Traveling to Bogota, I stayed for only 24 hours before catching a flight to Panama. As always, I didn’t know what to expect or what to do; but I had friends who I had met before in Medellin. If you ask yourself whether to travel to Bogota or not, here you will find the answer…
The way other Colombians see Bogota and my observations
The next stop on my travel adventure around the world was Colombia’s capital, Bogota. Bogota is a less attractive city, with Colombian’s trying to be different and most of them working for the government. Thinking they are better than others, Columbians see themselves as western Europeans.
Good things that happened
Prominent neighborhood — La Candeleria in Bogota
This area is touristy but very central and full of hostels.
Where to stay in Bogota ?
This time, I just took the first hostel I came across — Explora Hostel in the well-known neighborhood La Candeleria. I had received a message from my Philippine friends, Mark and Camile.
Park Parque de Los periodistas
The park of the journalist was the spot where I reunited with my Philippine friends before heading up to Mount Monserrate on the cable car.
Going up to Mount Monserrate in Bogota
At the park, I met Mark and Camile and a German girl, Sina. It was so awesome to reunite with them after I meeting them a couple of weeks before in Medellin. In the park, everybody tried to sell stuff. Today, the plan was to go up the cable train to the viewpoint of Mount Monserrate (ca. 7 USD), and so I joined them. I actually had problems breathing here in Bogota, and I found out that we were quite high compared to Cali. If I had known we would have to walk so far, I think I probably wouldn’t have gone because I was just tired; but in the end I was happy that I went with them. Hehe.
Apparently beware !
On the way, some locals kept warning us to be careful with our cameras. On top was a church and the setup was pretty nice. From the top you could see the Statue of Christ. The whole landscape and the biodiversity up there was pretty nice with birds and incredible views of Bogota city. Nothing happened, but I found it funny that the locals were more scared than us. The reason is probably because they know their city.
Street graffiti in Bogotá
We headed back to La Candeleria, where we spotted a lot of cool street graffiti, the reason why Bogota is well-known. Apart from that, it’s the capital city of Colombia. They also offer graffiti tours– just ask at the hostel. I didn’t do it. On our own, we spotted some great arty graffiti.
Reunion with my great friends selfie
Great night, good stories, and I will miss these two !
Another place that I didn’t have time for:
Bullring Santa Maria
The bad things that happened
The weather in Bogota was definitely colder than Medellin and Cali forcing me to put on more layers; plus I found it harder to breath there because it was located 2,640 m above sea level. I could definitely feel the difference and I didn’t like it.
Didn’t feel safe on the streets
The streets can be very crowded as a lot of things are happening. Mark and I then waited at the Plaza de Bolivar square, looking for Camile and Sina, but since we hadn’t agreed on a certain time to meet and they didn’t turn up after 30 minutes, we headed to the apartment where Mark and Camile were staying. I felt the square itself I was crazy with people trying to sell cocaine so obviously, but a block down you could see a random guy getting checked by the police. On the way there, Mark and I had to walk through some pretty dodgy streets – crowded, loud and messy. Anything could happen and nobody would notice it.
Strange things happen at the airport – watch out !
We arrived in Bogota after a smooth one-hour flight and it already seemed too late to go to town because I could only take a taxi since there was no more public transportation. So, I just sat down in the luggage pick up hall, where it was freezing cold and where I met Daniella. She told me that she was from Cali on her way to Rosario in Argentina to see the university. I said that was crazy because she had another flight to Lima, Peru and from there she would probably sit on a bus for three days before arriving. We then went for a late night snack and headed to the food stores, but everything was closed and we had to go back.
We just got some food when this weird Colombian looking guy – speaking with this American LA accent – spoke to me but first tried really hard to get my attention. We were eating when the guy started talking to me again and told me a story about how he got robbed in Cartagena and he doesn’t have any money to sleep in a hotel, and first asked me if he could use my phone to call the American embassy.
Unfortunately for him, my iPod died and I couldn’t offer him to use but then he wanted us help him with some money – me and Daniella. It was so strange. I said that I have to talk to her because she didn’t speak any English. I said we are going back upstairs because the situation didn’t seem right, and I walked passed him and said sorry – I think it was all acted. We went upstairs, moved some chairs together and slept until morning.
Where to dance salsa in Bogotá
After a delicious dinner, we decided to try the salsa course at Casa Quiebra Canto, for only C$10,000 (ca. 3,50 USD) but it wasn’t great, nothing compared to salsa in Cali. The way the teacher tried to teach us was not cool and not a good vibe. After Cali, Bogota is was a failure. Another salsa bar that is apparently good though is called: Pachanga y Pochola, so go and check it out. We headed back to their apartment, where we chilled and then I took a taxi to my place.
BEWARE: Received a false C$50,000 note from the taxi driver
Last night, I got back pretty late and still had to pack and organize several things, but luckily I woke up early at 6:00am. I caught a taxi to the airport and on my way I was organizing the remaining money I had to pay for it. I got out a C$50,000 (ca. 17,50 USD) note and thought it must be a false. Once we got to the airport, I pretended to know it was a fake and gave it to him and had already left the car when he said it was false. Well, that was annoying because I didn’t have much time and had to find an ATM, organize some tax back and make my flight. But before all this happened I have to tell you how I got this false C$50,000 note.
It happened last night when I caught a taxi from my friend’s apartment to go back to the hostel. It was already late, dark, and I never thought this could happen to me on my last night. So I had to pay the cab driver and gave him my C$50,000 note because he said fine, so meanwhile he was pretending to look for change, he swapped the note with a fake one knowing I wouldn’t notice. So I paid with a C$20,000 (ca. 7 USD) instead. Not only did I lose the C$50,000 but I even paid more for the ride. At the moment of realization while we were still on our way to the airport, I was pretty annoyed but I couldn’t change the situation, so I keep calm.
I TRAVEL FOREVER’s VIEW & RECOMMENDATION
In my opinion, there is not much to do in Bogota and therefore I would skip it unless you have to catch a flight – like me – then go and do the things listed above; but I wouldn’t spend more than one day. Luckily, I had my friends there to catch up and I really enjoyed the time with them. What’s there to do in Bogota really didn’t impress me.
Before you leave Colombia: Don’t forget to get your tax back
How do you get Colombian Departure Tax return at Bogota Airport? Before leaving Colombia, I realized that other travelers went to the departure tax area for the airfare back (when you book your flight in Colombia to leave the country you are eligible). I unexpectedly got C$70,000 (ca. 25 USD) back. Read my article about how to get the departure tax back when leaving Colombia. Many travelers don’t know about it and so don’t get money back. Mention something like its not ideal if you leaving a country but just change with people in Panama because everyone comes to Colombia…
It was not the best way to end my trip to Colombia, but things like that can happen. After all that happened, I had a whole row to myself – winner.
Next stop: Panama.