I arrived in Medellin, Colombia on a Thursday afternoon, November 13, 2014 to be exact. Rain falling from the sky onto a beautiful green countryside. Many of my friends, amigos, were wondering why I’d pick a city in a country known historically for violence and kidnappings. Well, I’m on my way to a wedding in Buenos Aires, yes a wedding, I know, I throw weddings every week here at my venue NOVA 535 Unique Event Space in downtown St. Pete for a living. One more wedding, really? On your vacation Mike? Si. See the fact is that my best pal Drew Edwards, fellow world traveler extraordinaire, is the kind of guy, if you’re smart, and I try to be, you listen to what he has to say. If Drew says, “Mike come down to a wedding in Argentina during Thanksgiving” then I do whatever I can to get down there. Hence my blogging from here in Poblado, Medellin, Columbia.
Still, I haven’t answered why I’m in Colombia, and well it’s because I was able to scramble and leave a week prior to the wedding. So the route from Tampa to Ft. Lauderdale to Medellin was there just waiting for me, like delicious low hanging mangos. Spirit, ugg, after several decent low-budget trips, this one rated an F in customer service. Boo Spirit airlines for being slow, rude and fulfilling none of your marketing promises, except for the safe flight bit. But in the big picture, we, me and my fellow passengers, got here on time and in one piece. I was originally heading to Bogota first, then changed my mind after discovering fellow blogger David Lee of Medellin Living, and after purchasing and reading his book Medellin Travel Guide – Insider Advice from an American Expat in Colombia , I decided to start here first. Medellin sans any Entourage though… Adrian Grenier, aka Vince, Turtle and the guys won’t be joining me, well that I’m aware of. And if you’ve been following any of my Michael S. Novilla travel Blogs, you’ll already know, from the photo below, that I’ve got a thingy for manhole and utility covers. They are metal, durably strong, mostly unnoticed, get walked all over like Tina Turner, yet are beautifully unique to each city. Odd, well odd = interesting.
Back to exploring Medellin. It’s mas verde and I learned a new Spanish word, lluvioso….RAINY! Mas lluvioso hasn’t dampened my “spirits” one bit. A stroll around the Parque LLames, a healthy, late lunch at Mondo Verde, with arguably one of the best salads I’ve ever eaten, then more strolling, a quick stop for a delicious bottle of Rioja, then a taxi back to Zandalo. Zandalo is a magical place, so new that ZERO cabbies know where it is and it’s not yet on Google Maps. But thank’s to the all powerful gods of Air B&B, here I am. And If I owned hotel, I’d be as worried as the music industry SHOULD HAVE BEEN when MP3s came onto the scene….anyhoo….
You might have already picked up that Medellin is famous for lots of graffiti, sorry street art. Back home in St. Pete, Florida, my beautiful city, we also have some world class street art, murals or graffiti, call it what you wish. Though in St. Pete, for the most part, the artists respect the owners wishes to have / not have “artwork” painted on their buildings. Check out our St. Pete Mural Tour and see what you think. A shout out to my brother Chris who was instrumental in getting the mural tour site up and running, thanks bubs!
DAY 2 MEDELLIN
After great night sleep via Air B & B and several hours of work via a delightfully high speed internet connection, I was off for another meal, this time at restaurant Herbario, down on the far side of Pablado. This via another quick and easy check on Google Maps, for local restaurants, and their user reviews. Herbario was WELL recommended and I was more than happy to add my 5 Stars, which I did soon after the Octopus and Filet were devoured. I was sporting my fav Blue Lucy T-Shirt, and drooling over the mere words Scotch Depot, though at noonish, I held off for another, more apropos time. Certainly conjures up a much more enjoyable mental experience than, say Home Depot.
The exchange rate is about $1 for 2000 pesos, so you better get used QUICK to a bunch of extra 00000s. The pricing overall is a better deal than at home, an improved purchasing power. See I recall some of my USF MBA termo from the 90’s. Thanks again Mom and Dad for the debt free Diplomas, sorry as shit for all those kids today straddled with debt. Our society should be ashamed for making anyone pay for a full education, when we spend TRILLIONS on war. Shame on us. Soap box back under the rug momentarily, and now time to dress up and head out to support the local economy. Friday Night in Medellin,..oh what could happen?? =D
After working via the glorious internet for a bit longer, I headed down to get a taxi. The entry guards said, effectively, “ha-ha no chance for a taxi at this time on a Friday night”.. so I thought about walking down the narrow, dangerous road even after they said “no bueno”, then my luck held as, for the 3rd straight time, someone was getting dropped off here by taxi and boom my Friday night adventure began. My destination was Elcielo, a locally famous restaurant where you experience ‘moments’, and we’ll Mr. Taxi, friendly enough, along with many locals, had no idea where this was. Luckily ol Google Maps came in handy, even without using the evil data plan, we found it right in the center of Poblado. It was nestled within a quietly lively street of several nice looking restaurants and so I went to dine at elcielo. Except without a reservation, I was no bueno. So I took a walk around the block, my mouth not allowing my legs to lower our dining expectations, so I circled a few blocks around and landed on a nice waiting spot.
