Marg and Leigh's travels around the world

We are two retired women from New Zealand, busy travelling the world. Our quest is to experience other cultures before they are changed beyond recognition, and see endangered animals and environments before they disappear. We hope you like our blog and enjoy our exploits. We sure have had fun getting here.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Bogota (Colombia)

Our spacious hotel in Bogota
Leaving southern Colombia's wonderful archaeological sites, we flew north to the capital, Bogota, a huge city of over 8 million people.

After landing, we headed to our accommodation, Hotel Vilar América, located in the Chapinero suburb of Bogota.

We had a nice spacious room with a separate living and seating area to relax in. This worked well as we planned to stay around 5 nights.

Bogota's busy market area
We were soon heading out to sight-see, and got the metro bus into Bogota city centre. Unfortunately, we missed our get-off bus stop and ended up in a rather scruffy area of town.

We felt a little nervous as there was a lot of tagging and scruffy looking shops and it is known as a pickpocket area. But it was the market area and ok. 

We had to walk quite a long way back to the main centre though.

Santuario Nacional de Nuestra Señora del Carmen 
The historic centre of Bogota is known as La Candelaria and it has lots of wonderful colonial buildings, masses of churches, some attractive plazas, and many narrow interesting streets. We wandered around this area for ages. 

We stopped for lunch at an interesting restaurant and then wondered why it was so smoky inside. 

We then realised that the power had gone off and their ventilation system over the grill wasn't operating.

Bogota street
Power cuts are part of the Colombia government's plan to save energy in the face of a drought that has sapped their hydro electricity capacity. Eventually, the power came back on, the smoke cleared, and we had a delicious lunch before heading off to explore some more.

It was a fascinating place to wander around. There is lots of art graffiti promoted by the city (but unfortunately, some dreadful tagging too); and so many people absolutely everywhere. A very vibrant city.

Buzzy Bogota's Avenida Septima closed for art and leisure
We headed down to Avenida Septima, one of the main streets. It is turned into a pedestrian-only street every Friday and Sunday afternoon/evening, for art purposes.

It was being used as this when we were there, and it really buzzed.

There were people everywhere - performers, craft stalls, people playing chess, and street artists. Lots of fun noise and action. 

Chorro de Quevedo Plaza where Bogota was founded
We wandered and watched with great interest until we realised it was starting to get dark and we needed to find out way back to our hotel by public transport.

Entrances to the public metro system are not well sign posted and it took us quite a while to find out how to actually get on to our particular bus.

Eventually we did and had to force our way into a bus absolutely chock-full of homeward commuters.

Leigh's birthday bottle from Hotel
After being a sardine for a while, it thinned out and we found the right stop for our hotel in the dark - thank goodness!

Our area of Chapinero is an easy area to find good places to eat, and is known as the gastronomic area of Bogota. 

Leigh celebrated her birthday while we were in Bogota and our hotel gave her a lovely little bottle of red wine and a hand-made card...Nice!.

We had a meal out at a local Chapinero restaurant in a charming old building to continue the celebration.

We had been going to venture out to some day trips outside the city, but found we had plenty to keep us occupied in the city, and also, we needed a few 'do nothing' days.

We found Bogota a fascinating city to explore and relatively easy to get around. People were very friendly and we enjoyed our time there.

Chapinero trendy restaurant
We think it's quite a sophisticated city, with its great restaurant and coffee scene, modern shops, greenspaces, and pedestrian and cycle friendly paths.

It is also a city of contrasts with a mix of historic, art-deco and modern buildings. This all seem to work together giving it a charming and bohemian heart.

Interestingly, Bogota is supposed to be quite a dangerous city, but we felt safer here than we did in Quito, the capital of Ecuador.

Suddenly it was time to move on again and we headed to the airport to fly to our next stop. - Colombia’s coffee triangle.

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