Truth about Medellin Women, Medellin Facts

The Medellin myth busted

 round bottom girl

Source: girlsinyogapants.com

The beauty of travelling without a plan is you have no idea where you might end up going next. But eventually you have to make up your mind and pick a destination.

After 3 months in Ecuador, I picked Medellin.

It made sense geographically and I only heard good things about it. Some accounts were so enthusiastic that I should have been wary of their truthfulness.

Instead, I believed it all and was expecting a city where the most beautiful women on earth walked around topless and couldn’t wait for me to arrive. A city that never slept and was the focal point of South American night life. A city with crisp air, plenty of green space and super-efficient public transportation.

I admit to slightly exaggerating there (I didn’t really expect super-efficient public transport), but it’s a fairly accurate description of the image you’ll have formed of Medellin if you read the accounts I did.

So how did reality measure up?

Women

Medellin Curves

First things first. It’s true – Medellin has some of the most beautiful women on earth. Just like Berlin, London, Budapest or any large city does. But after a month of living there, I doubt that Medellin has a higher ratio of beautiful women than any other city of its size. I see a few reasons why this might have become a widespread idea though.

  • The difference coming from neighbouring Ecuador (and most other countries) is striking. Most Colombian women have very curvaceous figures and like to wear clothes to accentuate this. Some of them take it to the extreme and it’s hard to walk by them without turning a head.
  • Medellin is part of the paisa cultural region. What wikipedia doesn’t tell you, but locals told me, is that paisa women consider always looking beautiful one of their main duties. Always dressed and made up so that they could go to the opera on a 5 minute notice, they are quite a spectacle. When gringo Joe sees a couple of them sharing the same metro wagon, he gets the impression that all women in the city look like that and goes around telling everyone. That’s what I did in the first few days.
  • It’s good for business. Everyone in the tourism industry tries to take advantage of Medellin’s erotically overcharged image. Even hotels targeting families. I guess they hope daddy makes the final call.
  • Gringo guys also like to believe that girls in Medellin are easy. Yes they are in a sense that women in any country are generally interested in foreign men. It’s probably an evolutionary instinct to produce better offsprings with a more varied gene pool (or am I being naïve here?). But most girls in Medellin won’t go to bed with just anyone after a few drinks. In fact, my limited experience shows quite the opposite: the women of Medellin are more than decent.

So while I’ll admit that male drivers are more likely to cause an accident in Medellin because of a sudden lapse of attention than in say Quito, I’ll also add that the most beautiful and easiest women on earth thing is a myth.

People

Medellin People

This is not a myth, the people of Medellin, both men and women, are surprisingly friendly and helpful. I often asked for directions and when they saw I didn’t understand their instructions, many of them actually walked me to my destination.

Safety

Medellin Envigado at night

I lived in Envigado, which is one of the safest areas of the city. It feels like a small town, because it is. Or was, until it was swallowed by Medellin in the seventies. There are some other parts of the city that are perfectly safe, but the central area was a huge disappointment for me. After dark, the most prestigious squares are overtaken by herds of drunks and the kind of people who make you feel unsafe. Apparently, the northern part of the city is also best avoided after dark.

Transportation and traffic

 Medellin Metro

The metro system is great and gets you from A to B quickly and cheaply. Buses are not designed for European heights though. They are small in every dimension and are always crowded. I never got a seat once, which I don’t usually mind, but having to stand with my backbone cracking the roof open is not my idea of efficient travel. To make it worse, there are no bus lanes. Buses get jammed in traffic along with the myriads of cars in rush our so that walking is often quicker.

On the flip side, taxis are plentiful and cheap. They always use the meter so you don’t need to worry about getting ripped off.

Medellin seems to be a bit of a motorcyclists heaven. Definitely not because car drivers watch out for them though. I rather think the weather has more to do with it.

Green space

Lake near Medellin

A beautiful little lake around 45 minutes outside Medellin.

