Never did we think we would attend a flower festival before the age of 50, if ever. Colombia can do strange things to people, as we found out when we caught ourselves walking through the botanical gardens looking at competition entries into the Medellin flower show! We were on our way south through Colombia and Medellin was on the itinerary as a big city that really was worth the visit. The only problem was that on festival weekend everyone else thought it was a good idea to be there to, meaning we had to take a late flight (that was delayed) and book a hotel well out of the city centre. As in most cases, the experience of staying outside the tourist hub was a good one as we got to see the locals go about their normal life and experience their friendliness and helpfulness.

 

Medelin Feria de las Flores

Cel all excited about the big show

 

Medellin – A big city with a great vibe

We’ve grown to realise that the big cities of Latin America aren’t really the hotspots to check out, they lack a bit of charm can seem a little edgy and in most cases aren’t safe to walk around at night. Medellin was the city to buck the trend – it was welcoming, the people were really friendly and helpful, it was relatively cleaner than most other cities and it seemed to radiate a sense of pride in what it was. Our journey through the flower festival and it’s events took us through the city, mainly using the metro which was efficient, cheap ($1USD p/ride) and stopped in all the spots we wanted to go.

 

Medellin

Part of the city of Medellin

 

Medelin Downtown

This was about as grubby as things got in Medellin

 

Medellin

Even when they get grubby, there is still a nice backdrop!

 

Medellin Feria de Las Flores

The big event that we had travelled halfway across the globe for: The Medellin Flower Festival. After an epic sleep in due to our 1am arrival from Cartagena, we were ready to hit the festival with all our floral might. We pinpointed a couple of “must do’s” and made our way to the metro station. With a bit of help from a nice local guy who practically led us to the station, we bought our tickets and were on board the mainline heading into the heart of the city.

 

Medellin Metro

Cel all set to board the first metro of the trip

 

Medelin Feria de las Flores

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First stop was the botanical gardens. Yep it’s probably the first time I’ve ever made my first stop, in a foreign city, the botanical gardens but it seemed like a sensible approach given it was the week of the flower. We were greeted by a mist shower to cool off, actually quite a novel idea for a city that get’s hot.  After our refreshing spray we made our way to the gardens. The next bit was hard to swallow, paying around $8USD each to look at…flowers. Nonetheless we handed over our Colombian Pesos and were into the gardens. We walked around the grounds for a while, spending a bit of time under the tree canopy to cool off. It was the lagoon area where I got my return on investment, we got to see turtles and some kind of big lizard with a spikey back (clearly not the scientific name for it).

 

Medellin Mist Shower

Taking a cold shower before the flower show heats up

 

Medellin Mist Shower

Couldn’t help but get amongst the action too

 

Medelin Feria de las Flores

Animal Highlight 1: A turtle (or tortoise)

 

Medelin Feria de las Flores

Animal Highlight 2: Big Lizard

 

It wasn’t long before our new-found thirst for lime lemonade kicked in and we found ourselves a lady with a machine who was churning the stuff out, in we went and got some. After that it was time for the big show, making our way through the crowds we walked around the flower exhibits that had been set-up as entries into a show. This was probably the toughest bit for us both, actually spending time taking photos and talking about the exhibits – I’m sure we aged 5 years in 30 minutes.

 

Medelin Feria de las Flores

Cel enjoys the shady spots…

 

Medelin Feria de las Flores

Hanging out under the canopy with our tickets

 

Medelin Feria de las Flores

There goes another few years

 

Medelin Feria de las Flores

It was about now that we started ageing…

 

Medelin Feria de las Flores

Jackpot – more lime juice making

 

As a reward, I got to buy a litre of Aguila, one of the local beers of choice – I think it probably helped to bring me back to my actual age and level of maturity. All said and done, the gardens were actually a pretty nice spot to go, getting close to nature in a big city is always a nice break from the bustle.

 

Medelin Feria de las Flores

The Reward: 1l of cold Aguila

 

Medelin Feria de las Flores

A cup of gluten to share

 

We took in lunch near the university campus, where a marching band was practicing their routine for what I can only imagine was an upcoming flower performance. A quick trip back on the metro and a tourist police escort later (they seemed to want something to do), we were hanging out at the Museo del Agua (Museum of Water). The best part of the museo was the water fountain and pool below it, giving us a chance to stand in the water and cool off a bit. Cel managed to track down one of the many ice-cream vendors and bought us a couple of ice poles to add to the experience.

