Medellin Local guide (Get in, Transport System (Metro) and local services

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  1. 1. Local Guide of Daily Events and Activities in MedellnMetropolitan Area Medelln is surrounded by 8 smaller towns and together they form the Area Metropolitana with almost 3.5 million people. These other towns are: Bello, Itagu, Sabaneta, La Estrella, Caldas, Copacabana, Girardota and Barbosa. The neighboring town of Envigado does not belong to this administrative association even though it is closer than many of the mentioned above. Medelln is a true conglomerate of towns and you will find it difficult to tell the borders between these municipalities. Located east of Medelln is the valley of Rionegro which is larger and higher in the mountains. This area holds some of the most important factories, recreational grounds and suburbs of the city, as well as the International Airport.Climate The weather in Medelln is quite mild it well deserves its common motto of 'City of everlasting spring'. Average daily temperatures are 22C (71F) , range from 15 to 30 degrees Celsius (60-85F). Humidity is comfortable in the 50%-70% range. Due to its proximity with the equator there is little variation with the seasons. Due to the altitude (1,500 Mts. or 5,000 feet above see level) and moderate overcast skies Medellin stays cool, with an occasional couple hours of strong sun light. As Medelln is located in a tropical country, the absence of air conditioners in Medellin often takes foreign visitors by surprise. Air conditioning is used in downtown areas. Fresh air comes from the mountains surrounding Medellin on all sides, and provides Medellin with the perfect climate. At night time the temperature is usually in the 10-15C (50-60F) range, and depends mostly on if its raining or not. The majority of restaurants are in open air environment, without walls, because of the perfect climate.GET IN International Airport Jose Maria Cordova Airport (MDE) Medelln is served by Jos Mara Crdova International Airport, located in the nearby city of Rionegro. International non-stop flights are available from Caracas, Quito, Lima,Curacao, Panam, San Jos (Costa Rica), San Salvador, Mexico City,Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, New York City and Madrid with easy connections to Buenos Aires, Santiago, Sao Paulo, Rio and other places. Airlines serving this airport are: American Airlines, Avianca, COPA, TACA, LAN, Spirit Airlines, JetBlue, Insel Air and VivaColombia that is a new low-cost airline with a hub at this airport, started operations on May 2012. Domestic flights have frequent service to Bogota, Cali, Cartagena, Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, San Andrs Islas, Santa Marta. A taxi from Rionegro's International Airport to the city is about COP $55.000 (Dec 2013) depending on where you are going. Heading to the center or to Poblado takes around 45 minutes. There is a minibus to Medelln downtown available for COP 7.500 (USD 4) which takes approximately one hour. The last stop is right by Metro Parque Barrio.Domestic Airport (EOH) There is a small local airport Olaya Herrera close to downtown and it is very convenient for regional and domestic travel, with non-stop flights to 23 destinations. Airlines: LAN (Merged with Aires), Aerolnea de Antioquia -ADA-, Satena, EasyFly. Also charter flights from Searca.
  2. 2. Bus Medelln has two bus terminals (North and South) managed by the same company and share a single website. Both terminals have mid-size shopping malls in the premises. For a complete list of the cities check the webpage. The North terminal is much larger and it is connected with Metro station Caribe and the rail system (Although passenger rail transport in Colombia is quite limited). It serves cities North and East of Medelln (Cartagena, Santa Marta and Bogot included). The South terminal is next door to the much smaller domestic airport (closest Metro station El Poblado but not within walking distance). Serves towns South (Manizales, Pereira, Cali).Car There are four roads leading to Medelln from all cardinal points. From Bogota you can take Autopista Medelln and head west 7-9 hours with beautiful scenery. From Pereira, Cali and the south take road 25 towards Medelln. If coming from the Atlantic coast (Cartagena, Barranquillia) take route 25 south to Medelln (aprox. 11 hours). Of note, there is no road connecting Panam with Colombia. Trains are scarce and unreliable in Colombia. It is not possible to arrive in Medelln by boat.GET AROUND Most of the city of Medelln is built on a grid system. Carreras (streets) are abbreviated as Cr, Cra, K, kra or Crs and run parallel to the river from South to North. The calles (also streets) cross the Carreras and run from East to West. Calles are abbreviated as C, Cll or Cl. Avenidas, abbreviated as Av, are usually larger and main streets. The numerical system for the Avenidas is used but some have names that are more commonly used such as Avenida el Poblado or Avenida Oriental. There are a few streets called Transversales which usually refer to wide Carreras atop the mountains in El Poblado neighborhood. The most famous are transversal Intermedia, Inferior and Superior. Along Laureles neighborhood you can also find Diagonales and Circulares. Each address consists of a series of numbers, for