Parks and green areas in Medellin are illusive in my experience. You are surrounded by huge green mountains that make you think you’re in one big green space, but you’re actually in a crowded concrete jungle.

A place to run within reasonable distance without having to breathe exhaust fumes is kind of a deal breaker for me. In Medellin I didn’t have that, at least not in Envigado. The Botanic Garden, which is a fantastic place, was an hour away by public transport and wasn’t ideal for running. My best daily option was running on the pavement alongside traffic jammed Avenida Poblado.

I had the impression that as the city’s expansion was halted by the surrounding mountains, parks and open spaces were sacrificed on the altar of development.

Night life

Medellin Party and Nightlife

Parque Lleras is where the action happens on Fridays and Saturdays. Plenty of bars and clubs to dance, filled with masses of locals and tourists. When the party is over in the park, some places open up in another part of the city for those who can’t stop.

Forget queuing at the bar for shots, everyone drinks Aguardiente by the bottle. It’s quite a pleasant drink with its 20% alcohol content and mild anise taste.

Medellin has a lively party scene at weekends, but don’t expect much on weekdays though.

Culture

Fernando Botero - Mujer sentada

“An artist is attracted to certain kinds of form without knowing why. You adopt a position intuitively; only later do you attempt to rationalize or even justify it.”  Says Fernando Botero, the most recognized living artist of Latin America, whose first illustrations were published in a Medellin newspaper.

His fat figures have become iconic both in painting and sculpture. Be sure to check out the square and museum named after him in Medellin. The city boasts a number of other museums and theatres so your cultural needs will be taken care of. Understanding Spanish is a big plus of course.

Shopping

Medellin Santafe Shopping Mall

If you like shopping, you’ll love Medellin. It has loads of shopping centers. Too many if you ask me. I kept finding myself in one of them whenever I went out for drinks or dinner with locals.

Food

Colombian Food

Traditional Colombian food is nice (especially if you like meat) and cheap. You can get pretty much anything if you pay top dollar, but the street food scene is dominated by greasy empanadas and junk food. You really have to look hard to find a somewhat healthy option.

In Envigado I found a couple of places offering daily menus of pollo con arroz (chicken with rice) also including a bit of veggies and a drink for a few bucks. There are a few vegetarian restaurants as well. I’ve been to one of them and had an ok lasagne.

Weather

Medellin is the city of eternal spring they say. It’s essentially true. The weather is nice and mild year around. It often felt a ted hot for wearing trousers though and shorts make you look like an idiot, or worse a tourist, in Medellin. But that’s just me bitching around. You don’t get much better weather year around than you do in Medellin.

Value for money

Pretty good. Food is reasonably priced and so is accommodation as long as you pay local prices. Gringo rates are often double that of what locals are willing to pay for short or medium term rent. Partying can be somewhat costly, but you won’t be doing that every day.

Verdict

You might have guessed, my verdict is that Medellin is overrated. I fell in love with the image of the city, but did not with the city itself.

That said, there is a lot going for Medellin and I highly recommend that you pay a visit. I hope I’ve succeeded in lowering your expectations and you might as well find yourself pleasantly surprised.


Did you have a different experience in Medellin? I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments!


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9 Comments The Medellin myth busted

  1. Mopsa says:

    Hi Zsolt. I’ve been enjoying your posts. :)
    I’ve never been to South America (only to the USA, briefly), so it’s been interesting to read your accounts.
    I have a couple of questions (if you don’t mind!):
    1- Have you ever been to Portugal? If so, how was the experience?
    2- Traveling solo, do you have some defined strategies to meet people? Or does it happen naturally? Being particularly introverted, that would be perhaps my greatest challenge in long term travel.

    Keep up the good writing!

  2. zsolt says:

    Hi Mopsa, thanks for the encouragement :)

    No, haven’t made it to Portugal yet. The closest I came was Madrid :) But it’s definitely on my list, perhaps as part of my European motorbike tour :)

    Interesting question. I consider myself more of an introvert then an extrovert or perhaps somewhere in between. And yet meeting people has not been the slightest problem. It has even been too much at times to be honest and I miss my privacy. But of course, being surrounded by people doesn’t equal connections. There is an investment to be made from both sides and something has to click.

