Bucaramanga Colombia

Bucaramanga Colombia is the capital city of Santander and is the sixth most populated city in the country. Thanks to the amount of parks this city has, it’s been given nicknames like “La Ciudad de los Parques” (City of Parks) and “La Ciudad Bonita de Colombia” (Colombia’s Beautiful City).

Serving the city with both domestic and international flights is the “Palonegro” Airport located at about 30km west of the city and, it is the eighth largest airport in Colombia.

Geography and Climate

As part of the Andean Region, Bucaramanga Colombia is located on a plateau in the eastern mountain range of the Colombian Andes at 959 meters above sea level. It features a tropical monsoon climate but, it’s noticeably cooler than that.

Thanks to the cool winds coming down from the Eastern peaks that reach almost 3,700 meters above sea level, the average temperature during daytime is 22 degrees Celsius and is cooler than other cities at the same altitude, such as Cali.

At night, temperatures are not that cold as they average 18 degrees Celsius thanks to warm air coming from the Rio de Oro Canyon located to the west of the city.

Tourism

Bucaramanga is a metropolis surrounded by beautiful vistas and lots of parks. Most importantly there’s the Chicamocha National Park also known as Panachi and is located 50km from the city.

It is the most important tourist attraction due to the variety of outdoor activities that it offers and its spectacular landscape. Some of the activities are paragliding, camping, fishing, kayaking, mountain climbing and others.

Part of the parks popularity is its 6.3km long cable car system as it is one of the longest systems of its type in the world and goes across the Chicamocha Canyon. With three stations, it opened in January 2009 and quickly became famous in the entire Santander region.

Traveling

During the holidays you can fly to Bucaramanga Colombia for as low as $800 and ride a bus or drive yourself from Palonegro Airport to a hotel for as low as $134 a night. During the “low” season you can fly for as low as $500 and get the same deals on any of the city’s hotels

During the entire trip, whether you’re walking or riding a vehicle you’ll have enough reasons to take pictures all around you thanks to modern art sculptures within the city limits and impressive landscapes all around it. All of it thanks to its location near the Colombian Andes.

Welcome to Medellin Colombia

Medellin Colombia, also known as “The city of eternal spring”, most likely offers the best climate off all the major cities of Colombia. The “paisas” as the locals are known, are friendly and proud of their city.

I know Medellin particularly well, because my wife is from this city where we now live.

Useful info.

You begin by reading up on general information about Medellin to get you started.

The Medellin Metro system is modern, safe and clean. It runs North / South and East / West but is limited in the number of areas of the city it covers. Nevertheless, if your route fits with the stops on the 2 lines, it is extremely good.

Perhaps you want some information if you’re wanting to learn Spanish in Medellin. This is a great place to do it!

Where to eat?

Restaurants in Medellin used to serve mainly traditional fare consisting of plantain, rice, arepa (corn bread), beans, soups or broths. The raw ingredients are fresh, rich in flavor and generally local or national produce.

The amount of new restaurants, ranging from authentic Spanish Tapas to Italian has literally exploded over the last few years. It used to be difficult to find a good restaurant here, but that has changed.

My top picks are:

BONUAR
“New Colombian Cuisine”
“Burgers and fries”

Next to the new MAMM (Museum of Modern Art, Medellin)

The new Ciudad del Rio project in the middle of the city just South of downtown, is a great success. Having moved the Museum of Modern Art from the Carlos E. Restrepo area to this new development, injects a large dosage of culture into this part of town.

Bonuar is terrific. Another example of “New Colombian Cuisine” as I like to call it. We tried the shrimp gumbo, large shrimps over a bed of risotto-style rice. Light and tasty. Then, the “Lomito de cerde con chutney de guayaba agria” (Pork chops with guava chutney). Really delicious. I love the use of fruity sauces that are being used more and more frequently in the newer restaurants here.

There’s also a burger and fries section to the restaurant. A counter to the far end of the room by the red booth-type seating.

The service is good, if a tiny bit slow, and the location is great if you want to drop in on the museum (free). There’s outdoor seating and the decor/ layout has a nice rustic feel to it, even though the place in brand new.Good food comes at a price. You can expect to pay between COP 20-35.000 (US$ 10-18) for a main meal, but it’s definitely worth it.

One of the better restaurants in Medellin.

To check out everything from breakfast and lunch spots, to Colombian or Japanese, follow this link for more info. about restaurants in Medellin.

Bars & Nightlife

Medellin and Colombia are known for partying. If going downtown at night, a great choice it the Eslabon Prendido.

Hotels in Medellin

There is a large and ever-increasing selection of hotels in Medellin. TheDann Carlton Medellin is considered one of the main luxury hotels in Medellin Colombia. It’s not my taste but it might appeal nevertheless.

Far more appealing, is the Intercontinental Medellin where my mum has stayed and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Another name you might come across online is the Poblado Plaza Hotelthat is well situated next to the Oviedo mall but lacking in charm and next to a noisy street.

Alternatively, there are is a wide selection of cheap Medellin hotels andhostels such as the Blach Sheep and Casa Kiwi in Medellin Colombia.

Renting an Apartment

Renting apartments in Medellin is fairly cheap for a very high standard and not too complicated if you go about it the right way.

Flights and car rentals

Medellin Airport, situated in the city of Medellin Colombia is a practical and fast way to fly into the city but serves mainly domestic destinations.

Flights to Medellin from abroad bring you to the small and comfortable Jose Maria Cordova international airport directly from cities such as Madrid, New York and Miami.

Medellin car rental is something I used to think was a bad idea because of driving habits here but it does make sense, especially if you plan on taking day-trips out of the city. Personally, I rented a car to visit the coffee region from Budget and found the process professional and pricing fairly cheap.

The City & Things to do

Here are some of the top things to do in Medellin.

