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Published: July 29th 2012
Alpaca rides in the square. We did not partake.
Well it's that time of year again. Summer holidays are here and we're off on another adventure. This summer we have decided to travel Colombia based on a recommendation from some friends of ours and a general desire to explore a corner of the world, and continent, that we have yet to see. So with about a month's notice we have loaded our backpacks, bought the LP, updated our travel shots and boarded our flight to Bogota.
The flight was reasonably uneventful. This is only Air Canada after all and not one of the other international carriers that we have grown to prefer. Arriving in Bogota and hopping a taxi to our hostel in the historic Candelaria neighborhood we were struck by the relative ease of travel compared with India. The weather was pleasant, there were no touts clamoring for our dollars and the streets were squeaky clean. The only thing that we did note and will continue to struggle with as we travel this country is the general lack of spoken English and our blatant, almost shameful, lack of Spanish.
Our hostel is located right in the thick of the old town district, La Candelaria. The old town
Mural in La Candelaria
is very interesting with it's cobbled streets and old Spanish Colonial architecture. Everything is within easy walking distance and we started off by walking to a local restaurant for lunch and our first taste of Colombian food. We had a paisa dish which consists of beans, rice, eggs, sausage and plantains. That night we played it low key back at the hostel bar and discovered the local beer staples of Aguila and Club Colombia as well as the delicious Bogota Beer Company, one of the few microbreweries around these parts. We also reinstated our heated traveling rivalries in Gin Rummy, Crazy Eights and Chess.
The first full day in Bogota turned out to be a Sunday (which always seems to happen) so most everything was shut down. We did manage to check out the Museo del Oro which displays a good collection of gold artifacts from the pre-Columbian era or at least what was left behind once the Spaniards took their share. That night we went out for a good dinner and some live jazz.
The next day we continued to explore the Candelaria area. This is an easy city to tramp around as the weather is a
The bustling old town.
cool 15 degrees Celsius and there is little hassle from street peddlers. It's also a relief to learn that the food and water here is generally safe. Street vendors be prepared! We took in a free visit to the Butero Museum and the Banca Republica complex which is a fantastic free activity where you can check out weird art from people you've never heard of. It's still interesting nonetheless. At night we took the chair lift up Montserrate which is the mountain overlooking the entire city. There's a church at the top but the real attraction is the stunning view of the city below as it's lights literally extend to the horizon. There's a really fancy restaurant at the top and we popped in for Canelazos which are hot fermented cane sugar drinks. After seeing how under dressed we were we finished our drinks and got up to pay our cuenta (bill) when the nice bartender took pity upon us and motioned us out the door with a friendly "no problemo". I guess looking like rambling hobos pays off sometimes!
Now we feel like we have a rough grasp of how this country works and are heading to the
Coffee vendor in a ridiculous little car
airport for a flight to Cartagena and the sun and sand of the Caribbean coast.
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