Medellin Living » Transportation http://medellinliving.com Colombia Travel Blog Wed, 19 Nov 2014 13:35:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Learning to Ride a Motorcycle in Medellín http://medellinliving.com/learning-to-ride-motorcycle/ http://medellinliving.com/learning-to-ride-motorcycle/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 12:00:48 +0000 http://medellinliving.com/?p=21087 Learning to ride a motorcycle in Medellín with AutoSur, an escuela de conduccion, and their one-on-one private motorcycle classes located in Envigado.

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A selection of the bikes available at AutoSur.

A selection of the bikes available at AutoSur

After spending last year on a road trip through the American West, I became aware of the overland travel community, or those who embark on long, multiple country journeys in their own vehicle.

Within that community there is a fairly well sought after dream trip which entails driving (most frequently by motorcycle) from somewhere in North America to the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia, Argentina.

Taking a trip like that really appeals to me on some level, even though I haven’t actively pursued it. The main problem is that I’d never actually ridden a motorcycle before.

Upon arriving in Medellín and deciding to stay here for than just a couple of weeks as I initially planned, I sought out some way to actually learn how to ride a motorcycle.

My friend Sebastian put me in contact with a driving school, or escuela de conduccion, down in Envigado called AutoSur.

Sebastian with his new motorcycle.

Sebastian with his new motorcycle

Taking my first spins around the block on a motorcycle down in Envigado as opposed to within the heart of Medellín felt just a little more sane to me some how.

AutoSur offers one-on-one motorcycle instruction classes for 45,000 pesos ($24) for 45 minutes. So I scheduled my first class a few days beforehand for an afternoon session.

Arriving at their offices, I simply handed over the money and waited for my instructor. There was no need for licenses, paperwork or other formalities.

I was given a helmet and reflective student vest (good to be safe!) and taken over to the little automatic bike.

Instruction is in Spanish at this facility, and while I have a decent intermediate ability in everyday Spanish, there are obviously words related to driving and automobile parts that I don’t regularly encounter which made it a little more difficult.

I just asked him to speak slowly and simply and found that I got the point of most everything, though some of the minutiae might have been lost.

We started by going over all of the basic components of the bike from the acceleration, brakes, kick stand and so forth. And then commenced with actually driving it around their small parking lot just getting a feel for turning and braking.

After that we headed out to the quiet street in front of their facility to take a number of laps and practice driving with infrequent traffic.

A view of the AutoSur premises where I learned to ride.

A view of the AutoSur premises where I learned to ride

Eventually we headed out for a drive around the block into the thick of traffic as I followed behind the instructor.

We arrived at a quiet cul-de-sac where we proceeded to jump into the components of a manual bike and how it differs from the automatic.

While I normally drive a manual vehicle back home, it was definitely hard adjusting to the feel of a manual bike and getting the hang of the clutch, acceleration and whatnot.

I killed it many a-times in that cul-de-sac and even nearly crashed into a low hanging tree branch as the engine shuddered violently when I botched the clutch.

We covered a lot in just one 45-minute session, but I really didn’t feel secure with a manual bike so I opted to take a second follow-up class a few days later.

In that class we jumped immediately into the manual bike and headed out to the cul-de-sac for a number of laps. I was able to catch on much faster the second time around, so soon thereafter we headed out to drive all over Envigado.

My tip to you: check out a few how to videos on YouTube in English beforehand to get a better grasp of the subtleties with the clutch and handling the bike. It helped immensely for my second class and it is definitely better to go in with more knowledge so you have more time for hands on practice.

The rest of the class was basically just touring around as I once again followed the instructor as we drove all around the city for half an hour.

It was nice not having to worry about the navigation aspect when you’ve got a lot more on your mind, like other vehicles, erratic drivers, remembering which gear you are in and not killing the engine at stop lights.

It might be a motorcycle cliche, but I agree that it was incredibly liberating and exhilarating to have the wind whipping by while making my way through the crazy traffic, roundabouts and up and down the hills of Medellín.

It’s a fun and totally different way to see and experience this beautiful city.

We would stop on occasion as he would give me a few more pointers on maneuvering the bike, shifting through the higher gears and accelerating after stopping on inclines, among other things.

A number of people (both locals and foreigners) have remarked that I must be crazy for deciding to take my first turns on a motorcycle in a hectic South American city like Medellín.

