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South America

Medellín – Pablo’s old playground

“In the United States, the Mafia makes witnesses disappear so they can’t testify in court. In Colombia, Pablo Escobar made the whole court disappear.” – This quote is real and explains pretty well how this city was about 30 years ago; violent.

It’s strange to think of that at the same time I learned to walk (late 1980’s) this place  witnessed murder and bombs every other day. Now, 30 years later, I walk these streets myself and of course it’s another story today when it’s totally safe – or as safe as any big city in South America can be. It’s a poor continent with lots of drugs, so you always have to be vigilant and streetsmart. That being said, I’ve never felt nervous anywhere or at anytime so far.

Colombia and Medellín have got a lot of free “marketing” from Netflix’s Narcos which shows the country’s and city’s modern brutal history. I think that’s a good thing! The people are friendly and they need the tourism to grow their economy and I hope they will succeed in that. I read a travel survey the other day (don’t remember where so can’t quote it unfortunately) and Colombia is expected to grow a lot in the number of visitors in 2017. Today it’s still untouched by tourism, but more and more people discover it’s beauty and especially now when it’s safe. So if you want to experience the real Colombia, go now, before the crowds. Just as a curiosa also South Africa and the city Cape Town was on the list – which is one of my absolute favorite destinations! I can really understand why: they are both very affordable traveling in, beautiful, diverse and they have a rough history considered as dangerous – but that’s changing now.

So, Medellín is safe – but is it any beautiful or fun? Well, I probably can’t be a 100 % objective since I caught a cold arriving here. That kept my energy levels pretty low and then it’s never easy to enjoy yourself, no matter where you are. Still, I dare to say this is not a very beautiful city nor full of exciting attractions and things do to. It’s big, buzzy and noisy. Times like this reminds of how extremely lucky I am living in Scandinavia where it’s always safe AND beautiful. At the same time I’m lucky to leave it whenever I want to. Except blowing my nose 200 times per day I went on the Pablo Escobar tour, which I found very interesting. The whole story about Escobar, being one of the worst terrorists the world has ever witnessed and at the same time a Robin Hood for the poor people, is pretty unique I guess.

To be honest, these last days has been the first on my entire trip where I’ve been a little bored and not very excited, but I guess and hope it has to to with my cold. Before going to Colombia my expectations were really high, since everyone I’ve met that have been here say it’s amazing! I still believe it will be and now I’m off to explore, what I think and hope will be, more of the real Colombia; the coffee region.

Medellin

Rio de Janeiro aka Marvelous City

If you have read most of my blogposts until now (or you know me in person) you probably know that I’m a pretty honest guy whether it comes to food, politics or travel. Many people abuse the word fantastic so much it loses it’s value, but trust me, this city really is fantastic. But don’t just take my word for it, you should also know it’s backed up by the nickname Marvelous City and the city itself has been designated a World Heritage Site by Unesco. I’ve been here before and I gladly  came again. I’ve said this before and I gladly say it again: this is the most beautiful city in the world.

So what’s so good about this place? I could take the easy way out and simply just say “look at the pictures!”. But if you actually take time visiting my blog, of course I’ll give you a better answer than that. We can start the same way we start when you’re in the bar and scouting for that dream girl/guy; of course it’s the outside that attracts you at the first. Rio really is a proof of that mother nature is the best architecture of them all. It has white sandy beaches, grey rocky mountains, green hills and blue ocean water everywhere. Whether you relax on the beach, surf some waves, hike some nearby mountain or go to one of the many nice tourist attractions – Rio looks awesome in every direction!

So, now you have found that babe with an amazing look. Does she have any brains? Of course this is individual, but I LOVE the lifestyle in this city! It really invites to a sporty lifestyle and the climate allows for a lot of outdoor activities. I woke up at 7 AM every day (except one) and went for a 30-60 minute power walk along the Ipanema beach.  The vibe in the morning there is so nice and there are a lot of people walking, running, skating, biking, walking their dog, enjoying the morning coffee in the sun, surfing, playing football, volleyball, doing yoga and the list goes on. Doesn’t matter if you like a day full of action and adrenaline or just read the newspaper and enjoy a smoothie or beer on the beach; this place is perfect for everyone, I would say.

