Night Fever (Big Bad Bogota mix)

Trip Start Aug 03, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Friday, December 2, 2011

The flight from Pereira to Bogota took less than an hour and despite a few hiccups at the airport (my original flight was delayed but I was able to get on the previous flight which was also delayed) I soon found myself gathering my rucksack from the carousel and heading through to domestic arrivals where the welcoming party, Nicky, was stood. I was whisked out into the carpark where the car and bodguard were waiting.

Bodyguards in Bogota are, I have learnt, locally known by the practical acronym "BG's" - "BeeGees" is of course far more appropriate in light of their 1978 hit "Staying Alive". It has simplified matters however in that I can refer to them as either Barry, Robin or Maurice. Once esconced in Nicky's apartment, I made the most of having a washing machine available to me and for the first time since leaving Managua I had the full choice of my extensive wardrobe available - although my cheap t-shirts appear to be shrinking at a rapid rate and when I get home I am convinced I will have a bag full of crop tops.

That night I headed out with NIcky and some of her friends from work to the "it" place in Bogota where the young (okay not all), beautiful (definitely not all) and well to do (difficult to say really) of Bogota society go to party. I had been warned that the mojitos were potent but after a night of training in Cartagena, I felt up for the challenge - I was of course wrong. With 4 floors and a Friday night crowd the evening was, to say the least, hectic and I enjoyed some excellent food, drink and bringing my trademark dancing style to the people of Bogota.

The following day, Nicky and I headed to La Candalaria, the oldest part of Bogota consisting of narrow cobbled streets and old buildings including the main square, Plaza Bolivar and an array of museums (including the National Police Museum which contains some rather macabre images and memorabilia related to Pablo Escobar.

After a visit to La Macarena (nothing to do with the dance) we returned home and shortly afterwards I established, through the medium of social networking, (it's not just the Arab Spring that uses it effectively!) that over half of the Impetus and Casaopeia crowd were in town - plans were made to reconvene the following day in La Candalaria

That night I was "subjected" to the harrowing experience of a 20 course taster meal with accompanying 9 glasses of wine - let's just say the experience was "interesting", offering up such delights as having warm chocolate drizzled over your hands, chocolate consumed within a cloud of flavoured dry ice and lots of small elegantly presented dishes (with delicious vino flowing throughout).

Sunday came and after a somewhat difficult exchange via facebook and Blackberry Messenger a venue was finally set for a get together, the BBC (that's Bogota Beer Company) in their Candalaria branch. I headed over with Nicky, Florian and his American friend Andy to the Cranky Croc Hostel where we met up with CatalAna, Pepe, Francisco, Jay and Ben from the boat along with Maia (from Argentina) and a host of other Chilenos before heading to the BBC. With a veritable UN sat around the table a fabulous afternoon was had catching up on adventures since Cartagena. Perhaps the most bizarre thing was seeing Captain Aragon in the hostel (he later joined us for a glass of wine - I think his appearing in Bogota must be to do with some psychological need to escape the ocean!).

I opted to spend the following day doing nothing whatsoever (some would argue that is the story of the last four months), exploiting having a house to laze in, rather than the usual (I know, I know that's a slightly misleading use of the word "usual") dorm or hostel common area. Marvelling at the gift of modern technology I again made arrangements for the following day to head up to Montserrate, the mountain overlooking Bogota, with Florian and Andy before meeting Maia and CatalAna for lunch.

Despite the impending rain the three of us managed to successfully climb (okay we took the funicular) to the top where initally we were presented with a cloud and drizzle covered vista. Fortunately, the weather improved and we were able to eventually enjoy some nice views over the vast sprawling metropolis of Bogota. We descended via the Swiss made cable car and walked down to La Candalaria where we enjoyed a great three course meal for 7000 pesos (a mere 3.30 - now that is value!). After lunch, on a cold, and unsurprisingly wet, afternoon we sought sanctuary in a small bar where to my surprise I was able to indulge in a warm and soothing glass of Gluwein (Cable cars and Gluwein - exactly where am I again!?!?) and also sampling the local Maize based brew known as Chicha - after which before grabbed a lift home with Los Chilenos in their RV (Recreational Vehicle for the European readers) which for some reason they had named "Majestic".

That night a further party ensued (you may be beginning to understand the second reason after the BeeGees this entry is entitled Night Fever) with the usual suspects and some new Colombian and Spanish additions.

Despite 6 days of rain, on the 7th day, I finally got to enjoy a fabulous day of sunshine in Bogota - Nicky, CatalAna and I headed out to the lake at Guatavita from where the legend of El Dorado originates (all very "Mysterious Cities of Gold" if you ask me).

My final few days in Bogota have been spent enjoying the build up to Christmas, both from the locals perspective and also that of the expats, shopping in the Corferias craft market (I won't tell you exactly what I purchased, but it is causing some logistical problems) and attending the occasional party (they do like 'em over here - and I maintained true Sprake form, falling asleep at not just one, but two, different parties on the same evening)

I was also lucky enough to grab a quick game of tennis at the Ambassadors residence (I'm grateful) and I also managed to squeeze in a spot of horse riding (The first time since my throat problem in Managua that I have been feeding a little hoarse).

My final note on Bogota is reserved for the International Airport a scene of chaos, carnage and disorder the likes of which will give one nightmares. Despite turning up to check in well over 2 hours ahead of the flight, I only just made it, through a combination of ticket, immigration and security queues, some onward ticket issues and of course reclaiming money (I still have no idea why, but I was actually paid to leave Colombia!)

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The ghost of Pablo Escobar on

I told you not to buy 10kg, this is why you have the logistical problem my little friend.

Mr Big on

The payment to leave is your courier little mule!!

mikesprake on

For clarification, the item causing me a logistical nightmare is a gigantic hand crafted wooden money box in the shape of an articulated lorry (that of course being extremely symbolic of Colombia) - why I bought it, I know not (but it is cool)


Mr Sprake, your lorry will resemble a colander by the time we have finished drilling it!

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