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Published: June 22nd 2014
Tip Top HostelOur Arrival
The main door is on the right where the buzzer is located
We arrived into Bogota International Airport from Orlando Florida at 10pm.
At immigration we were asked our occupations and address we were staying in Bogota. 90 days was stamped in our passport. (Note - to board the plane in the USA we were asked for proof of our return flight from Colombia).
After immigration is the baggage claim and there was a casa de cambio where you could change money but no ATM's.
Next is customs and again we were asked for our address in Bogota.
Once through customs we were met by unofficial taxi drivers. We needed an ATM so went upstairs to departures where there were 4 ATM's in a row. Once we had some peso's we went back down to arrivals. We ignored the touts and went outside and lined up in the official taxi stand. There was a big queue but it went down quickly. We showed the taxi driver our hostel address and map where we were staying and got in. He used the meter. Cost at night from the airport to our hostel in Candelaria was COP$27,000. Where We Stayed
Tip Top Hostel -
COP$40,000 for a double room inc breakfast of a roll, eggs and coffee. Room price online was for a room with a shared bathroom but they put us in a room with private bathroom when we arrived however the hot water in our shower wasn't working. Wifi on all levels, kitchen and big TV in common area. Bed had a blanket and duvet so it wasn't cold. Door is kept locked so you have to ring a bell and wait to be let in which is good for safety. Good location in La Candelaria and can walk to all the main sights. What We Did
Walked around the historic centre looking at all the old buildings. When walking by the Presidential Palace you will have your bag searched before entry to the street. You are not allowed to walk on the pavement next to the palace where the guards are standing and can only walk on the road or the opposite pavement.
Visited the Military Museum - Calle 10 near Carrera 5. Free entry just show some ID (or a copy). Has a range of old-new weapons and uniforms and some planes and other military
Visited the Gold Museum - Calle 16 next to Partque Santander. COP$3,000 entrance. 4 floors of museum with English/Spanish signs. The bottom level is a temporary exhibit which changes, when we went it was about the indigenous people.
Went up Cerro De Monserrate - East along Avenue Jimenez/Carrera 2A, 15 mins walk from our hostel. We had read reports that it is dangerous to walk up due to risk of muggings so we decided to use their transport options. Cost is COP$8,200 per person, per way for either the cable car or funicular railway. When we went only the railway was operating when we went up and only the cable car on the way down. The hill is 3,200m above sea level and gives great views of the sprawling City. The prices go up after 5:30pm.
VISITED THE SALT CATHEDRAL IN ZIPAQUIRA
1. Catch the Transmilenio from the Museo del Oro stop which is a few minutes walk from our hostel. On the far side of the station is a ticket booth. Between 8:30-9:30am, 3:30-4:30pm and 7:30pm until close is off peak. We got there at 8:45am so paid the offpeak rate of COP$1,400.
Getting the funicular railway to the top of the hill
The fare is valid for anywhere on the route and simply gives you admission to the station. After paying you will receive a ticket (one ticket for all people). Put it into the barrier and walk through. The 2nd person needs to collect the ticket from the slot and put it again but this time the ticket will stay in the machine.
2. Get on the Transmilenio to Portal del Norte. The route is B74 and leaves from the end of the station on the left. The bus was due at 9am however there was an accident on the route so it actually arrived at 9:15am. It arrived in Portal del Norte (the last stop) at 10:10am.
3. Change to an Intermuncipal bus to Zipaquira. Get off the Transmilenio and walk right. Exit the station and the buses are right infront of you. There is a conductor calling out the destination. It only took us a couple of mins to transfer buses. You pay the fare on the bus to the conductor when he comes around. COP$4,300 each. The bus took about 35 mins to reach Zipaquira.
4. Get off the bus in the town when you
The view and elevation at the top
reach Calle 4, the bus travels down Avenue 15. This is the stop where most people from our bus got off. There is also a sign on the right hand side pointing to the Salt Cathedral and Historic Centre. Walk up calle 4 past the park and it turns into a pedestrian street. This then reaches the main plaza with the Cathedral. At the top of the plaza turn left down Carratera 7 and walk until you reach the end. In front of you is the Archiological Museum. Turn right up the hill and go through the arch next door. Follow the path to the Cathedral. Walk from the bus stop is about 30 mins to the ticket booth.
5. Tickets are to the right once you reach the top of the hill. The cheapest ticket is COP$23,000 which includes admission, a 3D movie, a light show and the reflecting mirror water. Inside you go pass the stations of the cross and down to the Cathedral. Wear shoes as the floor is quite slippery. The movie, light show and mirror water are by the souvenir stalls. The movie is good, the light show a bit random and the water
mirror is best viewed from the back. We spent about 2 hours inside.
6. The bus back leaves from Avenue 15 and Calle 4 (the opposite side of the road to where you were dropped off) by 'La Chispa Rola' chicken shop. We were there a couple of mins before a bus pulled over and the conductor rounded us up. Again pay on the bus COP$4,300 and it took 40 mins to Portal del Norte.
7. Catch the Transmileno back to Museo del Oro. The ticket booth is just on the right where the bus drops you off as it loops back around. This time it cost us COP$1,700. Go through the barriers to the station and the buses back are on the right. The route is J72. We just missed one but another came a few mins later. It took 50 mins but only dropped us at the Avenue Jimenez station which took everyone by surprise as it just stopped and looped around. It is not a long walk back to the centre from there though. Where We Ate
There is an Exito supermarket on Carrera 7 and Calle 11 next to the Plaza. There is also a smaller Olimpico supermarket on Avenue Jimenez.
At night there are street sellers serving arepas. We had a chicken and cheese one for COP$2,500. For some reason after cooking they smother one side in butter and lash on some salt so try and get one without that as it didn't taste very nice.
We also had some soup in a restaurant for COP$2,500.
As you exit the hostel, take a right and you will walk past some shops. There is a restaurant there where we had a nice hot soup on a cold night for COP$2,000. About Bogota
We visited in June and it was pretty cloudy with drizzle. You won't need a coat but will need a jumper and trousers. For periods the sun broke through in the afternoon meaning we could take off our jumper as a tshirt and sunglasses were sufficient.
The City is very high above sea level. We both really noticed it as we were out of breath and our hearts were pumping quickly simply from walking up a small hill or some stairs.
The old town is easy to walk around however the City is massive so you will need to get the bus to visit other areas which can take some time.
I believe it is safe to drink the tap water here. We did and were fine. Where We Went Next
We caught the bus to San Gil. To get to the bus terminal we took a taxi which took 25mins and cost COP$15,000, there are no transmileno buses that go there. Outside the terminal are clear signs to the different sections. We were going North so went to the red section 3. Inside there are a lot of ticket offices. The first we asked at quoted us COP$40,000. We asked for a discount but they said that was the price. We asked at a couple more windows and they all came down to COP$40,000 after asking for a discount. We decided to go with Copertran which left at 8am.
To the left of the ticket windows (as you are facing them) is the waiting room. Go through there and there are more ticket windows for the same companies. Go up to the window, show your ticket and go on the bus. You will get a bag ticket when you put your bag underneath. The bus was comfortable with lots of leg room and reclining seats. There were movies (in Spanish) and toilets at the back of the bus, separate male and female ones. Just before leaving an employee got on the bus and videoed everyone (I assume that this is a safety precaution).
The bus then stopped at Portal Del Norte at 8:45am. The office there is about 50m past the bus stops on the right near the walk over bridge.
We stopped for a half hour break around 1pm and arrived in San Gil at 3:20pm.
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