Your Personal Guide to Bogota


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I put this guide together so you would come and visit us.

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  • Hi PJFynboh,

    What an amazing guide you put partner and I are heading down there in 8 sleeps and are so excited. We live on a small island, Salt Spring Island, located in British Columbia, Canada. We have done some travel separately and together, our last adventure was Bali. You have managed to answer many questions we had and gave us so many options during our time there. We originally were just going to fly into Bogota, spend two nights and head to our other planned destinations. After reading your guide we are thinking of coming back to Bogota earlier than planned and spend some extra time exploring Bogota and the surrounding area.
    Thanks for taking the time to provide others with an amazing insight into Bogota.

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Your Personal Guide to Bogota

  1. 1. Your Personal Guide to Bogota: Seriously...Come Seriously...Come & Visit Us. Catedral Primada & Plaza Simone Bolivar, Candelaria – Bogota: Paula Fynboh
  2. 2. Table of ContentsPurpose of Your Personal Guide to Bogota, Disclaimer and FAQ’s Page 2Travel Page 3 • Flights from the United States • Entering the Country • Getting around when you’re hereLodging Page 5 • Our place • VRBO’s (Vacation Rental By Owner) in our neighborhood • Hotels & HostelsThings to Do & See: Bogota Page 6 • Our “Top Twelve” List • Restaurants & Night lifeIn addition to Bogota... Page 12 • Day trips • Two to Four Days TripsSample Itineraries Page 14 • Bogota for Foodies • Bogota for Artists • Bogota like the Locals Do It • Kid-Friendly Bogota • Colonial ColombiaWhen to Visit & What to Bring Page 18 • Special events • Sample packing listBudgeting Page 20 • General costs • Exchange rateMore Resources that will Give You a Taste for Colombia Page 21 It:Don’t Take Our Word for It: Words & Advice from Our Recent Visitors Page 22 1
  3. 3. Bogota”Purpose of “Your Personal Guide to Bogota”Quite selfishly, my goals in creating this guide are three fold: 1) To get you excited about coming to Bogota; 2) To show you that Colombia is accessible and that coming to visit us is perfectly doable; and, 3) To have you come & visit us.Colombia is really an amazing country, but I don’t want to white wash it. Much like theUnited States (or anywhere for that matter), it is home to complex problems, but it is alsohome to many wonderful things.Most of the Colombians I’ve met are eager to help and anxious to challenge thestereotypes people have of their country. They get dismayed that there is not a travelarticle out there that doesn’t reference the problems of the past and I am always struck byhow curious Colombians are about our families and friends’ reactions to us moving here.They say, “Bring your family and friends here to see for themselves. Help change the waythe rest of the world sees us.”So with that in mind...when are you coming to visit???DisclaimerPlease note that this is not a comprehensive travel guide. In fact, it is not really a travelguide at all. Rather, this guide simply reflects our experiences living here to date & thingsthat we want to share with you. I hope it gives you an idea of what to expect & offerssome suggestions you won’t find elsewhere, but it is based simply on our opinion and ouropinion only.Also, I put this guide together after living in Bogota for only four months. There is still a lotout there that I have to see & experience. I will update this document as new discoveriesunfold.Just to Clear the Air – Answers to Our Most Commonly Asked Questions“Is Colombia safe?” Yes. Colombia has invested A LOT of time, energy & resources intosecurity and the security situation has greatly improved. This is not the Colombia of the‘80s & ‘90s.“Will I get kidnapped?” No. Please see above. 2
  4. 4. First of all, welcome to Bogota! We’re so glad you are coming to visit us! We can’t waitto show you around the city!TravelBogota is not a hard or difficult place to travel too. It’s a modern South American city,slightly bigger than Chicago, and just a three to four hour flight from US cities such asMiami, Atlanta & Houston. Bogota is surrounded by the lush green Andes Mountains andhas an elevation of 8,500 feet (Denver is about 5,000 feet). Colombia does notparticipate in day light savings, so depending on the time of year you choose to visit it willeither be Eastern Standard Time (October – April) or Central Standard Time (April –October). • Flights from the United States Most major US carriers fly to Bogota & most flights States. from the US will arrive from Atlanta, Houston, New York or Miami. In addition to checking with the major carriers and sites like Orbitz, also try Spirit Airlines as they have some good deals. Avianca is a good local airline that might be worth looking