The big smoke

Trip Start Mar 31, 2008
Trip End Jul 04, 2008

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Where I stayed

Flag of Colombia  , Bogota,
Monday, April 28, 2008

Our bus ride to the outskirts of Bogota was relatively quick as we headed through the countryside around Villa de Leyva and then joined the main road to the capital. The slow bit was getting through the traffic from the outskirts of the city to the bus station. In the end our bus driver gave up and while we were at a standstill, he negotiated with the bus in front of us to take all the passenger including us to the station. This was all a bit bizarre and it took us a while to figure out what was going on, but we eventually swapped busses and arrived at the bus station. We were a bit shocked but the bus station even had a ticket office for the taxi rank to make sure you didnīt get ripped off by the taxi driver. Not a bad system when you donīt have taxi meters and a great system when the ticket guy knows where your Hostal is and can give instructions to your taxi driver.

We eventually arrived at our Hostal on Saturday evening in time to have something to eat, get freshened up and then get to know some of our fellow travellers. The plan was to have a night out in Bogota, which involved grabing some taxis and heading to a nearby suburb called Zona Rosa. Unfortunately the bar we wanted to go to was closed for a private function, so we ended up going to a dance club called Cha Cha on the 40th floor of an apartment building. It wasnīt exactly the South American experience we were expecting, but the Argentinian DJ was good and the chillout rooms had cool swing chairs and great views of the city. We strutted our stuff, felt very tall next to all the locals and then headed home for a well earned sleep.

Over the next few days, the highlights included joining in on a cycle/walk through the city, checking out the Boltero museum featuring lots of paintings and sculptures of fat people and fruit, visiting a couple of churches and the Police Museum (which had an impressive collection of guns) and taking the cable car up the hill to check out the view.

The lows included our friend Sheila (who travelled with us from San Gil) getting mugged for her camera on Sunday afternoon and needing stitches on one wrist and a cast for a broken finger on the other, Nev getting spat for no apparent reason while walking in the center of the city, and heraing someone getting shot after robbing the shop around the corner from our hostal half an hour after we were there.

So despite some interesting sights, our time in Bogota would have to go down as one of the lowlights of our trip so far. Despite realising that bad stuff happens in most big cities in the world, we certainly didnīt feel very safe there and didnīt come away with a good impression of Bogota.  To be honest, we couldnīt get on our plane to Quito in Ecuador fast enough. But thatīs next weeks story.
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