Bogota is vast. Viewed from one of its outer hilly vantage points, the 9 million-person city sprawls beyond the horizon in 180 degrees. It sure as hell isn’t pretty though. As my airport cab entered the central districts, the occasional 60’s-esque semi-skyscraper dots the skyline, while at street level there’s barely a wall or fixture escaping the scrawl of a ‘street artist’. I was heading into Candeleria, the central old town of Bogota and location of most of the cities hostels.
My hostel – Masaya – came recommended from a friend, but was pretty quiet. The staff, while helpful, rigorously shut down anything beginning to turn into a social event at 10pm. It is however just a walk away from some of the cities famous attractions.
Possibly its most famous -The Gold Museum – is dedicated to showcasing the former riches and power of the Northern continents indigenous peoples. While it gets a bit repetitive, it’s beautifully laid out and the all gold artifacts are impressive. As I mentioned at the start, there’s an amazing view of the city by taking the cable car up the mountain, while, back at ground level, there’s an interesting Graffiti tour, which offers a more insightful light on the cities grungy appearance.
And it’s hard to go by a better word to describe Bogota than ‘Grungy’. Unlike Medellin, Bogota imposes a slightly more threatening vibe – and not just aesthetically. While about in the day and night, I caught several ‘fuck you’ glances from Latin punks, and twice found myself trying to outpace random mumbling hobos as they briefly staggered after me. Even a few dogs joined in on my tepid adventures around the city, though at least they seemed friendly. In Medellin, the only time I felt threatened was from my sociopathic Australian flat mate (another story).
Overall though, my local experience was positive – as it usually is when I have a sexy local girl to show me the place properly.
I’d met her a couple of months earlier on a Saturday night out in Medellin. She’d been out on a date, though her date was tripping on acid, and I wasn’t. It’d just been small talk that evening, but we kept in contact and enjoyed a few days together when I finally made it out to Bogota. We hung out for dinner, went to a few clubs (Radio Berlin is cool), and on my last night we went out to Carne De Res – a Bogota phenomenon.
There are two Carne De Res establishments in Bogota, one in the city itself, and one on the outskirts. Essentially it‘s a steak house/restaurant/party/Colombian cultural extravaganza – with the one of the outskirts palatial in scale. Unfortunately we couldn’t make it there, though the one in town is still very good. The menu is absurdly large, though our meals were excellent, and the atmosphere, hilarious. I’m back in Bogota after my island excursions so will be eager to check out the other one.