00.00 – Touchdown!
Our watches said 10.00 but it was 03.50 when we touched down in a hazy Bogotá, the sun already trying to burn through. The impressive choice of games (Siy went for Angry Birds while Emma racked up a high score on Pac Man) and an awesome choice of films made for an entertaining start to the flight but the rest of our journey consisted of fractured sleep and plenty of bum shuffling. It was through bleary eyes that we saw Emma’s name waiting for us in arrivals.
Siy enjoying his Gluten/Dairy/Joy free in flight meal.
03.00 – Breakfast of champions
Initially we had planned to drop off our Luggage and head straight out into the city but deciding to pay for an extra night was a great idea. After the flight, a long queue in immigration and a 45 minute cab journey a snooze was exactly what we needed. After getting our heads down for an hour we jumped on the creaky WiFi and got our research hats on. 15 minutes later we were enjoying amazing coffee and a delicious breakfast which reminded us of a dry risotto with Chorizo, chicken, plantain.
It was the perfect start to our time in Bogotá and we spent a good hour there planning our day and glowing in the fact we had finally made it.
05.00 – The church on the mountain
You’ve not slept well and have travelled half way around the world. Why not climb 3152 metres above sea level and visit a church on the top of a mountain. How hard could it be?
But, as we’ve learnt from previous expeditions, the best shit comes to those who sweat hardest so we climbed the 1500 steps in just over an hour. Half way up there was a settlement made up of stalls for weary travellers of which we were two. A bottle of water and a good sit down and we were off.
It’s a dogs life!
Exercise at altitude is hard because you never really feel like you’re getting enough oxygen. You’ll take breather, feeling exhausted and take 5 to get your breath back. You feel fine, but then moments later you’re struggling again. It was worth the climb though as the view was amazing.
We learned later on the walking tour that Bogotá was originally called Bagata – fertile land – and from the top of Mount Monseratte you could really see the basin that the city sits in, a terracotta sea, sprawling out in all directions, halting in the foothills of the mountains. The church itself full of marble which made it naturally cool – a pleasant reward after the climb.
After queuing for 20 minutes for the cable car then realising we needed a ticket before we boarded, we waited another 10 minutes for the ticket office (a small hatch in a door where you put your money, the attendant creepily hidden from view) we headed back down the mountain and flagged a cab back to the hostel.
12.00 Just. Stay. Awake.
We resisted the urge to nap and headed out to explore. It’s at this point we realised we were in a rather nice part of Bogota. Swanky bars and restaurants lined the streets close to our hostels and we headed into a bar owned by BBC – Bogotá Beer Company. It seemed that the craft wave had landed and although there was no gluten free beer, There was Stowford Press. Happy days. There was a very definite crowd in the lively bar and we discussed the link between craft beer and the middle class before eating our own weight in empanadas and heading to bed.
24.00 – Getting wet on the walking tour
We were on a tight schedule so threw some food down our necks and took a 25 minute Uber down to the Museum of Gold – the starting point of the free walking tour. We love a free walking tour and it’s always one of the first things we do when we’re in a new place.
As we headed around the city centre, we were both surprised at how young the country was. It was a chap called Simon who’d pushed for independence back in the 1800s but the people calling for it were only 1st generation – their recent ancestors being the first invaders to the land.
It’s at this point we realised there was of course a whole rich history that was pretty quickly wiped out and through the amazing street art you get a glimpse of the connection that the youth of Bogotá really want to tap into. Graffiti isn’t illegal in the city and it’s everywhere. Its not all award winning, but it’s great to see young and aspiring artists putting themselves out there.
In the old town we tried Chicha, which was a corn based alcohol rationally made from spit. The batch we tried wasn’t thankfully, but had the same viscous consistency. Emma wasn’t blown away, Siy had seconds.
This area of the city definitely felt closer to the Columbia we had in mind than the area we had been staying in.
As the tour came to an end, the heavens opened and the streets turned to rivers. The volume of water dumped on us by the mountains was insane and we huddled underneath an awning outside a government building, trying to keep interested in the brief overview of the cities modern history.
Eagle eyed Emma spotted someone getting out of a cab so we swooped in and headed back to the hostel. Soggy, chilly, yet enlightened.
29.00 – Pondering’s
It’s worth pointing out at this this point how surprised we were by a few aspects of the city. We were shocked to find they had Uber and the wealth and prosperity of the middle class in the area we were staying in was pretty surprising. It was clear we had pre conceived ideas of what we’d find upon arrival which made us open our eyes to our environment.
In our pre trip planning we had read numerous blogs that had discounted Bogotá as a ‘pass through’ destination but we didn’t find that the case. There’s loads to do and many areas of the city that we didn’t get to explore – there’s a huge city park we drive past and
31.00 the next adventure
This is being written on the flight to our next journey – we’ll be in Santa Marta by the time this gets uploaded – In fact we may well of been there and come back as there’s no WiFi. We’re spending 6 days doing absolutely nothing in a hostel on the edge of the jungle.
It’s a hard life.