Monserrate

Bogota Travel Blog

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Today was another sight-seeing day.

We caught the Transmilenio into town (did I mention this is quite an experience for a humble New Zealander who usually gets to sit down on the local bus?), got waylaid as usual by some local stores selling illegal movies and electronic goods, jumped on and off a few buses (fortunately the Transmilenio system is such that you only have to pay once and can travel all over the city) and finally walked up the last stretch of foothill to catch the gondola-type car up to the top of the mountain.  For those of you who have been to Queenstown, think of the gondola you can catch to the top of the hill there (except there you can luge back down).  Of course you can walk up (it apparently takes about 1.5 hours and it is steps all the way) but because we went during the week there weren´t that many people around and it is apparently a little unsafe to walk when there are less people (too isolated, target for thieves, etc.).

The view is spectacular, in spite of the fact that half of Bogota disappears into smog.  The cathedral at the top is amazing (there was a mass on when we got there) and we viewed the famous statue that apparently cried tears of blood a couple of years ago.  On Sundays apparently the cathedral is packed with supplicants who climb the stairs to the statue on their knees, praying for miracles.  The walls on the outside of one side of the cathedral are crammed with plaques giving thanks to God for the miracles that have been received.

Outside, the cathedral and surrounding buildings are beautiful, surrounded by picturesque gardens, and there is a stunning view of a huge white statue of Christ on the next mountain.  You can take a short walk which leads you past a series of statues depicting the betrayal of Christ, his crucifixion and eventually being taken down from the cross by his faithful followers.

Because this is Colombia, after all, there is a section of the grounds given over to vendors of souvenirs, knick knacks and various Colombia paraphernalia.  Unless you specifically want a souvenir emblazoned with the word "Monserrate", you can find the majority of the same things in the city for a third of the price.

After catching the gondola back down, we visited the house of Simon Bolivar.  These are quite large grounds in the eastern part of the city that actually belonged to the historical figure and everything in the house is apparently authentic and original.  Interestingly, the baths were quite a hike from teh house (maybe that´s why they didn´t bathe much!) through some very pretty gardens with cobbled stone paths.

Then it was a dash back to the house via Transmilenio again to make the last arrangements for the wedding the next day and get ready for the hen´s party.  We had originally planned to take Lucila to the north part of the city for a nice wine or drink in a restaurant but Lucila had come down with the flu (sucky before the wedding) and in the end we ordered in pizza, bought some wine and played some games with the muchachos (the boys) who had gone out and played some pool but came back before too late.  I ate my leftover lasagna from the night before (this ended up being a mistake).

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Bogota
photo by: caliphil007