example: Calle 50 # 65 - 8 which indicates that the building is on street 50 (Calle 50) 8 meters ahead from the intersection with street 65 (Carrera 65). The most central point, Parque de Berrio, is located by convention on the crossroads of Calle 50 and Carrera 50.Metro, Metrocable and Metroplus The Metro is elevated; stations are wide, clean and with a view METRO TIMETABLES: Monday through Saturday from 4:30 a.m to 11 p.m. Sundays and holidays from 5:00 a.m to 10:00 p.m. Frequency Peak hours: trains every 5 min, non-peak every 7 min. Fare : single ride $1,800 COP for the year 2013 (includes Metrocable transfers) The touristic Metrocable line L costs $4,000 COP, from 9:00am to 6:00pm Traveling trough the city is easy and quick, with the Metro system, you can go anywhere in the city with The Metropls (Bus extension to the Metro) and the Metrocable, a sky train or cable car that has revolutionized transport in the city. The 'southern extension' of the metro opened in 2012 with new stations in Sabaneta and La Estrella, adding 2.5 km of lines to the system. The Metroplus system opened on December 2011 with 32 stations. It consists of long articulated buses powered with natural gas for a more environmentally friendly option. They run on exclusive roads and enclosed stations. Trains run from 5.00h to 23.00h on workdays and from 7.00h to 22.00h on Sundays and holidays. Single tickets are 1,800 COP (1 USD), transfers between the Metro trains, cables and the Metroplus Line 1 are free. The Metrocable to the ecopark Arv - Line L - costs an additional COP $4,000 for the 4.5km trip up the mountains. Transfer at the Santo Domingo station of the Metrocable K line. See the transit map where the Metroplus is the thin blue line Bus line 1 and Line 2.
  3. 3. Taxis, Buses and TuriBus (Hop on/off bus) Taxis are cheap and plentiful. All taxis have meters, make sure they use them. Minimal fee costs about $4.500 COP. Taxis should always be called by phone for safety reasons and not be hailed on the street. As in most Latin American countries, their driving can be harrowing, so hold on tight. There is also the TuriBus, a modern hop on / hop off bus that goes around the city showing its parks, attractive neighborhoods, and historical parts; it only costs $28,000 COP. While they do not guarentee this, many times their guides also speak English and are happy to translate for you. If you want to go around downtown or neighborhoods near the downtown area without using Taxis, try using the bus named Circular Coonatra. There are various routes, marked on the front and back of the busses. These cost about $1600 COP and require exact change.Other Outdoor Escalators This unusual system allows underserved indwellers to climb up the mountains in the way to their homes, the escalators go up equivalent of a 28-story building. Opened in December 2011, rides are free. They are located in the west of the city - San Javier area - which can be a rough neighborhood. It is not in walking distance of the San Javier metro station, which is the nearest. Similar examples were only for tourist purposes, they are found in Bilbao near Portugalete and Monjuic Hill in Barcelona, Spain.Car Rental Renting a car in Medellin, Colombia can enhance your visit, so its definitely worth considering. Take a day trip to Santa Fe de Antioquia, Santa Helena, El Peol or Llano Grande in Rionegro. Driving from Medellin allows for spectacular views as you climb up and out of the city into the surrounding mountains that lead to your day trip destination. Car rental in town or at the airport.Biking and CicloRoute Biking is not easy in the city since many neighborhoods are in the hills. There is a small bike-route in the Laureles and Estadio areas. There are few areas designed to park bikes. On nights (tuesdays and thursdays in the regional avenue "close to the river" and weekends (sundays) some major avenues (Including the Poblado Avenue) are closed for the popular Ciclovia when you can safely ride a bike in the company of many other people exercising. Walking is safe in some areas, not so in other parts of town. Read the 'stay safe' section for advise.Respect Clothing is usually casual but shorts or bermuda pants are unusual on weekdays. Only young locals will wear them on weekends. Sweaters and jackets are usually not necessary at daytime, occasionally needed at night. Refrain from joking about drugs, kidnapping or bombings. Many residents of Medellin were personally affected by the violence of the past, and today they consider themselves very modern, forward looking and ready to move on. They do not find these things to be funny. In addition, the police take the security situation very seriously, and you may find yourself detained. Accordingly, there is no official tourism built around the history of Pablo Escobar, and many people do not like to discuss him, although several hostels offer a Pablo Escobar tour. You will receive a lot of puzzled stares if you start asking how to get to the house where he was killed, etc. When on the Metrocable, remember that it is a functional part of the Metro system, and that many proud residents of the mountainside neighborhoods ride the system to and from work each day. Accordingly, refrain from gawking, commenting on or taking pictures of the neighborhoods below, especially if there are Colombians in your car.
