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Medellin –Coffee, Cable cars and Chaos

(April 25 – written by Dave)

We are departing from Medellin tomorrow but we are happy to report that we found good coffee here.  Colombia is rumoured to export the good coffee and serve the average stuff to the locals.  Well, Medellin has enough coffee people living here, along with tourist visiting to siphon off some of the good stuff.

Colombian Cafe

Flat whites done well

We have been staying in the Poblado area and there are several “coffee snob” cafes.  We are not really snobs but we like these places because the extra care they put into making coffee shows in the taste.  We were able to get proper flat white coffees, just like they make in Sydney.  Plus we picked up some of the locally grown and roasted beans for the road ahead.  Lucky us.

Cafe siphon

A siphon – very fancy coffee making here!

Cafe maker

The backwards hat shows barista confidence

Today we had one tourist activity scheduled.  It’s actually hard to call a tourist activity because all we did was ride public transportation.  Before you call me (it was my idea) a transit geek know that Medellin has three commuter trams that head up the mountains from a core train line.  The core train runs up and down the middle of the valley where Medellin sits.

Once the central train line was built, the local planners turned towards improving access to the core of the city for the poor suburbs that crawl up the hillsides.  Train lines required too many houses to be destroyed, plus the hills were too steep for normal trains.  So instead they decided to build aerial trams.   So far they’ve built three of them and more are under construction.  The completed lines have had positive impacts on lowering crime rates and increase overall income in the poorer communities.  And along the way, they built nice places for tourists to visit and get a look at the city from a higher vantage point.

Medellin tran 1

Mass transit Medellin style – seems like there should be ski boots and the like

Medellin view 2

View form the top

Medellin view 4

Burbs crawling up the hill – every hill here looks like this

Medellin view from tram

View from cable car – this is your commute Medellin

Medellin view 6

From the bottom looking up.  There are four stops on this line.

We have enjoyed Medellin but it is big.  Or at least it feels really big.  There are 2.5 million folks living here which is a lot, but it’s actually almost a million less than our hometown of Sydney.  The thing is Medellin feels bigger, faster and more chaotic.  We’re not sure if this is the traffic – everyone drives fast, the people – they all seem to be in a hurry or lastly, it could be the language.  We can’t keep up with “city speed” Spanish so every conversation takes extra effort.  We’re ready for a day off now!

Add to that, last night we were out late with our mini Alaska to Argentina dinner party.  It was great seeing Manja and Martin, and meeting Malaika.  It was crazy to think that all 5 of us started in Alaska back in May of last year and taken pretty different paths to reach here – for dinner together last night.  If Nancy and I are crazy to do this trip, at least last night, we were 5 crazy people – it was fun to compare stories from our collective trips.

Medellin church

Walking around Medellin scene

Medellin art

More walking around Medellin scene

Door of the day 1

Door of the day

Of course we also inflict some of this on ourselves by trying to see and do something every day.  Maybe our next days off should be taken in a small town where there is nothing to do.

So tomorrow, we continue south.  We have a few days to ride between here and the actual coffee growing area between here and Cali.  We’ll take a day off there.  A coffee plantation tour is in the cards, but we maybe try taking a slower pace so that the next rest day doesn’t make us more tired than the riding days!

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