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Our unusual itinerary for the usual first stop in Colombia: Bogotá

15/02/2020

Like many other trips, this one started soon, taking a bus to Tegel at 7:10. The week had been crazy, so we had to pack really late and barely slept. This detail is important to understand that, the moment we arrived in the airport, I took my first wide away look at Alex and noticed... he was wearing his winter jacket, instead of the planed raincoat. And what good is a bulky jacket that you will never use in the Caribbean in a small backpack? So, after check-in, we looked for the post office inside the airport to send it to us. I decided to send my raincoat as well, since it wasn't really waterproof anymore. Then I got paranoid, thinking my bag is too big for hand luggage (it wasn't), and since Iberia offered free check-in I went back and sent it directly to Bogotá.

Security took forever, but the flight to Madrid was fine. Initially, we had a 90 minutes layover, but the first flight started later and was way less, so we had to rush to McDonalds for a small snack on the way. The second flight was also ok, we had a two-seat row. The food was average, as expected, and so was the crew (and clumsy, they spilled something on Alex not once but twice).

At El Dorado airport, getting the visa and some money was very fast and easy. I checked on Google before our flights, and remembered a that a bus of some kind was supposed to take us to our hostel, but witout data we couldn't check exactly which one. To pay the bus we needed a card we didn't have, and as it was quite late, they didn't sell them anymore. I asked the girl behind us if she could sell us two rides, and she gave us them away! We had even bought a bottle of water to have change, but she didn't want to hear about us paying her back! 

The bus was super full, with a Venezuelan guy chating with everyone and giving a nice speech explaining a his live after having to leave his country, fairly interesting. We had to change to another bus, as it was apparently not the one we wanted, so we asked the people around and they were very helpful. On the ride, I checked the reservation, and check in time was until 22 and it was already 22:30. So, of course, when we got to our stop, we rushed up to our hostel, Casa Maka Maka, worried and... no problemo. We checked in, and according to the guy it was until 24. The people working there took it slow and nice, and in the end we shared a room with another couple. We were sooo tired, I didn't even hear them coming in!

16/02/2020

We woke up very early (thanks to jet lag!), so after trying not to get up, a shower, and some planning, we were ready for breakfast short pass 7. 
It was Sunday, and apparently in Bogotá there is this great initiative on Sundays, where they turn some roads into the Ciclovía: no buses or cars are allowed, just people and bikes. That made the cook of our hostel late (and I had to explain to the other guests, as the young receptionist didn't dare to speak English!). In the end, breakfast was around 8.
My initial idea was what everyone recommends: go to Monserrate in the morning, and around La Candelaria afterwards. But Alex had found something on the Internet about a Sunday flea market in Usaquén. And it was Sunday. So around 8:30 we started going towards Usaquen. 
As all the buses were detoured, we bought a TuLlave card (thas is the name of the "card we needed to pay for the bus" the day before, the one you need to pay for the Transmilenio) and asked the Transmilenio workers what would be the best way to get there. They tried to help, but in the end, the Transmilenio app was better at showing the way. 
Usaquen was beautiful, trendy, had a WeWork (sadly closed, because it was weekend) and the coolest flea market. We bought shoes, earrings, a hat, a belt, empanadas, ice cream, and even had a coffee in the coolest café ever! Then we bought a TIGO sim card in the mall (shops are open in Colombia on Sundays). I got confused while listening/translating, so in the end we payed 60k COP for 8Gb instead of 75k COP for unlimited. And I was pissed. And Alex too. (A couple days later we checked it out and it wasn't that bad, since it was unlimited but with a speed cap). 
Anyway, we took two buses towards La Candelaria. We took a comida corriente (a super average, juice, soup and main dish, at 25k for both of us) and walked to the Plaza Simón Bolívar. Then we walked around and up to the cable car to Monserrate. There was a 30min line, so we decided to walk up, but the entrance on foot closes at 1PM. 
So we headed back to la Candelaria again, with a stop for coffee and trodelnik (!). The checked the church in Plaza Bolívar, which then was opened (and ok) and then we walked directly to our neighbourhood. We saw good street music and drank some beers at a BBC (Bogotá Beer Company). We walked to the hostel, looked for an ATM, got a dinner at a Peruvian restaurant and, super full, tired and burnt (it was supposed to be cloudy and 15 degree, not sunny and hot) were ready for bed at 21:30!

Cute street between our hostel and the bus stop.
Enjoying a nice coffee
Plaza Bolívar (is that a llama in the back?)
Beers at the Bogotá Beer Company
Published: 30 March 2020, by susana

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Two years after the spontaneous change of plans in which we flew to Colombo instead of Colombia because the flights were on sale, we did it. We went to Colombia. As we like to slow travel, we spent about two weeks on its Caribbean coast and another two in the coffee region. The spectacular landscapes and the friendliness of the Colombians captivated me, so I'm looking forward to coming back and seeing many more areas!

Entry 1 out of the 9 from this trip

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