While I can certainly attest to feeling a heightened sense of awareness and being alert, I never found it to be overwhelming or scary. More than anything it was just a really fun experience and something I have always wanted to do.

AutoSur, escuela de conduccion in Envigado.

AutoSur, escuela de conduccion in Envigado

Since the classes are one on one, you are free to progress as fast or as slow as you like and with as much or as little exposure as you like. The staff at AutoSur were very friendly and accommodating.

Medellín and motorcycles go hand in hand. They are absolutely ubiquitous here. Why not experience the city the way many locals do?

If you’ve ever wanted to learn or try it out for yourself, head out to AutoSur or one of the other driving schools in the valley to get started. It really is a blast!

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Cheap Flights to Medellín http://medellinliving.com/cheap-flights/ http://medellinliving.com/cheap-flights/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 12:00:01 +0000 http://medellinliving.com/?p=21077 Looking for cheap flights to Medellín? As tourism to the city and Colombia continue to grow, so to do the number of airlines offering flights to Medellín.

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Avianca flight

Avianca flight at José María Córdova International Airport (photo: David Lee)

It’s one of the main airports in Colombia and being the second biggest city in the country, Medellín’s José María Córdova International Airport is served by major airlines connecting places like North America and Europe.

Medellín actually has two airports; José María Córdova is the main one located about 40 minutes outside of the city in Rionegro, and the smaller airport, Enrique Olaya Herrera is near the South Bus Terminal and is a hub for carriers such as LAN Colombia, EasyFly and Satena.

Major airlines flying into José María Córdova are Avianca, American Airlines, US Airways as well as other low-cost airlines for cheap flights to Medellín.

Expect a taxi from here to the city to cost approx 60,000 pesos ($33).

Iberia flights in Madrid

Iberia flights in Madrid (photo: David Lee)

Flying from Europe

Iberia operate from Madrid and can take anything from 13 hours to up to 27 depending on where you stop. Prices typically cost $813 from September and stop at least once in either Panama or Bogotá.

Avianca also operate direct flights from Madrid to Medellín and cost approximately $940 depending on the time of the year.

If you’re flying from the UK, there’s no direct route into Medellín. Iberia flies there stopping twice en route in Madrid then either Bogotá or Panama and will set you back $1,318.

However British Airways do fly into Bogotá (via Miami) then you can purchase an internal flight with Viva Colombia from there. Prices cost $1,215 flying in September or October.

There appears to be no direct flight from Paris with Iberia stopping twice en route.

Spirit

Spirit flight departing Rionegro for Florida (photo: David Lee)

Flying from North America

Avianca also operate routes from Canada to Medellín from Calgary, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver and have flex fares from 1,166,400 pesos ($627) for the rest of the year up to December.

There’s various points from North America with an extensive list from Arcata to Tampa. Some aren’t direct so expect an overnight stay in somewhere like El Salvador if you’re flying from Los Angeles for example, costing 1,929,500 pesos ($1,038).

Spirit also operates flights from Toronto and Montreal taking approx 11 hours and stopping in their hub, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for $235. They operate flights all over USA including New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles.

Flights from New York (LGA) to Medellin cost from $205 departing at 6:30 a.m. and arriving in Medellin at 1:06 p.m.

It’s only slightly more from Washington, DC (BWI) at $245 departing at 2:01 p.m. and arriving in Medellin at 10:43 p.m (they also operate a morning flight).

For an even cheaper fare, Spirit offers a $9 fare club for an annual fee so you can save more money on your flights. The flights only depart a few times each month.

Flights are more frequent from North America and cost the same fare at $235. A monthly calendar shows how much you can expect to pay each day of any particular month. There can also be a stopover in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida from North America so check the itinerary for your route.

A competitor for Spirit is JetBlue who fly direct into Medellín from Ft. Lauderdale. JetBlue has more leg room, inflight entertainment and free snacks and drinks.

As well as an award-winning service they also have fewer fees and your first checked bag flies for free which is great if you’re not traveling light. They even have a premier service called Mint if you’re feeling like upgrading to a bit more luxury.

Flights from Ft. Lauderdale start from $143 and only take three and a half hours, departing at 6:45 p.m. and arriving in Medellín at 9:13 p.m.