And by nice spot I mean a medium flavor Cuban Cigar, a dram of Scotch Whiskey and a small, comfortable patio balcony all to myself. Smoking, enjoying the insane traffico on Calle 10A, in the world-wide phenomenon of Friday Night Rush Hour, smiling to myself that I was having no part of that loconess. So this nice little spot was La Cava del Puro, and the guys took good care of me. An easy hour or so drifted by, as I made smoke rings and enjoyed texting, without using any evil data plan$, via Google Voice app on my smartphone. By the way, that is how I’m shooting all of these photos, with my Samsung Note 2, so please forgive the non Cannon 6D then edited in lightroom quality here. Though for a smartphone, the Note 2 does take some damn good photos.
Now though Mr. Tummy is speaking loud and clearly to me, so I head back around for round 2 of elcielo. And again I’m rebuffed, this time because the kitchen was closed. Lame excuse that was =D. So another recon mission, and I circle back to a great looking Italian Restaurant, il Castello, that I had done a walk through earlier. Back then, during the walk through, it was packed and nary a lonely bar stool was available. Soon enough, after being seated by the proprietor Sandra Catalina Gomez Martin herself, I found out why.
Sandra is a professional Restaurateur. We quickly hit it off, not just because of the tasty mini pizza and her recommendation of the delicious Argentinian Malbec, no it’s because of her amazing Veal Milanesa. Perfectly prepared veal and the fact that she’s warm, engaging, smart, an excellent business woman and a fellow Entrepreneur. After 15 years of owning and operating this, plus other successful restaurants with her husband, who I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting, you can tell she’s on top of her game. Her staff is well well polished, and though I always push and share any improvements I see, there were almost none to offer her. I did joke extensively about her paper management system, which was well oiled, though if you know me, I’m a digital digital paperless guy when it come to business. Reading, I still love a paperback, though my Kindle is well worn. Her trusty assistant Danelia, I joked, was like a robot, tireless, efficient and able to multi task like no one’s business. I offered advice about the horrible sidewalks in Medellin and we spoke of the (very little) differences between Colombians and Americans. The major difference, on the business / Entrepreneurial side, which we agreed upon, was that Americans would “just do it” and worry about the consequences afterwards. In a good way. I joked that “if we always followed the rules, we’d still be British.” I suggested she get all Rambo and stealthily redo her sidewalks one noche to outshine her neighbors, plus make it safer for everyone walking on them. And for my good behavior, along with the bill and many laughs, i was rewarded with two little yummy chocolate balls. Another unique touch for il Castello Restaurant, which I’m delighted to give a 5 Star Review! Mucho Gusto!
MEDELLIN DAY 3:
Off to the Museo de Arte Moderno. Todays was all about, at least so far, the art. In fact there was so much incredible street art that I’m going to create a second blog, Powerful Graffiti, Amazing Murals and Sexy Street Art showcases today’s Medellin.
And back to today here’s more of my Adventure..
In Medellin you get to experience a LOT of this view, the tiny Taxis, which are all friendly though many refuse to take you certain places, I’m unsure if they just don’t know where, even when looking at my Google map, or the uphill is too mas for their 2 squirrel engines, but in any case they are everywhere and getting around here is easy breezy. Today I tasted the local brews here, and was a difficult decision as all 3 were yummy. I’m not a beer drinker any longer, having stamped out that forest fire in college, but I still have an excellent palate, according to my self. I enjoyed the owner’s selection here for lunch and hoped to watch the Gators Football game, however no bueno. Not because of Colombia it’s the stupid SEC network that gets broadcast nowhere. They had ESPN 1- 700 here, sans SEC. No worries we shit the bed and lost in overtime anyways, ARG!! Lunch was delicious and the afternoon about perfect, sans UF football.
After lunch a nice walk around Poblado and found a charming modern coffee house, Cafe Velvet, and of course April Fool me has to clown around with the signage… then enjoyed some randomly located yet excellent street murals.
Here at the far end of Park LLares you’ve gotta love the NON puritan attitudes here, showing the correct plumbing, as mom says, that nature gave us. No idiotic fig leaves or nada huevos, as not shown in our “Free Country”, the good ol USA. There was my most tense moment of the trip so far as I was mentally digesting the massive, building tall image (I think) from Planet of the Apes, scary, when a Krazy lady comes charging and screaming towards me and the street vendors…. wack-a-doodle-doo! We all escaped with our lives yet the poor thing certainly is having a rough decade. You can see her mid scream, in the center of oncoming traffic..
Below is the gorgeous, and smartly decorated Restaurant Lucia inside of Hotel Charlee, where I dined for lunch on Sunday. Gotta love the use of mirrors to decorate the entire ceiling, brilliant! The food was solid good, as Drew would say, and the service excellent, the internet was HORRIBLE, and the bathrooms really unique. You see form the waste down into the Mens / Womans room which are separated by the common sinks.
So are you creative? Entrepreneurial? A business owner or start-up? A success already and you want to enjoy the energy of like-minded people while mentoring them? Then connect with the Entrepreneur Social Club, where we have fun while being productive, where we exclude religion and politics, while focusing on helping, connecting and enjoying our fellow Entrepreneurs and business owners. Why? Because if we don’t save our species, no one will. And I think we’re worth saving, don’t you?