Before visiting Colombia, I had one perception. The perception handed to me by local media and films. When you think of Colombia, you think cocaine, coffee, and Pablo Escobar. What does not come to mind is the warm people, great food and unbelievable experience. The Colombians I spoke to want to keep that past in the rearview and focus on their future. And it is a bright one!
Once you arrive in Bogota and collect your bags, the next step is to head to immigration. You will be asked to scan your bag and answer a few questions then you'll be set to explore Bogota. A tip from my personal experience is to have your hotel schedule a taxi beforehand. It's less hectic and probably cheaper than other options. Example, I paid 75,000 COP (USD 22.90) from the airport to my hotel and 40,000 COP (USD 12.21) on my return. If you use sources like Rome to Rio, the estimated cost should be 33,000 COP (USD 10.07). I overpaid because I did not know the options. Hence why I'm writing this to you.
Read Here: How to get to your hotel, Bogota
The next morning I awoke to the bustling sound of the streets beneath me.
Street vendors sold everything from fruits to coffee. I decided to join the fun but not before breakfast. I stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton Bogota. Its located in the Parque 93 area of the city and for 7,500 Marriot rewards points (now Bonvoy) it was perfect! The all you can eat buffet breakfast fit quite well with my appetite and their assortment of freshly squeezed fruit drinks were refreshing. Being a Bonvoy Gold Elite breakfast was included in the package. However, if you had to pay for this, it wouldn't break the bank. If you prefer a cheaper option, there's a fruit stand across the street that sells freshly cut fruit and juices for a small fee. However, I wouldn't pass up the buffet breakfast.
My first stop was a visit to Parque 93. Sitting in the park is possibly one of the calmest things you can do in Bogota. People came to enjoy the weather by as they sat on the grass, engaged in sports, picnic and good conversations. After spending most of the morning sitting in the park, I dipped in and out of local businesses and restaurants to gain a feel of what to look forward to for the days to come. I even managed to stumble on a store where I decided to make a few t-shirts.
I spent the majority of the afternoon sampling different beers from the Bogota Beer Company. There are several in the area and one just a few minutes from the hotel. I had dinner at Crepes and Waffles and enjoyed live music at Habana 93 before calling it a night.
The next day I took a taxi to La Candelaria. I registered for the free walking tour with Gran Colombia, and it was awesome! I got to learn about various art and murals in the area. Also, learn more about the indigenous people of Colombia and tried some Chicha de Maiz for the first time. The tour meets at Plaza del Chorro de Quevedo and delivers unique local experiences of Bogota. From the fruit tasting at Miss Gloria's, having cocoa tea at Embajada Express and ending with locally sourced coffee at Azahar. After the tour, you are free to tour the surrounding area, which I did. I had lunch at Balcones de la Candelaria, which depends on who you ask, has the best Ajiaco in Bogota.
The next morning I took an Uber to the Paloquemao Market. I had so much fruit that day. I left the market with a bagful, which turned out to be my dinner that night. The assortment was endless. Apart from fruit, there are a few restaurants on the inside of the market that sells food, bread, soups, nuts, even raw foods. Afterward, I went outside and had fresh baked bread and coffee in front of the market.
After filling up on food, I needed to exercise. I took a cab to Monserrate. I recommend going early! After standing in line for an hour and a half, I paid (14,000 COP or USD 4.27). Then waiting for another 30 minutes to board the cable car. The ride to the top shows some breathtaking views of Bogota, a tiny taste of what's to come. There are shops at the top, as well as restaurants if you need to refuel. I felt on top of the world standing so high. My high, however, came to a crashing end some few hours later.
Read here: Avoid these taxi Scams in Colombia.
After returning to my hotel, a failed attempt at reporting a robbery and a long phone call with American Express, I stayed in and had the remainder of my fruit hall from earlier.
After a disastrous night, I woke up feeling a bit low and went to the Usaquen Flea Market. I needed the day out as it made me feel better and try to forget about the previous night's experience. To read more about the market, click here. That night I went into a food coma as I visited the Rono Patrono. I started with Boa and ended with the Royal with Pig at Spig. The food hall has something for everyone, and even though it's not authentic local food, its a great stop for those traveling in groups.
I see a Colombia part II in my future, hopefully with stops in Medellin and Cartagena but until then I have my memories.
Editors Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any parties mentioned. None of the entities mentioned has reviewed, approved or endorsed the content listed in this post.