JetBlue operate many other routes from USA including: Albany, Augusta, Austin, Bar Harbor, Boston, Fort Myers, Gainesville, Hartford Springfield, Cape Cod, Jackonsville, Key West, Lebanon, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, New York City, Newark, Ogdensburg, Orlando, Pensacola, Providence, Provincetown, Raleigh, Rockland, Rutland, Saranac Lake, Tallahassee, Tampa, West Palm Beach, and Westchester Country.

Flights all fly through their main hub, Ft. Lauderdale and take three and a half hours from there to Medellín, Colombia.

Flights from NYC depart at all different times costing $229 and take three hours before a layover in Ft. Lauderdale before a three and a half hour flight to Medellín. Flights from Boston cost from $223 taking three hours, fifteen minutes with a short layover of approximately six hours before the flight to Medellín.

With new routes opening up all the time including one into Cartagena from October 29th 2014, JetBlue are definitely worth considering if you’re flying from the United States (and they have a best price guarantee).

They’re not direct but American Airlines flies into Medellín from New York and stops once in Miami for $516. Fly from San Francisco and you could go via Dallas as well for $400.

TIP – A low fare may mean it doesn’t include checked luggage. This can bump up your fare so look at alternatives such as America Airlines which does include a checked-in bag as it could work out cheaper overall.

Copa Airlines

Copa Airlines in Panama City (photo: David Lee)

Flying from Central America

Traveling from Central America used to be expensive if you wanted to fly directly into Colombia, but with a new route from Viva Colombia into Medellín or Bogotá, it’s soon going to be a cheap route to take.

Flights will operate daily from August 1, 2014 and cost a standard $91 (not including checked bags). By comparison, Dave had to pay $425 for his one hour, direct flight from Panama City to Medellín on Copa Airlines in 2013.

Flights into Medellín will operate every other day departing Panama City BLB at 6:05 p.m. and arriving in José María Córdova at 7:20 p.m.

You can also fly from Mexico. Avianca operates flights from various cities in Mexico and cost from 1,039,600 pesos ($560) from Cancun and 1,669,900 ($900) from Acapulco during August and September.

TIPDespegar is a meta search engine where you can check the cheapest airlines for your dates and route.

Airlines into Colombia (including Bogotá)

Other airlines which fly into Colombia including the capital Bogotá are:

American Airlines, United, Lufthansa, Air France, Iberia, British Airways, Delta, US Airways, TAP Portugal, Air Canada, Aeromexico, TAM Linhas Aereas, LAN Airlines.

The biggest ones being Avianca, America Airlines and United.

Viva Colombia

Viva Colombia (photo: David Lee)

Flying around Colombia

Viva Colombia – heard of them? They’re a low-cost carrier, operating all over the country. With land distances relatively far, it can cost only a bit more to fly internally (and it’s a lot quicker).

A quick tip though – if you’re taking anything more than hand luggage, you can pay just as much for the flight for your luggage so travel light to get it cheap.

Obviously, depending on the time of year you fly, schedules and prices may vary. I recommend using Skyscanner to check the latest prices which allows you to see the whole month and pick the cheapest day to fly.

We’d like to here from you. What are your tips and recommendations for finding cheap flights to Medellín?

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The Escalators of Medellin http://medellinliving.com/escalators/ http://medellinliving.com/escalators/#respond Tue, 10 Sep 2013 16:00:00 +0000 http://medellinliving.com/?p=11736 This video documents a series of six escalators built into a hillside neighborhood in Communa 13 in 2012, allowing local residents to travel more easily.

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This video documents a series of six escalators built into a hillside neighborhood in Communa 13 in 2012, allowing local residents to travel more easily. Since the video was shot, the escalators haven been covered to protect riders from rain.

One correction, Medellin is not the first city to use escalators for public transportation.

As far back as 1993, Hong Kong constructed the 800-meter long Central-Mid Levels escalators on Hong Kong Island.

Have you ridden the escalators in Medellin? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.

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Car Sales Surge in Colombia http://medellinliving.com/car-sales-colombia/ http://medellinliving.com/car-sales-colombia/#comments Tue, 20 Aug 2013 12:00:00 +0000 http://medellinliving.com/?p=12773 This video backs up the observations I’ve made since arriving in Medellin in 2009. Over the years, I’ve noticed an increase in the number of cars on the roads. When I left Colombia in mid-2011 to see more of South America, I was curious if other countries like Ecuador, Peru, and Argentina had the same […]

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This video backs up the observations I’ve made since arriving in Medellin in 2009. Over the years, I’ve noticed an increase in the number of cars on the roads.