into as well. Avianca flies from Bogota to Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando, New York (JFK), San Francisco & Washington DC. Resources • Entering the Country. You do not need a VISA or any special documents, shots or Country. medications to enter the Country. Colombians love visitors and the chance to show you a side of Colombia that wasn’t in the headlines 10 to 15 years ago. All you need to enter Colombia is a current passport & an open mind. • Getting around when you’re here. Transportation within the Country is affordable here. and easy to access. There are a variety of options you can use while you’re here & they include local airlines (if you want to visit other Colombian cities), private drivers, car rental, taxi cabs, colectivos (public buses), the transmilenio (the closest thing to a subway system), and your own feet. Resources Internal flights to other Colombian cities (highly recommend 2 to 4 day visits include Cartagena, Cali & Medellin). A good regional flyer is Avianca Airlines, with services in English. A flight to one of these cities will generally run you about $100 - $150 US round trip. =EN&pais=CO&CheckPortada=SI 3
  5. 5. Private drivers. If you’d like to hire a private driver to help you see some of the sights they tend to run around $25/hour US. Robinson & I know of a couple reliable drivers and would be happy to put you in touch with them or make arrangements for you. Car rental. All the major US car rental companies have offices in Bogota: Hertz, Avis, you name it. The cost of renting a car in Colombia is generally comparable to that in the United States. However, due to the mountainous terrain, be aware that stick-shifts are the norm. Taxi cabs. Taxi cabs are very affordable in Bogota. A trip can cost anywhere between $4 & $12 US depending on the distance. When taking a taxi cab, it is best to have someone (your hotel, restaurant, us, etc) call for you versus hailing one in the street. Colectivos. Colectivos, or public buses, are a cheap and easy way to see the city. You will need to have a little understanding of the city before hopping on a colectivo, as there are no maps or schedules, but it is not impossible. We are always more than happy to help you out. And seriously, if I figured it out, anyone can. The cost of a colectivo ride? About $.70 US. If you’re lucky, a street artist (rapper, musician, juggler) will also hop on the bus & provide you with entertainment while you ride. Transmilenio. Due to funding shortfalls and the mountainous terrain of the city, Bogota was not able to build a subway system. The transmilenio, only a few years old, is Bogota’s answer to mass transit. The transmilenio is a double bus that travels specially designated lanes & can cover the city rather quickly. It’s also a good opportunity – along with the colectivo- to rub elbows with every day Bogotans & experience Colombian culture. The cost of a transmilenio ride is about $.90 US. For more information about the transmilenio, check out: Walking. Be prepared to do a fair amount of walking in Bogota. Traffic is a common problem and sometimes it’s just easier and quicker to walk.Transportation To & From the AirportA taxi ride from the airport to our house is about $25,000 Colombian pesos (about $10 - $15/US).Alternatively, we can also arrange a van to pick you up at the airport for $40,000 Colombian pesos(about $20/US).Either way, Robinson & I will plan to meet you at the airport when you arrive. If you’re lucky, we’lleven make a sign with your name on it ☺ 4
  6. 6. LodgingWhen it comes to lodging, you can find something in all price points in Bogota – from thesleeper sofa in our living room to a luxury hotel. Here are a few options: • Our place. We have a brand new, cute one bedroom apartment with a comfortable sleeper sofa in our living room and you are more than welcome to call it home. However, we understand that you might want more privacy and space than what we can offer. If that’s the case, check out the resources below. • VRBO’s (Vacation Rental by Owner) in our neighborhood. A good resource that we’ve used in the past is This site offers apartments for rent from anywhere from a day to a month and is often times more affordable and convenient than a hotel, plus you have the use of a kitchen. Alternatively, we’ve been in touch with a gentleman who manages a number of apartments that he rents out to visitors right in our neighborhood. He even has one in the same building where we live. A link to the apartments he manages is find something in our neighborhood, click on either the Santa Barbara or Unicentro link on the left hand side of the page. If you are interested in this option, it is best to act fast as the apartments fill up quickly. • Hotels. There are several higher-end boutique hotels in our neighborhood if you’re looking for luxury for either all, or a part of, your stay. Some options within walking distance to us include: 116 Hotel: The Hotel Santefe: Sonesta: There are also Radissons, Marriott’s, Embassy Suites and Holiday Inn’s here if you have hotel points that you want to burn. Check out Lonely Planet or Orbitz for additional hotel options and prices. As always, if you have questions on the location or neighborhood, we’re just a phone call or email away. • Hostels. Bogota also has a number of hostels if you’re looking to mingle more with other travelers while saving a buck. Honestly, I think the VRBO’s work out to around the same price per day and offer more comfort & privacy. However, it you’d like to try a hostel, Lonely Planet offers some good suggestions: 5