    I’ve been staying mostly with people through airbnb and couchsurfing, so I met my hosts and their friends. When I stay in hostels I meet even more people without making an effort. You can always go to internations and couchsurfing events if you want to meet even more people. And then I’ve made several friends by chance encounters in the street, running, asking for information and stuff like that. Some of this may not sound like a great idea if you are an extreme introvert, but that’s why travelling is great. It puts you into new sometimes uncomfortable situations.

    Guayaquil was the only place where I didn’t speak to anyone for about 5 days and new years eve was one of them. It was very depressing. I felt like such a short time wasn’t worth the effort, but that was stupid looking back.

    The choice is yours, you can be miserable on your own or take some risk and push your limits to initiate conversation. Surprisingly few people will not want to talk to you :)

    Just the other day, I was in Valparaiso in Chile and stayed in a hostel. I overheard some people talking about going out. They didn’t invite me, but I asked them if I could join and they were happy that I did. The next day the four of us went running together.

    So as long as you can realize there is absolutely nothing you can lose – which I often have to remind myself of – and overcome whatever it is that stops you from making connections, meeting people while travelling is the easiest thing on earth.

    Does that make sense to you? :)

    • Mopsa says:

      Zsolt, thank you for your thoughtful answer :)

      I understand that if you’re staying with people through airbnb and couchsurfing it becomes more natural to meet and be with new people. And I suppose a lone traveler becomes an interesting company to those who happen to meet him (or her). You’re right, in the end it must be a matter of being open to new people and experiences. It doesn’t seem so complicated now. But still, I think you’re brave for doing it alone.

      A motorbike tour through Europe sounds like a great adventure! I can say Portugal is particularly inviting for someone on a motorbike, with the (generally) good weather and amazing views.

      Again, thanks for sharing!

  3. Tiffany says:

    I really enjoyed this post, I have heard great things about Medellin and can’t wait to visit one day. I’d probably feel a bit weird with the women dressed up all fancy and me rocking up in the usual “I didn’t have time to brush my hair today” getup.

    • zsolt says:

      Thanks Tiffany. I think you’d make a refreshing difference :) It looks like you’re quite far away at the moment, but please do let me know your experience when you actually get to Medellin!

  4. rob in ny says:

    I’m not alone in thinking Medellín is overrated? I feel like I can come out of the closet. Basically, Medellín is like L.A. there’s a lot of people wearing expensive cloths and driving expensive cars sporting their expensive clothes. I found the people to range from your typical friendly Colombian, to extremely shallow and superficial.

    If you’re into drinking and clubbing, then you’re going to love it here. If you like Miami or LA,, this is the place for you. Otherwise, it’s basically your average upscale American city. Very, very, VERY overrated

  5. Tony says:

    I have been living here for nearly two months and I keep running to people that are waiting for any chance to take advantage of you. Yes it is true that they would pass on their contact # or email but there is no follow up.

  6. Bill says:

    I first went to Medellin Colombia in 2005, when the plane landed it was around 8 at night and the taxi took me to my hotel (hotel mediterraneo) the first two girls (also customers) I saw when I walked into the hotel were two of the most beautiful women I had ever seen in my life. So I thought to myself, well Colombia is indeed the greatest place as I had heard. However the more time I spent and went back to Colombia I realized that in general the average women there are not that great. In fact the truth is, overall for the quantity of hot looking women you´re better off just crossing over the border to Mexico and go down to Senaloa around the Mazatlan area. Again when you do see a hot woman in Colombia they will be the best in the world but % wise Mexico is better. However the personality and attitude of Colombian women I find to be sweeter and not the hot tempered cut your balls off if you look at another women attitude of Mexican girls. I now live in Peru for business reasons and as far as Peruvian women go, they have faces like the kind you see on a totem pole. Needless to say don´t waste your time in Peru.