When I left Colombia in mid-2011 to see more of South America, I was curious if other countries like Ecuador, Peru, and Argentina had the same number of motorbikes on the road as I’d gotten use to in Colombia.

Not even close!

Ecuador, which by all accounts is poorer, had more cars. Peru too. And I rarely saw motos in the major cities of Chile and Buenos Aires. At least nothing compared to the numbers in Medellin.

Since I was robbed by a few guys on a motorbike a few years ago, I’ve been especially anxious around them. I’m more than happy with the recent uptick in Colombian car ownership.

I also find motorbike drivers, usually the young men, to be reckless, weaving in and out of traffic lanes, trying to reach the front of the stopped traffic before the light turns green.

I realize they’re a more affordable form of transport, but I also think they’re a nuisance, and both a public safety threat, as well as a generally dangerous mode of transport for the drivers too.

Of course cars have their downsides too, namely an increase in traffic and air pollution. Car thefts will probably increase too.

What do you you think? Do you prefer to see more cars on the road if it means fewer motorbikes?

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EasyFly Airline Review http://medellinliving.com/easyfly-airline-review/ http://medellinliving.com/easyfly-airline-review/#comments Mon, 06 May 2013 12:00:00 +0000 http://medellinliving.com/?p=9297 I discovered EasyFly, a discount Colombian airline, in my search for low-cost flights from Medellin to Bucaramanga. A week before my departure, I booked a return flight online for 249,440 pesos ($159), which works out to about $80 each way. But the cost savings didn’t stop with the flights. EasyFly operates out of Medellin’s Enrique Olaya Herrera […]

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Easyfly plane at Aeropuerto Olaya Herrera in Medellin

Easyfly plane at Aeropuerto Olaya Herrera in Medellin

I discovered EasyFly, a discount Colombian airline, in my search for low-cost flights from Medellin to Bucaramanga.

A week before my departure, I booked a return flight online for 249,440 pesos ($159), which works out to about $80 each way.

But the cost savings didn’t stop with the flights. EasyFly operates out of Medellin’s Enrique Olaya Herrera Airport, meaning I’d save time and money on taxi fare as well.

Until now, all my flights to/from the Medellin have been out of the Jose Maria Cordoba International Airport in Rio Negro.

The official 2013 taxi fare from the city to the international airport is 57,000 pesos ($31), whereas a taxi from OH Airport costs me about 6,000 pesos ($3), and takes 5-10 minutes (versus an hour).

EasyFly began operations in 2007, and has been slowly building a schedule of routes. Daily flights currently serve a mix of 16 cities, from the capital, to ones not serviced by other major airlines.

The three flight hubs are:

  • Bogota’s El Dorado International Airport
  • Medellin’s Olaya Herrera Airport
  • Bucaramanga’s Palonegro International Airport

From Medellin, you can fly direct to:

  • Apartado
  • Bucaramanga
  • Cucuta
  • Monteria
  • Quibdo
Disembarking at Bucaramanga's airport

Disembarking at Bucaramanga’s airport

EasyFly operates a fleet of BAe Jetstream 41 propeller planes. As you can tell from the photos above, they’re not very big, but given the flight distances are so short (about an hour max), it’s not too bad.

My flights between Medellin and Bucaramanga clocked in at 45 minutes each, and both were relatively calm with little turbulence.

Inside the planes, it’s a tight fit. Each row seats 3 people. On the left side of the plane are single seats, while the right side features two per row.

For my departure from Medellin, I asked for a window seat at check-in, and got one a few rows back, which put me directly next to the right propeller. I was still able to get decent views of the city during take off.

My only luggage was a small backpack, so I was able to take it as carry-on, and stow it under the seat in front of me.

Landing at OH Airport, Poblado can be seen to the east (right)

Landing at OH Airport, Poblado can be seen to the east (right)

On my return flight, I chose the front right window seat, so I didn’t have anyone in front of me.

Before I and others could board the plane, we had to give up our carry-on items (except for purses), as the flight attendance said the plane was full.

