Medellin's Star is Rising

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Medellín, Colombia’s second largest city, is beginning to pop up on travelers’ radars with increasing frequency. The city, which sits nearly 5000 feet above sea level, is rising above its tarnished reputation as a former den of drugs and violent crime. A recent New York times feature travel article sings the city’s praises, and will no doubt encourage still more visitors to flock to this “City of Everlasting Spring.”

Want to know more? Read on: our local Medellín guide, Andres, is here to tell us a bit more about his city – and why it’s still a good reason to explore certain places with a local guide.

Despite the travel warnings and Colombia´s reputation as a country that´s still undergoing lots of turmoil, foreign visitors have increased and continue to do so, thanks to the very positive experiences that the vast majority of travelers have in our country.

Word of mouth to encourage friends and family to come and check it out themselves has had a powerful effect in changing this negative perception. Medellin’s past has unfortunately gotten lots of bad press, mostly because of the insane proceedings of a despicable drug lord who once made this city his operational home. However, it´s also Medellín the city that can surprise you the most from the negative perception built through years of negative news, to find a city with modern infrastructure, enviable climate , beautiful women, the friendliest people in the country and undeniable achievements in terms of becoming an urban and social transformation model, among many other positive features. There is good reason why Medellín was ranked # 3 among Latin America’s favorite cities, according to Condé Nast Traveler’s magazine.

Despite all this admirable progress, there´s still a long way to go in making Medellín (and many other Latin American cities) as safe as everybody wishes. So people might wonder… Is it safe enough to go around Medellin on your own? Well, exploring the fancy Poblado area on your own is no big deal, and not even the Metro and Cable Metro, but venturing into other areas where caution needs to be exercised is more enjoyable and safe with a local travel guide who is already street smart enough and knows his/her way around.

Apart from showing travelers my city’s popular highlights, I like to take them safely off the beaten path to interesting places such as the Plaza Minorista (produce market), or the public escalators of the Comuna 13. These diversions from the regular itineraries are usually done upon request but can really help you see the other side of the city and enrich your perspective of what Medellín really is, a prosperous city but still, full of contrasts.

For example, riding on Medellín´s Metro is not just going from Poblado to Acevedo stations and then jumping on the Cable Metro. There´s a wealth of information that I can share with you while you cover each segment of the ride, such as passing by one of the most important hospitals in terms of transplants in Latin America, the oldest public university in the country, numerous examples of social investments that Medellin’s government has made within the last 12 years or so, stories about people encountered while riding the Cable Metro, the Metro´s effects on crime reduction, etc.

As Andres has made clear, your explorations around Medellin can only be enriched with a local guide – one who will make sure you don’t miss out on the details that would otherwise go by unnoticed. If you’re heading to Colombia, consider starting a conversation with Andres and make your trip that much more special.
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