One of Medellin’s hottest attractions for tourists has become a walking tour through the city’s center, which in spite of its history and thriving culture is generally ignored by visitors.
Medellin native Pablo Alvarez returned to his city from Europe in January 2013. After giving an informal tour to some acquaintances he was encouraged to advertise more tours.
Little more than a year later, Alvarez’ tour is ranking #1 for activities to do in Medellin on Tripadvisor, one of the world’s most famous travel websites.
According to Alvarez, part of the success of his tour is due to its attempt to show what he considers the real Medellin; the city outside the sterile Poblado area where most visitors end up by default.
“We want to give a wider historical account of the city. That’s why we start with the culture and origin of the Paisas [those native to Medellin and the surrounding region]. Then we explain the economic prosperity at the start of the century and then onto the political situation in Colombia regarding the current conflict.”
Alvarez offers a passionate and energetic account of his hometown and manages to bring in humor, where appropriate, yet at the same time address the serious problems that have plagued his city.
Alvarez’ Real City tour tackles for example the legacy of late drug lord Pablo Escobar, while trying not to inflate his significance, Alvarez said. “I think it is necessary to talk about those things…but I think I can do a better job explaining our history from other perspectives.”
According to Alvarez, his time away from Colombia has given him the added foresight of understanding Colombia’s history from a foreign perspective. It allows the tour to provide “a different perspective of our culture, it is both local and offers a foreigners interpretation.”
There is no set fee for the tour and relies only on tips so that individuals can place their own value on the tour and decide what it was worth to them.
- Interview with Pablo Alvarez Correa
- Real City Tours website