I was a little annoyed at the late notice, but the truth is I had nowhere to stow the bag in front of me, and there are no overhead compartments either.

Since we took off in Medellin from south to north, I figured the return flight would have to do a loop over Medellin to approach the airport from the south.

Sitting on the right side of the plane would give me a nice view of Poblado as we landed. This turned out to be the case, as you can see above.

Boarding my return flight from Bucaramanga to Medellin

Boarding my return flight from Bucaramanga to Medellin

Because OH Airport in Medellin and Bucaramanga’s airport are so small, check-in times were minimal, though you can do so online through the EasyFly site if you want to pick your seat and print your boarding pass (you’ll need two copies).

The service on the ground and in the air was friendly, and both flights were on time. Actually, my flight from Medellin departed 10-15 minutes EARLIER than scheduled. In all my years of flying, that was a first.

I wouldn’t hesitate to use EasyFly again, but for now, they don’t fly out of Medellin to any other destinations I want to visit.

Hopefully that’ll change in the future, because I much prefer flights from OH Airport to JMC in Rio Negro.

Have you flown EasyFly? Share your experience in the comments below.

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A Colombia Customs Story http://medellinliving.com/a-colombia-customs-story/ http://medellinliving.com/a-colombia-customs-story/#comments Mon, 30 Apr 2012 13:00:41 +0000 http://medellinliving.com/?p=5793 The procedure seemed simple enough. Show your ticket and your passport and through customs you go, on your way to your destination. For me, it was Southeast Florida, to visit my brother and his family for Christmas, and for the first time I had quite an experience with this obligatory routine. This is what I […]

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medellin international airport

Medellin's international airport

The procedure seemed simple enough. Show your ticket and your passport and through customs you go, on your way to your destination. For me, it was Southeast Florida, to visit my brother and his family for Christmas, and for the first time I had quite an experience with this obligatory routine.

This is what I was thinking about as I passed through the airport this month for another trip to my brother’s house. I was going there to sell my car, give away unneeded clothes (but very nice clothes) to the Salvation Army, to do my taxes.

But none of that was on my mind, not after what happened on Dec. 6, 2011. I was randomly picked to have my bag checked and to be x-rayed, to make sure I was not a drug mule. Half-asleep and bleary-eyed from waking up early to pack, I ambled to the customs office where I would pass through the fancy machine to confirm that, no, I am not carrying drugs in my stomach. I’m not stupid. I don’t want to go to jail, especially not a Colombian jail, but more than that, I don’t want to pack a bunch of packets in my intestine, any one of which could burst and kill me.

The procedure didn’t go as easily as I expected. Consider this another tip, a supplement to past posts on traveling in and out of Colombia, because this was never mentioned. I wouldn’t expect it to be included. I don’t think anyone would, unless you’re a drug trafficker.

I passed through the x-ray machine once, twice, three times, again. It wasn’t enough. The x-rays were inconclusive. The customs agents asked if I had eaten before I passed through security. I nodded. Soup at home, a sandwich at the airport, I said, but they still had questions.

“Que tipo de sandwich,” he said, wanting to know exactly what I had.

“Pavo.” I smiled a little too, because I actually remembered the word for turkey.

“Cuanto cuesta?” he said.

That, I could not remember, but I had kept the receipt so I handed it to him.

“Muy caro,” he said after seeing the price, 10,000 pesos (about $5).

“Sí, claro.” I was happy that we found something on which we agreed.

The customs agents seemed more at ease now, but they weren’t finished interrogating me. I was told to follow an agent to a back room, to lie on a couch so he could press on my stomach. It tickled and I started laughing, and I was afraid he was going to get mad, that he would think I was not taking this seriously, but he just laughed too. He understood and apologized.

“Tranquilo,” I said

He led me back to the x-ray room, where I would pass through the machine a couple more times. I felt like a character from the movie Maria Full of Grace, the film about the Colombian girl who works as a drug mule to earn more money. Come to think of it, a couple of the women sitting in the x-ray room with me reminded me of a couple of characters in the movie.

My turn finally came and I passed through twice, again drawing a reaction of raised eyebrows. I told the agents that next time, I promise I won’t eat at the airport until I have already passed through customs. They chuckled and asked me why I was in Colombia. I said it’s a beautiful place, that I’m hoping to find a teaching job at the end of the spring, either at an English language school or one of the universities. They wished me luck, told me I could leave and apologized once again.

