Solo travelling in the capital of Colombia
01.07.2016 - 04.07.2016 16 °C
So I have to admit I was pretty skeptical going to Bogotá all by myself. Even though it is far less dangerous than it used to be, there are still areas where you should not go, and you should never ever take a random taxi in the street (always book ahead or have someone book for you). With this in mind I was sure I was going to get robbed as soon as I walked out of the baggage claim at the airport. Obviously this did not happen. The only drama was that I had to wait over 20 minutes to be picked up by my hostel, and I was a bit stressed that he might have tried to contact me while I have a phone with no sim card or internet. Luckily he came, and drove me to the apartment that he rents out (found in Lonely Planet). The apartment is located near Zona T which is a pedestrian street full of cafes and restaurants. It is also very easy to take the Transmilenio to the touristy area of La Candelaria which makes it a perfect option if you value security (the tourist area gets very unsafe after dark).
Day 1: La Candelaria and Zona Rosa
So I spent the first day walking around in la Candelaria. I decided to go to El Museo de Oro first, as I prefer museums without too many people. Later I went and saw the Iglesia de San Francisco (the oldest church in Bogotá), The Emerald Trade Centre (where they sell emeralds), Museo de Botero (Botero a Colombian artist famous for making pictures and statues of fat people, animals and what not), Iglesia de Santa Marta, and finally I went for a stroll around Plaza Simon Bolivar. This was easily done in half a day. I could have visited more museums, but I must admit I am not much of an art person.
In the evening I went to Zona Rosa where the Zona T is located watching as the scene changed from mostly people doing shopping to people going out. I ate in the famous restaurant Andres Carne de Res, or to be more specific, its more centrally located little brother Andres D.C. The restaurant had a very amusing interior, and it was crowded with people. Unfortunately, by then my camera was out of battery, so I didnt get to take any nice photos.
Day 2: Zipaquirá and la Catedral de Sal
For my second day I decided to travel outside Bogotá to visit the town of Zipaquirá or more specifically to visit its salt cathedral. Before getting on to the sightseeing I just got to say that I am so impressed by the Transmilenio transportation system in Bogotá. It is a transportation system consisting of buses, except you enter and exit the bus as you would on the tube (just overground), and the buses have their own lane on the road, which makes them very efficient and so easy.
The town of Zipaquirá seems to be mostly visited by Spanish-speaking tourist (mostly Colombians) and a few English speaking ones that have read the Lonely Planet (aka the Bible). At the cathedral I was asked if I wanted to join the Spanish or English speaking tour. Usually I tend to join the Spanish one. However, here it was the option of joining 5 people (English speaking) or a couple of hundred (Spanish speaking), so I chose English.
The cathedral itself is located inside a salt mine. Everything inside, including the many crosses and alters are all made of salt. Inside you follow a path with different stations representing Jesus´ last journey (aka carrying the cross to dying on it). Because I visited on a Sunday I decided to join the mass with the locals. I have to admit I left half through as my religious vocabulary in Spanish is very limited, and I didn't know any of the songs or prayers. Interesting experience anyway!
Before I left Zipaquirá I decided to go for a stroll in the town. It is very charming and beautiful, but you can also see that it mainly survives of people coming to visit the salt cathedral. I also had a look inside the local church. I was a bit confused why so many was standing outside of the church and not entering, but I decided that they had probably just finished mass and were now taking the opportunity to chat. What I didn't realise however was that I walked straight into a funeral! I pretended to be super-interested in the ceiling and ran quickly out of there!
I must admit that I really like Bogotá. I would not mind coming back. Nevertheless, tomorrow I am off to Cartagena where I will meet my travel companion. Travel with someone always makes the experiences so much better!