Sigh. Don’t forget when searching. Colombia is the right way to spell it, with an ‘o’ not a ‘u.’ District of Columbia is with a ‘u’
After the ~3 hour flight landed in Medellin. Immediately I felt the energy of the city. Grabbing a cab outside the airport, we had found a wonderful hotel in a residential area. There were at least 20K people at the nighttime festivities. A very popular band was playing, there was a lot of dancing, drinking, and food booths. The reason for all of this was for the la feria de las flores – the Flower Festival. The food stalls were fascinating! .walking a bit further I see a pig’s SNOUT! According to people here it’s a delicacy of some sort. After the dancing and some food from the food stalls (I can hear my mother’s voice in my head about eating food off of the street ), we headed back to the hotel in a taxi.
A side note: Taxis are VERY inexpensive and plentiful. Never had to wait more than about 30 seconds for one at any point during the trip. It is important though to negotiate with a cab if you are going for a long trip. The cab ride from the airport, to the hotel, waiting at the hotel, and then to the festival cost a total of ~$30 for both of us (the airport was approximately 35 minutes outside of the city). I swear though – abandon all thoughts of any terrorists hurting you – just worry about the taxi drivers!
He mentioned that traffic rules in Colombia are more “suggestions” than laws. (one taxi driver just drove through the red lights (not blinking red, not yellow then red, just red). Traffic stopping was VERY rare. Very fair pricing too. The hotel was an apartment hotel which means that many of the rooms had a kitchenette and living room area. The hotel was very nice, clean, in a residential neighborhood, four blocks from the metro station, and a nice large room with a terrace facing out onto the mountains. Email is email@example.com (no website).
The next morning (after eating breakfast with cafe con leche) we were off to view the city. Gorgeous! Walked to the Museo de Antiquities. This museum was fabulous! The cost for admission to the museum was $1.50. Turns out he studied in San Francisco for awhile. Said hasta luego and then went to have lunch at the museum cafe. Had a WONDERFUL caesar salad with shrimp and bread. One of the reasons for the trip to Medellin was to see the Fiesta dela Fiores (Festival of Flowers). In preparation, we went to the Botanical Gardens which had the most spectacular displays of orchids (Colombia’s national flower) and Birds of Paradise. Gorgeous colors, lots of beautiful birds integrated in with the flowers as well.
The next evening we once again met up with the people that had taken our picture that afternoon. The place was PACKED with people. There were many bars and restaurants surrounding the central park. Found our friends in the New Orleans bar. Had a couple of beers (they have this wonderful drink called a Michelaw that is a combination of lime juice, salt, and beer – like a margarita, but less alcohol).
Our friends offered to drop us off at our hotel instead of us taking a taxi. Driving towards the hotel we were asked to “pull over” by many men with large guns. I became the “panicked tourist” while the men just remained calm, got out of the car, started talking with the military men, and allowed themselves to be searched. Luckily, he realized I was a bit worried (must have been from the hyperventiliating that was now about to occur) . My breathing returned to normal about 25 minutes later.
Next day was the Flower Festival (which is what had generated the whole trip in the first place!). We had breakfast at the hotel and then took the metro to town. Walked around and saw that they were setting up chairs for the festival. The Fiesta de la Fiores is a huge annual event in Medellin. This was the 47th year of the festival. The festival lasted for approximately 3 hours with bands, dancers, people with the flowers, and a few floats. The flower displays included landmarks e.g., Eiffel Tower, Leaning Tower of Pisa, and an airplane. Colombia and Ecuador account for over 85% of the world’s flower exports. The flowers were incredible.