Saturday, September 25, 2010

Medellin, For Locals and Tourists

My first excursion in Medellin was to take the gondola up one of the hillsides. The gondola is an extension of the metro and is boarded using the same ticket. Its purpose is to transport locals up the incredibly steep slope to their houses but given the view and the exposure to a distinctively different area of the city it also makes a great tourist attraction.

Another reason to board the gondola is the Spain Library located at the top. Once again, this library is intended and used for local purposes, but doubles as an interesting site for anyone visiting the city. It is a huge structure perched precariously on the hillside and looking out over the entire valley of Medellin. When Miles and I went inside we had to make our way through crowds of children; turns out the Spain Library serves as a childcare center during the day. Unlike the Seattle Library, where the interior matches the sharp, angular exterior just a bit too much, the Spain Library manages to combine an architecturally interesting exterior with a comfortable and functional interior that begs to be used by the community.

The gondola is actually featured on the Wandering Paisa business cards and is the perfect example of the Medellin experiences of which Miles and Brent hope to encourage travelers to take advantage. I already feel that our trip up the gondola represents an aspect of the city that I’m going to love. The Medellin that I’ve been hearing about from Miles and am finally getting to see for myself is not touristy. The areas I’ve seen are not crowded with foreigners and they are not designed to attract tourists but rather to improve the life of locals. It just happens to be Medellin’s good fortune that they have designed transport systems and constructed architecture in a manner so efficient and pleasing to the eye that it is sure to be enjoyed by locals and foreigners alike.

As always, there are two sides to every city, and I know that there are more tourist-centric areas of Medellin, but I’m happy to stick to this one.

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