Luís Simões, travel sketcher around the world
Medellin was in fact known as a dangerous city. Even now, there are still some places that are better to avoid. However, we feel safe during our stay and Luís had fun to sketch Medellin.
I heard that Medellin is undergoing a great revitalisation. This city has an anti-corruption program and has several public transportation options such as a tram, urban train, cable car, and free bicycle. It is also known as the city of eternal spring, which makes it a preferable city for many Colombians and gringos!
In my opinion, although Medellin is not a city for sightseeing, it is great to explore and enjoy the vibe. I really like this city at night. As the location is in a valley, the house lights that show around the mountains make me feel like I am surrounded by stars in the sky. It’s lovely!
Luis and I planned to stay and sketch Medellin for only one week, but we ended up staying two weeks. Also, Dana – our host friend we met through Couchsurfing – made the door always open for us with his warm heart. Still, it didn’t seem long enough… So, who doesn’t like Medellin?
Botero Park is one of the admired places in Medellin. It is known among local and international tourists who like to take photographs with the dozen bronze sculptures created by the famous Colombian artist – Fernando Botero. Honestly, although some bloggers say it’s a nice place to spend a few hours, it wasn’t for us. It happens that it is quite hard to stay for a long time in this square. There were too many people passing by. Tourists and vendors that fill Plaza Botero with too much information confuse us.
However, we came here twice! Not because we loved Botero Square, but because Luis was not satisfied with his first sketch Medellin. The photo below was the first sketch and the second time we came here. Which one do you like the most?
When we arrived here, I felt that Pueblito Paisa is not an authentic place. In fact – after some research – I discovered that it is a replica of a typical Antioquia house. White walls and colorful balconies make these houses look beautiful! There is a small museum, and behind it, there is an area where you could see Medellin from the top. It is splendid!
We came during the week, so there weren’t many people, and we could enjoy it way more relaxed than Plaza Botero. We liked it!
One of our friends staying at Dana’s apartment, Shane, invited us to go to Comuna 13. As I remember, he would die for graffiti! That said, he simply showed us all, from bottom to top. We even got out of the cab in front of the San Javier station, which was still quite far from the neighborhood. Why? What else, he wanted to show us the graffiti.
In the past, this area was one of the most dangerous places to visit or sketch Medellin. The government has tried to change this image by building an open-air escalator to facilitate access and has hired local artists to transform the numb streets with unique pieces of art. And I think it works. During our visit, I’m not sure if because we were with Shane, who knew the place very well, we never felt insecure. Luis did a quick sketch and I took some pictures around with some Colombians doing breakdance in the back.
I liked Comuna 13 very much and I would like to be able to go back next time and take more pictures.
It had been more than a week that we had been sketch Medellin, and finally, we hangout with Dana, our host. He is a nice guy and the best gringo paisa we have ever met. Very relaxed, thoughtful, and happy to help. He always made sure we were comfortable while we were staying with him. We felt special because he skipped his Spanish class and invited us both to Arvi Park.
We went to Arvi Park by subway to Acedevo station. From there, we jumped on the cable car to the end at Arvi Park and get out.
The ride in the cable car was a fun experience. Besides cheap, we could see more of the peripheral areas of the city from the birds’ point of view. We were so high that we were over the mountain and the top of the trees. It took us about 40 minutes to reach the park.
Arvi Parque itself was a relief for us from the chaos of city life. Along the way, some dogs followed us – joining our walk. They were so cute! It looked like they were guarding us from the guerrilla. Too bad I was still scared of the dogs at that time. When I’m writing this, in La Cumbre, we already have a good dog friend called Channel, and I learned to be less scared. She always gets excited when she sees us both. This experience has been a real game-changer for me.
With some friends from Urban Sketchers Medellin, Nel, Lina, and Daisy, we went to the giant granite stone called El Penon – If you read our last story in Enterrios, you will see a smaller version of this giant stone. It took us two hours by car to get there.
We have to admit that this giant granite rock was amazing! Since we were there on the weekend, there were lots of tourists. To go to the top of the rock, we need to climb the stairs which are 740 steps and pay COP 18,000 per person.
Although people say it’s an incredible 360º view of the reservoir made by man and that there is a cafe at the top (so nobody needs to worry about getting exhausted and thirsty), let’s just say it was a bit of money for both of us to get exhausted and bump into the tourists! So we made the “sketchers” version and enjoyed the view from the parking lot. And of course, they gave their best for their passion.
After that, we went to the Guatape downtown. It has brightly painted colonial buildings with embellishments of local flowers, animals, and symbols of the past. Beautiful! The vibe of this downtown energized me. It’s one of the places we would like to go back and spend more time exploring and enjoying.
Guatape was the perfect day trip from Medellin. Here, we have a mix of everything; nature, architecture, and traditional Colombian food. It was worth a unique visit and great to sketch, for sure!
So…, who doesn’t like Medellin?