The Colombian capital is classy and stimulating with more than a hint of danger.
It looks modern, clean and sophisticated yet has a wonderfully historic old town in Candelaria where military police stand on street corners, dressed in combat camouflage, cradling Kalashnikovs. They are the best-looking armed force I have ever seen and easily outnumber the panhandling drug addicts and backpackers.
You certainly need your wits about you in Bogotá,but there’s so much to enjoy , it’s worth it.
Firstly, the weather is perfect with a year round Spring climate because of altitude. Of course the coffee is absolutely incredible, the cafes’ cool and the food delicious. Also,the people ( who don’t want to kidnap you) are extremely friendly and helpful (but don’t hug and kiss us like Argentinians) and finally it’s really cheap here.
A three-course menu del dia with freshly squeezed juice cost me €3. The juice was a Colombian fruit I had never heard of and was delicious. Colombia has a huge array of unusual fruit and vegetables.
A haircut today cost me €1.50 and it was a professional job in a nice salon.
Travel is cheap too on buses, taxis and planes. I’m in the process of buying flights for €18 each from Bogota to Peireira. Nan and Darragh are digging their heels in though, refusing to go because it’s too cheap. They want me to pay €100 per flight with Avianca, the national carrier.
Taxis are a bit of a poison chalice because taxi-kidnapping is a big problem in Colombia, one needs to choose your taxi carefully. That friendly driver may be too good to be true.
Talking of transport, Bogota is a big bicycle city with plenty of bike lanes and cycling commuters; it reminds me of home and my daily cycle to school.
The city is very easy to navigate with a numbered grid system so you can’t get lost. Not that you’d want to, but I’m sure the surly sergeants with Kalashnikovs would surely put you on the right path again.
We brought my brother , Mark, there who was on a business trip to Bogota. His hotel driver and business colleagues warned him against coming downtown, but he enjoyed it and we shared a tinto, Colombian coffee, in the Centro Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I’m rereading the Colombian writer’s ‘100 Years of Solititude’ so it was a thrill to see his name up above us.
Mark was quite taken aback to see street peddlers sell ‘tasers ‘ on Septimo, but by this stage we’ve become used to the security concerns of Latin Americans.
We’ve been here for nearly seven months now so Mark was expecting us to have perfect Spanish, unfortunatly Bogotans speak an unintelligible Spanish with slang and accent so I struggled even to buy him a coffee.
Colombia was meant to be our exit route from South to Central America but it’s so much more.
I’m sure my Bogotan love affair is a fleeting fancy and once I recover from over-caffeination, fine-dining and being suddenly rich, I will resume my love affair with Buenos Aires.
( That’s what I’m saying to all you Argentinian readers anyway)