Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bogota, Colombia

One fun fact about Bogota is that you cannot buy beer or liquor till 3pm Mon through Sat but 10am on Sunday’s at the market.

Bogota is the capital of Colombia high up in the Andes Mountains at about 8000 feet and is the largest city of Colombia. With the rich cultural life, beautiful architecture and a charm that swirls, along with the high altitude winds and clear blue skies. This is an energetic city with a great variety of activities from museums, the Cerro de Monserrate, Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira (just north of Bogota), flea markets, and old town of Candelaria where most attractions can be found that will transport you back to the 16th century.

Museo de Oro (Museum of Gold) This permanent exhibition that invites everyone to discover the history of gold and other metals that were used by pre-Hispanic societies who once lived in Colombia. The working of Metals, Cosmology and Symbolism, and Exploratorium are the main parts of the museum. All signage is in both Spanish and English for those of us that are still struggling to understand Spanish.

Supermeats, La Comida de Los Heroes, is a restaurant with Spiderman and other superhero’s as a theme. There is even a gigantic Spiderman reproduction hanging down from the ceiling, and comic wallpaper to add to the enjoyment of your meal. The main meal attraction is they have the best and juiciest meat. If you order the Mixta, you will get to sample several different kinds of meats, including Chiguiro (the meat of the Capybara a specialty of Colombia) not to mention the superhero size. You will not leave hungry it did run $18,000 pesos ($9US) but worth it.

 Bolivar Square started as a public market, then a square for public punishments, then became a beautiful main square of the capital surrounded by the most prestigious buildings of the city (The Justice Palace, the Primary Cathedral, Capilla del Sagrario, Capital National and the Lievano Palace).

Primary Cathedral of Bogota is the biggest cathedral of Colombia and one of the largest of South America, built between 1807 and 1823.

El Carmen Church honors one of the most popular Virgin Mary representations in the country, “La Virgen del Carmen”. It has a impressive and symbolic appearance with its red and white stripe effect that can be seen from quite a distance. In fact, that is what drew me to it from several blocks away. It was too intriguing for me to return another day to see. I had to make a detour. 

Jardin Botanico – Botanical Garden is the largest botanical garden in Colombia and well worth the visit. You should plan on spending most of the day mornings during the rainy season. My personal favorites were the health herbs, orchids, roses, and experimental sections. It is a exceptionally large park with easy walking pathways also stroller and wheelchair accessible. It has four public restrooms scattered about the park. It is just off the J6/K6 bus line at only 1400 pesos. Be sure to show your ID if over 60; I got in free, which saved me 2700 pesos.

Bogota Graffiti Tour  

This walking tour of Bogota’s Street Art features eight street artists but the city has many more. Be sure to bring a sun hat, umbrella, sturdy walking shoes and of course do not forget the camera. The tour guide is a street artist himself; Crisp has many stories to tell about the other artist and the history of Bogota’s street art. I did take Crisp advice and walk down 26th to see some more and was impressed. 

Personally I much prefer the street art to tagging/graffiti crap that is found in many of the cities of the United States. 

The Street Artist featured on this tour were Stinkfish (Bogota, Colombia), Shaday (Bogota, Colombia), Pez (Barcelona, Spain), DJ LU (Bogota, Colombia), Bastardilla (Bogota, Colombia), Toxicomano (Bogota, Colombia), Rodez (Bogota, Colombia),com/people/rodez, and CRISP (Sydney, Australia)


Salt Cathedral

Catedral de Sal de Zipaquira is a bit touristy but worth the trip. I took 2 buses to get there for 1400 peso, and 4000 peso each way and with my ID got in for half price. After having lunch, the total cost of my visit was less than 35,000.pesos. 

My tour guide spook English and Spanish, but the signs in the caverns were in both English and Spanish for everyone.  The tour took about two hours, and the guide left us at the bottom so we could shop, eat and take our time going back up. It was easy to find the way back out and we then had a chance for other photo opportunities without being rushed. 

The town has several nifty little restaurants and street food at remarkably affordable prices; my lunch ran 5000 pesos.




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