 

Medelin Museo De Agua

Standing in the water, although you can’t see it

 

Medelin Museo De Agua

Chilling at Museo de Agua

 

The final stop of the 1-day Brendon and Celina tour of the flowers was to be a free concert in a plaza near the museo. A free concert is virtually unheard of in our world and it was going to give us the chance to see a few local performers so we were pretty happy that this was to be the final event of the day. No concert is really a concert without a few beers or wine, so we took it upon ourselves to walk 30 mins to the nearest “Exito” (the name of a supermarket chain) . At the Exito we bought a couple of Club Colombia’s (the premium local brew), a bottle or red, grapes, crackers and chocolate (Cels idea of course). On the way back stopping for what I call a ‘meat stick’ – a skewer with marinated pork on it and a whole potato stuck on top, grilled over a makeshift coal BBQ. The concert kicked off around 6:30pm , we were all set in our seats sipping beer and wine while eating crackers and grapes. The show itself was really good, we 3 different performers all with a different slant (salsa, opera and a kind of opera / funk). Although we didn’t need it, there were plenty of sub 18 year olds walking around selling beer to the punters  – made me laugh at what a state there would be if that happened in NZ.

 

Medellin

Raving with the locals of Medellin at the concert

 

A late metro ride home and a run through the rain to our hotel and we had successfully ‘done’ Medellin and it’s festival in a day. The festival itself was carrying on for another week, with the main event being on Wednesday when locals from the surrounding hills parade through the streets with a huge wad of flowers strapped to their back. Unfortunately there was no time to stick around to see that. We were on a mission to get ourselves further south so packed up our bags the next morning and got on a bus headed for ‘Zona Cafeteria’, quite obviously somewhere that was not going to be in short supply of coffee.

3 Comments

  1. Royce says: August 14, 2012 • 08:24:06

    Brendon I detect a slight discomfort with things floral!!! I must remember to meet you at airport with bouquet on your return!!
    Sounds like fun and always good to broaden the experiences!! What a wonderful trip you guys are experiencing!! How many tiffs have been had along the way??? Remember South of France Cel and the differing opinions and directions!!!! Who is the navigator between you??
    The lime juice sounds devine! Brylee Emmett engaged!! Warwyck at singing Hannah meeting at work and a gym visit on way home!! Gurnard tossed in rice flour with potato salad hot, and salad for late dinner!! Lovely to skype on weekend and catch up!!

    Love you always

    Mum XO

    Reply

  2. Bazz says: August 14, 2012 • 12:19:22

    Dear Ben and Celina,

    You two are doing and seeing so much and communicating the fun that you’re having so well. We really admire you, although we can’t say that we feel that we’re moved enough to join you forthwith. Big cities, good hotels, comfy journeys and planned excursions are our forte now. Your accounts of your travels are immensely readable and raise a regular chuckle. Collect them together into a travelogue and publish it under a racy title. They could be sold, even off the back of a truck quickly enough to require a second edition.

    Peter Hoskins was asking after you today and very interested he was to hear more about your travels. I will forward your blogs on to him. He and Helen are off to Honolulu for some Rand R and to escape from the sight of the earthquake damage to their house.

    Ben, I agree with Royce about your uncharacteristic aversion to flowers. I can recall a very little boy patiently dis-budding most of the Christmas lilies in the garden early one summer. If you let us know the names of the hotels that you’re both likely to be staying in, we’ll send a big bouquet to greet you on your arrival as you open the door of your room. Christmas lilies perhaps.

    I guess that you’re increasingly fluent in Spanish? Fluent enough to ask for the local brews in any event.

    Lots of love to you both.

    Dad and Gay

    Reply

  3. Latin America: Top 5 Destinations « BrendonFry.com says: November 7, 2012 • 08:42:44

    […] so here are a few other notable spots that I just couldn’t quite fit in: Tikal (Guatemala), Medellin (Colombia), Cuenca (Ecuador), Tupiza (Bolivia) & Salento (Colombia). If you make it out to […]

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