Medellin, Colombia – An Incredible Transformation

IMG_3009This summer, I was fortunate enough to travel to Colombia with my 14 year old daughter, Ciara. I had won a private escorted trip with my Virtuoso partners, Cox and Kings, to go to Bogota, Medellin, and Cartagena.  I was excited, but nervous – especially about Medellin.

IMG_2954Like most North Americans,



my understanding of Medellin was coloured by news reports. All I’d known about Medellin was Pablo Escobar, drug wars, kidnappings, murders, and general lawlessness.

I was very apprehensive about visiting, even though my partners assured me I’d be safe.

IMG_2977I was pleasantly surprised to see my worries had been unfounded. Yes, Medellin has a storied past – but the city has transformed itself over the past 15 years. And we could’ve had no better ambassador than our guide for the three days we were in town than Juan Carlos Uribe. who was thrilled to show off his city with pride.

Juan Carlos asked us if we wanted to see the “real” Medellin, or the “tourist” Medellin – Ciara said the “real,” which thrilled and frightened me, just a little. But I trusted Juan Carlos’ judgment. And we had a fabulous time.

We toured Botero Plaza, and saw the many statues the artist had donated to the city. And we toured the Botanical Gardens.   IMG_2970

Everywhere along our tour, Juan Carlos would stop and buy fruit – we tried so many different kinds, it was fantastic. IMG_3066While we heard the stories But, travelling to see the barrios of the city outskirts, and riding the cable cars up the hillside was illuminating. Seeing where Pablo Escobar’s influence was felt daily by the locals in the drug wars, and the jungles up above, was amazing – especially seeing how safe everything is now, compared to 15 years ago. IMG_2982

We thoroughly enjoyed our tour of Medellin, and I would recommend my partners at Cox and Kings, and Metropolitan Touring, to any of my clients.  What a fabulous experience to visit a country with a tourism industry in its infancy (well, save Cartagena, perhaps, as its port has long been visited on cruise ships). Colombia is a fascinating and up-and-coming tourist destination.

Contact me if you’re looking for a different kind of destination for your next trip!

Sheila Gallant-Halloran

[email protected]