On to Peru

Medellin Travel Blog

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After a final coffee and stroll through the Lleras Park, I left for the airport in plenty of time.  Over 3 hours ahead of my flight time.  

I was flying business class which was a big advantage in the check-in process.  I bypassed the major line and went to a much shorter line.  Unfortunately, my roller bag weighted 12.5 kg, 2.5 kg over the limit.  So they made me check my bag.  I used the excuse of having my tuxedo for a wedding in the bag, so they at least put a “priority” sticker on it.  (In this case though, I was actually glad they made me check my bag - there was no way it would have fit in the smallish overhead bins on this aircraft.)

Through the check in process, it was amazing how many lines I had to go through though:  a line to check in, a line to get tax extension, a line to show tax extension to get boarding pass, a line to get a refund on the tax I had paid as part of the ticket price.  That’s 4 lines.  Then there was security.  They checked my ID/boarding pass at the front of the security line, then at the front of the conveyor belt, then after the conveyor belt, then before entering immigration area, and then finally at the immigration post.  Wow.  No wonder they want you to be here 3 hours before an international flight.

Ironically, I actually made it through this whole process relatively quickly.  So there I was in the “sala” waiting for my flight for over 2 hours - with no wifi service!  Even at 4:30pm (about the time I arrived at the airport yesterday for my 5:30 flight), there was still no mention of boarding time.  It made no sense to me how I couldn’t have checked in and boarded yesterday.  Amazingly we did finally start boarding around 4:50pm, and actually left about on time (and arrived early in Lima!). 

Upon leaving Medellin, I had mixed feelings.  The nightlife was fantastic, but also quite draining.  And it was difficult at first to mingle given the 4-top table structure of the bars, vs. standing bar counter.  But I ultimately did meet a few very nice people, and I wish I had more time there.  Also, I felt constrained by the safety issue - nervous to venture too far out of Poblado.  A couple of people I met offered to take me certain places, saying i would be safe so long as I was with locals.  But I still declined - and sort of regret that.  (Though a definite highlight was going to the fountain display with Johanna.)  I also wish I had taken Salsa lessons.  NEXT TIME!

A few other random thoughts about Medellin.  They still use pay phones!  Yes, cocaine is readily available.  Some of the pepole I was hanging out with would excuse themselves to the bathroom to take a hit.  And/or they would openly buy it from someone on the street.  The christmas lights in the Park Lleras are awesome.  There are apparently some floating in the river too - but I never went to see them.  It’s apparently not safe unless you’re on the gringo tour/party bus, which I didn’t feel like doing.  (Although Johanna and I almost did it together - at her suggestion!)  Chewing gum and blow pops (and of course cigarettes) are also very common items for sale by vendors.

In Lima, I thought Olgy had arranged for a taxi but upon getting off the airplane and going through customs, I didn’t see anyone with “Daniel” name.  I waited for a few minutes, but it was already 9pm and I wanted to get to a hotel.  (I didn't have a hotel arranged yet in Lima, so I was going to have to wing it.  I had a couple of choices lined up, but since I couldn’t get the Medellin airport wifi to work, I wasn’t able to book anything.)   I paid for an official airport taxi to take me to Faraona Grand Hotel.  He actually came in with me to make sure they had a room available - which they did.  They even gave me the hotels.com booking rate of $92 / night vs. their standard rate of $130 / night.  The hotel lobby was pretty cool, but my room was small and stuffy but sufficient.

I took a quick shower, downed my complimentary Pisco Sour in the lobby bar, and by 10:30pm headed out to Park Kennedy and Calle de las Pizzas for dinner.  (Yes, that’s the actual name).  I didn’t have pizza though.  I went to Rustica, where I sat at a sidewalk table for a salad, chicken, and french fries.  Very tasty.  What was less appetizing was the hooker who kept eyeing me and giving me the “come on” finger gesture.  Hilarious, no thanks.

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photo by: caliphil007