The bus journey actually took 22hrs, but some of the scenery was extremely beautiful and we saw lots of action films in spanish !
Bogota is at a height of 2650m and there is a population of 6.4 million people. The capital was founded in 1958 and is one of the most important cities in Latin America. It has a remarkable historic centre with a wealth of museums and colonial buildings.
We took a taxi to the centre of town, to hostel Platypus. After a lot of driving around th taxi driver found it but they were full. We spoke to the owner who seemed nice and the place had atmosphere so we thought we would return the following day. We went down the road to Hotel Aragon and checked in to our 60s style bedroom. The room was quite cool but the bed extremely hard and shared bathroom. It was tipping down with rain so we stayed in our room for a while before jumping in a taxi to go to TGI Fridays !! (we fancied some good old American food !). As it was raining so much the roads were packed and a 20 min journey turned into a 1.5hr journey. We were starving when we arrived and ordered quickly ! The food (and drinks) were good and in the end we were glad we had got there. The traffic on the way back was a lot better.
We awoke quite early and made our way to the Museo del Oro (the gold museum). There are thousands of pre-colombian pieces and they were displayed very well. There were many pieces that were extremely intricate and well made. The ancient gold objects discovered in Colombia were not made by the primitive technique of simple hammering alone but show the use of virtually every technique know to modern goldsmiths. We spent over an hour looking around at all the pieces. It was an amazing place.
We then walked around the parque Santander where we looked into the San Francisco church (mid 16th century). We also looked into La Tercera Orden which is a colonial church famous for its carved woodwork. It was built by the 3rd Franciscan order in the 17th Century. The wood carvings were amazing.
We then returned to the hotel and took our stuff to Platypus. Unfortunately the room that they had allocated us was down the road from the main building which didn't make us very happy. The room was nothing special and we wished we had stayed put. We went back out and walked down to La cathedral and La Candeleria areas. We went into the Casa de la Moneda (built in 1753). It has a beautiful courtyard. Next door was the museum Botero (famous colombian artist). This museum has a fine collection of art including Picassos, Monets, Degas and a floor devoted to Botero's own paintings and sculptures. These consisted of fat people (mainly naked) in lots of different poses (e.g. a fat Mona Lisa). After leaving here we carried on to Plaza Bolivar. This is an impressive Plaza (large) surrounded by government buildings. It is the heart of the city. We went into the Capilla del Sagrario church which was built in the 17th century and contains several paintings by Vasquez de Arce (famous colonial colombian painter). This was next door to the cathedral which was unfortunately closed. We walked south of the plaza down past the palacio de Narino. This is the presidencial palace and there was a lot of security around (many soldiers with huge machine guns standing around). We walked past many more colonial buildings and churches.
In the evening we went to try some street food, and had some great empanadas which were spicy. They were really good ! The area was busy because the university was close by. There were loads of people milling around in the streets.
The next day we decided to take a trip to the shopping centre (in north Bogota). However our luck getting there was still bad as there was some kind of demonstration on and it took us another hour and a half to get there as part of the road had been closed off. There were also riot police standing at the sides of the road in full body armour and huge guns. Armoured vehicles scattered the roads as well. We didn't feel too secure !!!
The shopping centre was like any other. We ate in the food court (had a lovely crepe with Nutella and Banana) and then searched for a top for Monica. Unfortunately we did not find anything suitable. On the way back we jumped off at the world trade centre and went to the LAN Chile office. We changed our flight tickets so that we had a bit more time in New Zealand.
In the evening we had a glass of wine before heading out to the Teatro Colon to see the Ballet. We grabbed some more empanadas on the way. The Teatro Colon is a lovely building and has some great paintings on the ceiling. We decided to go for the most expensive tickets ($20) which meant we had good seats in a box on the second row. No-one else turned up in our box so we had the whole thing to ourselves. It was supposed to a ballet by the Colombian national ballet company, however it turned out to be more of a dance show. We were not very impressed as the stage sets were very poor and the coordination of the dancers was almost comical at points ! Still it was an experience.......
We returned to our hostel for some drinks with a canadian guy, who was telling us how he had been robbed at knife point twice directly outside our hostel (glad we are leaving tomorrow in the daylight...!).
Our last day was spent wandering around and on the internet. At 2pm we headed for the airport and had some food at the Coral restaurant. Good burgers !!!
Hostal Platypus - Helpful owner. Free coffee. Some rooms are down the road. Sociable.
Hotel Aragon - Cheap. Shared bathroom. Clean rooms but slight lumpy bed.