The Colombian Capital

Trip Start Apr 06, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Hotel El Dorado

Flag of Colombia  ,
Wednesday, September 15, 2010

19 hours later we stepped out into Bogota's main bus terminal, tired, disorientated, dehydrated and hungry - all the usual delights associated with spending a night on the bus. The city has an efficient public transport system consisting of hundreds of different coloured mini-buses continually ferrying people around, and we jumped aboard one destined for La Candelaria 10km away. At around 470 years old, the historic quarter of Bogota known as La Candelaria is the prettiest place to stay with loads of churches, museums, parks and plazas, a university and big student scene, and a cheap, bustling cafe in every other doorway. We checked out a few hostels in the area and not feeling the right vibe from them we opted instead for a quirky old hotel with wooden shuttered windows, a tiny balcony overlooking the busy street below, a big soft bed with about 4 heavy blankets on top (it's freezing at 2600m) and strangely enough, a stable door on the minuscule ensuite bathroom. That afternoon we wandered around wearing jeans and jumpers for the first time in months and paid our first visit to Juan Valdez (Colombia's answer to Starbucks) in the hope of warming up a bit and clearing our heads.

We spent the next day in Bogota on a sightseeing extravaganza, walking around the old town, past the cathedral and churches, and along the main shopping streets in a more modern part of the city which had an air of New York about them somehow. We topped it off with a trip up the Cerro de Monserrate - a huge mountain that overlooks the entire city with a white church perched at the summit. Thankfully our legs were saved the effort this time and we took the ride up on a glass paneled funicular railway - very steep and absolutely awesome views of the city. The church at the top was pretty and behind it were narrow streets filled with artisan stalls selling all sorts of souvenirs and dodgy looking chorizo sausages. We rode back down to La Candelaria on an old shaky cable car which was easily filled to capacity in our opinion. Having seen so much in a short space of time and feeling the need to get a move on a bit we decided to take another night bus to Popayan in the southern part of Colombia, and headed off towards the bus terminal late afternoon in preparation for another night on the road.
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