Colombia ~ Bogota

It's already been a while that we came back, and were caught up in the usual work routine, but finally there is our story, at least the beginning of our story.  

The best option for us was to fly on Lufthansa from Bale via Frankfurt to Bogota, where we touched down on December 21st. All our luggage arrived, and with zero problems at immigration or customs, although I guess we looked strange with our two large bright yellow Ortlieb bags and a huge diving suitcase.

The hotel, Aloft Bogota Airport was only a short cab ride away (about 16.000 COP and without traffic it would be 5-10 minutes). There is hardly any reliable public transport from the airport, so unless you know which of the small buses to take and the route the go, you are better off to take a taxi.

Our itinerary was split up in two parts, and we stayed in between in Bogota, so I will resume the Bogota portion in one post here.

Bogota is a 9 million city, spread out on 1587m2 and lies on an elevation of 2,625m. More history and useful information can be found here. To move around in Bogota we either went by taxi, which is pretty safe if you take the ones on site at hotels or restaurants, or used the Transmilenio system. This is practically a subway above ground, a bus system running on several main axis north-south and east-west. Our hotel was located at the last station of the airport route, and in about half an hour we were in Calendaria, the old center of Bogota. A really useful tool for the Transmilenio is it tells you exactly which number to go on, where to connect etc and is a lot easier to use than the plan at the stations. A one way trip is 1700 COP (0,70 EUR // 0,87 CHF) and you can go as far as you want as long as you don't leave the system.


Signange on the bus

We visited the Candelaria neighborhood, the old colonial part of the city. It only started to appeal to me on the second sight, once we discovered the nice small restaurants, hostels, and boutiques. We visited the famous Museo del Oro, which hosts an amazing amount of gold and sometimes we did feel like in a big safe! Also in this barrio is the Museo Botero, however, we did not visit that one. We enjoyed walking around this area, and suck up the street life on the rather quiet days before Christmas and around New Year's.

On New Year's Day we took the cable car up to the Cerro de Monserrate. Up there is a church that is a pilgrimage point for many Colombians, during our visit there were very few foreigners. From this peak on already 3125m we had an amazing view of Bogota and only realized there how large it is. We treated ourselves to a nice lunch at the Santa Clara Restaurant, where Dominik also tried a canelazo, an aperitif of agua panela, cinnamon, lemon, sugar and some aguardiente.

View of Bogota

Another really cool thing we did there was going on a guided bike tour through Bogota. The guide took us to barrios and streets we probably wouldn't have visited before and we got to appreciate the different faces of this city that had such a bad reputation in the past. The highlight of this tour was the visit of a mercado, were we got to try lots of different fruits and ended up buying quite some to take back to Switzerland, stretching our weight limit of the luggage!

If you read a travel guide about Bogota, you will always come across the mention of Andres Carne de Res, a famous and apparently very crazy restaurant in Chia, to the north of Bogota. As this was too far for us to go (it would have been a taxi ride of about an hour, 80.000 COP one way) we opted for the city restaurant, the Andres DC, in the shopping center of Andares in the northern part of Bogota. The Andres DC is said to be the light version of the craziness of Chia, but it is already unusual enough to be a great experience, not to mention the food. We had steaks, and a beer, and toasted to 2013 after the hard days of the trekking that lay behind us. 

Our summary of Bogota: a diverse city where it is easy to spend 2-3 days, if not longer if you chose to do some excursions to the surroundings. Our choice of hotel location was based on the fact that we used it as base between the trips to Boyacá and Providencia. Following the ground rules of visiting big cities Bogota felt definitely as safe to us as any other global mega city. Colombia is a great country!

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