So after 9 hours of twists and turns through the mountains, sat next to the horrible smelling bus toilet (which geniously one man tried to counteract by pouring dry coffee granules on the floor – actually helped quite a bit!) we arrive in the capital, Bogota, and it’s freezing! After a few weeks in tropical heat, it’s quite the shock being in 14 degrees. Apparently it’s like this all year round, as it’s so high up.
We hop in a cab to find our apartment (we rented an airbnb studio flat in the Chapinero area for our four days, very reasonable which also gave us our own kitchen and space which was much appreciated!). Driver couldn’t find our road, good start, so drove in a circle for a good 15 minutes, past what we thought was a gay pride march as we saw a few peace rainbow flags, however as soon as we got to the flat and looked at the news, we saw that the Colombian government had historically signed a peace treaty with the country’s guerrilla group, FARC. What a time to be in the capital!
Next door to our flat was a fantastic supermarket, much to Katie’s delight, so for the first time in a month we did a food shop and bought stuff for our meals for the next few days.
Very quiet evening, however at 3am we are awoken by some rowdy yelling, which I thought was outside, but after a while we realised it was two British guys in our block having SUCH a Leary argument, can’t get away from drunk Brits abroad it would seem…
The following day was to be a touristy day – we weren’t sure how to tackle the buses so set off on foot, down one of the main avenues, to Parque Nacional where we sat and watched tennis for a bit, Museo Nacional where we learned about Colombian artist Lorenzo Jammarillo, and the famous Museum of Gold, the world’s biggest collection of gold.
We then wandered downtown for a bit before heading home for dinner. Safe to say we weren’t hugely blown away by the parts of the city we saw that day, perhaps we didn’t quite get our heads around the size of it, but it felt a bit incongruous and not the welcoming vibe we had gotten used to in Colombia.
Night two, we treated ourselves to one of our home favourites, steak and wine.
The next day we had a quiet morning planning stuff for the next weeks, and went for a walk around two recommended areas just north of us (Zona G and Zona T). Stopped off for a coffee at one of Bogota’s best bakeries, Masa, and had fantastic juice and cinnamon rolls, before heading onwards where we came across a very fancy shopping centre, where we got to see a very different side of the city. We strolled up to Parque 93 where someone had recommended getting a drink so we dutifully followed instructions.
That evening we spent with Ester, a friend of Katie’s brother Alex who kindly invited us over for empanadas and beers – plus a cuddle with her dog Ted. We found out a lot more about the peace treaty, and the upcoming referendum to vote on said treaty. They only have until October to read the 400 odd page document they are supposed to be voting on. No wonder people feel sceptical about it.
Saturday morning again was quiet doing more planning – we had a slight hiccup in our Lima planning that needed a bit of sorting. As we had to book Machu Picchu so early, it now doesn’t quite work with our hopes for Peru time wise; so a lot of umming and ahing later we postponed our trek by a week but more on that next week.
At 430 we were picked up by another one of Alex’ friends, Jairo, and his girlfriend Lina, for dinner at Bogota’s most famous restaurant – Andres Carne de Res. This place needs a bit of an explanation, but it mainly needs pictures. Everyone we talked to about Bogota said Andres was a must. It’s a HUGE meat restaurant that turns into a rumba club after dinner. But more so than that it’s hugely quirky and an absolute experience. It’s a bit outside of the town, in a suburb called Chia, which is actually where Jairo lives so he took us on a tour of the town before dinner and to a fantastic fruit market he used to go to every Sunday with his grandad. We tried local fruits, petted a few strays and chatted with the lovely vendors.
Then we arrived at Andres. I’ll let the pictures do the talking:
We shared arepas, empanadas, Colombian potatoes, chicharon, fried plantain crisp with the nicest tomato salsa. I then got serenaded by the local band and was gifted with a Colombian sash. Sadly after that I was also harassed by the oddest looking entertainers and forced to eat a cherry from his mouth. One of the lesser happy moments of the evening.
Around 9ish the dancing started on one of the several dance floors (the place is 2.76 square miles big!!). Jairo and Lina talked us through the different types of popular dancing music, from rumba to merengue, to the more youthful reggaeton. It was amazing to see how naturally all the people were just dancing. That may sound completely naive but it was just so classy!
Around midnight we hopped in an uber (apparently the safest form of taxi in Colombia) back to our flat, very happy and content.
Our last morning was spent packing, before wanting to head up Monserrate, the hill overlooking the city, but a series of bad luck including terrible traffic scuppered our plans and meant we had to head straight to the airport for our flight to Lima. Very disappointing but better not miss our flight….
Colombia, you have been wonderful to us in so many ways. What a way to start our trip. Next stop, Lima.
Bye for now X