Driving into Bogota is definitely not for those asleep at the wheel. As we approached the city of 13 million people, the smog seemed to hang over it like a curtain. Motorcycles were zig zagging around cars, which were swerving around trucks and everyone was honking to make themselves heard through the hazy confusion.
We knew we wanted to be in the Candelaria neighborhood. This funky, young and hip neighborhood appealed to us the second we saw it. Finding a secure parking spot for the three days we’d be there was very challenging because of vehicle height restrictions. We found a sweet couple, who were very excited to have our white space ship parked in their lot.
We walked around for at least an hour trying to find a place to stay. The sidewalks in Bogota, with their random large and deep holes, would make an american personal injury attorney very happy. The hostels were dingy, some smelled like incense to mask the stink, some had severely leaky roofs, dripping onto the computer area and beds. We finally found one that suited our needs and we settled in and decompressed.
We took a long cab ride which only cost us 2 dollars and ended up at a Taperia, where the boys had their first taste of a true tapas bar. They dove into the patatas bravas and tortilla de patatas. The live flamenco was hard to beat and brought about slow wine drinking and snacking as the kids slept on our laps.
We spent some much needed time getting haircuts, buying new shoes, and eating pastries.
We climbed up to Monserrate, the 10,341 foot mountain that looks down onto the city of Bogota. Once at the top, we had a view of the city, which spanned as far as the smog allowed.
To keep our children happy, we took the Funicular back down. I always thought of funicular as some sort of weird intestinal growth, but here, it’s a rail cable car that’s meant to travel up and down mountains.
We walked many kilometers to the centro to Author’s bookstore, a two story english bookstore. Here, we bought one of two copies of Lonely Planet’s Ecuador book. Somehow, we overlooked this one before we left. We were surprisingly happy to have found it but nearly fell over at the $45.00 gringo price tag.
Like the other few places in Colombia that we assumed wouldn’t be our favorite, Bogota pulled us into it’s urban charm. Despite its’ poor air quality, Colombia’s capital left us looking forward to the idea of returning some day.