Situated at just over 2,600m above sea level, Bogotá is the third highest capital city in South America after Quito and La Paz. With 9 million people, it’s also the largest of the three.
I arrived in Bogotá after a crazy 10 hour bus ride from Cali, where the bus driver thought he was a Formula One driver along the very curvy road. It was as if he was fleeing the cartels as he overtook trucks on blind corners and slammed on the brakes when a vehicle came the other way. However, I still managed to get some sleep. I guess I’m well used to bus travel on this continent.
Once in Bogotá, I caught a taxi to La Candaleria, the city’s historical centre where my hostel was. On arrival, the area looked rather old and dirty. At the hostel, I was warned not to go too far in any direction at night. Luckily I’d eaten during the bus trip and didn’t need to go out.
The following day, I headed out to see some of the sights and was again warned about the city. It’s not fun being on edge when walking around a city but I avoided being kidnapped, so I guess that’s something. Not far from the hostel I found some architecture, but many of the buildings had been tagged and not well looked after.
After a couple of days the hostel began to annoy me, blasting music from morning until night, with the only good internet actually in the midst of the music. When the internet stopped functioning completely along with my inability to have a decent hot shower, I moved to another hostel closer to the centre of the city.
Near my new hostel, I discovered Zona Z, a large areas of malls, restaurants, bars and night clubs. Zona Z felt far cleaner and safer than La Candaleria. While I was there they were well into setting up for Christmas even though it was only early November.
Before going to Bogotá, I’d arranged to meet a group of locals who had similar interests to me. They were amazing people and I ended up staying three weeks to spend time with them. They were some of the friendliest people I’ve met on my travels. One of the group took me under his wing, taking me to different places to visit and hang out with his friends. Then towards the end of my stay it was my birthday and one of the girls from the group surprised me with a cake. All for one random stranger who showed up one day to hang out with them.
During my stay was S.O.F.A (Salon del Ocio y la Fantasia) – loosely translated as ‘Leisure and Fantasy Lounge’, a 4 day popular culture convention. Included in the show was everything geek, from Cosplay to board games, every type of console, computers, robotics, paintball, RC vehicles, shows, art, concerts and much much more. The first two days were bustling, allowing time to walk around without too many people. The final two days – Saturday and Sunday – were insane, with so much noise and people everywhere. On the first and quietest day…
All over South America I’ve been told that Colombian women are the prettiest on the continent. I can officially vouch for that one!
The day after the convention I headed up the cable car to a church called Monserrate atop a hill for a wondrous view across the city.
Across the valley, atop another hill is, surprise surprise, a statue of Christ, protecting the city.
I also wanted to see the famous Gold Museum in Bogotá, but as it’s closed on Mondays I missed out.
Overall, while not overly touristy, it was the people of Bogotá who kept me there longer than I would have stayed. Next I’m heading north to the more touristy – and warmer – Medellin.
The World Wanderer