Last days at home, first days in Bogotá
The last days at home were a little bit chaotic, as we tried to fit everything into our backpacks, cleaning and emptying the apartment, doing some last-minute shopping and money exchange. So it was a pleasure to leave for the airport.
We arrived to Bogotá in the morning. As I didn’t want to look for taxis or buses after 15 hours of travelling, I booked a private transfer in advance through our hotel. It made our way into the city much easier, however quite more expensive than usual. Fortunately, we could check-in in the morning to our room, so we slept for some hours to avoid jetlag. In the afternoon we walked around our neighbourhood, exchanged money and ate a late lunch. That was it for the day.
Note: I recommend to book your accommodation in La Candelaria because that’s the center and the old town part of the city. We booked in Chapinero district (seemed safer but you will be fine in Candelaria too) and spent at least an hour on each direction buses almost every day trying to get to the center. As Bogotá doesn’t have metro lines yet, you can imagine how public transportation in a city with 8 million inhabitants looks like.
Museo del Oro and walking tour
On our first real day, we visited the Gold Museum which has the biggest collection in the world. The admission is only 4000 COP (1,2 USD) and it is definitely worth a visit. It is possible to get an English-speaking guide who can explain a lot of things about indigenous cultures and their relationship with gold. The treasures were mainly used for offering to the Gods. As the museum got the collection mostly from treasure hunters, they don’t really know what ages are they from.
After the museum, we got a quick empanada-lunch because at 2 pm our free walking tour with Beyond Colombia started. Although it was a first for us, I highly recommend taking these kinds of tours basically in any city. Our guide was very enthusiastic and had a lot of knowledge about the city, the history, the politics and the food. It was about 3 hours, we visited some must-see sights, had chicha-tasting in a bar and got a lot of information about the city. It’s free but you should give them some tip at the end.
I also read a lot of great reviews about graffiti tours. We visited some of the paintings on the walking tour so we didn’t feel it necessary. But the colorful walls have interesting history: graffiti was illegal until in 2016 police shot a 16 years old boy who painted a wall. The city got so angry that they legalized it as long as you got permission from the owner of the building. Nowadays artists are coming here from all around the world and they get commissions from the owner of the buildings.
Above the city, there is a cathedral at 3170 meters. It got its name after the Montserrat in Barcelona. It was a sacred place for the indigenous people. Nowadays it’s a popular place for tourist and locals. The views are amazing from above. First, we wanted to hike up there but due to heavy air pollution, we chose the cable car (12.000 COP one way – 3,5 USD) instead. For the way down we walked. It wasn’t difficult.
Note: it is recommended to hike up only if you already spent 2-3 days in the city. As the city is already on 2640 meters, it can be difficult to walk up to 3170 meters if you are not acclimatized.
Eating out in Bogotá will cost you similar than it would in an Eastern-European country. Depending on if it’s fast food, fancy restaurant or menu del día, it varies between 8000 to 20.000 COP.
I’ve heard that it is not easy to be a vegetarian in Colombia, but so far so good: if you order something sin carne, they will try to do their best to serve you. I am excited to try the food in the rest of the country.
Colombia is well known for the variety of tropical fruits available here. There is a vendor on every corner, and some of the fruits we haven’t even heard of. It will be nice to taste them all.
So far we only tried one of the traditional foods, ajiaco soup. It’s made with potatoes, chicken, corn and served with rice, avocado, capers and sour cream. We will definitely try the rest of them.
All in all, that was a calm, touristy five days, and it was more than enough in the city. Tomorrow we are heading north by bus, to San Gil which is the outdoor sports capital of the country. Hopefully, we will enjoy our time there even in the rainy season.