Every time I stop by the Tiger Paw Hostel, I think of my friend Mark Krzos.
Forgive the 7-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon analogy but that’s the source of it all.
Mark and I used to work together in Fort Myers, Fla., where a young kid named Sammy Watkins grew up.
Watkins recently became the highest NFL draft pick ever from Fort Myers when the Buffalo Bills last month drafted him No. 4 overall — the great Deion Sanders went No. 5.
Mark is from Buffalo. He’s a huge Bills fan. (Stay with me, we’re almost to the point.)
Now he’s naturally a huge fan of Watkins, who went to Clemson University.
The Tiger Paw is named after the South Carolina higher learning institution, the Clemson Tigers, because the first-ever owner went to school there, hence the orange paw stickers all over the front window of the place.
So there you have it.
Fast-forward to today, the place now under its third ownership and improving every week.
Dave, a Texas native who like so many other foreigners has fallen in love with Medellín, is making his hostel a go-to place for fun activities, one per night, along with the pool table that is there for entertainment every night.
Sundays are movie nights, Mondays karaoke, Tuesdays a language exchange, Wednesdays for salsa, merengue and bachata.
On Thursdays it’s open mic, Fridays live music, and Saturdays the beer pong tournament.
Each event is scheduled early enough that you’ll have plenty of time to check out the nightlife at nearby Parque Lleras afterward.
But you might not want to.
The Tiger Paw bar can be a pretty popular place, especially on the weekends, drawing expats from other hostels or those who have made Medellín their home.
Paisas sometimes hang out there too.
From 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. there is a happy hour that offers 2-for-1 drinks, whatever you like. Naturally this made our Top 5 for drink specials in the city.
For those who are staying there, you’ll find the hostel to be big and accommodating.
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There are six private rooms and three dorms, with options of air conditioning or without, and prices ranging from 22,000 pesos (about $11.50) to 75,000 pesos (about $40), covering two stories.
There are two places to watch television, a lounge near the downstairs bedrooms and, of course, the bar, where there is a projector screen for movies and big sporting events such as the World Cup.
If you need any advice, you’ll find the staff very helpful and welcoming, including Dave, the owner.
I’ve gotten to know him recently and he’s a stand-up guy, genuinely nice. He’s committed to making a good hostel great.
The wide range of events is new. So is the projector screen. He’s even paying attention to the little things, adding more plants outside and rewiring everything inside.
He wants his hostel to be a place you remember, it doesn’t matter if you’re a guest or just stopping by for one of the events.
As I write this, it’s 2:17 p.m. on Saturday, June 21. If I weren’t in Perú, who knows. I might have stopped by the Tiger Paw.
I was there with Brian was the owner (well, never stayed there but we lived up the hill towards the university on Superior) and would stop by. Brian did a great job and after he sold the place I went there once or twice and was denied entrance to the bar (only for people staying there) and just started hanging at the Medellin Beer Factory. Where Patricks Irish pub is now – was another great place and girls always got free rum and cokes and that became a hangout – and across the street was the Pilsen bar which was dirt cheap.
It may be that bar access is allowed to the public only for special events. I’m not sure. There were tons of us non-guests there two Friday nights ago and we were more than welcome.
At the same time, I totally respect any hostel that denies entry to non-guests, because it’s purely for safety reasons. If you’re thinking that’s overkill, read this story from 2012 to see why it’s important in this city, as well as Colombia as a whole.