Medellin, the city of eternal spring in Colombia has definitely lived up to it’s name. I’ve been here for a week now and the weather has been beautiful. The city is divided into different zones, zona rosa (the pink zone) is the main tourist area. It’s also known as Gringolandia. If you want to get here just tell your cab Parkay Yeras (Lleras Park).
This is Medellin at it’s touristy best. Free wifi, bars, pubs, Subway, KFC, local Colombian food places all mix with street performers, drug dealers and prostitutes.
Unlike some places like Khao San Road in Bangkok, it isn’t just tourists here. This is a nice mixed entertainment zone where a lot of Colombians like to come. Prices of food here are roughly $5 a meal, and beers $3. You can get cheaper beers at the mini mart (an old travellers trick) for $1.50.
If you are thinking of finding the best places to retire cheap , this zona rosa is a great place to start. There are a lot of digital nomads in this area, with co working spaces. It seemed safe all the time even at 4am in the morning, with Police everywhere. My hostel room was $11 a night at Hotel lleras 8 so it wasnt’ too much to stay here.
But being the intrepid traveler that I am, I moved into a haunted hotel/bar/theater called Casa de la Luna in the downtown core. I wanted more of an authentic experiment. Rent for the month was $200. Here it’s all locals. I was the only tourist that I saw (besides a kiwi who is also staying here), and being Chinese? I have yet to see one other Asian. Food here is $2 a meal and there are street carts everywhere (none in the tourist area). I have had the best freshly fried potato chips for 75cents (freshly fried) ever.
Hablo Espanol? Hablo Inglis? Medellin does not speak English. I have never been in such a developed country that doesn’t speak English before. Rating a 2/10 on the scale, you will need to learn as much Spanish as possible. I started taking Duolingo and am at a whopping 4% fluency. That definitely isn’t enough.
The oddest thing is that even in the tourist area, many of the vendors/restaurants do not speak English. And the menus are in Spanish with no pictures.
Compared to South East Asia where the worst English I encountered was 5/10 (Chiang Mai), Medellin is a place where you will NEED to speak the native language.
But it trades off by having some of the most beautiful people I’ve ever seen around. In the free outdoor gyms, all the guys have these rugged jawed 5 o’clock shadows that look drop dead gorgeous with six packs. There are always a crowd of people and girls will stop and film here. I’ve even been in several of the films! In fact I learned the Spanish phrase “Excuse me, old Chinese guy, could you move, you’re blocking my view of the hot Colombian behind you”.
It’s now raining on me, but it’s a pretty kind of rain, not the monsoon rains of Asia. So far? I love Medellin and would recommend anybody who wants a completely different experience to come here.
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