Unfortunately, I didn’t get many pictures for this part of the trip. I’ll chalk it up to good conversation and not really “playing tourist.” Despite that, I got a fantastic intro to Medellin!
It was nearly 3pm by the time my taxi safely delivered me to my hotel, the Four Points Medellin. The taxi fare was fixed from the airport, so there was no need to negotiate or anything. So far, I was enjoying Medellin – all the people I encountered were quite pleasant, and the city seemed quite green, clean, and fairly orderly.
Got to the check-in counter, where I had to wait more than ten minutes to check in due to just two other customers in front of me. Then, ran into part one of the problem – neither of the front desk workers were willing to (or were unable to) speak any English at all. I finally got my point across to them: I wanted to check in, I was an SPG platinum member, and would prefer an upgraded room or suite with one bed. Unfortunately, the hotel was completely sold out, and the only room they could give me on my cash and points rate was a basic room with two beds. Ugh. After discussing for a bit they told me to go up and use that room, and they would see in an hour what they could do.
Got to the room, and it was clean and comfortable enough, with plenty of outlets/etc, and the air conditioning worked quite well and the room was a comfortable temperature. More importantly, the speed of the WiFi was quite good, and I had no trouble doing a high-bandwidth teleconference for work. After about an hour they called back, and they had indeed found me another room. Would I like a room with a patio and a king bed? Absolutely…and they sent staff up to get my bags and do the move for me. Quite a nice touch, although still not a single word of English was spoken by anyone.
The view of the patio in the upgraded room:
Unfortunately, I got stuck on several work calls in a row, and it was after 5pm when I was finally able to venture out and explore. First stop was a quick trip to the mall/grocery store around the corner to stock up on water and a few basics. It was a very modern well-stocked store that would have been at home anywhere in North America – I was incredibly impressed.
After I got back to the room, I managed to get in touch with Judd, a member of FlyerTalk who I’d been getting some advice from on things to do. Unfortunately it was really to late to go explore the city, but he was walking over to my hotel, and there was a good place to get a beer within walking distance. Count me in! He’s an Australian who’s been working in Medellin for a couple of years, and had some fantastic insights into the city. I love meetings like this, because you get a much deeper appreciation in a much shorter time when someone who knows the city well offers to show you around.
Found a nice quite place for a beer maybe a 10-15 minute walk from the hotel, or two…or three. I forgot that Australians consider drinking a competitive sport! By this point we were quite hungry, and it had started to rain, so we hopped in a cab to find somewhere to eat. I’ve forgotten the names of all the places we went, but hopefully Judd will chime in and I can update this post. We ended up for dinner at a brewpub type place, that had hundreds of bottled beers on the menu, along with their own homebrews which were really quite good. Add in a quite good burger and it was the perfect end to to a long day. No, I didn’t get to go out and play tourist, but with work running way longer than planned, I still feel I got a nice intro to the city…and can’t wait to go back!
After a good night’s sleep I was up early for a short run around the neighbourhood, and it was nice seeing the city come to life. Check-out of the hotel was slow and inefficient, just as check-in had been, but the staff were incredibly friendly and tried hard. They just seemed very new and unsure of how to handle some rather basic procedures.
Mid-morning Judd and his wife picked me up at the hotel, and offered me a ride to the airport…with a stop at a local restaurant for breakfast on the way. It was absolutely delicious, good local food (including chicharrón – YUM) and supposedly the President (I believe it is?) stops by here when he’s in Medellin as well. Good, local, non-pretentious cooking…and it was the absolute perfect ending to a short into to the city.
I’m incredibly grateful to Judd and his wife not only for showing me around, but also for the lift to the airport. Their generosity made this short stop so, so much more than it would have been otherwise, where I would have been at the whims of TripAdvisor etc! Soon after a late breakfast they dropped me at the airport, and it was off for the next stage of the adventure!