PLAZA MAJORISTA

Plaza Majorista is doubtlessly the most impressive market in Medellin Colombia. It is officially known as the Central Majorista, located in the Santa María neighborhood to the South of Medellin in the city of Itagüí, boasting a total area of 288.015m2. Itagüí by the way, joins Medellin seamlessly and is about a 20 minute drive from El Poblado.

There is an enormous selection of grains, vegetable and fruits with some stores selling other items such as food fodder etc.

Food is shipped in directly from farms both in Antioquia and nationwide and is of the freshest quality. It is organized by different industrial halls in a sense, subdivided into numerous smaller stores that tend to specialize in a limited number of items. The different halls are divided by type, ie. fruits or vegetables.

There is of course still curiosity about the history and background of this place if you want to read more about Medellin.

Medellin City is growing and has much to offer, especially beyond the typical tourist attractions, if you know where to look. Shopping is huge here and there are an abundance (too many?) of Malls in Medellin.

Centro Medellin (downtown Medellin Colombia) is worth seeing but also not at all like the more up-market areas such as El Poblado and Laureles.

On a practical note, especially if you’re moving here for a while, it’s practical to now about the utility and Internet (through Une) provider,Empresas Publicas de Medellin.

Parque Lleras is the just the place to have a drink, once you’ve had enough of exploring the city and if you really not to get some air under your wings, I highly recommend paragliding in Medellin Colombia,considered a world-class site up in the hills at San Felix. The views are incredible!

You can also visit the botanical gardens that is not as impressive as you might imagine, but makes for a nice outing and has an excellent restaurant on the premises called In Situ.

Antioquia

Antioquia is the department that is home to Medellin; a beautiful and mountainous region where there are an abundance of towns and places to visit either for a day-trip or a weekend if you prefer.

Festivals and events

The Medellin Christmas lights are charming and a great opportunity to mingle with people from the city.

Feria de las Flores (flower festival) is undoubtedly the most well-known festival of Medellin Colombia.

If fashion and design are your thing, then Medellin Fashion Week, or Colombia Moda as it’s known to locals, is one of the biggest of its kind in Latin America. Held yearly: end July/ early August.

Local Food & Customs

Well, you can’t get around having to try the Bandeja Paisa! This is a wholesome lunch to say the least. We’re talking meat with beans and egg and rice and plantains and the list goes on. Bit much if you’re not working the fields as they did back in the day…

Culture of Colombia

Famed for Fernando Botero and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, there is much more to Colombian art that is very much alive in the culture, in daily life and everywhere. This is not to overly romanticize the artisan/ craft way of life but to sincerely point out that there is something rather unique in the culture. Colombians are as a people – bold statement here – very creative.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

known as one of the most important authors of the 20th Century is from Colombia – why not read his novels to get a greater understanding the culture of Colombia?

Colombian Dance

Allow me to generalize – truly, these people can move! There’s more to it than just Salsa though and Colombian Dance has its history. Particularly important is the Cumbia which is also important in Colombian Folklore.

Colombian Music

Colombian Music is known throughout the world and is extremely popular. No wonder with names like Juanes and Shakira topping the charts.

An unknown aspect of the culture of Colombia is that it’s not all about Salsa!

In the late 1950’s Rock became popular in Latin giving birth to Colombian rock. Rock in Spanish began with Richie Valens’ “La Bamba” in 1958 which reached the ears of young people back then. Rock in Colombia can be traced back to the early 60s when bands such as Los Speakers, Los Flippers, Los yetis and other bands were established.

Colombian rock started in Medellin which, at the time was a middle sized city and its population received the new genre with mixed opinions as they were more familiar to “bambuco”, a traditional music genre. Medellin, Bogota and Cali are considered the cradle of Rock in Colombia as that’s where it initially was born and where, even today new groups and styles emerge.

Back in the 80s in Medellin, Kraken was the very first known heavy metal band in the country influenced by Led Zeppelin, and is the oldest band in Colombia that is still active as their last production titled “Humana Deshumanizacion” was released in 2009. This inspired a young band to emerge as well in Medellin and become part of Colombian rock in 1988.

Ekhymosis was a rock band influenced heavily by Metallica and founded by Juan Esteban Aristizabal Vasquez who is better known as Juanes these days. They started performing live in Medellin and where supported by friends and family who helped in promoting sales for their first demo which talked about violence in their home town and in Colombia in general.

In the early 90s, Andrea Echeverri teamed up with Hector Buitrago in Bogota and formed up Arteciopelados. Their music fuses rock with other Latin American music styles and transmits socially-conscious messages to their audience as it talks about real problems such as violence and environmental destruction. This has resulted in both Andrea and Hector being awarded a Latin Grammy Award in 2007 for best Alternative Album and becoming the first internationally successful Colombian rock band. Aterciopelados was also recognized by TIME magazine in 2001 as one of the top 10 contemporary global bands located outside of the United States.

Maybe this changes your ideas about a culture of Colombia a bit?

Also, there is of course the highly talented and charming Colombian singerShakira. Known throughout the world for her dance moves and unique voice, this is one highly gifted lady!

Colombian National Anthem

The Colombian National Anthem gives a lot of insight into both the history of Colombia and the culture.

Colombian Soccer

Colombian soccer is extremely important to nationals as is the case in so many countries.

Family

It’s all about the family. The culture of Colombia is centered around it. As is also customary in Southern Europe, Colombians have very strong family-ties. It is typical for them to work together, run companies together and collaborate on a number of projects. Trust is certainly a factor and practical factors also explain part of this.

 For example, it is customary to share things so if your aunt owns a farm, whenever you visit, it’s typical to be given eggs, plantains or whatever produce they happen to have. In return and depending on what skill or craft other family member have, they will give back and forth.