In Giradota It’s Lechona on Sundays

We took a trip Sunday down to Girardota and Barbosa to see what these towns have to offer. The towns themselves are not particularly interesting visually. Both have central plazas and reasonably nice churches but they have little of the charm of more traditional locations like San Pedro de Milagros, el Retiro and Helicona. Given we were using public transport we did not have time to explore their surroundings. They are known however for outdoor recreational facilities with pools, lounges, food and drink

We did make one very nice discovery in Girardota. On Sunday’s, lechona (suckling pig stuffed with rice) abounds and both restaurants and street vendors sell this delicious dish. We found it offered at both $COP 7,000 and 8,000. This comes out to about $US 4.00 and 4.50 for a generous plateful + salad, potatoes and a small arepa.

We also chatted with a man in Girardota who told us that in the San Andres neighborhood (vereda) there is a group that performs local traditional dances on demand and serves meals for tourists. We will be visiting there to see what this is all about and will report back.

If you decide to drop in for a Sunday treat you can buy an integrated ticket that includes both your Metro fare to the Niquia Station and a ticket for a connecting bus down to Girardota. These are available at the Metro ticket booth where you enter the system. The bus ride is about 15 or 20 minutes so it is close enough for a comfortable day trip.

If you go, please let us know what you think!

Walking

I have started walking between Conquistadores and Prado Centro for exercise. The other day I did it early in the morning and went down Junin to San Juan and west across the river. This afternoon I came down San Juan to Oriental and then North to Prado Centro. This route takes one past the Alpujarra. This is the Administrate Center for both the Departmental and City governments. It is a well designed complex of buildings and public spaces. It also passes the EPM building. There are a number of potential routes to choose from so one can enjoy something a bit different most days of the week.

This walk is about 4.6 kilometers. In the cool of the morning it really is very pleasant. The exercise also helps start the day off well. Walking it in the afternoon is good as it melts the tensions that develop through the day. It is however a lot warmer.  I have said it before, Medellin is  a great city for a lot of reasons. Its compactness makes this kind of walk easy to fit into ones routine.

Climate in Medellin

I just added a page on the climate here which you can find at this link or in the list of pages to the left of your screen.

Cable Arvi to Piedras Blancas

I took my first ride up to the Piedras Blancas area on the Cable Arvi this morning. I am used to traveling there on the Santa Elena buses you catch on Ayacucho. They provide good service but the cable line is much smoother and the view is spectacular.

To access this new service take the Metro to the Acevedo Station and the old cable line to the the Santa Domingo Station. There is no charge for the transfer here. When you arrive at the end of this line (Santa Domingo) go upstairs and catch the K Line to el Tambo. This will cost you COL$2,5000 or about US$ 1.30 at todays exchange rate.

´The ride up first takes you over upper Santa Domingo which is one of the less well off areas in Medellin. The housing quickly gives way to an agricultural area much of which has been invaded by bracken fern. Once you reach the ridge line the vegetation rapidly changes to a mosaic of native and plantation pine and cypress forest. Some of the patches of native forest look like they are of primary and if not are advanced secondary status. Nice diversity and an obvious epiphytic community in which bromeliads stand out.

In about 14 minutes you arrive at the el Tambo Station. Outside there are vendors selling snacks including a very good salpicon. Salpicon is a fruit cocktail with plenty of natural juices. It makes a great quick breakfast. The actual El Tambo area with its famous restaurant is about a 10 minute down hill walk. I understand there is bus service from the station down to el Tambo and on to Santa Elena but I did not wait.

The climate in the Piedras Blancas areas is much cooler than Medellin as it is locate at around 2400 meters. The mornings are fresh and the clean air is noticeable after coming up out of Medellin. Even the afternoons are relatively cool with temps in the low 70´s F being typical.

From el Tambo you can go to the nearby Piedras Blancas Ecological Park, to Guarne or to Santa Elena and the towns in between. These include Mazo, Piedra Gorda, Barro Blanco, el Placer and el Silletero. This is an important historic area and el Silletero has been declared part of Colombia´s National Patrimony.

If you wish you can make a circuit and return to Medellin via the buses or return on the Cable Arvi. Either way this is a great trip out into the countryside around Medellin. BTW the area is considered very safe and in 6 or 7 years of frequent visits we have never had a problem. There have been reports of problems towards the fringes of the area but these have been low intensity and infrequent. In addition a mounted police force which patrols the park area has recently been established and I suspect that this will eliminate any residual issues. I never feel nervous and am generally up there every weekend.

Geography Page

This morning I added a geography page with a link to a map of the neighborhoods of Medellin. Please let me know what you think and what other information you would find useful.

To live well in a city one needs to know the general layout, what is available and where things are. This page will initially list some resources and eventually be divided up into sub-pages for convenience.

Neighborhoods

Medellin has a multitude of neighborhoods. In Spanish these are called barrios. Knowing where they are is very important as people will casually say, “Oh, that’s over in Rosales.”  This as if you knew where Rosales is located. This map shows the location of the barrios and the income strata to which they have been assigned. The strata are important as they may provide information about costs, taxes and to some extent security considerations.