Medellin: We’re Home

This is my third “We’re Home” blog post. I’m defining “home” as any place we’ll stay for at least a month. On our Europe leg, Budapest was our only home (Istanbul at three weeks just barely missed the cut), but for this leg, we’re on the road a few weeks longer with two longer stays, first in Puerto Escondido, Mexico, for 7 weeks and now here in Medellin, Colombia, for 5 weeks.

Another couple of notes before I get into what our life is like so far here in Medellin: First, I completely failed to in my quest to catch up this blog while we were in PE. I was doing great until the end of November, at which time: 1) I took a few days off for the Thanksgiving holiday and then had to get caught up on client work, followed by 2) the end of the semester for the class I teach online, which meant back-to-back periods of intense grading of the two papers I assign. Then came Christmas and then we moved around a bit for a couple weeks and we’ve just now gotten back settled in. I’m hoping to get several more posts done while we’re settled here in Medellin, at least to finish out what I want to say about our prior Europe leg!

Second, and on a far more positive note, we’ve committed (to each other) to staying on the road through April 2020 (at least). We picked a Leg 4 in Europe for the fall (Romania, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzogovina and Greece), and have settled on a Leg 5 starting at the beginning of 2020 with a return to Mexico, because we fell completely in love with Mexico City when we visited in December. So CDMX will kick off Leg 5, followed by Costa Rica and Peru (Machu Picchu!). But for now, let’s dwell in the present moment, which is pretty great here in Medellin.

Medellin: The Digital Nomad Paradise

Medellin has a great reputation among people who work online as being a fun and affordable city with great nature and great weather (and fast internet). This is completely true, and it is kind of fitting that when we arrived here (well, actually even including the week we spent in Cartagena, Colombia, before we arrived here), we were both so behind on work from the holidays and enjoying Mexico City too much that we’ve really had to buckle down.

Medellin view on one of our walks
View of Medellin on one of our walks

Our 1-bedroom apartment in the Laureles neighborhood of the city is completely perfect for that. There is a nice desk area for Chad, a comfortable bedroom that becomes my office during the day so I can make calls, and plenty of natural light. We struggled with the internet a bit at first, but it got better on its own and then our Airbnb host took additional steps to help, so we’re in great shape now.

Laureles: The Freidrichs Family Paradise

Chad did the research on choosing our neighborhood here in Medellin and he knocked it out of the park. He chose Laureles over the more popular El Poblado neighborhood based on it being more residential, a little quieter, and a little less expensive. Our accommodation here is testament to that – this is the lowest nightly rate we’ve paid on our trip thus far and the apartment is really nice. The building has a 24-hour front desk keeping it secure, an elevator (though we’re on the 3rd floor so we only used it for luggage), and is very clean and modern. The windows are maybe a little thin and there’s a fair bit of noise from the bars on the block at night, but it doesn’t carry back into the bedroom so we’ve had no trouble sleeping.

Technically, our building may be Laureles-adjacent rather than actually in Laureles, but we’re close enough to enjoy the atmosphere on our morning walks and the wonderful restaurants for dinners out three nights a week. It is really pretty with lots of trees and parks and good grocery stores and really everything you’d want or need, including a Metro stop (though taxis are incredibly cheap). Chad has joined a gym here and there are lots of health and nutrition places in the neighborhood – Colombia appears to be a very health-conscious country, which is funny because we’d heard that most Colombian food is fried (that hasn’t been our experience here). One of the best things for me is that there are tons of fresh juice vendors on the street near our place, so it is easy for me to get a big cup of fresh-squeezed juice on our morning walk for under $1. One of the best things for Chad is the popularity of ice cream cones here, and he’s found it easy to find a soft-serve cone in the evenings we go out for under $1.

Colombia: The Futbal Paradise

Colombia has the reputation for having the most passionate soccer fans in the world and that appears to be true. When you walk down the street at almost any time of day, most businesses (bars, restaurants and bodegas at least) have at least one TV and it is always turned to soccer. The new season is just about to start and Medellin has two top-class teams: Athletico Nacional and Independente Medellin. We asked the apartment manager which we should go see (they both play in the main stadium, which just happens to be in our neighborhood; do you think Chad took that into account?). He compared them to the Yankees and the Mets: Athletico has all the money, and Independente has more heart. Clearly we’re going to an Independente match, possibly on their opening day, which is just a little over a week away.

Catching a bit of the Chiefs divisional playoff game in our downstairs bar with a couple Club Colombias

Speaking of football, we’re also finding ourselves caring a bit about the NFL playoffs happening now because my childhood favorite Chiefs are in the AFC Championship. It is very easy to find places to watch American football here too. In fact, there’s a Philly-themed sports bar in the bottom of our building and it shows all the American sports. We caught part of the Chiefs divisional playoff there and it was a lot of fun.

Colombia: The Foodie Paradise?

The one negative thing we heard about Colombia before coming here is that food isn’t very good. People compare it unfavorably to Mexican food (which really isn’t fair because I’d compare just about any cuisine unfavorably to Mexican food, which is clearly the best food). They say it is unhealthy and fried and lacks flavor. That has not been our experience at all in the two weeks we’ve been in Colombia (one week in Cartagena and one week so far here). We’ve had some really great meals and everything we’ve eaten has been more than satisfactory. It is not at all difficult to find healthy options and I find Colombian food to be very nicely seasoned – subtle sometimes, but really delicious. In Cartagena on the Caribbean we had fabulous coconut rice and great seafood. Here so far we’ve had yummy arepas, nice grilled food, good cuisine from other cultures (including Mexican!) and we’re currently kind of obsessed with the Colombian casual food chain Crepes and Waffles (look it up; we seriously need this in the US).

steak and salmon at Montaditos, one of many great meals weve had in Colombia

Summary – We Think We’re in Paradise

So far we are loving Medellin. We’ve got just over four more weeks here and we can’t wait to get to know the city even better.

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