So three tips:

1. Try not to eat at the airport until you pass through customs.

2. If you are so hungry you have to eat, keep the receipt.

3. If you get picked to pass through the x-ray machine, be friendly and cooperative. The customs agents are sincerely nice and will feel bad for any inconvenience they cause.

Three hours later, I landed in Fort Lauderdale and prepared to pass through American customs. They didn’t make me go through an x-ray machine, didn’t search my bag. But the agent I talked to was terse, rude even. Maybe American customs was quicker, I thought to myself, but Colombian customs was friendlier.

I prefer friendlier.

On this past trip, passing through Colombian customs was easier. They they didn’t x-ray me. They only checked my bag, smiled, and told me to have a good time.

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Domestic Air Travel Made Easy http://medellinliving.com/domestic-air-travel-colombia/ http://medellinliving.com/domestic-air-travel-colombia/#comments Wed, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000 http://medellinliving.com/?p=4544 The more time I spend in Colombia, the more I begin to appreciate how easy and inexpensive the domestic air travel is in the country. In 2009, I experienced my first 25-minute flight from Bogota to Medellin, and later flew back to Medellin from Barranquilla after celebrating Carnival. By bus, both those trips can easily average […]

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View from the airport in Santa Marta.

View from the airport in Santa Marta.

The more time I spend in Colombia, the more I begin to appreciate how easy and inexpensive the domestic air travel is in the country.

In 2009, I experienced my first 25-minute flight from Bogota to Medellin, and later flew back to Medellin from Barranquilla after celebrating Carnival. By bus, both those trips can easily average 12 hours, and sap you of your energy in ways quick, cheap flights will not.

Specifically, Colombian buses are known to have air-conditioning on full blast, the whole trip, thereby turning the cabin into a freezer. You can also expect loud Latin music, which I like as much as the next guy, but not for 12 hours straight.

In 2010, I flew from Cartagena to Medellin, and between Medellin and Cali several times.

This year, I flew back and forth from Santa Marta during my recent trip to the coast.

Almost all of these flights were booked within a week of departure, and often within just a few days because I tend to procrastinate.

My carrier of choice is Aires, the Colombian discount airline recently purchased by the much larger LAN Airlines.

I used Avianca in 2009, and while they still may be cheaper for certain routes, especially when booked in advance, I’ve yet to see any meaningful savings should I choose them over Aires.

Both the Aires and Avianca websites are available in English, and easy to use. I realize some may argue this point, but I’ve used both enough to stand behind it.

Sales result in e-ticket information being emailed to you. I normally take note of the confirmation number, and simply show up at the ticket counters with my passport (a required form of ID for foreigners traveling within the country by air).

I’ve never had a problem with lost baggage, including the time I flew Avianca from Madrid to Bogota in 2009, and my Aires flight from New York City to Cartagena (via Bogota) in 2010.

Aside from the same-day flight booked from Santa Marta to Medellin when I was feeling sick, all my one-way domestic flights within Colombia have been $100 or less.

I realize this still might be a lot for backpackers or frequent travelers to cover, but as I enter my mid-30’s, and travel full time for my job, it seems like a cheap price to pay.

Which do you prefer for long trips in Colombia, buses or planes?

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This post was written by Dave, and brought to you by TravelRepublic.

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How to Use the Metro in Medellin http://medellinliving.com/metro-in-medellin/ http://medellinliving.com/metro-in-medellin/#comments Wed, 08 Jun 2011 16:00:00 +0000 http://medellinliving.com/?p=3367 The metro in Medellin is the only rail-based mass transportation service in Colombia, and it does not contaminate because it uses electrical technology! The Metro is a breeze, compared to New York City anyway.  It is clean, big, above ground and usually smells nice. Except in rush hour when you have to wait 2-3 metros […]

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Medellin metro

The metro in Medellin is the only rail-based mass transportation service in Colombia, and it does not contaminate because it uses electrical technology!

The Metro is a breeze, compared to New York City anyway.  It is clean, big, above ground and usually smells nice.

Except in rush hour when you have to wait 2-3 metros to cram on with the others, it is usually spacious too.  So definitely try to avoid rush hour if you can.

