By Rachel McLeod
Living just a few hours away from the Colombian border, the temptation was too much and I couldn't finish my year abroad without knowing Colombia. So, some friends and I decided to take a weekend trip to Bogotá. Being in the middle of our volunteer work and a fifty-page paper, we could only go for four days, but four days was all we needed to fall in love with the country.
After almost 8 months of living in Ecuador, we needed a breath of fresh air (literally), and Bogotá was perfect. The clean streets were covered in beautiful street art (such as art by the famous Stinkfish, pictured below), and there wasn’t a stray dog in sight. With our flight arriving at two in the morning, and not getting into our beds until four (we unfortunately picked the most unorganized and overall worst hostel), we spent our first day there just walking around and stopping to eat at every little place that looked good. The food in Bogotá was amazing; every place offered unique and delicious food. Sometimes we even got a taste of home at places like Krispy Kreme, which you cannot find in Ecuador. We left every place full and satisfied, and were always snacking between meals because the food was too good to say no to. It was our vacation after all.
Since Colombia isn't exactly the safest place to take a bus right now, we cabbed everywhere. After going all over the city, we figured out that we were actually in walking distance of almost everywhere that we wanted to go/had been cabbing to. That being said, Bogotá is a big city, so cabbing is totally fair. We spent most of our time walking around and just exploring in general. The one thing that we had been hearing all year about Colombia, was that they had the best shopping - super cheap, but good quality. At first we couldn't find these places and ended up in the really nice shopping district with stores like Jimmy Choo, but that was the complete opposite of what we wanted. Coincidentally, this was also the area with all the clubs. The notorious 85 street was just around the corner, and had all the clubs on it. When we finally found the markets and specific stores we were looking for, we were so happy and overwhelmed with all the nice options in the small hole-in-the-wall spots that we tried on several things in every store. The shopping in Bogotá did not disappoint.
The only really touristy thing that we did was go to the Monserrate, a gorgeous church at the top of a big hill. We took a train car up the hill (since the cable car was not open yet), and wandered around at the top for a few hours. The view of the city up there was incredible, despite how foggy it was due to it being rainy season. We decided to walk back down, since we were not up for doing the walk up. This turned out to be a really good decision since the path was quite long and very steep (not to mention slippery from all the rain). It was a long, but nice trek down. Monserrate is the tourist attraction for you if you like hiking up hills, are religious, enjoy beautiful churches, or just like getting unique views of a beautiful city.
We fell in love with Bogotá and were tempted to push back our flights; we did not want to leave. The city was beautiful, the food was amazing, and the people were all very friendly. While you definitely need to be careful, and should absolutely not travel alone here, Colombia is a country more than worth the visit, and I can't wait to go back.
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