Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bogotá, Colombia 10 – 13 Oct 2011

Bogotá is the capital city and the largest city of Colombia. It is located at 2,625 meters above sea level, the third highest capital city in South America after Quito and La Paz. I will visit all 3 of them in coming 6 months.

After all the bullshit Spirit Air has put up at Miami Airport, I thought I would have trouble getting into Colombia without an exit ticket but what I get from the Colombian Imigration officer is “Bienvenida a Colombia” with a smile. This confirmed that Spirit Air is making it hard for everyone and taking advantage out of it.

Thank goodness my backpack made it as well! J After withdrawal of 300,000 pesos (sounds a lot) from the ATM, I took a taxi to my host house. The exchange is US$1 = 1,800 pesos. As soon as I step out of the airport, the cold temperature caught me by surprise! :-S Result from not doing enough research!
In Bogotá, I got a couch. My host Juan welcomes me with his dog-Yuki. He is also hosting another Couchsurfer Luo and his German Sherpard-Conre. I got along quiet well with Luo immediately. I was amazed that he travelled with his dog and he flew with Conre on the plane from Miami with Conre sitting in the cabin by his legs and he flew for free. :-) Juan lives in a penthouse at a private condo that his family built. He seems well off and it is great that he is generously hosting travelers. He is a chef and he specialise in Japanese and Peruvian food. That night I have a chance to taste his Peruvian meal. It was meat marinated with sesame oil, tomato and onions. Tasted delicious!

After getting the direction right and how to get to the center, I am set to go to the center to meet Francois for lunch. Francois is a traveler I knew from Couchsurfing, we were suppose to meet at Tikal, Guatemala to travel together but due to some changed in my travel plans, we didn’t get to meet. For 3 months we kept in touch, now we finally cross path again. It was pouring that day and freezing, after finally found Francois at the Cathedral, he brought me to a local restaurant for lunch. The price was reasonable, P5,000 for a set local lunch. A set local lunch normally consist of a soup, the main course which is rice,salad and selection of chicken, beef or pork and a drink. He has been in Bogotá for 3 weeks so he knows the place better. He showed me around the center and gave me lots of info. After lunch, I got a free 2 hours city tour from the Tourist Information center. It was good. I finished around 5pm. Using the Metro bus in Bogotá during the peak hours is a bad idea. I was squeeze by hundreds of people while getting to the gate and out of the gate. Worst is to get out at the wrong station and need to get back into the queue again. :-(

Next day I visited the Gold museum. I spent 2 and a half hour in this spectacular museum. I have never seen so much gold in my life, the display and explanation by the audio is excellent. I would say this is the best museum so far. After exiting the museum, a demonstration was going on on the street. It seems to be a big one, the main avenue is close for vehicle and the public bus terminal is close as well. I wanted to visit the other museums but the demonstration is heading that direction. Too many police on the road and too many people on the street, I decided to go back. While I was walking to the next station it started to rain heavily and the road was flooded by the sudden heavy down pour. After about an hour, it finally slows down. I took off my shoes and socks in order to cross the road with water at my knee level and it was freezing cold! :-( That’s it I had enough of Bogota, I am leaving tomorrow!
On the last day, I decided to take the overnight bus to Armenia, during the day, I met up with Francois and some other couchsurfers for lunch. This is the only day that there is some sunshine. So I went up to Mountain Monserrate to see the view of the city. Monserrate is at 3152m high, the cable car transfer people up to the top, there is a beautiful church up there which was visited by thousands of people and pilgrims. From here we can see the entire Bogota city.

At night I took a 9:30pm bus to Armenia. The journey was supposed to be 7.5 hour but due to a broken bus on a narrow road, it has caused a massive few kilometers of traffic jam. I only got there after 11 hours. Which is at my advantage becasue if it arrives on time I will be at Armenia at 5am. I didn't visit Armenia instead I switch to a mini bus to Salento.

Bogotá – Couchsurfing

Taxi from Bogotá Airport to Couchsurfer’s house – P23,000
Bus from Couchsurfer’s house to central – P1700 per way
Taxi from Couchsurfer’s house to Terminal – P12,500
Bus from Bogotá to Armenia – P40,000 

Museo del Oro at Bogotá – P3,000 entrance, P6,000 audio set
Cable car to Monserrate at Bogotá – P7,200 per way

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