  7. 7. Things to Do & See in BogotaBogota, while maybe not the most aesthetically beautiful city in the world, is known for itsculture and night life. However, that’s not to say that the city is without its charm & thereis a little something for everybody here. You’ll find top notch restaurants praised by theNew York Times & Anthony Bourdain, progressive urban planning and transportationsolutions, historic buildings, colonial churches, parks, artists & a warm welcome.Bogotans are proud of their city, happy to host visitors, and anxious to dispel the negativestereotypes that have plagued their city and country for the last 20 years.Our Top Twelve List Here is our own personal top ten (okay, twelve) list of things to do & List.see during your visit:1. Monserrate. Monserrate Monserrate is located on top of a mountain peak overlooking Bogota & has the best views of the city. Visit day or night to get a bird’s eye view of Bogota. There is also a good French restaurant on the mountain if you’d like a romantic & memorable night overlooking the city lights of Bogota. For more info, check out: La Candelaria La Candelaria is the oldest neighborhood in Bogota & is considered Candelaria. the cultural center of the city. There is a lot to see in the Candelaria, but my personal favorites include: Plaza Simon Bolivar & views of the Cathedral The Puerta Falsa, an almost 200 year old coffee shop where you can get a cup of hot chocolate with cheese. Yes, you melt the piece of cheese in your hot chocolate, how great is that?!? The Museo Botero where you can see the paintings, sketchings & sculptures of Fernando Botero, Colombia’s most famous and iconic artists. In addition to Botero’s masterpieces, his private art collection is also on display & includes a couple of Picasso’s, Salvador Dali & one of my favorites, Max Beckmann. The Iglesia del Carmen, a church that looks like a wedding cake. The Plaza del Chorro, a historic little square in the Candelaria & also home to many artists, punk rockers & musicians who love to entertain when the sun starts to go down. Google images of La Candelaria: Museo Botero: botero 6
  8. 8. 3. Museo del Oro The Museo del Oro is Bogota’s world famous gold museum. You Oro. can see A LOT of gold here and get a good history lesson along the way. People rave about it, and it’s worth a visit, but I prefer the oversized art and more inviting atmosphere of the Museo Botero (see #2). Google images for the Museo del Oro: Usaquen Flea Market Usaquen is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Bogota. It is Market. a quaint little village with a number of good restaurants. It’s best to visit on a Sunday afternoon when the flea market is taking place and you can check out stall upon stall of jewelry, leather goods & handicrafts, as well as sample food from a variety of vendors (my favorite is the paella vendor) and watch street art performances such as jugglers and musicians. In addition to the flea market on Sundays, Usaquen also has a number of good restaurants and bars and makes a nice place to visit on the weekends. Some good places to check out include: Our personal favorite, Parrilla Patagonia, is an Argentinian style restaurant where the meat melts in your mouth. Some of my most memorable nights in Bogota have been spent in this restaurant. I highly recommend it. 80 Sillas has great ceviche and other offerings in a quaint, romantic setting. I had their beef carpaccio a couple of weeks ago and can’t stop thinking about it. Mediterrania is, you guessed it, a Mediterranean restaurant in an old hacienda setting – good food and very romantic. Arcanos Mayores is also really cute and really good. Good for a traditional meal or a creative cocktail at their bar. Video: The Ciclovia The ciclovia covers miles upon miles of urban roadways in Bogota & is Ciclovia. open every Sunday and Holiday (did you know Colombia has 17 national holidays?!? Lovin’ that!) You can stroll down the ciclovia on your way to the Usaquen Flea Market – see #4 above. Bogota’s ciclovia has served as a model for urban planning & recreation worldwide. Here’s a great you tube video about it: 7
