Our final stop in our Colombian adventure was Bogotá, the capitol which could also be known as hipsterville, as the city is lined with amazing street art, too-cool-for-school kids and in general pretty hip people. We were told ahead that we shouldn’t spend too much time here, so we decided to do Bogotá in 2 hectic days.
We skipped the 10-hour busride from Salento to Bogotá, buying a supercheap flight (ca $50) from nearby Armenia (about 1 hour from Salento). A short taxi-ride took us from the Bogotá airport to Candelaria, an older neighborhood in Bogotá and the main tourist area. We had booked at Hostal Sue Candelaria, and turns out our booking led us to a really nice, modern apartment nearby with a room more similar to an expensive hotel than the inexpensive hostal we thought we booked – a good start!
The day got even better as we went to dinner at T-bone Candelaria Steak House – where we got delicious beef with Chilean red wine. Such a treat, albeit expensive. In general the Candelaria area has a lot of tasty restaurants and bars, so we knew we had come to the right place!
The next day we booked a bike tour with Mike at Bogota Bike Tours, after hearing about it from Isabell, whom we met in Cuba. We were just three tourists on the tour, which was really nice. Mike is an American who has lived in Colombia for 8 years, he had a lot of knowledge about Bogotá and we enjoyed riding around looking at the town, from the touristy Plaza de Bolivar to the gritty red-light district. One of the things that really stood out was all the great graffiti art all over town. Tuva found a few pieces that she wished were available as prints – they would look really good as art at home. Other highlights were visiting the coffee factory (which we could smell a long way) and trying various exotic fruits at the market. We ended the day at Bogota Beer Company, which had some really nice home-brew.
Our other day we started with a trip on the funicular from the city (2962 m) to Monserrate (3152 m). The hill of Monserrate gives a great view of the city spreading out, at least in the morning before the heavy clouds cover the top. There were a lot of school kids on a field trip up there who thought we were really cool/weird and wanted to take pictures with us or talk to us. It was almost like we were celebreties :)
We also visited the Museo de Oro, the gold museum, which really has A LOT of gold on display. Worth seeing, but we didn’t spend too much time here. Same with the Botero museum and the Coin museum. The two latter are actually free so it was an easy decision to just pop in and look around. The Coin museum had a short English text on most of the displays, which was a nice surprise.
We finished our two days in Bogotá at a cooking class with a sweet lady, who was also the landlady of Mike from the bike tours. We learned how to make the traditional Aijaco soup (potato soup) and Lulo juice with A LOT of sugar. It also gave us a view of the life of a normal Bogotian (just made that up) and how the whole family lives under the same roof.
All in all we felt we got a really good look at the city in the two days through the bike tour, trip to Monserrate and various museums. We even got a little peek into ordinary Bogotá life with our cooking class. Although worth a visit, we wouldn’t recommend spending too much time in Bogotá as there are so many other places to see and experience in Colombia.
The Papaya Rule
Coming to Bogotá (and Colombia in general) as very touristy looking tourists (ref. blond hair, travel clothes, big-ass camera) we were a bit wary of the harsh rumor the city has with regards to theft. We even got warned on the T-Bone restaurant by the waiter to keep our valuables close and out of sight. This is partly because of the “Papaya rule” that exist in Colombia (and we’ve also heard Ecuador and Peru), which has two parts:
- Don’t give papaya (No dar papaya)
- If papaya is served, you eat it
Papaya basically means any valuable that is easy to steal, so in other words: don’t walk around with valuables that are easy to steal, because if it gets stolen, it’s your own fault. It must be said that we didn’t feel that Bogotá was as bad as its rumor and we luckily didn’t have any bad experiences.
More photos from Bogotá and the rest of our travels in Colombia can be found here.