Don’t Envy the Envigado

Monday September 23, 2013

Parque Envigado, Medellin, Colombia

I feel like our Medellin sightseeing fails keep coming one after another. I’m sure there’s a ton of amazing things to see around here, we just keeping missing out on them. Even if we think we’re looking in the right place.

Take yesterday for example. After having spent Saturday at the mall, I was determined to make it out to a desireable sightseeing place. I landed on the botanical gardens of Medellin. How could you go wrong there? Well, in all honesty, we had been shooting for the amusement park across the road, only to realize once we had gotten there that Matt’s stomach is still only at about 60% and probably couldn’t handle most of the rides. We happened upon the gardens as we decided to walk the surrounding area. Admission was free and it was a lovely Sunday afternoon, and I couldn’t help thinking to myself, ‘Yes, you got it right this time’.

Only we found out, that about 50% of the place had been taken over by a book fair. And it was packed. You couldn’t stand in one spot without getting stampeded, and we kept losing each other in the crowd as we searched through the maze of stands to find a way out. Luckily we eventually did find an exit, which led us out to the food booths. This was much more our style. We spent a good 30 minutes wandering from stand to stand to see what each one offered, and landed on chicken kabobs drizzled in BBQ sauce with sides of salad and little fried potato balls. It was delicious, but I did start to worry when I noticed that the center pieces of my chicken were still uncooked and raw. Not just pink, but bordering on purple.

From there we wandered the grounds of the botanical garden a little more, but didn’t see anything that was too botanical. What it felt like, was ‘Central Park Medellin’, a nice grassy spot enveloped in trees, right in the middle of the city. A perfect place to come with a picnic, place a blanket on the ground, and read a good book or talk to friends and family. Which is what almost every other person there besides us was doing. After doing a loop of the place we decided that it might be a good spot to come back to later with a blanket and a book, but we were done with it for the day.

Not quite ready to go back to the hostel just yet we walked the main streets by where the metro had let us out and found there was a large planetarium and little pools outside with hundreds of kids playing. We took seats on the ground back by most of the parents, and watched as little kids ran around in their underwear, shooting squirt guns at each other, blowing bubbles, or even engaging in a game of soccer. It was almost as fun just to watch the kids having their fun, and we stayed planted in our spot for a good hour until the sun was getting low enough that we realized we didn’t want a walk back from the metro in the dark.

into the mist

Planetarium Medellin Colombia

Planetarium Medellin Colombia

Now that I think about it, yesterday wasn’t too bad. We didn’t get the kind of sightseeing we had expected from the gardens, but we still had a good time nonetheless. I guess the bigger disappointment in sightseeing would have been today. Since Matt is usually the one to plan all our destinations while sailing, this whole South American trip was left up to me. What cities we would see, what we would do while we’re there, and even what places we would stay in. Matt wanted no part in the planning, a break from his usual routing.

So once again I scoured the internet for things to do in Medellin and cross referenced it against the information I had gotten out of the information book at the first hostel we stayed in. Oh, did I mention we moved? Our last one was too crowded, too loud, and too expensive for what we were getting in return. Instead we moved about two blocks over to a nice little hostel at the end of a road with much more updated amenities and a small pool on the roof. We were even able to spring for a private room, which has been so worthwhile for unwinding at the end of each day. We swing past the mini mart right across the street on our way back in for the night, grab a Mt. Dew for Matt, a beer for me, and spend the evenings in peace on our computer or watching a movie. As far as making friends with the other backpackers, we’ve tried a few times and have actually chatted a few people up when we’re hanging out near the pool, but it’s impossible to see any of them after 8 pm unless you plan on spending the night out at various bars until 2 am. We have neither the cash or the energy for that.

Anyway, back to the subject. I was trying to research fun things for us to do in Medellin and I kept coming across this place called Envigado, the new ‘up and coming neighborhood’. Every time I searched images it showed a great looking town square and mentioned all the nice shops and restaurants surrounding it. Sounded enticing enough. When I found that the metro went there and it was only a couple blocks of walking up to the town square I figured it would be a great way to spend an afternoon.

I was very wrong.  Possibly only because I had high expectations in my head, but other than the one block that housed Parque Envigado, it did not look very appealing.  If this was supposed to be the next up and coming neighborhood after Poblado, where we are staying, then it does not look like it going to be coming for a long, long time.  In Poblado we’re surrounded by modern shops, restaurants, cafes, parks.  It’s the perfect spot for tourist like us to be in.  From what we say of Envigado though, it looks a little worn down, and with tienda style concrete stores that fill the streets of Fronteras back home.

We really did try to make the most of it while we were there.  After having made our way to the park where we sat and enjoyed the beauty of the trees and the church for awhile, we took to wandering the streets.  We even planned on having lunch at a nice place, if we ever came across one.  After going far and wide and poking our heads into places that made us think we were back in Guatemala, we decided to call defeat and head back to Poblado.  I think the effects of the raw chicken at the botanical garden were starting to take effect, and I didn’t want to add any more random street food to problems that were already started in my stomach.  No, I think it needs the cheesy goodness of Domino’s Pizza.  I think we’ll swing by there on the way back to the hostel.  I’ll just have to remember not to remind Matt that he saw them rolling dough on the metal pizza box holders on the back of their motorbikes when we were dining at the Mexican restaurant next to it the other night.

Matt in Parque Envigado

Parque Envigon

Parque Envigado

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