  9. 9. 6. Parque Simon Bolivar & the Botanical Gardens. Parque Simon Bolivar is a huge Gardens. green park smack dab in the middle of Bogota. It has walking paths, greenery, an amusement park and occasional live music and concerts. The botanical gardens, right across the street, have lotus flowers the size of your head. It’s a visit that is definitely worth a part of your day. Only one transmilenio stop down from Parque Simone Bolivar is the Universidad la Nacional campus and it’s worth another hour or two of your time. La Nacional (or “la Nacho” as it is called) has a unique standing in Bogota as it is one of the best universities in Colombia and also a public university—a rare combination in a Country where the best schools are often privatized, and thusly, cost prohibitive for many Colombians. Walk around the campus and check out the stunning graffiti art, buy hand crafts or snacks from the multitude of independent student vendors (your purchase may just help cover their weekly budget) and hang out in the plaza de la revolucion. La Nacional is where I study Spanish & I feel like I’m 18 every time I walk on to the campus. If that’s not worth an hour of your time, I don’t know what is ☺7. Cuadra Picha. Unfortunately the Cuadra Picha has a bad reputation and a lot of Picha. Bogotans will tell you not to go here. It’s too bad as the Cuadra Picha is a fun, working class neighborhood that is worth experiencing. As long as you exercise common sense & maybe go with a local, you will have a great time and be able to experience a side of Bogota that the tourist books won’t tell you about. The Cuadra Picha is especially colorful on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon when families are out shopping or eating at one of the many good (and affordable) parrillas (Argentinian style restaurants) that line the street.8. The Zona Rosa The Zona Rosa was voted one of the top five neighborhoods in Rosa. South America and is home to some great boutiques, shopping, restaurants & a very vibrant party scene. Recommend dining options include Central, for what many people say is the best ceviche in the city, DiLucca for pizza and Andres Carne DC. Try the martinis at Pravda, but don’t let yourself have more than two – trust me on this one. You Tube video: Google images of the Zona Rosa: 8
  10. 10. Shopping Bogota has some good boutiques and shopping options that I am just starting to explore. There is a lot more out there than what I’ve discovered. Keep in mind I quit my day job and am not trying to tempt myself… at least quite yet. That being said, here are some accidental finds ☺… • Clothing: Clothing can run about the same price as in the states. If you’re looking for something no one in the States will have and don’t mind dropping some coin, try Bendita Seas, Olga Piedrahita & Renata Lozano – three interesting Colombian designers who have boutiques in the Zona Rosa. Ochosesenta is more affordable and also features all Colombian designers – also in the Zona Rosa. I like their boots & jewelry. • Leather: Colombia is known for their leather and you can find some interesting handbags and wallets at the Usaquen Flea Market. If you want something really special, go to Mu in the Zona Rosa. They have leather wallets, satchels and handbags in every size and color under the sun. It’s pretty dangerous. Another place to scope out is Taller Manuel del Cuero in the Macarena. Depending on the length of your visit, you can even enroll in a leather making workshop. I will do this someday! • Tapestries: Colombia also has beautiful hand woven tapestries. If you like this sort of thing, the best places are the artisan shops across from the Museo del Oro or Los Andes University in the Candelaria.9. The Zona G The Zona G is another good night spot. Come a little early to give G. yourself time to stroll down the shaded streets, then take your time eating or drinking in some really great restaurants & bars. In my opinion, the Zona G is a more sophisticated, less touristy version of the Zona Rosa. A few of my Zona G recommendations include: Harry’s Bar – a place to rub shoulders with Bogota’s rich & famous. Everyone here tells us that you have to go to Harry’s at least once in your lifetime. Kong, Buddha Garden and the rooftop terrace at La Familia are great places to grab a fancy (and spendy) cocktail. People rave about both Astrid & Gaston & Rafael Restaurante – two world class Peruvian restaurants that are among the best in the city. 9
