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12is12

concentration of general tips about visiting medellin

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I took the liberty of putting together these tips, offered seperately by three forum members. Under this new title , newbies might find them better. Apologies if I trespassed.

 

Latbear4blk:

·         Pack light. I made the mistake to plan for a week wearing two layers (underwear t-shirt and shirt), but it is just too hot for that. No top underwear is needed. Short pants are fine. I had read that the locals are not fond of casual, comfy clothing, but it is not true. Like Buenos Aires, this is probably changing. Casual wear is appropriate everywhere I went to. Temperature is very pleasant between 5pm and 11 am. Between 11 am and 5 pm, it was unpleasant to me. 

·         About rain, it was forecasted every single day I was here. However, it did not rain every day and when it rained it was just for as few minutes. Raining was not an obstacle for my plans, bur rather a very much welcomed refreshing event.

·         Look for open, shady spaces. Even in the hottest hours (the issue is not really temperature but humidity) there is almost always a very nice and refreshing breeze. 

·         Be aware that if you are a foreigner, you are a target. Not necessarily of a crime, but many people will try to take advantage from you. If you are wealthy and your bank account is generous, you should not worry. Even the over prices are pretty affordable. I am probably the poorest contributor in these forums, and I found everything cheap. The most noticeable over price I suffered were the apanados. I paid 10K for each, when they cost 3.5 to 4K. Yet, when I saw what I got for 60K (16 bucks), I could not refrain a smile of happiness. The guy scamming mr noticed it and laugh with me. Max Avila told me that his current boyfriend lived in Medellin for two years without realizing he was paying twice the local prices. When they started dating, he learned about it.

·         There are huge differences on pricing in different areas. El Poblado’s prices were considerable high than Laureles’. Even inside Laureles, you can notice the difference between the most gentrified areas around both Parque Laureles, and the least gentrified area around Avda San Juan (Calle 44) and La Setenta (Carrera 70). 

·         Bisexual friends, women are available for 60K, and straight prostitution is much more extended.

·         There seem to be two “classic” gay concentrations. You have fancy bars and one discoteca at El Poblado, and you have a few bars and sex clubs in Centro (I have not yet explore the latter). Then you have a more contemporaneous and mixed gay places in Laureles, with a flagship in the dance club Industry. I have not been there, and will probably not be, considering my ears are still bussing after Club Oraculo.

·         They will probably ask you, but make sure you provide the name of your building when you schedule a delivery or a guy. Something is wrong with the city’s nomenclatura, the boys tell me, and you may be sending someone to the wrong place.

·         None of the guys I hang out with knew how to speak in English. There are guys who know, but I am sure it is a commodity that comes with a price.

·         Older, hairy, overweighted men, the typical bear type, is a popular fetiche amongst young and hot men. I got a lot of sex for free, I mean very good sex with mostly very hot guys, but all above average guys, all younger than 25, without paying a dime. Even the boys that hang out with me for long hours and even stayed overnight, only expected me to pay all the bills while together. Indeed, it is transactional. However, my one grindr hook up, a fuck and leave, was zero transactional. The boy was a hot webcam boy, and he liked me. He kept contacting me at 2 am, when I was sleeping or out.

·         Try to bond or deal with at least one guy you trust, and stick with him. He will play the role of the “espantamoros” i Morocco, and help you with good tips and recommendations, keeping you safe and from over paying. My boys did an amazing job at protecting and taking care of me. The Costeño has already checked me three times today, and there is nothing he can get from it. 

·         If you happen to be with two boys, and they are not clicking, ask them for their favorite songs. Immediately, they will start singing together, and bonding, and the ice will be broken.

·         Respectfully, I think the reports about insecurity are overblown. Like in any big city, you should not walk alone at night. Comuna 13 is 100% safe. Centro insecurity at night is true. The killings targeting lonely gay guys are just a temporary issue, and the whole community is working hard to get the killers. Paisas are learning that tourism is a source of endless money, and are really focus on making their city more welcoming and safe for foreigners.

·         If you are looking for an airbnb, anything in El Poblado, Laureles, Provenza, and the South is safe. Make sure you rent above the 5th floor, as you will have more breeze. Try to rent above 10th and with a balcony or terrace. You will have a better view (the valley is beautiful specially at night), and you will be sure there is a working elevator. I have seen 6th floors buildings without an elevator. 

