Finally I have reached the last day of my six weeks travelling! I came back to the UK at the beginning of February – about two and half months ago now – so I have definitely dragged this out! And already have some more adventures to share.
But for now we are still in Colombia. Mum and I wavered quite a bit in whether or not to go to Bogota at all. On the one hand, it’s the capital city and we were flying home from Bogota airport. On the other, we are not really big city people when on holiday (although I love actually living in one!). Eventually we decided to finish up our holiday by arriving in the city late on our last night and exploring it on our last morning.
We arrived from Barichara by driving to Bucaramanga airport, flying, and then getting a taxi from Bogota airport. It is cheap, quick and easy to fly, with numerous flights every day – by far the best way!
I had read up about Bogota and had learned that you didn’t really want to stay in the very centre as it is not that safe there overnight. There is a large police presence during the day but it disappears at night and so you are recommended not to walk around after dark. Most of the good restaurants and nightlife is in the north of the city (Zona G, Zona Rosa, Parque 93). However, we only had one morning and in that time we wanted to see the main sights. Bogota is a pretty big (huge) city and we didn’t want to waste time taxi-ing to/from the sites.
So at last minute I found us an affordable hotel right in the city centre on Booking.com. I chose the hotel because of its huge beds and because it had a rooftop terrace – we had a lovely idea of arriving and having a drink on the rooftop terrace overlooking the city skyline of Bogota.
It didn’t quite go to plan. It turned out our taxi driver didn’t really know where the hotel was. Its main entrance was on a pedestrian-only road and the taxi driver didn’t know about the car entrance, so dropped us off a short walk away. It was only 50m or so but even before we had opened the taxi doors, a rough-looking man was knocking on the doors, trying to open them and offering to carry our bags. We hurried out of our taxi as best we could and ignored his frequent requests for money until we were in the safety of the hotel. Whereupon we discovered that there was no rooftop bar, merely a terrace that could be opened for private use on special occasions. There went our evening plans! On the other hand, we each had a ginormous double bed with thick mattresses which was a complete treat.
I was slightly dispirited on going to bed – I hate being places where it is unsafe to walk around after dark even with other people, and nowhere else in Mexico, Guatemala or Colombia had felt like this. However, the next day dawned bright and sunny and I determined to give Bogota a chance.
We left our hotel and wandered through the streets to the gold museum. It was still early and the city was just waking up, but already we could see police officers all over the place – indeed, from our hotel room window I had watched them walking to work, laughing and joking sign each other – and the menacing feel of the night before had gone.
The gold museum was stunning and fascinating. We spent ages wandering around, looking at the exhibits and reading all the information. I was surprised at just how interested I was in the gold objects themselves, and fascinated by the history and rituals depicted. Definately worth a visit.
From there, we walked further through the town to the Botero museum. Gradually, the buildings changed from the grey modern buildings around the university, to brightly coloured small buildings on narrow streets, more reminiscent of the colonial architecture of Cartagena.
The Botero art gallery was amazing. For a start, it was free, which is always good. Second, it was huge! Much bigger than it seemed at first, narrow paths led to other courtyards with huge rooms with more art – from Colombian art and other Latin American art throughout the centuries, to European art including a Miró. And of course, so many of Botero’s painting and a few of his sculptures, many of which were donated to the gallery.
We wandered round, stopped for a coffee, then had another wander. Then we slowly meandered through the colourful streets of Bogota, admiring the incredible street art (if I’d had more time, I would have gone on a street art tour) and popping into any small shops that took our fancy.
Some research had led me to pick Saint Just for lunch – a Colombian / French restaurant. When we arrived it was already bustling and a friendly waitress with great English showed us to two seats at a high bar. We had a delicious meal and two glasses of French white wine – the perfect treat to end our holiday!