Love affair with everywhere: bogota

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Thursday, July 25, 2013

When talking about Colombia, I have really only heard two things:  1. It is an unsafe, crime-ridden drug capital or 2. once you go, you may fall in love. While extreme opposites, #1 is likely the perception of someone who has never been, and #2 the experience of someone who has. 

I honestly had no idea what to expect, so as usual, arrived without any at all. I now find myself in the category of someone who has been, even if for only 48 hours, and someone who is already on my way to falling in love. Just need to come back for a little longer to be completely enamored (I was left in awe, but I don't fall in love so easily). 

I was coming to Bogota for the purpose of meeting customers and presenting an award on behalf of my company. I only had a little time, but in that time, I experienced the beautiful, culturally rich, friendly, safe Bogota that the locals are so proud of. This is one of the friendliest places I have been. The people of Colombia are so proud of their country and everyone was incredibly friendly. Here it is quite common to say "Buenas" with a smile to complete strangers on the street! 

As mentioned, I was only here for two days, but in those days I think I tried every 'specialty' of the country. I do enjoy eating and trying new things, but my appetite is not particularly large. I ate more in two days, than I normally do in a week! 

That said, our first lunch was at Andres Carne de Res, a very famous restaurant in Bogota. I don't eat beef or pork, so I couldn't eat the most famous dish, but everything we ordered was delicious and I give them an A++ for presentation. The menu is extensive and we didn't know where to start, so we left it with our server to make some recommendations for sharing (para compartir). The arepas and yuca were particularly tasty. Colombian foods seem to contain a lot of wheats and potatoes. Colombia also has wonderfully delicious local fruit, many of which are not available in the States. I ordered jugo de maracuya (passion fruit), which was served in a 'totumo'. It was so big I thought it was soup! The totumo is made from a gourd, and used in villages in Colombia and Venezuela for cooking, it can hold liquids with no issue. Of course, I loved it, so I asked the server if I could have it (just add it to the bill). So many of my 'souvenirs' are acquired this way. I prefer it to the airport gift shop; offers a good story as well. 

As a coffee addict, I loved being able to drink real Colombian coffee...in Colombia. So good. I was thrilled that there is no Starbucks, and particularly enjoyed cafe 'tinto' (local brew, black) stops at Juan Valdez Cafes! For snacks, they ordered pan de yuca and banuelos, basically fried cheese balls, so yum. 

For dinner, we went to Harry Sasson, a beautiful, traditional style old house converted into a restuarant with a modern architectural style bar add-on. This is one of the higher end establishments in Bogota. Very packed and very good. We had a number of dishes, again to share. Great wine list, delicious food, impeccable service. Mr. Harry himself even came by to say hello! This is a great venue for a night out with friends, a date or entertaining clients. 

Thursday was such a treat! I had mentioned the day before that if we have time between meetings and our dinner, that I would love to see Bogota from Monserrate (I read about it before I left). I knew it was a longshot due to time, but threw it out there. We didn't have any time on the Wednesday, but my gracious hosts 'surprised' me and changed our lunch plans for Thursday to a restaurant at the top of Cerro de Monserrate!!! 

From here, you can see just how massive Bogota, a city of 8 million, actually is. To get there, you can hike, or more easily take the teleferico (funicular) to the top in a few minutes (if I were on holiday, I would hike, here, I was in business clothes and heels, not to mention our timeframe, so we took the cable car). It was truly spectacular. Bogota from the ground is beautiful, but from here, just breathtaking. We dined at one of the few restaurants at the top, San Isidro, a beautiful Spanish style house. The day was a bit chilly, so we started with 'vino caliente' (hot red wine similar to mulled wine--my obsession in the winter) and some starters. For my actual meal, I went with the Colombian menu and ordered the Ajiaco (a Colombian potato soup made with chicken, corn on the cob, some local herbs and three styles of potatoes). This, I am told, is the most representative dish of Bogota. It was very good, but so heavy! Then they informed me it is seen as a full meal in typical Colombian households. 

From there, we went to the Church dedicated to 'El Senor Caido' (fallen lord) that sits at the top of the mountain. You can see the Church from most places in Bogota and is beautifully lit by night. It really was such a wonderful surprise and I am so thankful for having had the chance to visit. 

Another lovely evening with some customers and that was the end of this visit

As said, this was such a quick stop, but enough to see a bit of this beautiful city. I have been invited back and look forward to returning for longer, on holiday to see more of Bogota, but also the rest of this country, which I hear is even more beautiful than I can imagine. I was pleased to hear locals talk about their government and how it has and continues to work to change the image of the 'unsafe drug capital.' It was nice to hear people compliment their government for a change! 

Thank you, Bogota, for this wonderful experience. Nos vemos muy pronto! 
 
local links:
Andres D.C. http://www.andrescarnederes.com/es/andres_dc 
Harry Sasson http://www.harrysasson.com/
Restaurante San Isidro http://www.restaurantecasasanisidro.com/
Cerro de Monserrate http://www.cerromonserrate.com/

social media:
facebook: www.facebook.com/loveaffairwitheverywhere 
instagram: @loveaffairwitheverywhere
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