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Trip Report Bogota - trip report

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Trip Report – Bogota

My husband is working in Bogota, Colombia - so I went down for a long weekend to visit.

Flight – Continental direct from Houston on Thusday, Aug. 12th arriving Fri. Aug. 13th– very comfortable and great service. I have Elite status so I had the chair with two seats of leg room. It made for good sleeping on the way down since we took off at 11:55 pm and landed at 4:55am.

My husband had his driver pick me up at the airport. This was very convenient and all weekend we were able to use him for transport. I, unfortunately, cannot give the price range on this but we had zero problems getting around with a driver. We did use the “hotel” cab services a few times these were the white cabs that wait in front of the larger hotels. Again, these were very useful. A note on transportation, as many who go to Bogota know, there are many warnings about the taxis. While we never felt threatened or had an issue, we stuck to our driver, the white cabs, and taxis that had a coordinator on site (they hand you a ticket and track the taxi). We had absolutely no issues in this way.

The Hotel – My husband has an apartment in Bogota in Hotel Casa Dann Carlton. While, I’m sure the apartments would be too rich for our blood on our own dime, the hotel has a hotel room tower as well. The location was great in that we felt fine walking from our hotel to Zona T and Parque 93. Having visited the more historic areas, I would recommend staying near Parque 93 or Zona T. These seem safer and while you will have to drive/be driven to many of the sites…the peace of mind while walking in the evening/at night was worth it to me.

Day 1: I got there and immediately went to bed as the 5 hour over night flight was not very restful. I woke up at about 11:30 and we decided to take a bit of a ride for lunch. One of my husband’s co-worker’s had found a really good empanada stand and man was it good. It was called “La Comilona” and as much as I tried to figure out an intersection, I could not for the life of me find the street names. It was in a pretty run down area, not a place you would walk around. We had chicharron, empanadas de yucca, papas fritas, and postobon to wash it all down. (Pictures will be posted soon in a Flickr account).

We then took a drive up to La Calera. It offers a beautiful view of the city there are also many restaurants/cafes up there. I wish that we could have tried one, but my husband thought it best (since knows the city well at this point) to not chance it up there at night. A day time trip up to the view point is highly recommended. We parked in a restaurant parking lot that I believe was called “La Paloma”.

The driver then dropped us at Zona T for a bit of shopping. I found that most of the mall items were priced similarly to the U.S. so no big bargains to speak of. I did find one store in the mall called “Opposite”. They specialized in leather items that were made in Colombia. I bought a nice pair of brown boots for U.S. $110. I also bought some knock off Ray Bans on the street for U.S. $20 (but I bet I could have negotiated lower).

We then stopped off at the Bogota Beer company for a quick drink. Bogota has many great beers. I tried my first Club Colombia and very much liked it (and I’m not a big beer drinker). They have many locations.

We walked back to Calle 94 from Zona T. A long walk but along Av. Carrera 15 there was a flower market and goods market along the way. It was a pretty busy street so we felt very safe considering it is about 10 blocks.

That night we had dinner at Club Colombia – the brewery owns the restaurant. It is in a beautiful two story house home at Av 82 No. 9 - 11 Carrera 9, Bogotá D.C., Colombia‎ -(0)571 2495681‎. The décor was very romantic and dark with a fire place. While the service was inattentive, the food was excellent. We had a typical array of appetizers and I had the langostinos coco loco for my main course. For two bottles of wine (there were four of us), appetizers, and dinner the bill was ~$200.

We ended the night at a club called Kukuramakara. They had a band playing US covers and salsa in between. We had quite a bit of fun dancing and felt very safe walking the few blocks back to our hotel (even though it was pretty late at that point). That is all for now… more to come.

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    Day 2 – Up and breakfasted despite the late night by 10am. I very much liked the Hotel Casa Dann Carlton’s breakfast’s quite a bit of variety and great Colombian breakfast options. One dish in particular that I loved was Calental – essentially leftovers with rice. We took the morning to walk to Parque 93 and looked around a bit. It was a bit of a rainy day so we took advantage of the weather and went back to the hotel and napped. We then had lunch at Café Renault. It was ok. A very large menu to please quite a few people. I had a sushi roll and some pieces of tuna that I was not too pleased with…oh well. We then walked north on Carrera 15. Not much to see, but it was a safe area for a walk, plus we had to save our energy for that evening.

    ***By far the highlight of my trip was Andres Carne de Res. It is loud, boisterous, fun, crazy, and nothing like any restaurants that I have ever visited in the U.S. or Europe.

    Our driver drove us the ~45 minute drive to Chia – a suburb of Bogota. Chia is a bit run down looking but seems that have quite a few fun looking places (read – lights strung with big porches and bands). I noticed they were all empty though. I made a comment on this and all who had been to Andres before said, you’ll see why…everyone is at Andres Carne de Res.

    Andres Carne de Res greets you with Christmas light adorned windmills at what looks like a sprawling warehouse. There is a line to buy tickets to enter, then a line to enter (can you tell it is popular). I believe the cover charge was about $15. At the door to the entrance there are crazy looking characters handing out tequila shots in hollowed out limes (a definite sign of the night to come). The place is so popular that they essentially have a holding area before you are let into the main dining room where you can order food and drinks. You can absolutely not be impatient at this place. They are slammed. The atmosphere is so festive that it outweighs any stomach growls you have anyways.

