Bienvenido a Bogotá!
In July, my family and I ventured to a new continent: South America! Colombia, specifically. Upon arrival in Bogotá, I have officially stepped foot in 6 out of the 7 continents. Only Antarctica remains, which might remain un-visited for a while. Keep reading for our adventures and plenty of pictures! My next post will be about our short road trip to Villa de Leyva, a beautiful village a few hours away.
Family friends of ours invited us to stay with them and their family in Bogotá, Colombia for a week. I hadn’t seen them in 2.5 years, and the reunion was so sweet. We were greeted in the beautiful Calatrava area by the whole family: Abuelita Emilia (who was so generous to let us stay in her house with her family), Tia Emilia, πmous, Avihurik, Laurence (who was kind enough to pick us up from the airport), Natalia, Irini and of course, Amalia.
I’ve had issues with altitude sickness in the past as a kid, so I was worried with how I’d react to the high elevation of Bogotá, which is roughly 8,700 feet above sea level. You sure feel it! I had some help from altitude sickness medication but it definitely didn’t help how out of breath I’d be for the next 3 days! I also had tingly hands and feet for just about every minute of those 3 days.
We spent the first few days of our trip getting acclimated to Colombia time, which also means, getting used to the relaxing, slow life of Colombia. It didn’t matter when we’d get where we’d need to go, just as long as we’d get there eventually. In the first few days, we walked through the beautiful Calatrava area, ate some delicious food, and explored a bit of the city. On Sunday’s, they close certain streets to vehicle traffic until 2pm, so we wandered among the streets of Bogotá, car-free (and care-free!). We found an awesome market tucked into the alleyways and pedestrian only streets. Little treats to eat, tropical fruits, watercolor paintings, jewelry made by hand, baskets, colorful woven bags galore, and of course, plenty of music to entertain those walking (dancing) by. I couldn’t help myself; I bought a candle, earrings and a beautiful woven stool that I like to think of as a piece of art. We ate dinner at the cutest pink and green restaurant, which had a huge wooden door, a beautiful thatched roof and was surrounded by forest.
We then road tripped to a beautiful, quaint village called Villa de Leyva for 4 days, which due to the sheer number of pictures taken will be done in another post!
Back in Bogotá, we decided to be a little touristy. We spent the day wandering the downtown area called La Candelaria, after a quick tour of Natalia’s alma mater. We wandered the streets, passing by buildings painted bright, warm colors. Statues were hanging off of balconies, and when you turned around, you had the most beautiful site of the mountains right up against the edge of the buildings, fog pouring over them. It was here where I learned about Obleas con Arequipe, which are simply delicious. A thin wafer circular sandwich of just an abundance of caramel (with the addition of jam if you so choose) that is bigger than your hand. So simple and so good. We walked around Bolivar Square and were in awe as the sunset played with the clouds overhead as it dipped into the horizon. So beautiful! After another coffee break, which ended up being dinner after ordering the delicious Colombia appetizers of arepas, empanadas, plantains and guacamole, we headed home.
Our last day started off early (for the first time all trip!) with a trip to Monserrate, which is the mountain top that is right next to the edge of the city, at a height of 10,400 ft above sea level. There is a funicular and a cable car which take you to the top of the mountain, on which there is a church, a few restaurants and a view beyond compare. Due to the time of the day, we had to ride the funicular, which is essentially a train that goes vertically up the mountain. We started the ride in the sun, and ended it up in the clouds. We were up there for about 4 hours, having breakfast, walking around and enjoying the view. In those 4 hours, we saw the clouds migrate across the city and slowly burn off. The view was truly remarkable. It’s so strange to see such a dense city so close to the mountain sides. Eventually, it was time to return to the bottom of the mountain to finish the last of the souvenir shopping. I sure got my fair share. The trip ended with an easy, relaxing night back at Abuelita’s.
Sadly, with a 5am flight comes the 2am departure time for the airport. A round of goodbyes to the kids the night before, followed by a quick nap for sleep, and another round of goodbyes to the adults who were brave enough to get up to say goodbye. A few flights later, and we were back in San Francisco.
What a trip this was. And what a beautiful country Colombia is! Looking forward to going back one day. And luckily, we already have a plan to see each other again next year, in Barcelona, Spain! Suggestions welcome!