Time to start moving.
After two weeks in Medellin, I headed to the bus station for my trip to the Colombian capital Bogota. The bus company said it would not take more than nine hours. I did not believe them. I have done this type of journey before.
It took eleven hours. I don’t mind a long bus journey’s in a country I have not been in before. It allows seeing the countryside.
The bus had seen better days, but there were only five others on the bus. Plenty of space to stretch out.
The problems started as we began the ascent on the mountain to Bogota. We still had four hours to go and I began to get stomach cramps. I don’t get cramps, so maybe it was the altitude. Bogota is the 3rd highest Capital City in the world.
I had visited the bus toilet previously, and it did not look great. It did not look any better after my second visit.
I arrived in Bogota during rush hour. Two more hours in a taxi to my AIRBNB. The cramps were more frequent. The taxi driver was shouting at everyone on the street. He kept saying he knew a great hotel and he would take me there now. I declined as it is a common scam where he gets paid from the hotel.
The 5th time he asked I shouted fucking noooooooooooooooooooooooo as I was doubled over in pain. He did not know how lucky he was. Another 5 minutes in the car he might not have been able to use it for a month.
Safely in my accommodation, I ran to the bathroom. An hour later, I was having my first beer in Bogota.
Why is Bogota in Bogota
The Spanish founded the city in 1538. It is 2,600 meters high up on the eastern mountains of the Andes. Bogota comes from the name Bacata a local Muisca Indian.
Bogota is March
I struggled with how to try to describe Bogota’s weather. My conclusion is that Bogota is March all year.
In most countries, March can have cold rainy days. Sunny days when you can wear a T-shirt but nights are always chilly in March. This is Bogota all year.
The folks on the hill
I am staying in the Candelaria area of Bogota. When I arrived in my cool 15 euro a night AIRBB loft, I asked the lady my standard South America question. Is it safe here?
She replied, don’t go left. Only go right two streets. Don’t stay out until after 11 pm and whatever you do don’t ever go up that hill. I have seen many a person getting frisked by the police on the hill from my window.
There is a great square just to the right of the loft. The square is to the right of my loft. It is packed with young people every day and night. They are playing music. People are doing comedy and street theatre.
My one a day cigar is proving very popular with students and homeless people. Everyone wants a smoke of my daily cigar.
Don’t stay out after 11 pm. Does that still apply if you go out at after 11 pm?
On Saturday night, I checked out the Gay scene. Bogota has a large gay area. I suppose it is not too surprising in a city of over 8 million people. I went to see one venue in particular.
The Theatron has to be the largest gay club in the world. There were over 5,000 people there on Saturday night. I have never seen anything like it.
Thirteen different dance floors. One exclusively for women. Rooftop lounges. There was live music and scantly dressed male dancers.
Of those in attendance I am guessing were 60% gay and 40% straight. It made for an amazing experience. I paid 55,000 pesos about 15 Euro entrance fee. That included all you want to drink in spirits.
I was well behaved on Saturday night. I did not have too many free drinks. I knew I would be late back to the loft and the folks on the hill might be around that time of night. Uber is great. Using GPS you get straight to the door.
I was up early on Sunday morning and made my way to the cable car for a trip up to Monserrate overlooking the city.
At the top, there is a church and places to eat. I spent an enjoyable 4 hours here in the company on two guys I had met from Aruba on the long queue for the Cable car. A great day out for 12,000 pesos 3.25 euro.
Back on the ground, I was hungry. I am always on the look for rundown restaurants that are packed with locals. As there is not much I don’t like to eat, I usually find some great cheap food.
I pointed to what everyone was having. 13,000 pesos 3.52 euro including a beer. It was one of the rare times it was not a good call. Even though the food looks fatty I think it may be a good diet food as I did not eat again that day. Clonakilty Irish black pudding it ain’t.
I really like Bogota
I am not sure if Bogota would suit many tourists, but I like it. The city is very raw. A manic mix of over 8 million people. There are some tourists, but not many.
As it is the Capital city, it attracts many people from all over Colombia and other South American countries. There is an electric mix of all types of South Americans of Indian and Spanish ethnicity.
Bogota has a real South American feel that I have not experienced before. For me, it is very different from Medellin. Medellin has moved a lot from its most dangerous city on the planet label. It has successfully become a cool tourist destination.
Bogota is not cool. It is raw and hectic. That is what I like about it.
In Bogota, I do think you need to be on your guard at all times. It was just a feeling, but there are a lot of have nots in this city of 8 million.
Most days, people did come to me asking for money, but never in an aggressive way. They were always happy with whatever few pesos you can give them.
I did have one situation in a bar when a few guys were very interested in where I was staying and if I was alone. I have travelled to much to answer those questions. I finished my beer and left.
I never thought I would say these words, but I need to need to speak less Spanish. I have spoken more Spanish in three weeks than in the past three years. Now my Spanish is very basic, but I would like to speak English to someone for a change.
From Beer to Eternity
Beer in Bogota is coming in around 4,000 pesos 1.08 euro.
I did visit an Irish pub. I may have to review this part of the public service I am providing to my readers.
They had no draft Guinness and I was recommended craft beer. It looked and tasted like a black cats piss. The price for this beauty was 24,500 pesos 6.62 euro.
Go south old man
On Thursday, I am making my way south. My target destination is the Salsa Capital Cali. After my 11-hour bus trip to Bogota, I don’t fancy a 13-hour journey to Cali. I will break the trip in some town on the route to Cali.
I am breaking one of my travel rules in Cali. I have booked a hostel. I have booked a private room for 11 euro a night.
I have two reasons for this. I need to have some contact with English speakers. Also, I want to meet people that have crossed the Colombia Equator border.
I have read some reports that the border crossing can be tricky due to to the Venezuelan refugee crisis. Information on the internet is never 100% reliable. First-hand information from a fellow traveller is priceless.
To view my short video on Bogota click bellow.
Join me on my journey.
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