    The menu arrives…it is about an 8.5x11x3 inch metal box with cranks on the side. You have to scroll through the menu that starts with an index (and is ~40 pages). While perusing, we hear a commotion at another table. I’m informed that they are taking shots of Aguardiente (A Colombian Anise liquor). I was also informed that it is not a night at Andres without Aguardiente. We ordered a media bottle of antiqueno sin azucar. Very potent, but very good with lime. I also had one of the smoothest margaritas I have ever had (The margarita Don Julio). I used both of these to wash down the Picados tipicos (chicharron, empanadas, papas, and other amazing appetizers).

    While all of this is going on a parade of noisy waiters and waitresses playing trumpets and maracas passes our table. We also had a video screen that looked directly on to the dance floor to watch all of the antics in the main dining area.

    About 45 minutes (but not complaining, just informing) after the time for our reservation, we are called for our table. The inside of this place is filled with kitschy, off color décor (naked mannequins and roman-eque statues). We get a table right next to the dance floor which by this time (~9:30) is packed. We ordered some steaks and another round of drinks and joined in with the dancing while waiting for our food. It quickly becomes apparent that the dancing is not just relegated to the dance floor b/c a group starts dancing on their chairs at the table next to us. Festive is an understatement. There are characters in costume walking around to take pictures with them.

    With all of this atmosphere you would think the food to be mediocre at best, but the medium rare chateau-briand I ordered was excellent. Served with a potato stuffed tomato it was perfect for soaking some of the alcohol and darn tasty too. We had to stay for a bit to keep dancing since we were having so much fun and didn’t end up leaving until almost 1am. This was not by any means a cheap dinner, but it was so much fun that I recommend it to all, but not for the faint of heart!

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    Day 3 – Museo de Oro and Monserrate

    We skipped breakfast and slept in but had an early brunch at Oma Café on Parque 93. Oma is a popular coffee brand in Colombia and they do a pretty decent brunch.

    Next, we taxied down to the Museo de Oro. They were having a flea market outside so after we shopped for a while, we entered the museum. It was free (at least on this Sunday it was) and well worth the visit. It was very interesting to learn about the different indigenous cultures and their methods of metal working and uses of the finished product. We are not usually big museum people, but this was a fun one.

    Afterwards, we taxied to the base of Monserrate. Monserrate is a Cathedral at approximately 10,000 feet altitude that you can take a Funicular (Train) or Teleferico (Cable Car) up to the top. Luckily for us the weather was overcast and rainy and this translated to very short lines. We waited probably 20 minutes to board and ascended up into the sky. The ride up was a bit cramped, but we got a space next to the window to take pictures. The Cathedral itself was impressive, but the views of the city at that altitude were the highlight. There is also a market behind the cathedral with some very tempting street food. I tried a piece of griddle fried tripe, but it didn’t sit too well with me. It was very cold and rainy at the top so we tried to find an open café (but all shut down at around 6pm). So we headed back down in the Funicular and taxied to Zona G.

    It being Sunday, there were quite a few places closed. Our intention was to go to Casa Vieja, but we ended up at a little, quite formal Italian restaurant called Il Positano. The food and wine were fabulous, and although it was more than we had intended to spend for Sunday supper – it was so nice to sit and enjoy a glass of wine out of the cold. I highly recommend the ravioli di Porcini con trufi neri (porcini ravioli with black truffles). So good!

    We were tired so called it an early night to prepare for our last day together in Bogota.

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    Bogota - Last and final day!

    Up and going pretty early the next morning, we ate breakfast at the hotel (yum…Calentado) and set off with our driver to explore La Candelaria. It was great to have a guide around the area to point out the little known facts and interesting points of the area. We started off in Plaza Simon Bolivar. The architecture was incredible against the green of the Andes. Breathtaking! We then walked to Palacio Narino and had the obligatory photo of us with the Palace guards. Along the way there were a few churches with notably beautiful architecture and statues that we snapped some photos of. One stand out was Iglesia de San Juan de Bosque. There was a Novella being filmed at the Templo de San Augustin. We also navigated through some small market alleys where I was able to find some great figurines of Botero statues and my husband picked up some Aguardiente cups. We then headed to the Casa de la Moneda for a quick look, but spent about an hour or so in the Botero museum. It really was a fabulous collection of his work and a great experience.

    We then had a late lunch at Casa Viejas (which we had missed the day before). I had Camarones Enchilados which were very good. The “typical” appetizer plate was one of the best that I had in Colombia. Amazing empanadas de Carne and Fried Yuca. I also tried one of my tablemate’s order of “Lengua” which despite my concerns about the texture, was fabulous. Perhaps the highlight though was the Aijiaco ordered by my husband. The ultimate comfort food, it was rich and flavorful.

    Our evening was spent packing and with a quick trip to Zona T again to walk around a bit for one last time. We had a light dinner at Il Pommeriggio, and the Cesar salad there was quite good.

    It was a fabulous adventure in Bogota and I would highly recommend a visit. I am not certain if anyone has read my trip report so I am going to save myself the trouble of uploading the pics to Flickr unless someone requests to see them. Until then, I hope you have enjoyed the reading!

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    They are very convenient (~5 hours each way). There are two direct flights to Bogota every day from Houston Bush Intercontinental direct to Bogota and a number of options with 2-legs.

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