When I first announced to family & friends that I was excited to spend a couple of days exploring the capital city of Colombia, I gt more than the usual eye-rolls, and muttering. This time, it was full out warfare. From the friends of my parents who went out of their way to email me news items to work colleagues who became a little too obsessed with crime stats, it seemed that no one was delighted with my choice. Especially when they discovered this choice was driven by a need to avoid Miami. Well, the entire US of A as a matter of fact. Ever since Trump became President, I have been quietly acknowledged the fact that I can’t visit, or even transit through that country. I mean, if push came to shove, I might give it a go, but is there is a viable alternative, then that is my choice.
Throw those pre-conceptions out the nearest window!
Much to my horror, I discovered on arrival that I had been harbouring a large number of preconceptions of what Bogota would look like. Mostly based on news reports (i know, I should know better…) covering drug cartels, violence and paramilitaries. And they were pretty much all stuck in the past, ignoring the vibrant city that has kept, phoenix-like from the flames. In fact, everything worked like clock work – on time flights, easy immigration, on-time (to meet my early flight) driver and a chirpy but not annoying hotel receptionist ready to check me in to a room at 4am.
A few hours sleep later, I stepped out to find coffee, and sprung for a delicious one straight away, accompanied by a delicious Muffin de Queso Paipsa. Yum yum yum.
As soon as I began to wander, the street art was all I could concentrate on. There are some incredibly talented street artists plying their trade on pretty much every surface they can lay their spray cans on. Whether the subtle black & white detailed sketches or the bright, in your face surreal scenes, it is easy to get caught up in. Having come to Bogota with no plans, I ended up just wandering to take the murals in, but if I had my time again, I would certainly book onto the Bogota Graffiti Tour, which runs twice a day from Parque de los Periodistas, and from the snippets I over heard, is full of gems that you will appreciate!
Next up, another shiny distraction from the creeping tiredness, this time in the form of the Museo del Oro, or the Museum of Gold. And it really is, full of gold! Some of the most intricate metalwork I have ever seen! The four floors can easily keep you occupied for an hour or two, a bargain at only 4000 pesos. It was one of those places that you can spend all of your time just staring at a single intricate filigree without noticing the time past. Well, that would be possible if it were not for the other tourists traipsing around not paying attention, just doing the rounds. But hey ho, we can’t have everything!
Back onto the streets for more wandering – past and into churches Iglesia de San Franscisco, Iglesia de la Veracruz, Iglesia Nuestra del Carmen…the list goes on. All of them were in the middle of active services, so I tried to slip into a pew without causing too much disturbance, and just sat, listened and meditated. Religion really isn’t my thing, but I appreciate the meditative nature of churches, in the most secular sense.
Time for a beer – so I stopped at a place that had caught my eye earlier in the day – Cafe Rosas. Handcrafted beers, a chilled out and surprisingly chatty crowd and (at that time of the day) some very chilled out music provided by the resident DJ.
A very low key dinner finished off day one in Bogota at La Castana – just some empanadas and something sweet to finish off. The jazz that started up as I was getting ready to leave glued me into my seat for an additional hour, allowing me to just fall into bed and sleep.
Sunday mornings are quite active in Bogota – I headed out to get coffee at local chain Juan Valdez – there were cyclists and joggers with their dogs everywhere! Once I was suitably caffeinated, I wandered along to the Museo Botero to mooch through impressionist, surrealist and sculpture galleries. Then I found myself puzzling over the work of local artists Botero. His signature style depicts people and animals in large exaggerated volume. And the affect is, disturbing.
Finally more wandering, down through Plaza de Bolivar (through a quicksand of pigeons – seriously Trafalgar Square looks spartan in comparison), and through the back streets of La Candelaria for more street art and coffee.
And onwards to the next adventure!