·         Street food is delicious and very cheap. Just avoid beef, usually the cuts are very poor quality, hard to chew and even cut. Chicken, beef in small pieces, and (I guess, because I do not eat it) fish are good. 

·         Uber sucks. Download an alternative application. I will download again Didi for the next trip, I am told it works better. 

 

joizy:

1.  It may have been said elsewhere, but I'd like to emphasize that you should speak some Spanish. I found very few people who spoke English. Definitely learn the basics and keep trying to communicate in Spanish - translator apps work well and people will appreciate the effort on your part.

2. If your cellphone plan doesn't allow an option for international use - look at Airalo e-sim card. It's an electronic sim. You can download the app before you leave, purchase your sim and have it ready to go when you land. I found out about this when the sim I had installed on an old phone stopped working. Wish I'd known before I left home.

3.  Look for a card that allows cash withdrawals without fees. I have a Charles Schwab investor "checking" account. I transfer money into this account and use it for travel. Best exchange rates and ATM fees are reimbursed.

4. Use Rappi - it's a delivery service that will deliver anything - food, medicine, whatever you want.

5.  Approach Grindr with caution. Too many guys that seemed too good to be true. Ask for verification photos if you're not convinced. Some words that indicate a financial exchange - liga, disponible, solvente.

6.  Use Uber instead of taxis if you can. They are unauthorized, so you sit in the front seat - just a "friend giving you a ride". You can plug in your destination and you know the fare. Their goal is to get you to your destination in the most efficient way, whereas taxis might take the scenic route if they figure out you're not from there. With all cars, close the doors gently. They are surprisingly light. If you use the same force you use at home, it will slam. Taxi drivers are especially unhappy when this happens.

7. Be careful at ATMs - I used the ATM inside of a supermarket. Don't flash your cash.

8. Beware of people slipping you drugs. I didn't read about this happening to gay men (though there were a few gay murders that I think are still unsolved), but I read on numerous forums about straight guys being drugged by women and ending up in the ER - of course with their valuables gone. While I had ZERO problems there, the hotness and availability of the men might lower your normal sense of caution.

9. Look for a local to show you around and help with your Spanish. I paid a guy to be my tour guide. He threw in some extras. I had the best experiences with him. Met him on Grindr.

10. Have fun. Medellin is a beautiful city and the people are lovely. Keep your wits about you, show some cultural sensitivity, and you'll have a great time.

  

Macdaddi:

 #6 - Absolutely the #1 taxi issue with foreigners is slamming the car door.  I like to remind new visitors to Medellin of the rules: its ColOmbia, not ColUmbia;  always acknowledge others with food by saying "Buen provecho"'; learn to use "Buenos días", "buenas tardes", y "buenas noches" at the appropriate time of day; never slam the car door when exiting; and you certainly do NOT talk about Bruno.

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On 7/7/2022 at 3:19 PM, 12is12 said:

I took the liberty of putting together these tips, offered seperately by three forum members

Great list of tips 12is12, thanks for putting them all together.

If I may, I'd like to add some restaurant/eating suggestions. Since I stayed in Poblado, these are mostly in Poblado.

El Social - was a great place to try typical Colombian food. There were two locations that I saw, one is on the corner of Carrera 36 and Calle 10B. They have a chalkboard with daily lunch specials. With an appetizer (an arepa with hogao, soup, plate with meat, potatoes, rice, salad, plus the daily juice) it ran less than $5 (a few grilled items were a little more expensive - with juice not included). This is where I sampled typical Colombian food - ajiaco, sudado de pollo, sudado de posta, etc. It was all good. The steak was really good. My favorite thing was a grilled chicken breast (pechuga) with fries and a salad. It's busy from 12-1, but after 1 the lunch crowd clears out. All outside seating, great place for people watching. In the evening, it converts to a drinking hangout. I highly recommend it.

Il Castello - great Italian food - homemade pasta, pizza, bread made in-house.  A little pricey, but not bad. On Calle 10A and Carrera 40.