  11. 11. 10. Macarena The Macarena neighborhood is a small, but charming bohemian party acarena. neighborhood. It’s a great place to visit for dinner, particularly la Tapas Macarena restaurant, a small but delicious tapas restaurant or Leo, Cocina, y Cava for innovative Colombian food. I’ll be honest, I haven’t eaten at Leo, Cocina y Cava yet, but people rave about the food. We went there for cocktails one night and their house martini was something pretty special. The décor is Chambers Hotel meets Scare Face, with equal awesomeness on both parts. It’s convenient to check out the Macarena after spending the day in the Candelaria (see # 2) or watching the sunset on top of Monserrate (see #1).11. Parque 93 Parque 93 is another nice neighborhood lined with trendy places to eat, 93. drink or enjoy a cup of coffee & dessert. It’s located around a large park where you can take a nice stroll before or after dinner or hang out during the day and read or play Frisbee or other things like that. A good dinner turn live music/dj/club stay out late venue is the Puerta Grande. If you go to the Puerta Grande check out the décor. It’s beautiful. You Tube video: Neighborhood. The Chapinero neighborhood is a must see at night & is12. Chapinero Neighborhood full of clubs, DJ’s, live music and hip, young kids out making the most of their youth. You can walk anywhere along Carreras 5, 7 & 9 and Calles 49 – 59 and find a party. Chapinero is far less touristy than the Zona Rosa, younger than the Zona G, louder than the Macarena & much less sanitized than Parque 93. The Chapinero borders the Zona G and it’s convenient to come here after a nice meal or civilized cocktail or two in the Zona G. A night in Chapinero usually turns into an early morning taxi ride home. Ouch. Meat cooking at the Pariila Patagonia, Useqeun – Bogota: Paula Fynboh 10
  12. 12. Restaurants & Night Life: The sky is really the limit here and there are so many more Life:places to experience than we’ve had the chance to visit so far. A quick rundown of ourfavorites, as well as highly recommended venues from trusted sources include:Food & Dining Something Special: $$$ Something Special: $$ Something Special: $ $25 - $40 US without drinks $10- $20 US without drinks Less than $5 US • Andres Carne de Res • Patagonia Parrila • Street food (yes, it is safe (Chia – about 30 (Usaquen) to eat): Empanadas, minutes outside of Pastel de Yucca & Bogota, but worth every • Central (Zona Rosa) Obleas are on the top of minute). As the NY my list. More on street • Tapas Macarena Times said, if you leave food: (Macarena) 6 hours after you’ve eaten – you’re leaving • SurtiFruva produce store • Di Lucca (Zona Rosa) too soon. If you can’t – stock up on all kinds of get to Chia, visit Andres • 80 Sillas (Usaquen) fresh fruits DC (Andres Carne de • Puerta Grande (Parque • Perros Calientes (hot Res’ sister in the Zona 93) dogs with friend potato), I Rosa) like the ones from J&R’s • Astrid & Gaston (Zona • Gaucho (Macarena) the best. I first tried one G) of these late at night after a few drinks – I liked it so • Harry’s Bar (Zona G) much I went back to get another one for lunch the • Casa San Isidro next day! (Monserrate) • La Plaza de Andes food court at El Retiro mall (Zona Rosa)Drinks Something Special: $$$ Something Special: $$ Something Special: $ $10 – $15 US $5 - $10 US $2 - $5 US • BarDeLeo (Macarena) • 14 Inkas (Zona Rosa or • Any spot in the Usaquen) Chapinero • Kong (Zona G) • Pravda (Zona Rosa) • Any neighborhood tienda • Buddha Gardens (Zona (basically a convenient G) • Bogota Beer Company store where you can buy (handful of locations): beer or wine & sit there • Arcanos Mayores Bogota Beer Company is and chat with the locals) (Usaquen) a local chain with good micro brews. • La Puerta Falsa for hot chocolate (Candelaria) 11
  13. 13. AdditionIn Addition to BogotaColombia borders both the Atlantic & Pacific oceans & has three major mountain rangesthat cut through the country. In addition, the Amazon Rainforest consumes about one-third to one-half of the country and the geographic diversity of the country extends to thediversity of its people, culture & art as well.Do yourself a favor & get out of Bogota at least once while you’re here so you can get abetter feel for Colombia as a Country.Day trips • Chia Only about a 30 minute drive outside of Bogota, Chia has some cute colonial Chia. buildings & is home to the world renowned Andre Carne de Res restaurant. Celebrities are known to fly in to Bogota just to party here for a night. • Zipaquira. Zipaquira About an hour to an hour and a half drive from Bogota, Zipaquira is home to the Salt Cathedral, a beautiful plaza and a couple pretty churches. Eat at one of the local parrillas after you tour the salt cathedral and give yourself time to soak in the town while sitting at one of the cute bars or coffee houses on the plaza. to Four Days Trips • Villa de Leyva About 3 – 4 hours outside of Bogota and accessible by bus. Villa Leyva. de Leyva is a picturesque little city with a huge cobblestone plaza, white washed buildings and lots of shopping options, especially for leather handicrafts. • Barichara. Barichara Barichara is a charming town & a UNESCO world heritage site. You can do nothing but walk the streets and soak in the Spanish architecture. If you’re more motivated, you can also get a spa treatment or hike to one of the other charming villages, however, it’s a bit of an effort to get there – about an 8 drive doable by bus or rental car. You should know that the drive is absolutely stunning & shows you a side of Colombia you won’t see in Bogota. It’s definitely worth it – we drove there with my parents and want to go back. Google images of Barichara: 12
