Cruising in Colombia Part 2

After Bogota my next stop was Medellin. A city famous in history for cocaine trafficking and of course Pablo Escobar. I had heard it’s changed a lot since those days, so I was excited to see how.

It was an hour bus ride from the airport to the city. It was nice to see some of the countryside and it was majestic as the bus descended into the city. Medellin is surrounded by mountains with neighborhoods and buildings blending into the surrounding geography.

The bus stop was right next to the casino with the only live poker in town, Casino Rio. I resisted the urge to go play and instead went to my airbnb to get settled in.

After settling in I returned to the casino to see what kind of live poker they had going. No cash games running, but they had a small buy in tournament that had already started. I had to wait a little bit to get in, but once I did, play was pretty poor and I ended up running pretty deep. Not deep enough though, in a field of about 80 players I made it to the last 2 tables. I would have had to make the final table to make any money. The noticeable difference in the running of the tournament was that the dealers were dealing all of the casino games including the poker tournament.

The following day I did some exploring and hiked up a hill called Cerro Nutibara located in the middle of the city. Some great views and a small shopping area at the top, making for a nice afternoon.

As a traveling tradition, I generally try and catch a professional soccer game in any country i’m in. Medellin has 2 professional teams, Independiente Medellin and Atletico Nacional. Nacional is known for being one of the best teams in the country, winning the league championship 16 times. It is also known for having a heavy association with Pablo Escobar in the 1980’s.

During my brief stay in Medellin, Nacional had a home game against Deportivo Cali. I joined “The Gringo Tour,” where I met a bunch of foreign tourist’s like myself at bar before the game. We were then led by few local guides to the stadium and our seats. Surprisingly, we were seated in the section right next to the fanatics. The fans in that section were extremely rowdy and we spent just as much time watching fights break out in the stands as we did watching the actual game, which ended in a 2-2 draw.

The following morning I signed up for a tour of a coffee farm. I invited my friend Lida, a local travel agent to come with us. We were picked up by Alicia and her husband and driven about 45 minutes through the beautiful countryside. We were then met by Alicia’s family at their farm in Angelopolis. We spent the next couple hours learning the whole coffee making process and of course tasting the different types of coffee. It was a great escape from the city and Alicia’s family was so welcoming and informative. If you are in Medellin, definitely check them out!

That’s all for now. A little more about Medellin in the next blog, as well as Cartagena, a small city on the coast near Venezuela.

More pictures here: