Following the journey of almost mythical proportions (which I promise I will stop banging on about), I made it to Bogotá.
Being the first city on the list, I had considered Bogotá to be more of a stopover visit. I only booked a place in the hostel for two nights as the plan was to make my way up to Cartagena on the coast for a bit of a holiday before starting the exploration proper.
I kind of regret this decision to move on so soon now.
Upon arriving at the airport, I was offered a taxi at a rate of 65,000 pesos (roughly £15). Luckily on the flight I managed to find some time to skim the guide book, like a good little explorer. I knew that I should be paying around 40,000 (a tenner) and I must not on pain of death, take a taxi that isn’t “authorised”.
The whole authorised/unauthorised taxi thing is one of those that you can take or leave. Having been here for a bit longer now I realise it isn’t such a big deal however I am speaking from the point of view of someone who hasn’t had any issues with taxis at all. Most drivers, authorised or not seem happy to have me in their car, pleased to help and keen to find out more about me and what brings me to their country. I would say this made me feel more at home but as those of you who know me can confirm, I generally don’t muster that sort of reaction from friends or family.
I stayed in La Candelaria district which I assumed to be the main constituent, area wise, of the city.
I spent the two days walking around the city using Bolívar Square as my central point of reference, soaking up anything that was on offer from the city and its inhabitants. I took a few pretty pictures, sat on the steps outside a church and ate the bread from the supermarket that looked the most authentically Bogatanian.
My entire experience of the “ciudad” (that’s Spanish for city…) was beautifully quaint with the low rise buildings and largely untouched colonial era architecture with lovely street art smattered throughout.
With my flight booked to Cartagena for the next day I decided to make the trip up the Monserate, the church and sanctuary perched on top of the mountain overlooking the Bogotá plain. Staring back over the city from the funicular carriage, it began to dawn on me that the area I had explored up until that point and thought was the main centre of the city, was actually the relative size of a postage stamp on an elephant. Just to plug this a touch, it cost us roughly 20,000 COP which is about a fiver so well worth doing but I recommend doing it early in your stay as it will allow you to add a bit of geographical context to your wanderings.
Thinking we could explore a city of 11 million inhabitants within two days was a little bit of an oversight.
Weather wise, Bogota is pretty similar to the UK in May. Obviously this is subject to variance but the only difference I really noticed were the deeply ominous clouds that would slip in over the mountains from around 2 pm. Although they don’t always appear to be indicative of certain rainfall, when it does rain, it pours. I got caught on the walk from the supermarket to my hostel one afternoon and I was left feeling like Charlie Sheen from that scene in Platoon. (Not the Opium one. Don’t worry Mum.)
Next stop is Cartagena, It’s supposed to be hot and a tad touristy but we shall see.