  14. 14. • Medellin Medeliin is Colombia’s second largest city. Wallpaper magazine wrote a Medellin. great article on Medellin last year & I wish I could find it online, but I can’t. Medellin is home to some of the best modern architecture in Colombia, including the library on top of Santa Domingo Salvia. It’s also emerging as a fashion-forward city and many Colombian designers have made it their home. Medellin has transformed itself from being the home of Pablo Escabar to a growing art & cultural community with a strong investment in education. It’s definitely worth seeing. Be sure to check out the rumbas & stay out all night in the Pablado neighborhood, see the giant Fernando Botero sculptures in the Plazoleta de las Esculturas, and take a cable car to the Santa Domingo Salvia neighborhood to see the transformation first hand.• Cartegena. Cartegena Cartegena is the major tourist city of Colombia and also a UNESCO world heritage site on the Caribbean coast. It’s a blending of Indigenous, Afro- . Caribbean & Spanish culture. It’s absolutely stunning with great architecture, balconies, restaurants, shopping & night life. I could take pictures all day long in Cartegena. When planning your visit to Colombia, give yourself enough time to fly to Cartegena and enjoy a few nights there – it will make your trip to Colombia most memorable. It really is a magical city. Cobblestone streets, Barichara – Colombia: Paula Fynboh 13
  15. 15. Sample ItinerariesHere are some ideas on how to organize your time, based on your interests, while you’rehere. Some of these itineraries are fairly aggressive & can be mixed and matched orspread out over a couple more days. Pick & choose for yourself or send us an email withthe things that interest you the most & we can create a personalized itinerary for you.Bogota for FoodiesDay One::• Sleep in & then make your way to an Almuerza Corriente for a Bandeja Paisa. Seriously good sh*t.• Walk off your Bandeja Paisa with a trip to Parque Simone Bolivar & a stop at Universidad Nacional. Grab an empanada from a street vendor when you start to get hungry again.• Come home, rest & get ready to eat some more as you head to Usaquen with a visit to Patagonia Parrila.Day Two:• You had a big day yesterday. Go easy on yourself this morning with some fresh fruit & jam that you picked up from SurtiFruva on your way home last night.• Make your way to the Candelaria to continue to walk off last night’s meal. Stop in La Puerta Falsa for a cup of hot chocolate with cheese & maybe a homemade sweet.• Make your way to Monserrate for an afternoon & possibly sunset view of Bogota. Dine at Casa San Isidro, a romantic French restaurant on top of Monserrate or cruise over to the Macarena district to Tapas Macarena followed by cocktails at Bar De Leo.Day Three:• Head to the Zona Rosa for a day of shopping and grab ceviche for lunch at Central.• For dinner, go to the Zona G and grab a pre-dinner cocktail on the roof top terrace of La Familia before a special meal at Astrid & Gaston, followed by another cocktail or two at Kong’s.Day Four:• Grab brunch at Bagetelle and then take your time walking around Parque 93.• Get ready to head to Chia, just outside of Bogota, for an all night dinner at Andres Carne de Res. 14
  16. 16. Bogota for ArtistsDay One:• Assuming it’s Sunday, grab coffee at the legendary Juan Valdez and walk the ciclovia to the Usaquen Flea Market. Peruse the artist stalls (especially the leather hand bags and jewelry) & enjoy performances by jugglers, musicians and other street art performers.• Stop in for a drink and maybe a fortune card reading at Arcanos Mayores.Day Two:• Head to the Candelaria for colonial architecture and churches. Give yourself time to look at Fernando Botero’s sketchings, paintings and sculptures, as well as his own personal art collection of Picassos and Salvador Dali at the Museo Botero. Make a quick run through the Museo del Oro & the artist shops across the street from the Museo del Oro (I especially like the handmade tapestries or ‘molas’ as they are called ( Go to the Plaza del Chorro a little before sunset to hang out and watch artists of every type.Day Three:• Wander around the campus at Universidad Nacional and check out all of the graffiti/street art. Maybe even catch some live music being played by some of the students in the plaza de revolucion.• Head to the Macarena to soak in the Bohemian vibe, dinner and some great leather handiwork at Taller Manuel del Cuero. Then go to the Chapinero to see some live music. Graffiti art at Universidad Nacional campus, Bogota: Paula Fynboh 15