Aguasfrescas - high end Mexican food. It was a reminder for me that Mexican food is actually high cuisine. No burritos and chimichangas. This was my most expensive meal in Medellin. Really good cochinita pibil tacos (Yucatec Mayan food), I splurged for a white sangria (which was why my meal was so expensive) - really beautiful space, delicious food,

You can also order a lot of food from Rappi to be delivered - one of my favorites was from Pane y Pomodoro - delicious Neopolitan style pizza.

I also enjoyed the food courts in the malls. Definitely visit El Tesoro, which is a beautiful mall up in the hills with amazing views of Medellin. I had a great tomahawk steak there that was perfectly cooked. Yes, steak at a food court! Also, Santa Fe Mall is very nice and has a very extensive food court.

For coffee, I recommend Pergamino. There's a nice spot on Calle 10B a few steps down the hill from El Social. Delicious coffee, breakfasts and desserts. Seating on an outside deck if you can get there before the digital nomads occupy the place. Great spot for people watching. My favorite breakfast (I'm not a breakfast person) was pinches huevos. I'm now hooked on Pergamino coffee and just ordered two pounds to be delivered. No surprise that Colombia has good coffee, but this was the best.

Not in Poblado, but in Envigado, a small city/town next to Poblado that is not actually Medellin - La Gloria de Gloria - a Colombian friend took me there for bandeja paisa - it was huge and we split it. Even though we went for lunch, we were served aguardiente (fire water) during our meal - three shots. It was a lot of fun, and Envigado is a nice place to check out.

Colombian food is pretty basic - meat and potatoes - vegetables were scarce. But the quality of the food was good. I could tell it was local and fresh, and best of all, it's cheap!

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20 hours ago, 12is12 said:

7Be careful at ATMs - I used the ATM inside of a supermarket. Don't flash your cash.

 

One more tip about ATMs that I just learned from one of the Facebook groups I'm in. At a certain point during the transaction, it will ask you if you want to accept the conversion. Apparently, you should say "no". I always said "yes" because I thought I had to in order to proceed. The exchange rate was very favorable from dollars to COP, but apparently, I was getting ripped off and would have gotten a better rate if I'd said no to the conversion. Maybe someone else can explain this.

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14 hours ago, joizy said:

One more tip about ATMs that I just learned from one of the Facebook groups I'm in. At a certain point during the transaction, it will ask you if you want to accept the conversion. Apparently, you should say "no". I always said "yes" because I thought I had to in order to proceed. The exchange rate was very favorable from dollars to COP, but apparently, I was getting ripped off and would have gotten a better rate if I'd said no to the conversion. Maybe someone else can explain this.

It's called dynamic currency conversion,best explained here:

https://thepointsguy.com/2015/06/dynamic-currency-conversion/

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Great tips.

I'm guilty as charged for slamming taxi doors. The taxi drivers in Medellin hate it. Don't be like me. 

I've visited Colombia (Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena, Santa Marta, Bucaramanga & Cucuta) and worked in Medellin on and off in the last two years.  Here are my 2 cents.

Places to stay: Poblado is the most popular place to stay for tourists, but overpriced, sometimes problems to take guests to your room and you need a taxi for everything. I would stay in Laureles - Estadio. You can easily walk around, it's safe and has plenty of good & cheap restaurants and bars. If you want the local experience, you can stay in San Bernardo, Belen. It feels like a village in the big city. Very cheap, safe, still close to everything but don't expect to hear a word of english or see another tourist. 

Going out: You should visit bar chiquita at least once, just for the decoration (and go to the toilets!).  Industry club is the place to be for young gay guys. There's 'barra libre' every friday. The best way to pick up guys is to go with a small group of friends, it makes it easier to talk to other guys that you fancy. Collect whatsapp numbers (you need whatsapp, they all use it) and meet the next day when they are sober (and you as well).

Things to do with your friend du jour:  they all love parque norte. It's not disneyland, but it's good for a couple hours of old-fashioned fun.  Shopping in centro is also rewarding if you want to buy cheap clothes (the guys love cheap clothes) or designer clothes at a fraction of the price (and quality) of Poblado shopping centers.  Hiking in Parque Arvi is a great pastime. They love it because it's cold (take an extra sweater and don't forget your umbrella). The metrocable ride gives you an amazing view over the city & hills. You will probably be alone with your friend in the cabin, but don't forget that there's a security camera (the guards had a great laugh with my friend recording a tiktok with him twerking). Outside of Medellin: Barbosa  is a colonial pueblo one hour by bus from Medellin, surrounded by hills and waterfalls and off the beaten path. Great for hiking and swimming. You can rent a cheap finca and have a great stay / party with a bunch of friends. On the way back, you can stop at parque de las aguas and have fun on the water slides. 

