After over a month on Colombia’s hot and humid coastline, arriving in Bogotá, which sits in the mountains and is considerably cooler than Santa Marta, from where I was flying in, was a little shock to my system. I had heard mixed reviews about Bogotá – most travelers seemed to spend only a couple of days here before heading to more pleasant places, and stories of muggings and robberies made me feel a little uneasy at first. However, I was lucky enough to meet up with a travel buddy who’d spent quite some time in Bogotá and who knew the city well – including some great salsa bars and unassuming yet delicious vegetarian eateries.
I lost my preconceptions about Bogotá quickly, and after nearly a week here, I have to say that I don’t dislike the city at all, contrary to what I’d expected. A free walking tour through Bogota’s Spanish-colonial center, La Calendaria, including tidbits about life in Colombia, coffee culture, the history of Bogota and lots of interesting stories made it easier for me to understand the city, and a game of Tejo, during which you throw a metal puck at little paper triangles filled with gun powder, trying to cause a noisy explosion, plus a Chicha tasting (an indigenous fermented corn drink) were added bonuses of this tour. It me realize that this city was nowhere near as bad as some people had made it out to be.
Another thing Bogotá has going for it? Its thriving street art scene! As a huge fan of street art, I was blown away by the amount of murals all around town, and the talent of the local artists. And after my first taste of street art in Cartagena, I was excited to take another street art tour – this one much, much better than the one in Cartagena (which I’d also really enjoyed, just to show you how good this one was!) and I couldn’t put my camera down, that’s how much street art we got to see during the nearly 3-hour tour (which was also free, by the way).
While I preferred staying in the historic center, I made sure to base myself in another neighborhood as well to venture outside of La Candelaria. And so I treated myself to a weekend in Chapinero, a more upscale neighborhood with gourmet restaurants, bohemian bars and fancy hotels. El Chapinero is also home to Bogotá’s gay scene, with several bars, and El Theatron, the largest gay club in all of South America! I’ll tell you all about my adventures in Bogotá soon, but for now, I’ll keep exploring the city – I just extended my stay here, that’s how much I’ve been enjoying Colombia’s massive capital.