The barbecue became one of my favorite hostel events the first time I ever tried it.
It’s no secret I love food — and trying different kinds of food — and the Greek barbecue every Sunday at Arcadia Hostel really got my attention. There is beef, chicken, chorizo, pork, green salad, potato salad, peppers, bread and tzatziki sauce. It’s all-you-can-eat for 15,000 pesos (about $7.50).
Why Greek? Because the owner, Spyros, is from Greece.
He opened Arcadia Hostel about four years ago, a business he decided to start because he used to work in tourism and fell in love with Medellín when he was traveling around the world.
The name Arcadia means paradise on earth. The symbol of the hostel, a bear with the big dipper in it among many pretty colors, comes from an interesting story.
There was a beautiful princess living at the forest of Arcadia. Her name was Calisto. Artemis, the goddess of hunting, fell in love with Calisto, but Zeus wanted Calisto too, and he got her pregnant.
Artemis was a bit upset and turned Calisto into a bear. Calisto later gave birth to a boy, Arcas, who, when he got older, came across his mother, only he didn’t realize it because she was a bear. She chased him because she wanted to hug him but he was afraid. He almost killed her in self-defense.
Zeus, feeling bad about the problems he caused, transformed them into constellations. The Big Dipper is Calisto and the Little Dipper is Arcas.
Just as beautiful as the story is Arcadia Hostel’s location: close to Parque Lleras, but far enough that the noise of the rumba doesn’t reach the rooms. It’s pretty there too, very green, with the soothing sound of the water in the canal across the street that heads down toward the Rio Medellín.
The outdoor patio, where Spyros has his barbecue, overlooks all of this and is probably the most popular gathering place in the hostel.
Inside, there’s a nice living room with lots of couch space, a large plasma TV with a vast collection of movies, two computers for guest use, and lots of information about what to do in the city, including tours the staff can book for you.
You can buy beer, snacks and soft drinks at the reception, and there is a free breakfast, coffee and pancakes.
If you have a question, the staff is more than willing to help, and they are all bilingual, making it easy to communicate with them.
If you’re looking to learn Spanish and speak their native language with them, ask about classes and tours at Centro Interactivo de Español. Hostel guests get a 10 percent discount.
Spyros pushes his staff to care as much about Arcadia Hostel as he does, one of the reasons I consider it one of the best hostels in Medellín.
He is often there to help and check things, and if something needs to be fixed, it’s not unusual for Spyros to do it himself.
Arcadia Hostel has eight rooms: five dormitories and three private rooms, all with big lockers, and every bed has an electrical outlet so you can charge your phone, laptop, whatever you need. Soon, each bed will have a curtain, to help block out the light during those times you need some extra sleep or when someone gets back late.
There is a mix of each, dorms with a bathroom, private rooms that share a bathroom with others, with prices ranging from 19,000 pesos (about $10) to 70,000 pesos (about $35), although costs rise each year due to inflation and the high season.
The hostel is clean and comfortable, and the guests seem to enjoy themselves. It’s as if they form a stronger bond because they are bit removed from the cluster of hostels near Parque Lleras.
During the time I spent there to write this story, one guest, a Brazilian, actually moved to Arcadia Hostel from another one closer to Lleras because he really liked the atmosphere at Arcadia.
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On Fridays, starting at 8 p.m., you can learn to dance salsa from professional instructors. It’s free for all guests and even for people who come from outside the hostel.
And, of course, every Sunday is that barbecue.
Like the salsa night, the barbecue is open to the public. Just call the hostel by Sunday morning to let the staff know you are coming, so they prepare enough food.
I was there talking to an Australian traveler recently, listening to how he was enjoying his visit to Medellín, everything about it, the hostel, the people, the sightseeing, everything. As he talked, I could hear the sound of the water in the canal, heading downhill.
He seemed very relaxed.