BERKELEY, OAKLAND, GRASS VALLEY and SAN FRANCISCO GANG Special

WRITTEN WTH PME, Bay Areans, Cool Southern Cal friends and relatives and my Cool Relatives in NY and my Erasmus Hall ALUMS IN MIND....

Ahhh to visit (or retire) in Medellin!  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh  But how does this appeal especially to the sophisticated, cool, environmentally focused, art and music gang --- my friends above?

Gotta REPEAT THIS OVER AND OVER...... to my friends in Arizona especially...

IT IS NOT IN ANY WAY LIKE MEXICO or CUBA...  The culture is different.  The food is completely different,  Even the way Spanish is spoken is completely different.  It is safer than Mexico nowadays by a long shot.  So when you think Colombia, do NOT think Mexico.  Mexico can be wonderful of course, Cuba can be intriguing, but Colombia is different!!!

Smoking is rare... no cigars, (although you can buy Cuban cigars) very few cigarettes on the streets. No cigarettes in bars, clubs, restaurants, public transportation.  Breathe free.

Medical care is excellent and inexpensive and modern and well-equipped.  Many of the hospitals in Medellin are brand new and beautiful.

Wi-fi is ubiquitous and free.

Clean attended bathrooms are very convenient throughout the city.

Weather... like we say in Brooklyn, Forget about it!  Eternal Springtime.  Goldilocks Weather...Never too hot or too cold, ahh just right.  Bay Area has great weather.  Ours is better.  San Francisco can be blowing and cold and wet and humid.  It's part of San Francisco's charm as we know.  NY has four seasons and two are awful, one is sublime, and one is to die for...But Medellin is always just right all year long. And we have Irish Coffee available at every coffee shop as well as in bars.  So while they don't have the view or the studied ambiance of the Buena Vista, we can huddle up to a Ramos Fizz or Irish Coffee here too.  No cable cars, but we have the Metrocable. 

WATER--- clean, cold from the tap, from the Andes, no filters or special bottles needed.  Bottled water is available everywhere.  So is carbonated water, soft drinks, fruit juices, teas, local and imported beer, local and imported rum etc.  Clean clear dependable agua and no drought.  No tropical diseases, few insects.

Coffee... best in the world?  




Transportation unique in Latin America.  Cheap ubiquitous buses, METERED cabs, metro, metrocable... brand new, modern clean safe scenic and cheap.  The cab system has to be compared to having a private chauffeur on call. ( no tipping!)  So convenient to and from your destination, and so very inexpensive and so very available at all hours in all weathers..even in the rain at rush hour.



The Bay Area is a culinary capital.  We can't match it.  Nowhere can match it, but we got great food here and some very unique restaurants.  California wines are available along with European wines and also Chilean wines.  And the prices allow us to eat out whenever we want to... no budgetary restraints.  The best duck I ever had was on College Avenue for $28.  The second best was in la Zona Rosa for $10.  With wine an extra $3, two sides and dessert and a mixed salad for starters with anchovies and capers. OK? See what I mean??

With no Nobel Prize winners the five major universities here can't match Cal, but they turn out many engineers, hands on folk who are growing a nation. And I as an older person get free courses there in Spanish.  That's a good way to meet other Americans too.


Urban Renewal at Parque de las Luces.  Thrust of EPM LIbrary and its fountains at the left, Skyscrapers of El Centro district at the top as the city rises up the mountain in the distance.  The street in the foreground is a major bus hub with buses to all parts of the city and suburbs departing from this square.  Across from left to right you can make out the line of the metro as two lines converge at the bright San Antonio station.


With Maybeck and Morgan the architecture of Berkeley is uniquely wonderful.  Medellin goes from Colonial Spanish to Art Deco with great examples all over town.  Also the renewed zones are filled with model modern yet human scaled buildings.  An example is the thrust cantilevered EPM Library which in spite of its angles and window walls is tempered by interiors of tropical woods and travertine passage ways.
Colonial Church in La Ceja, a  45 minute ride out of town.