  17. 17. Bogota like the Locals Do ItDay One:• Enjoy a Bandeja Paisa breakfast at a local almuerza corriente before heading to the Candelaria by colectivo. With any luck a juggler, poet or rapper will hop on the bus and perform for you.• Spend the day walking around the Candelaria and sampling different street food from the many food vendors. Hang out in the Parque de los Periodistas or walk down Avenida Jimenez for shopping the way the locals do it. Go to the Plaza del Chorro a little before sunset for some more hanging with the locals.• If you’re lucky enough to visit Bogota on the first Friday of the month, be sure to make it to La Dayliciosa, part bar-b-que, part happy hour, part all night dance party. Check out a recent NY Times article about it: Two:• Take the transmilenio to Parque Simone Bolivar and plan a stop at Universidad Nacional.• Get a cheap manicure & pedicure and browse through Latin fashion magazines at a local beauty shop while you make small talk with the ladies working there.• Stay in for dinner and watch Colombian popular Tele Novellas (evening soap operas) and order out from the many tiendas, pharmacies or restaurants that deliver. Note: You can get both McDonald’s and ice cream delivered right to your front door• Catch a soccer game in the evening at El Campin stadium or just handout and talk sh*t at a local tienda.Day Three:• Assuming you’re here on a Monday, sit in on the free English class Robinson and I teach to the people who work in our building. Have them teach you a couple sayings in Spanish in exchange for teaching them a couple American slang expressions.• Make your way to the Cuadra Picha for lunch, then spend some time walking around one of the many malls in Bogota.• Head to the Chapinero at night to party with Bogota’s youth. 16
  18. 18. Kid-Friendly BogotaKid-*Children are revered in Colombia, so basically anywhere you go (outside of the clubs) iskid-friendly. Sundays in particular are reserved for family time.Day One:• Assuming you have a Sunday here, enjoy some time playing along the ciclovia on your way to the Usaquen flea market. Watch jugglers and street performers for hours in the Usaquen plaza and pick up some homemade sweets and fresh fruit in the flea market.Day Two:• Feed and chase the pigeons in the Plaza Simone Bolivar in front of the Cathedral in the Candelaria.• Have a picnic lunch, run around and check out the amusement park in the Parque Simone Bolivar.• Borrow Oscar and come with us to a local park to watch the dogs play.Day Three:• Spend the day at the Mundo Aventura (World of Adventure), an amusement theme park located near the Cuadra Picha neighborhood ( After you’re finished adventuring, grab a family meal at one of the many parrila’s in the neighborhood.Colonial BogotaDay One:• Spend the day wandering around the Candelaria neighborhood in Bogota, soaking in the Plaza, churches & architecture.Day Two:• Take a bus to Villa de Leyva & spend the night.Day Three:• Return to Bogota & head to Usaquen in the evening for a nice dinner and stroll through the plaza and cobblestone streets.Day Four – Seven:• Either fly Avianca Airlines to Cartagena to spend a few days walking around the Old City or rent a car and drive to Barichara and wander the cobblestone streets there. Both will provide completely different experiences, but either way, you will be in colonial heaven. 17
  19. 19. When to Visit & What to BringCome & visit us whenever and as much as you’d like. However, if you have the option toavoid the month of April (and maybe May), I would recommend doing so, as this is therainy season and it could rain for days during your visit.Special events Below is a list of interesting events that take place over the course of the events vents.year. Although these are annual events, the exact dates will be different each year. Ifsomething is particularly catching your eye, it’s a good idea to double-check the exactdates it will be happening.Late January – Mid February • Bogota Fashion Week, Bogota. Runway shows and special events featuring Colombian and South American designers.February • Carnaval, Barranquilla (located on the Atlantic coast, near Cartagena). Carnaval is like mardi gras and takes place 40 days before Easter. Usually the middle of February.April • Semana Santa (Holy Week). The biggest festivities take place in Popayon (near the Pacific Coast), Mompox (near the Atlantic Coast) and Bogota. Usually in mid to late April.July • Rock el Parque, Bogota. Large, four-day free music festival featuring Colombian, Latin American and a handful of American bands in Parque Simone Bolivar. • Medellin Fashion Week, Medellin. Runway shows and special events featuring mostly Medellin designers and other Colombian and South American designers.October • Gastronomía, Bogota. Food week featuring Colombian chefs.November • Senorita Colombia Pageant, Cartagena. Colombia is big on beauty pageants and the biggest, Miss Colombia, takes place every November in Cartagena.December • Expoartesanias, Bogota. Large artisan and craft fair featuring Colombian artists and craftspeople, Indigenous art and other Latin Artists. 18
