It’s definitely colder in Bogota! A constant 55-60 degrees. A nice break from the heat of Cartagena! Although we missed summer very quickly.
The first thing we noticed was how vibrantly green everything was in Bogota. Flying in, you can see the mountains and the plains, all lush and green. We were also surprised to hear (and feel!) how high up it is here! Roughly 8500 feet. Being from Boulder, CO we are used to the altitude, but the 3000ft difference is shockingly noticeable.
The city is a lot larger than either of us imagined. It seemed as though anywhere we wanted to go was a good 20-30 min Uber ride away. Good thing they were cheap! Research led us to staying in the Chico Norte area of Bogota. It felt like the higher end section of the city. Similar to how Manhattan is to New York City. The people were polished, the restaurants were fancy and the streets were clean. We even stayed near Parque 93 which was a gorgeous park that took up a whole block. A nice place to sit and people watch, drink a coffee or just relax. Even though it seemed to be the more expensive area of town, it is still significantly cheaper than the US. While we seemed to spend $30 on each meal, they all consisted of appetizers, drinks and entrees. I don’t know if we could manage that much food for that amount of money back home.
Our hotel was seemingly nice. Very spacious as it had a dining area, living area and desk. However, the bed, once again…hard as a rock. Is that a Colombian thing? Hopefully not South American thing… The windows were paper thin. It wasn’t noticeable until the final night, Friday, when everyone was clearly ready to celebrate the weekend. All we could hear all night were people screaming in the streets, even with our windows shut. Good thing it was only one night. The area was residential, even Google was down the street, so it was even more surprising how crazy it got in this neighborhood. One again, we booked through Ebates and Hotels.com so we got a ton of great perks. Make sure to use our links and start saving!
On day 1 we wanted to check out a famous food market. Our 30 minute car ride dumped us right in the middle of the seedy area of the city. Complete opposite of the area we came from. We walked around a bit and decided fruit was fruit and veggies were veggies and since it clearly wasn’t an area we should linger in we should move on with our day.
We went on to discover an area called La Candelaria. I had heard a lot about this part of town as it is the historic area of Bogota and is know for its unique artistic graffiti and colorful houses. We stopped first at Plaza Bolivar which was encased with gorgeous architecture and filled with… pigeons! They sold corn to feed them for 1,000 pesos (~$.33) and in an instant they were ALL OVER YOU! Not quite sure why I was so freaked out by having them fly on me so I let dean have all the fun. He loved it! We were then approached by a policeman who encouraged us to go to the Police Museum. Since we were the only English speaking people around, we got a private tour and learned all about the Colombian police. They are clearly very proud of how they’ve turned themselves around from being a corrupt organization. We also learned all about Pablo Escobar. They were very proud that they were able to take him down. There was a lot of memorabilia that they had on display from when he was captured. After the museum we went in search of the street grafitti we had heard about and found that the majority of the area consisted of no such thing, but instead a large pedestrian mall with shops and people selling their art. We had so much trouble finding the murals and houses we were so looking forward to seeing. Frustration led us to calling it a day we decided to try again tomorrow and we grabbed some lunch at what turned out to be a great place to try authentic Colombian cuisine! Empanadas, Yucca, Morcilla, (blood sausage) chorizo and Ajiaco (Colombian soup).
To start the night, We went to Bogota Beer Company for happy hour. The beers were delicious and the atmosphere was that of any brew pup, relaxing and enjoyable. From there we decided to have dinner at a Cuban Restaurant, Habana 93. Great choice! By far the best meal of the trip! Dean got Ropa Vieja, which is slow braised beef with onions, peppers and tomatoes, served with white rice mixed with black beans. For me, I got Pollo en Salsa de Limonaria, a rolled chicken breast filled with spinach and cheese in a lemon cream sauce. Dessert consisted of coconut flan and grilled pineapple with ice cream. It was all fabulous!
Day 2 we were on a mission: Go to the top of Monserrate – the mountain in the middle of the city- before it rained and head back to La Candeleria to find those houses and that graffiti! Monserrate was breathtaking. We took the cable car up to the top of the 10,000 foot mountain and were one with the clouds. The views of the city confirmed our realization as to how high the mountains actually is and big the city is. It just goes and goes and goes! The surrounding area is the most vivd green and aside from the small area to walk around and take in views, it felt as though we were one with the mountain. There was an old church as the top that we went inside as well. To think about how the people who built it had to ascend this huge mountain everyday was unfathomable.The restaurant on top of typical Colombian cuisines satisfied quite the appetite we worked up! We were then off to La Candelaria, again. For the second time, we were disappointed that we couldn’t find the art we had been hearing so much about. We never ended up finding but 1 mural. Strike out! We did, however, visit the Gold Museum. It was a bigger more expansive version of the one we went to in Cartagena. We (mostly Dean, because I can’t stand museums for too long) learned more about pre-Colombian artifacts and history and the metallurgy used by the indigenous people.
The evening of night number 2 was similar to night 1! Happy hour (of course) and then dinner. This time, we went for Asian cuisine. Still, 3 appetizers, 2 drinks and 2 entrees for $30. While we have been enjoying the Colombian cuisine, we were happy to have a meal with a little extra flavor and spice.
1 country down! Now, off to Lima, Peru. We hope the Peruvians treat us just as well as the Colombians did, and that they like softer beds…