How to Use the Metro in Medellin

  1. There are 2 basic lines to the Metro, the red line and the blue line.
    1. There are also 2 metro cable lines attached to the metro lines as well, and there is no additional cost to transfer to them.  (The exception is the new metrocable to Parque Arvi from Santo Domingo).
  2. A single Metro ride costs 1,800 COP (about $1 USD).
    1. If you know you will take a Metro and then a bus, you can ask for an “integrated” ticket.  This will buy you a ticket for both, and be cheaper then buying tickets separately.  But only certain bus lines accept this so you have to figure that out for yourself!
    2. You can get a Metro Card but it doesn’t allow you to buy more fares for less money.  Instead, it allows you to go through a separate turn-style, which helps you to avoid some of the people traffic you may encounter.  It really has saved me a LOT of time.
    3. There are no automated ticket machines.
  3. The hours of the Metro are:
    1. Monday to Saturday: 4:30 AM – 11 PM
    2. Sunday: 5 AM – 10 PM
  4. Do not be alarmed to see armed policemen in all of the Metro stations.  Usually they are young men, ages 18 – 20 who are doing their mandatory military service.
  5. Traveling on the Metro is generally very safe, however be extra careful of pickpockets during rush hour or any other time the metro cars are crammed full of people.

 

Last updated July 3, 2013

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How to Locate Street Addresses in Colombian Cities http://medellinliving.com/how-to-locate-street-addresses-in-colombia/ http://medellinliving.com/how-to-locate-street-addresses-in-colombia/#comments Wed, 18 May 2011 15:00:26 +0000 http://medellinliving.com/?p=3413 When first arriving in Medellín, or anywhere in Colombia, it takes a minute or two to understand the set up of the city.  And, without a map or a local explaining it to you, it may take even longer. So how do you locate street addresses in Medellin? Reading the Map There are Carreras (Avenues) and Calles […]

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Barrio Belen Malibu

Barrio Belen Malibu

When first arriving in Medellín, or anywhere in Colombia, it takes a minute or two to understand the set up of the city.  And, without a map or a local explaining it to you, it may take even longer.

So how do you locate street addresses in Medellin?

Reading the Map

There are Carreras (Avenues) and Calles (Streets), which run perpendicular to one another, with a few exceptions.  It sounds easy enough.

However, when you have to find an address, you will be given something that looks like this:

Kr 72 no. 14-28

Let me break it down for you:

  • Kr 72 = Carrera 72
  • no. 14 = Calle 14
  • 28 = the house/ building number between Calle 14 and Calle 14a or Calle 15

or..

Cl 10a no. 66b-24

  • Cl 10a = Calle 10a
  • no. 66b – Carrera 66b
  • 24 = the house/building number between Carrera 66b and Carrera 66c

Then to make it even more interesting they will throw in a transversal, circular, and a diagonal every once in a while.

* The map above will give you an example of a K, Carrera, C, Calle and Circular

The most well-known streets running through Medellin, which usually include many restaurants and clubs are:

Calles

  • Calle 10
  • Calle 30
  • Calle 33
  • Calle 44 (San Juan)
  • Calle 50 (Colombia)

Carreras

  • Carrera 43a (Avenida Poblado)
  • Carrera 46 (Oriental, crosses Downtown)
  • Carrera 52 (Guayabal)
  • Carrera 64 (Regional)
  • Carrera 65
  • Carrera 76 (crosses Belen)
  • Carrera 80

Local Tip #1

Many streets do not have “Walk/ Don’t Walk” signs.  Therefore, you have to be very careful and look every which way before crossing the street.  Especially around the round-a-bouts.

You may think you have a clearing and then a bus will round the corner at very high speeds forcing you to book it to the other side.  Drivers do not slow down for you here.  Run.

Local Tip #2

Motorcycles do not always follow the same rules as the other cars.  They act more like cyclists in the fact that they may run a red light if they see no cars are coming from the perpendicular street ahead of them.  Stay alert, and be extra cautious with them.

Local Tip #3

When walking down the street, always check the street number you are on.  Sometimes the Carrera or Calle will change even though you have not switched streets.