It’s also a city of contrast and a country of corruption. It’s about 12 million people in the metropolitan area and most of these do not take their morning coffee along the beach. Most of these don’t even have electricity or water. As in all the big cities on this continent there is a lot of poverty. When you see how the government run this country it’s easy to understand why. They hosted the world cup in football in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. That costs A LOT of money! And what people can actually afford to visit and enjoy these festivities? The wealthy ones of course! If the government cared about the city and it’s citizen they should have built schools, hospitals and infrastructure for these money instead.

During my stay here the US had their, much discussed, presidential election. Don’t hate me for this: but I REALLY understand why people vote for Trump! They are sick and tired of the political elite only working for and talking to the elite in the society and simply just ignoring common people. If you still think I’m an idiot for saying this, I strongly advice you to travel to a corrupt country and talk to the people living there. That being said, I’m not saying voting for Trump was the right decision – and you can’t say it was wrong either; he has not even started. Let’s give the old man a chance before we “hang him” on social media! Maybe the US and the world need a change, time will tell. No matter what, I think it could be a good thing that he won, because now hopefully the other naive politicians can wake up and start acting like they have some balls. I mean we have had Brexit, Trump and in Sweden Sverigedemokraterna. People are sick and tired of politicians just talking bullshit.

No more politics from me for a while, I promise I will take a big break from that. Talking about breaks; Rio was in a way a break in my so far very adventurous travel. I stayed here for 10 days and besides from the city, the climate and it’s many activities it was really good to stay in one place for that long. Almost felt like I was on holiday! 🙂 Also was lucky meeting som great people mainly from Wales and Australia and I will visit both of these guys within the coming year.

Next up is a country many think of as dangerous but I think a lot has happened there the last 20 years. Really excited to see you soon, Colombia.

Rio

Rio de Janeiro

Powerwalk to Paraguay

Some people need their morning shower in order to wake up and some their morning coffee. My morning ritual is to go for a 30 minute power walk and drink half a liter of water while doing so – if I have time and it’s not raining, that is. It’s an amazing way to start the day. I really like getting up early and enjoy the world while it’s still calm before the crowds get out. It’s more relaxed, the air is a little more fresh and the light in the morning hour is so much nicer. They say motion creates emotion and I can tell you it’s true. Both your body and mind really wakes up and my own little theory is that the water is a good way to «rinse» your system before starting the day. Usually I stop 2-3 times per every walk for 10-20 seconds and just take a couple of deep breaths. You should try it too, it’s incredible how just a quick break and some deep breaths lowers your shoulders no matter what you do. Today’s morning walk was a little special though and the stop was 10 minutes instead of 10 seconds.

I woke up in Brazil, Foz do Iguaçu to be precise. A river, which is also the border to Paraguay, runs along the city and a bridge with the suitable name Friendship Bridge connects the two countries. With blue skies this morning I thought it would be a good idea to simply walk to Paraguay – so I did. The bridge was located a couple of kilometers away and the  bridge itself was approximately 500 meters I guess. Arriving to the bridge I had to immigrate out of Brazil getting my passport stamped and also migrate when reaching Paraguay. I just stayed there for 10 minutes before walking back. Again, immigrate out of Paraguay just 10 minutes after arriving and also migrate back in to Brazil filling out forms and the usual stuff. This is the shortest I’ve ever been in a country and there is a reason for it. Right after the bridge you enter the city Ciudad del Este which is like a huge shopping center for the Brazilian people since they don’t pay tax here.

It was fun to get another passport stamp and actually be able to say I’ve been to Paraguay, even though I really haven’t seen the country and I don’t think I ever will. I’ve done some online research but there is NOTHING in Paraguay that attracts me, so spending time and money going there is for me out of the question.

Next up is a city I’ve been to before and which I consider is one of the most beautiful on earth and is perfect for nice morning walks along som stunning beaches. Can you guess which one?

Border Brasil - Paraguay