  4. 4. Stay Safe Medellin is generally a safe city for tourism, depending on the part of town you visit and the hours (like most other cities) and is much safer than in previous years. It was reported than in 2009 the murder rate in Medellin was the lowest in 30 years. Much of the violence is concentrated within the city's hillside slums. The poorer neighborhoods in the north-east and northwest of the city should be avoided at both day and night to avoid trouble. Most of the inner city is best avoided at night, maybe excluding El Poblado. Most travelers to Medellin will tell you that they never found themselves in any danger while there, as the city center and touristy neighborhoods and attractions are all heavily policed. Thus, the following advice should not deter your plans to travel there, and should be taken as advice. As in most major cities, staying safe comes down to common sense, and even the locals follow the following advice. Don't travel alone after dark. Almost anyone who knows anyone who has gotten into trouble in Medellin will tell you that they were doing things that you shouldn't do in any city, i.e. walk around after dark alone, especially leaving clubs after having been drinking. If you must, travel with a few friends, and at night call a taxi instead of taking it off the curb. Avoid straying off of the main areas outside of the Santo Domingo Metrocable station, especially after dark; basically, try to stay within sight of the station and library, and you will be fine. Avoid areas of downtown at night, such as the Parque San Antonio area (including outside of the Metro station), Parque de Bolivar, and areas directly to the north of Parque de Berrio, where there is a lot of prostitution and other shady dealings. During the day, these areas are all perfectly safe with the normal precautions. As in most large cities, petty crime can be a problem; it is advisable to carry a color copy of your passport rather than the real thing, avoid carrying a wallet and to keep varying amounts of cash in several pockets, socks and bras. Only carry what you will need for the day, and always have enough hidden somewhere to get back to your hotel. However, at most tourist sites, the police have a very heavy presence, so you can feel safe taking pictures and walking around during the day. Avoid accepting drinks from strangers. One common organized scam reported recently involves girls being overly friendly to "gringos" at a club, buying them drinks and then asking to go home with them. The drinks end up being drugged, and the girls make off with money, credit cards and other valuables. Note that it is not very common for Medellin locals to go home with other locals to hook up; rather, cheap hotels are used. So one should be suspicious of overly friendly girls asking to come to your hotel or residence from a club. Many people sometimes feel overwhelmed by all of the small-time vendors selling anything from fruit, ice cream, cigarettes, lottery tickets, cell phone chargers, trinkets, hats, etc. However, a simple "no, gracias" will deter them from bothering you. As Colombia is still a country with a "macho" mindset, women might be the subject of lewd comments, cat-calling, or whistling. If you feel you have to challenge this remain polite as you do so - it may be a new experience for the man. Do not, under any circumstances, make any jokes about the use of cocaine or bombs. The Colombian police take jokes as threats, and you may find yourself in a police station explaining yourself to unsympathetic police officers. Under normal circumstances, police officers are usually kind and helpful towards tourists. The age of consent in Colombia is 14. The drinking age is 18. Minors are not allowed to be in possession of alcohol at any time, and they may not enter night clubs of any kind. If a minor is found to be in a night club, the entire club will be immediately closed for violating a national law. (Enforced more in nicer neighborhoods) Always change your money at the airport or at a bank. Bancolombia is the largest national bank, is based in Medelln and has ATM's almost everywhere. "Street changers" offer tempting rates for your dollar, but be on guard. "Street Changers" palm several of the biggest bills for themselves. Do not flaunt large amounts of money around. ATM machines are your best bet for dealing with the complexities of various money changers. When using...


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