24 hours in Medellin – hot dogs, bare feet, and cable cars.

Ok, we should start by saying this title is probably a bit misleading.  This is not a post suggesting what to do if you only have 24 hours in Medellin.  This is our second time to Colombia’s second city, so we had already done most of the “must dos”.  Instead this describes how we spent our (actually less than) 24 hours in the city following Hurricane Otto ruining our original plans.

If you do only have 24 hours in Medellin, we would suggest the Botero museum, walk around that area a bit, grab lunch from one of the street vendors and then either go to the Botanical Garden or the cable car (see below on the latter).

I digress.  So, we started our time in Medellin late, since our flight was delayed and once we did arrive, they only had 3 people working customs for a few international flights.  Since we were only going to be in town less than a day, we were crashing at a friend of a friend’s place.  We arrived around 10:30/11 in a very residential area and were starving.  Given the time, we were concerned about our dinner options, however our host suggested a little hot dog vendor on the corner of his street.  Being vegetarian, Jen was a bit sceptical, but we headed out.  At the very least, Jen saw a local ‘tienda’ that was still open, where she could possibly get some chips or a granola bar.

Oh, ye of little doubt!  We both were able to eat at the hot dog vendor and it is now tied for first place of all hot dog vendors in the world (the other being in Toronto).  Don Gourmet (the vendor) is run by a really friendly guy, who when he heard us speak English to each other, immediately started speaking to us fluently.  When we first arrived, Erwan asked if he had any vegetarian options and his response was “yes, I can do something for her”.  Interesting how he knew Jen was the veggie – I guess no self-respecting Colombian man would consider being such. . .


When the man asked Erwan for his order, Erwan responded “something good” and the man’s response “I have just the thing for you”.   It wasn’t a hot dog some much, as a skewer of chicken, that was marinated in garlic sauce, chilli sauce (which the man grows and makes himself) and of all things, Coca Cola.  It was then added to freshly baked hot dog bun along with melted cheese, shredded potato chips and a medley of sauces.  Sounds pretty basic, but to the foodie that is Erwan, it was A.MAZ.ING.


Jen’s vegetarian option was also really good.  He grilled some kind of salad medley (lettuce, carrots and something else) in the same sauces as above, added a whole bunch of cheese and topped it off with fresh salad, more sauces and those shredded potato chips.  Seriously delicious!

And to top it all off, after we ate the ‘hot dogs’ (btw, he did sell normal hot dogs as well, as another patron came for one while we were there) and chatted to him a bit, he gave us some lollipops for desert.  So bottom line, if you are ever in Envigado, intersection of Calle 19 and Avenida El Poblado, go have some great street food from Don Gourmet!

When we woke up the next morning, our host had already left for work, however we were greeted by his cat.


As you can see she was not happy about having guests.  She was lukewarm the night before when we met her, but now, she was wondering what the hell we were still doing on her turf.  While we got ready to attack our day, she spent the time either staring us down or hiding behind the fringe.

We left her in peace and headed to our first stop this time around – the barefoot park.  Essentially, this is a small zen like garden, that asks you to walk barefoot through it.  Sounds quite peaceful, however the stone paths are a bit more like gravel and not exactly the most comfortable to walk through.


Erwan gave up within a few minutes, found a comfy spot on a bench and waited for Jen.


Jen, certain that this was some kind of zen test, was determined to put mind over body and walk her way through it.  Or she’s just stubborn.


Anyway she did it and was then able to sooth her feet in the park’s water fountain.  Although, after walking through it, she doesn’t feel any more enlightened. . .


After the barefoot park, we headed to the cable car.  This is something we missed that last time around, so Erwan, the infrastructure dork, was happy that we got another go at Medellin.


Being a city that is surrounded by large hills in which much of the city spreads, there are actually several cable cars in Medellin.  Many of these are part of the public transport system and were built to better integrate these previously neglected barrios into the rest of the city.  It appears to have helped – many of those we saw on the cable car were commuters/regular folk going about their business, rather than tourists looking for a photoshoot (guilty).


We took the cable car that goes to Santa Domingo and then extends up to Arvi Park, as this is the one suggested on all the tourist websites.  When travelling up to Santo Domingo, the cable car is still part of the metro system and this is where you see average people using it to go about their lives.  There were also three stops as you go up the hill.

Along this stretch, you get some fantastic views of the city as well as some great airial shots of the barrios below.


At Santo Domingo, you have to switch to another cable car to get up to Arvi Park.  This one is more expensive, so you can tell it’s for the tourists rather than the commuter.  Along this stretch, you still get some great views of the city – at first.  However, it then goes up and over the mountain, where you’re surrounded by forests.  It’s beautiful, but admittedly, as the urban studies dork, Jen was a bit disappointed when the views to the city stopped.  In fact, for those looking for just urban vistas, we would recommend, just stopping at Santo Domingo and not going any further.

At the top of the cable car is Arvi park, an ‘ecotouristic’ park that has a little market, an exhibition on the Pre-Colombian history of the area, and some hiking trails.  Most of the information was in Spanish and since we pretty much only rode the cable car for the city views, we didn’t spend much time here (probably less than 10 minutes).  In particular, we were disappointed that there wasn’t a restaurant or café at the top (it was lunch time).  We thus turned around and headed back into town to grab food  (sadly the hot dog vendor was now on the other side of the very big city) and catch our bus to San Jeronimo – future post coming.  Stay tuned!

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