that nothing is forever. Will repeated to me constantly during our last week, it’ not the end, it’s only the beginning. And for the first time, I’m starting to believe it.