  20. 20. Sample packing list. There are not really seasons here, with the exception of the rainy list.months. Everyday has a high temperature between 65 and 70 degrees and a low around50 or 55 degrees at night. Even in the dry season it usually rains once every couple ofdays for a half hour to an hour. Plan to bring: • Your passport, along with your cash card/credit card. • A travel umbrella. • Your camera. • Shoes than can handle walking and concrete. I am either wearing boots with a lower and wider heal or flats here. My poor stiletto collection isn’t getting much use and when they do come out I usually carry them to our destination in my bag and then change into them when I get there. • Clothes that can be layered. I usually wear leggings or jeans with a tunic or dress and carry my spring jacket with me at night. Know that when the sun is out – even if it’s only 67 or 70 degrees, it can feel much, much warmer • Sunscreen. It’s not crazy hot here, but we are a lot closer to the sun with the elevation. • Any toiletries you need. • Not mandatory, but your experience will likely be richer if you study up on key Spanish phrases and do a little homework before you arrive. For your convenience, I’ve included a number of links as part of this guide and also developed a resource section. In terms of language, you’ll be fine if you don’t know much (look at me!) However, the Lonely Planet Colombia book has a short section with the most common expressions that is quite useful. • • phrasebook-5 Gold Figure, Museo del Oro, Bogota: Paula Fynboh 19
  21. 21. BudgetingYour flight & lodging (depending where you choose to stay) will be your biggest expense.Bogota can be enjoyed on a variety of budgets and a lot of the attractions I mentioned(Candelaria, Parque Simon Bolivar, the Usaquen Flea Market) are free. You can drop coineating and drinking at upscale places in the Zona G, Zone Rosa and Parque 93, or youcan get by on $10/day if you stock up at the grocery store, eat street food, take publictransport and drink in the tiendas.• Exchange rate. This site is handy for calculating the current exchange rate for US rate. dollars to Colombian pesos. Giant bronze hand, Museo Botero, Bogota: Paula Fynboh 20
  22. 22. More ResourcesThis is an important section as it will give you a feel for Bogota outside of what I’m tellingyou and also provide you with other ideas of things to do and see while you’re here. Evenif you’re not able to visit us, I think this is still a good section to look at it as it. A quicknote: I tried to find more unique sources (blogs, independent websites & articles) in orderto give you an idea beyond what you would see in a traditional tour guide book. • 101 Reasons to Love Bogota (blog post): A fun & quick read. to-love-bogota.html • Your Bogota (website): A great resource developed by two Canadians (and new friends of ours). You can get tips on restaurants, shopping, events, when to visit and packing suggestions. • Bogota Bites (blog): A food blog recently started by a woman from NY (& a new friend of mine) now living in Bogota. I sometimes accompany Lily (the author) on her Bogota Bites assignments. • New York Times Travel Quick travel articles Travel: 36 hours in Bogota: 36 hours in Cartegena: • Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Colombia (video): Shot is Cartegena & Medellin, it does not contain any video clips or references to Bogota, but provides a good overview of the food, culture and people. Part 1 of 3: Part 2 of 3: Part 3 of 3: • Mapping the City to Hip Hop (Blog & videos). Takes place in Medellin and provides a fascinating overview of the changes taking place in Colombia as told by youth. hip-hop/ • Films that Misrepresent Colombia...and Some Which Don’t (blog article): For movie lovers... (FYI: Bogotans hate the movie Mr. & Mrs. Smith). 21
  23. 23. Don’t Take Our Word for It: Words & Advice from Our Recent Visitors’re actually going to help me write this page. As an added bonus to anyone whocomes and visits, you get to add your unedited comments to this page. I’m hoping wehave so many visitors that this section will go on forever ☺“Dress in layers. Be sure to try the local stands for fruits & fresh OJ. Also, the local foodis very sure to try some. Learn some basic Spanish before your trip. Thepeople are friendly especially when you give them a smile and some consideration. Acouple pair of good walking shoes are a must. See other places besides Bogota so youexperience more of the culture. Its good to have a map with you. The Botero museumwas interesting and fun and the Gold Museum is a must see. Also visit the Bogota BeerCompany preferably in the evening and take in the Usaquen market on Sunday. Its a funplace to visit and it feels good to know some people still like the U.S.” --Mom & Dad Fynboh Visited May 2011 22