Quick stop in Bogota

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South America » Colombia » Bogota
December 6th 2013
Published: December 11th 2013
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Our first impressions of Bogota weren’t that positive. There were long queues to the taxis, the street numbering in Bogota is so confusing our taxi driver had problems finding our hostel, and it was cold and gray. Also, we weren’t that impressed by our hostel. The room was noisy with a bar right outside the window, both mattresses and pillows were protected with plastic bags so they were hard and noisy to sleep on and the room was cold. After the first night we almost changed hostel, but in the end we were too lazy to move for one and a half more nights, so we just changed into sleeping in our sleeping bags on the thick blankets we got which made the bed a lot less noisy.

The first morning in Bogota it was raining, and the gray weather didn’t exactly improve our first impressions. We started our day by setting out to search for a post office, something we had tried to find all over Colombia. We didn’t find a post office, but after asking at the tourist info we were directed to a company through which we could send letters. After this small success we headed off to one of Bogota’s main attractions, the Botero museum. The paintings in the museum are all donated by Botero himself, and consist of over 100 paintings and sculptures by the maestro himself, and a lot of artworks by other artists from Botero’s private collections, including several Picassos and also other big names like Miro, Matisse and Dali.

Later that day we headed towards the other museum we were interested in, the museum of Gold. At that point it had stopped raining, and the city seemed much nicer. We found a nice pedestrian street with a European feel and strolled along it for some time. Eventually we went to the Gold museum, and learned both of gold processing and of the different cultures using gold in Colombia. There were a lot of really spectacular pieces, but after reading about gold in over ten different cultures we started to get fed up with all the gold. It might have been more interesting if there would have been more contexts about the different cultures, but this museum was only concentrating on the gold items, so it got a bit one-sided.

We had read about a good bike tour in the city, so the next day we went to the bike rental company arranging the tour a little before the tour started. We were not the only ones, there were ten other persons attending and in the beginning it was hard to hear what our guide was telling us. Once we got a little bit away from the city center it got much better, and the tour turned out to be much more extensive than we first thought. In addition to biking around the city and hearing about its neighborhoods, we also visited a bullfighting arena, a coffee roastery, the house of the murdered opposition leader Gaitan and a market place where we got to taste different fruits.

In addition to our guide the tour also had a mechanic, luckily for us as both our bikes broke down at some point of the ride. The mechanic was also responsible for making sure that nobody was left behind, in this he wasn’t that successful as we lost one guy during the tour. The guy got left behind while trying to put back his chain on his bike, and had then returned to the bike rental when he didn’t see anyone from the tour anymore. I guess he wasn’t too happy with the tour… We however liked the tour a lot, it was maybe not as informative as the Medellin walking tour, but the biking aspect and all the places we visited made the tour really nice.

Despite of the negative first impression, the nice walking streets and the parts of the city we saw during the bike tour changed our view of the city. The buildings in the city are much newer and less colorful than the old town of Cartagena; on the other hand it feels quite similar to the other capitals we have visited in South America. If we would have been staying in a nicer hostel in a nicer part of the city I guess we would also have had a quite different first impression of the city.

We originally headed for Colombia as so many people we met were praising the country. We both liked Colombia a lot, the people seemed happier, we finally found warmer weather and water and it felt more developed than its neighbors Peru and Ecuador. Before coming here we tried to ask a lot of people praising the country why Colombia is so great, nobody was really able to put their finger on it, and I’m not sure we are either. We have however enjoyed our time here, and are really happy we came. Colombia has this far been the country where our image of the country has changed the most by visiting, from the dangerous drug country to the friendly and progressive country it is!

Additional photos below
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Bogota - the palace of justiceBogota - the palace of justice
Bogota - the palace of justice

In 1985 a guerilla group attacked and sieged this building. The army responded by tanks shooting the house to pieces and in the end over 100 persons were killed.

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