Medellin can't match the conveyor belt of great international artists coming through the Bay Area but we're not exactly shabby in that department either.  Some I can't afford or I don't feel are worth the money like Bocelli for $100 in the nosebleed section and $400 in the orchestra.  But for Lang Lang those seats were selling for $50 and $100.  For our opera season and ballet season it's possible to attend for $30 for good seats.  Ballet folklorico and Flamenco, $20.  Beyonce and Madonna, seats in the soccer stadium for $35 and up.  Juilliard Jazz Quartet at the brand new Teatro Metropolitano, $30.  I miss live theater because it's in Spanish, but the movies are often in English (VO like they say in Paris), TV is often in English SAP.



You know of La Systema of music education for the poor kids in the Barrios  that gave us great orchestras from Venezuela and Gustavo Dudamel for one?  It's been copied and expanded in Medellin and Bogota so that now our Orchestras Juventils make some of the best music I have ever heard from college level players. (They certainly rival what is done by local regionally-based orchestras in the Bay Area, IMHO)  And there are 25 member schools in the music education network that make music across the city and pop up in malls and street fairs, and exposition halls as well as in the concert halls.  Choral music is a centerpiece of the orchestral season as well.  Recent concerts with orchestra include The Creation, The Messiah and works by local composers.  There is a local community chorus, one of many, that uniquely includes kids from 10 to 18 and their parents singing choral works, mainly pops, but an interesting concept, yes?

ANDEAN BREASTPLATE, Muisica Tradition, Museo de la Universidad de Antioquia


Fruity French Toast  at the Flip Flop Sandwich Shop obviously catering a lot to Gringos in the very fashionable El Pobado barrio, otherwise known as Gringo Central!


Nature Walk in Downtown Medellin, El Patio Bonito barrio , also a Gringo enclave.  A creek tributary to the Rio Aburra or Medellin River is running on our right as we walk along.  Cute wooden bridges span the creek or, in Spanish, la Quebrada. This one is full of signs explaining the plant life and ecology in general of a creek running thru a city.


SALSA!!!!!!  The center for salsa in the world is the Colombian city of Cali where most of the international expositions and competitions are held.  Medellin is a center for Salsa as well.  I got the salsa foto here ar a shopping mall in Medellin one Saturday afternoon. These two dancers are from Cali.  Medellin is also considered second only to Buenos Aires for its tango tradition and has also imported a rich tradition of cumbia and other Afro-Caribbean music and dance.

Botero, Museo de Antioquia
Fernando Botero, Medellin native,  loaned one of his monumental sculptures to the Museo de Antioquia for a temporary exhibition.  The museum curators tentatively asked him how much it would cost to purchase the statue.  He told them to keep it and since then has been donating hundreds of sculptures, drawings and paintings to the museum and to other museums in Colombia, especially Bogota.  The great Plaza in front of the museum is filled wit his giant bronzes, and a cafe there is a wonderful place for lunch and for viewing his works in the always perfect weather.

The fine art scene is vibrant centered on the University Museums (five) and the Museo de Antioquia (BOTERO) and the Museo de Arte Moderno along with antiquities from indigenous cultures of the Andes in several museums devoted to them.  Art is on the street with many public and private galleries and street sculptures traded by builders for tax write-offs.  Lots of quality work going on here IMHO.



And environmentalism.. all over the city are environmental walks, guided nature trails, recreations of plant zones and constant reminders to recycle, reuse, conserve.  There are departments of Environmental Engineering at the universities and courses in natural resources in the high schools.  The ECO PARK ARVI is one of the parks curated by college students and the public utilities for the environmental education of the citizens.  Medellin is green in appearance and in spirit.  The folk are proud of the beauty of the city and the surroundings which are astoundingly beautiful.



So Bay Areans, PMEERS,  Grass Valleyans, New Yorkers, Orange County-ers and Angelinos,  ... you may find much to delight you here and you may  find much to add to the comfort and convenience of your visit.  Bay Areans should fit right in.  Also some New Yorkers like my relatives on Long Island who are into the arts and music and my Erasmus Hall crowd too.And even southern Californians.


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