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Guide to Taking Taxis http://medellinliving.com/guide-to-taking-taxis/ http://medellinliving.com/guide-to-taking-taxis/#respond Thu, 12 May 2011 15:00:00 +0000 http://medellinliving.com/?p=3417 By Western standards, taking taxis in Medellin is relatively inexpensive, and thus offer an easy and practical way for both visitors and locals to get around the city. Guide to Taking Taxis on the Street Hailing a yellow taxi on the street is as simple as holding up your arm until one flashes their hazard […]

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Yellow taxis in Medellin

Yellow taxis line up outside the Premium Plaza mall.

By Western standards, taking taxis in Medellin is relatively inexpensive, and thus offer an easy and practical way for both visitors and locals to get around the city.

Guide to Taking Taxis on the Street

Hailing a yellow taxi on the street is as simple as holding up your arm until one flashes their hazard lights or turns on their direction signal as a sign they’re pulling over to pick you up.

During the daytime, you should be fairly safe picking up taxis from the street, however exercise caution in the evenings.

Throughout the city, and often near points of interest, shopping centers and local landmarks, you’ll see taxi stands where taxis queue up for customers.  If you see one of these, it makes the process even easier.

Sometimes a person will be standing near the taxis keeping them organized, while other times, locals will be helping to direct passengers to specific taxi drivers who will then tip them a few coins in exchange for their help in attracting a customer. These people expect the tip from the driver, not you, so don’t give them any money!

All Medellin taxis include digital meters with blue or red lighting. When you get in, check to make sure there is a meter, and it’s working. If not, take another taxis (this is very rare, thankfully).

Taxis start off at 2,400 COP ($1.40), and in the evenings there is a mandatory charge of 4,000 COP ($2.30) even if the ride lasts less than that price.

Compared to many countries in the world, the majority of taxi drivers in Medellin are honest, friendly and trustworthy. Unlike places like Thailand and India, you probably won’t be blatantly ripped off, however there are a few small ways some drivers will try to make a little extra money (especially if you’re a foreigner).

1. They’ll take a longer route than necessary to run up the meter. If you’re not familiar with the city, it’s unlikely you’ll notice.

2. They’ll ask for more money than appears on the meter (in the past, some drivers have claimed the difference is an evening surcharge, or it was for waiting at some point along the trip, though that time should be accounted for by a working meter).

3. Before you can give them money and ask for change, they’ll state the amount due, rounding up to the nearest 1,000-peso mark from whatever shows on the meter (Ex: if the meter shows 5,300 COP, the driver will ask for 6,000 COP, with no intention of giving you change).

4. The driver will claim not to have change for the bill you give him. If this happens, it’s his responsibility to find a shop or gas station where you can get change for your bill. The easiest way to avoid this inconvenience is to always carry small bills when taking taxis (and certainly nothing greater than a 20,000 peso note).

Tips are not expected, nor required, though many drivers appreciate any extra money you offer (through rounding up) given they usually make only about 50,000 COP ($25) per day.

The Safest Approach to Taking Taxis

While many people never have a problem with hailing taxis from the street, there is a safer approach that is often recommended by Colombians.

1.  Call a taxi company to send you a registered taxi, 034 – 444 – 5555.  If you call from a home phone number (landline), they will automatically know your address.

2.  The taxi company will give you a secret code (often 4 digits) that you have to give to the driver so the driver can confirm he has the right person.

3.  Have someone walk you to the door of the taxi, and note the registration number of that taxi.  If you do not have someone to walk with you, call someone and give them this information over the phone.

This is less for sharing information and more for making the driver aware that someone knows where you are at all times and will come looking for you if you don’t arrive as expected.

#1 Local Tip

The cumulative effect of taxi doors being opened and closed regularly for months and years can slowly start to cause mechanical problems.  As Colombian taxis are much smaller than the sedans and SUV’s used in US and European cities, they don’t stand up to being slammed shut so well. If you open the door on an old taxi, sometimes it even feels like it will fall off in your hand!

If you do not want the taxi drivers to give you a dirty look or yell at you, be extra careful when closing the car door. Make sure you gently close it with love and kindness. If a door is already damaged, the driver may prefer to close the door himself.

Whether you hail a taxi from the street, or call a service, the majority of drivers will be open to talking with you, especially if you’re a foreigner.  Many will even start the conversation by asking where you’re from.

These conversations can be a great way to practice your Spanish, while also learning about the city and local culture.

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