 

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9 hours ago, floridarob said:

It's called dynamic currency conversion,best explained here:

https://thepointsguy.com/2015/06/dynamic-currency-conversion/

I'm not sure if this is the same thing. I found this on Trip Advisor (couldn't find the post on the Facebook group where I originally saw it)

Servibanca was my favorite but now they are trying to trick foreigners, they will ask you if you accept a lower exchange rate. For example at present USD = 3450 COP.....the machine will ask will you accept an exchange rate of USD = 3200 COP ?......at that moment you will think if you say NO that you will lose/end the transaction (and you probably need the cash)......always reply NO to that question....you will receive the money at the better rate. They basically are asking you if it is ok if they rob you of $12 additional dollars (based on their 780.000 COP limit).

Apparently, this is a ploy by the banks to get more of your money for their services.

But Rob also reminded me of other things related to credit cards. They will often ask if you want to use dollars or pesos. Always choose pesos (I think this is what dynamic conversion refers to). Also, they may ask how many quotas (cuantas cuotas?) meaning how many payments - always say one. And, at El Social, they would ask me if I wanted to use credito, debito or corriente. Once I asked the server what corriente meant, and she didn't know. Always say credito.

 

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On 7/20/2022 at 12:32 PM, joizy said:

Great list of tips 12is12, thanks for putting them all together.

If I may, I'd like to add some restaurant/eating suggestions. Since I stayed in Poblado, these are mostly in Poblado.

For coffee, I recommend Pergamino. There's a nice spot on Calle 10B a few steps down the hill from El Social. Delicious coffee, breakfasts and desserts. Seating on an outside deck if you can get there before the digital nomads occupy the place. Great spot for people watching. My favorite breakfast (I'm not a breakfast person) was pinches huevos. I'm now hooked on Pergamino coffee and just ordered two pounds to be delivered. No surprise that Colombia has good coffee, but this was the best.

Hmm, I was warned by the locals that the coffee in Colombia was shit.  they said all the good stuff goes to export. I brought a pound and drip cup with me.   Most little places had bad coffee.  I did like Juan Valdez once I found it.  I guess I need to keep looking.

I did not think most steak (tough) or pizza (cracker crust) was good....  but I did find some good stuff before I left (in bogota).  Mostly I thought the food was a weak point.

The nearly complete lack of english was a difficulty despite google.  I started to learn a little before I came but...  Colombia would do well to work on that (particularly in airports and metro) to help build the tourist scene. 

I had only one bad rental who said he didn't want money ahead of time but then wanted 200usd.  He followed me around the city for 2 hours.  I finally got rid of him.

I did get mugged at knife point at 4pm on a busy street in Bogota.  there were plenty of people around (who yelled but did nothing).  I fought the muggers, got knocked down and my cell phone flew out of my pocket, they got it and ran laughing.  One of the attackers got kicked really good in the stomach as I was on my back.  The police were uninterested and did not record or report it (despite help from my 2 local men).  Clairo made if very hard to cancel the SIM and deactivate the IMEI numbers.

My one local (in Medellin) got his phone taken in a snatch and grab.  5 guys.  they did not run, but said get 200peso you can have it back.  We went to police, they watched while we paid and got phone back.  then approached them and got 100p from the perps.

So some work needs to be done.  Will I go again. yes. but Thailand (repeat) and Philippines(first time) will be first.

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23 minutes ago, maump said:

I did get mugged at knife point at 4pm on a busy street in Bogota.  there were plenty of people around (who yelled but did nothing).  I fought the muggers, got knocked down and my cell phone flew out of my pocket, they got it and ran laughing.  One of the attackers got kicked really good in the stomach as I was on my back.  The police were uninterested and did not record or report it (despite help from my 2 local men).  Clairo made if very hard to cancel the SIM and deactivate the IMEI numbers.

