Tag Bolivar

Trip Start Aug 20, 2012
Trip End Jun 08, 2013

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Bogota has been nothing like I expected. I guess my expectations were set by the news headlines of the 80's and 90's about the drug wars. The city is a mixture of old and new, with many quiet squares hidden away in the side streets of the centre. The main square is a very odd mix, there is the old Spanish colonial building containing the Parliament, a French style side, the colonial church and lastly the modern supreme court. The supreme court was rebuilt after a botched army attempt to free hostages held there by guerrillas. Apparently the guerrillas were working for the drug lords, to eliminate evidence held inside.

This was one of many stories we heard from the local guide, on a walking tour. It was great to hear her insight into life and how much the drug trade had damaged their society. There is still a very significant army and police presence in the streets, but it doesn't feel threatening. The beggars being a bit in your face were more worrying. It seems that free speech is active now, not only is there a great deal of street art, but the local hooligans have been able to tag the Bolivar statue in front of Parliament!

Two great museums I visited in the city were the Museo del Oro, and the Donacion Botero. The Museo del Oro is full of all the gold objects the Spanish missed, and there are a lot. Seeing the exceptionally fine work done by the locals before the Spanish arrived, it is pure vandalism the Spanish melted it all down.

The Donacion Botero, is full of works by Botero, both his paintings and more of the sculptures I saw earlier in Columbia. He is keen on the fuller figure and all his work show people of large proportions, but with normal size eyes/mouth etc. Odd.

As with all of South America there are lots of very richly decorated churches. Having said this the Santuario Nacional Nuestra Senora Del Carmen was a pleasant surprise, when May and I stumbled upon it after lunch. The building both inside and outside is decorated red and white by the alternate layers of brick.

Bogota is a big, spread out city. There is a mountain that offers great views over Bogota, thankfully served by both a funicular railway and a cable car. Although only the cable car was working when I visited the top. Guess what there was another church up there...

Overall a very pleasant few days, I'm glad we decided to spend an extra day here.
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