Medellín is the capital of Colombia’s mountainous Antioquia province. Nicknamed the “City of Eternal Spring”. More humid, not Asia humid , but still humid versus Canada. I’ve collected my bags from the bag carousel, and now it’s time to get into town. WELCOME TO MEDELLIN!

There’s a couple ways to get into town from the international airport in Medellin. It’s a tiny little airport here. (No chance of getting lost here).

  1. Private car. If you’re reading Best Countries to Retire Cheap, you really shouldn’t even be looking at this option. 
  2. Taxi. Taxi’s are pretty standard 50k in Columbia pesos (roughly $25)
  3. Bus. This is the best option! Directly outside of the door, are two shuttle buses. White in color, they are called collectivo. And they are $9.5k or roughly $5.

Ask the driver “San Diego?”. They’ll confirm, and then you get bag tags for your luggage that they put in the back. (Remember they do not speak English. If they do it’s very very limited. About 2/10 in English speaking skill.) Do not ask them “Excuse me, is this the Collectivo that takes me to San Diego Mall?” They’ll just give you a confused look. Seriously, just say “San Diego?”

They seem to wait until the bus fills up, no real schedule. (I waited for 20 minutes.) Once the bus takes off, somebody walks down the aisle collecting the fee. (They don’t like breaking $50k bills, so try to have a $10k.) 

Coming into Medelling at 1130 pm at night, I got to see the city spread out gloriously in it’s lights on the mountain. The sight is amazing. (Like flying into Vegas at night, and seeing the lights from the plane). I would say if you have a choice, try to get into the city at night. The lights are just so pretty. 

The bus itself is a standard shuttle bus worth of comfy. You might want a small jacket though, if you get cold easy. (If you have ever brought a jacket into a movie theater, you definitely should.) 

After roughly 45 minutes you get to San Diego Mall. 99% of people are heading there. 

One thing to watch out for are baggage handlers at the San Diego Mall. They’ll accost you as soon as you step off the bus. They are literally going to go to the back of the bus grab your bag, walk 5 steps and put it in the trunk of a taxi. They’ll expect a tip for this. If you don’t want this, just shrug them off and get your own bag. Only about 1/5 people I saw took the baggage handler option. 

If you do use the baggage handler, they do shove to the front of the line for you to get your bags out of the bus. So, it’s not a complete rip off. You do save time this way.

Taxis to anywhere in the city from San Diego Mall are metered. There’s no need to fight to have the meter turned on. (I was expecting the standard taxi cab hassles that I got used to in Bangkok.) Not here. Taxis are all pretty good, meter is automatically on.

I didn’t have a reservation any place to stay, so I headed to Lleras Park (pronounced PARKAY YERAS) the entertainment area. There are a ton of budget hotels, and hostels in this zone. It cost me roughly $8k or $4 Cdn to get here. Successfully arriving checking in, and a cerveza in hand….I settle down into day 1 of Colombia.

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