Bogota

Next stop was Bogota. I was very excited to see what the capital of my new favourite country would be like, and Bogota more than lived up to it’s reputation. I’ve found that people either love Medellin or Bogota (perhaps depending if you’re more up for a party or interested in culture…), and I definitely preferred the capital. I obviously had a great time in Medellin, but the city itself didn’t have anywhere near as much to offer as Bogota.

I crammed as much into my four days as possible. On my first afternoon, I visited the Botero museum, which was absolutely fantastic. I already knew from Medellin and Cali that I liked the sculptor’s work, but it was great to see so many of his pieces together alongside other well-known artists.

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In the afternoon I went on a pretty rubbish free walking tour of the city. It was nice to explore La Candelaria a bit, but I felt I could have done a better walking tour myself using the triposo app. We tried some delicious coffee and chicha (a traditional lightly-alcoholic drink made of fermented corn), and went to watch some local workers play tejo, but our guide just spent most of the tour pointing out his friends’ restaurants and having a good time himself!

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The following morning I decided to hike up Montserrate hill to see the fantastic views of Bogota. Although I knew that the city was at a higher altitude than anywhere else I had been so far (and was not enjoying the cold temperatures!), I had not been expecting to feel so unfit during the climb. I had to stop every 200m to catch my breath, and my ears were really hurting by the time I finally reached the summit. The views were fantastic though, and I’m so pleased I walked up instead of getting the cable car. It was just very depressing seeing all the locals sprinting up the mountain so early in the morning, while I was huffing and puffing my way up the steps!!

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Of course, I had to visit the Gold Museum, one of Bogota’s main tourist attractions. It was fascinating to learn about the metalwork, and I was particularly excited to read about the indigenous culture of the Sierra Nevada mountains after my Lost City trek.

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A girl I’d met in Salento had raved about the Police Museum, so I thought I’d pay it a quick visit. However, I was rather disappointed – there wasn’t really much to see except Pablo Escobar’s motorbike…

I also went to the Museo Nacional, which was much more interesting. It was a great thing to do on my last afternoon in Colombia, rounding off all I’d learned about the country’s political, social and cultural history.

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A must-do when visiting Bogota is a trip out to Andres Carne del Res, a steak restaurant-cum-club 3 hours from the capital in a town called Chia. Fortunately I was staying in Bogota over the weekend, and so I was able to join in on the multi-hostel party bus expedition to the club on the Saturday night. You pay your £20 or so to be driven there and back and provided with unlimited free drinks on the bus. The drinks were disgusting and extremely strong, but you could pay around £15 for cocktails in the club, so we all made the most of the free drinks while we could. Unfortunately, this led to me needing the loo about an hour into the journey, which didn’t make or a very enjoyable experience…
Anyway…although we were there to party, the famous steak had to be tried. A lovely American-Colombian girl from my hostel ordered a massive platter of food and many jugs of sangria, and invited us all to share it. I have to say, it was perhaps the best steak I’ve had in months, and I spent 2 months in Argentina!!
It was a really fun night, although the people in my hostel were fairly odd. I’d expected slightly better from Bogota’s best backpackers’ hostel!

On my final morning, I attempted to join in the famous ‘ciclovia’, but without a bike. Bogota is famous for it’s modern bike system, and the main streets are all completely blocked off on a Sunday for people to cycle, walk or run down the streets at their will.

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I donned my iPod and went for a nice stroll up the main street, before heading to a delicious Aussie cafe for my final meal in Colombia. I figured that I’d had my fair share of local,
Colombian food in the past 6 weeks, and thought I could justify a delicious veggie burger in the trendy, cosmopolitan area of Colombia’s capital!

And that, my friends, was the end of my time in Colombia. Obviously my travels are not over yet, but I am guessing that Colombia will probably remains favourite South American country. I fell in love with almost every place I visited, and completely loved how varied all the different regions were/are. The people were almost always extremely friendly and fun, the food was more or less delicious (northern Colombian cuisine is still my favourite – all that fish and tropical fruit!) and the scenery was stunning.
I’m sure I’ll make it back at some point, and I really recommend devoting some time to exploring the country if you ever go to South America.

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Colombia is changing, and it’s really worth paying a visit.

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