The Beauty of Bogota

Everyone told us Bogota wasn’t worth more than a day or two. Congested traffic, crime and pollution were just some of the forewarnings we heard. But Bogota has a certain gritty spirit to it that you can’t find in cities white-washed for tourists. And that’s exactly why we loved it.

Initially thinking we would just pass through we ended up staying over a week, and contemplated staying much longer. There’s so much to see and do this city deserves weeks, if not months.

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Left: Stoopin’ it, novelty style. Right: Drinking Chicha, a fermented alcoholic corn drink.

 

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Just a kid walking his llama.

Bogota is less than 200km from Villa de Leyva, so we figured it would be an easy ride. We left our make-shift campground behind and started our journey to the capital city. It wasn’t long before we were at a dead stop, less than 40km away but still hours from our intended destination. Surrounded by large trucks and millions of vehicles, Jesse did his best to weave us through slow moving traffic. But the luggage balanced on the back of the bike made us too wide to fit between some cracks in traffic and we were at the mercy of those ahead of us. When we got off the main thoroughfare we discovered Bogota is made up of a tangle of skinny cobblestone streets that locals could navigate with their eyes closed. Us, not so easily. But the best part of having no timeline is being able to get lost for days without worry.

Bogota has lots of fun street spots to skate, so most days Jesse spent part of the day skating while I checked out different art museums and exhibits. My favourite was Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango which was a library that had a phenomenal exhibit on the Black Panthers movement called ¡Todo el poder para el pueblo! (All Power to the People!). It was a display of original propaganda posters, cards and the weekly newspapers from the early days of the movement. It was phenomenal to see revolutionary graphics that were so impactful. I had the multi-room exhibit to myself (with the exception of some hovering guards) so I took my time. Since photography was forbidden I willed myself to commit every detail to memory! Below is the artwork for the exhibit.

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Some kids getting hassled for skateboarding at Parque Santander.
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Lots of skate spots around Bogota.
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Botero is everywhere!

We spent the better part of one morning climbing up Monserrate mountain. And by “climbing” I mean waiting in line for an hour to board a funicular that clings to some very precarious and steep tracks. This memorable ride combined with clear sights of the city make this a popular tourist attraction, while some consider it an important pilgrimage due to a 17th century church at the top and a shrine to El Señor Caído (The Fallen Lord).

 

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A steep ride on the funicular, and a sense for the size of Bogota!
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Left: On the way to the top. Right: Photo-op with the mountains in the back.

There is a strip of small restaurants, vendors and souvenir shops at the top so we took the opportunity to try a few new things.

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Jesse tried Cocoa Tea, while I tried some fried small intestines of a cow …..
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…. and the verdict was Cocoa Tea = Good, Cow Intestines = See Above.

The most memorable part of Bogota was seeing a futbol match the night before we left. It was so good it deserved it’s own post: Chasing Thiefs in Bogota.

After a week of being in Bogota there was a massive fire that left the air heavy with smoke and all surfaces covered in a thick layer of soot. We took it as a sign that our time in Bogota was up and left early the next morning.

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Our guesthouse sat at the base of that mountain.
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