Oy, sorry to hear that this happened to you. It is a good reminder to observe all of the recommended safety tips (which I mostly ignored)

- don't carry a lot of cash, and keep a stash that you're willing to give up while keeping more hidden (like in your sock)

- carry a cheap phone that you are willing to part with

- don't stand out if at all possible (dress, actions, speaking English loudly, etc.)

- don't fight with muggers - they will kill you

I did not spend a lot of time walking around, mostly took Ubers or taxis and didn't go out at night. When I did go out, it was close to where I was staying, and the few times I went to meet guys at their places or motels, I only had enough cash on me to cover the costs.

Thanks for sharing your experience - it's a cautionary tale. I'm glad you're ok.

 

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I would not take tips brought by someone who read them in Facebook or any other social media. I try my best to bring my tips from my personal experience. 

I used my debit and credit cards to withdraw money in Medellin several times, in several different banks. I never got any suspicious questions about the exchange rate or anything else. 

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7 hours ago, Latbear4blk said:

. I never got any suspicious questions about the exchange rate or anything else. 

Dynamic Currency Conversion is in these currencies.....

Currently available in:

AED, AUD, BGN, BHD, BRL, CAD, CHF, CNY, CZK, DKK, EUR, GBP, HKD, HRK, HUF, ISK, ILS, INR, JOD, JPY, KRW, KWD, MYR, NOK, NZD, OMR, PLN, QAR, RON, RUB, SAR, SEK, SGD, THB, TWD, USD, ZAR.

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On 7/21/2022 at 9:41 PM, neyger said:

Great tips.

I'm guilty as charged for slamming taxi doors. The taxi drivers in Medellin hate it. Don't be like me. 

I've visited Colombia (Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena, Santa Marta, Bucaramanga & Cucuta) and worked in Medellin on and off in the last two years.  Here are my 2 cents.

Places to stay: Poblado is the most popular place to stay for tourists, but overpriced, sometimes problems to take guests to your room and you need a taxi for everything. I would stay in Laureles - Estadio. You can easily walk around, it's safe and has plenty of good & cheap restaurants and bars. If you want the local experience, you can stay in San Bernardo, Belen. It feels like a village in the big city. Very cheap, safe, still close to everything but don't expect to hear a word of english or see another tourist. 

Going out: You should visit bar chiquita at least once, just for the decoration (and go to the toilets!).  Industry club is the place to be for young gay guys. There's 'barra libre' every friday. The best way to pick up guys is to go with a small group of friends, it makes it easier to talk to other guys that you fancy. Collect whatsapp numbers (you need whatsapp, they all use it) and meet the next day when they are sober (and you as well).

Things to do with your friend du jour:  they all love parque norte. It's not disneyland, but it's good for a couple hours of old-fashioned fun.  Shopping in centro is also rewarding if you want to buy cheap clothes (the guys love cheap clothes) or designer clothes at a fraction of the price (and quality) of Poblado shopping centers.  Hiking in Parque Arvi is a great pastime. They love it because it's cold (take an extra sweater and don't forget your umbrella). The metrocable ride gives you an amazing view over the city & hills. You will probably be alone with your friend in the cabin, but don't forget that there's a security camera (the guards had a great laugh with my friend recording a tiktok with him twerking). Outside of Medellin: Barbosa  is a colonial pueblo one hour by bus from Medellin, surrounded by hills and waterfalls and off the beaten path. Great for hiking and swimming. You can rent a cheap finca and have a great stay / party with a bunch of friends. On the way back, you can stop at parque de las aguas and have fun on the water slides. 

 

Thanks.

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1 hour ago, TotallyOz said:

I'm guilty as charged for slamming taxi doors. The taxi drivers in Medellin hate it. Don't be like me

yeah, this is a hot point and i don,t know why.  the cars are no more fragile there than here and we slam doors....  but I got warned by several guides about it...

I tried hard not to.  slowly learning...

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5 hours ago, maump said:

yeah, this is a hot point and i don,t know why.  the cars are no more fragile there than here and we slam doors....  but I got warned by several guides about it...

I tried hard not to.  slowly learning...

Actually, cars may be different in other countries, because industry standards are not international. In all the South American countries I have been to, many cars' bodies, specially the most popular brands, are clearly more fragile than in the USA, I think the sheet metal is thinner over there. 

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