Dodgy city? Nah, I loved it!

Bogota Travel Blog

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View across Plaza Bolivar

Bogota - what a great city.  I have been so pleasantly surprised over the last few days, that this awesome place will be possibly sneaking into the upper echelons of my all time favourite cities.  Although my time here has been relatively brief, Bogota has left an impression on me.  I came mindful of horror stories of danger, muggings and smog.  For me, only the last has really been true (although Will, staying at the hostel, said he got mugged for his Big Mac the other day).

It was kind of weird arriving in the city, as it starts about 25 miles from the centre, or so it seems....its an absolutely gigantic urban sprawl.  But you don't really notice yourself going up, but somehow this city sits at about 2600m - the altitude kind of creeps up on you!  I was travelling down with Eng, Abby and Rory and we went to stay at DN (Destino Nomada) hostel in La Calendaria, as Eng and Rory had stayed there before.

Iglesia de Monserrat
  The staff welcomed us in and took us to the dorm where an Aussie couple were still asleep (it was 3pm in the afternoon), so assumed some heavy nights generally take place here! We went out and grabbed some food - Bogota is a literal feast, food places everywhere and being near the university, some great eats at tiny prices (always a bonus).  We had a quick stroll of the city and grabbed some supplies for later before crashing out at the hostel for the evening.

The next couple of days were filled with sightseeing, lots of eating and general chilling.  La Calendaria is the 470-year old centre of the city and is absolutely fantastic for just strolling.  The streets are busy (but not too packed) and there's plenty to keep the eyes occupied (of the human and architectural varieties) - I'm quickly coming to the conclusion that Colombia has the most beautiful women in the world and surroundings to match.

View over Bogota at sunset...unfortunately it was a hazy day!
  Plaza Bolivar is a huge space with gorgeous buildings all round, like the reconstructed Palacio de Justicia and the Capilla del Sagrario, but I also loved the tight winding streets around it and the mishmash of styles which give so much character.  Round every corner is something else to marvel at and museum buffs would have a field day here.  I only visited the Museo de Policia, which charts the history of the Colombian police force - great fun as its free and the guides are actual policemen who obviously know their stuff (and want to speak English).  Downstairs are some great rooms which are dedicated to the chase and capture of Pablo Escobar (of the Medellin drug cartel in 1980s/1990s), which the police are unbelievably proud of.
Better view when it got darker!
  The rather graphic and gruesome photos ensure you know exactly what went down back then!  But you also get to see plenty of the present day police on the streets - they are literally everywhere along with quite a few soldiers - you can either take it as reassuring that they're there for your safety, or that they must be there for a reason i.e. it really can be  dodgy!

We also went up the Teleferico (at the top is the Cerro de Monserrat church) to get a birds eye view of the city ($CP14,000/US$7/£4 return) - only then did I really get to grips with the awesome size of the city - it literally goes as far as the eye can see, crammed in by mountains on two sides.  I only saw the central area, but it would take you weeks to see the rest (although not sure you would want to go any further as it does get really dodgy in those areas!).  Walking around at night, there's loads of places to eat and grab a beer - a different vibe eminates from every corner, so take your choice!

If all Colombian cities are this good, I can't wait for next stop...Medellin!

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View across Plaza Bolivar
View across Plaza Bolivar
Iglesia de Monserrat
Iglesia de Monserrat
View over Bogota at sunset...unfor…
View over Bogota at sunset...unfo…
Better view when it got darker!
Better view when it got darker!
Bogota Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Cheap & tasty eats!
Sitio is located quite near the Universidad de la Salle and as such it offers great value food. I went there twice, once I had a mexican, chicken wit… read entire review
Bogota Hostels review
Small, friendly new place
I came to DN as it was recommended by a fellow traveller as one of the best hostels she'd stayed in, and I hadn't heard of any other good places to st… read entire review
photo by: caliphil007