Bogota

I was feeling pretty under the weather in Bogota having picked up an eye infection in Minca so it was with a slow pace we explored the city. Bogota was the first big city we had been to in a while so we had to readjust to the population and traffic.

Bogota has a very turbulent and violent history some of which we learnt on the free walking tour. From political coups, drug wars and hostage situations, Bogota has come a long way in the last few years. Walking around, I couldn’t fathom the amount of blood shed the streets had seen. But the city itself feels safe now. Recently the Colombian government and the rebel group FARC, signed a new peace agreement which has calmed the civil violence that has been happening for half a century.

A pit stop on the tour was into a little café in La Candelaria where we got to try Chicha. Chica is an ancient alcoholic drink made using ground maize, sometimes crushed between the teeth of old women and with plenty of spit to start fermentation. It ferments and the length of fermentation time determines the final alcohol content. It is usually not too potent but definitely is an acquired taste.

One of my favourite artists is Colombian and has a gallery in Bogota. Botero has such an amazing style – he portrays everyone he paints as very voluptuous. The facial expressions in his portraits are amazing. I would have loved to buy one but they paintings are just a little out of my price range.

Another highlight was visiting the Gold Museum. It contains the largest number of gold artefacts on exhibition anywhere in the world. The jewellery and ornaments were amazing. I would love to wear any of the earrings that were displayed.

After reading up about what to do in Bogota, Dave found that the city’s botanical gardens were high on the list and known for their orchids. That sold me so off we went. It was a bit of a mission to get to the gardens and after an hour or so bus ride, we arrived. The gardens were quite large and we spent a few hours walking around. I was excited to finally get to the site where the orchids should have been. Turns out the orchids greenhouse was under renovations and the orchids were nowhere to be seen. Feeling a bit disappointed we went back to the city centre. It was still a lovely day out in the sunshine and away from the dirty city streets.

On our last day in Bogota, we braved the crowds and went up Monserrate. A 3,000m high mountain in the middle of Bogota. It has incredible views of the city and you get to take a fun funicular ride up to the top. The tourist markets up the top were very cheesy but the church was beautiful. You feel like you were on top of the world. It was a great way to send off Bogota and Colombia. Our next destination was Havana, Cuba to meet up with Katie and Phil.

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