It’s been an experience. For someone who’s never travelled alone until this trip, I’ve done a lot of new things on my own. I’ve also never been happier than when I saw Brian’s taxi arrive at the AirBnB in Cartagena and I knew the alone part was over!
The volunteering was really great – and really hard. I have a lot of respect for all teachers, and day care workers and babysitters. And parents. But day care workers? Wow. 26 2 year olds. In 33 degree heat and humidity and no air conditioning. Impressed. Next steps? Knowing I will never be a child care worker but still love to play with kids and having the utmost respect for those who do that every day.
The home stay was also great. Warm and welcoming people and a different world for me. I definitely got to use my limited Spanish. Next steps? Spanish classes or a tutor back in Toronto. I went to a couple of language exchange meet-ups, in Cartagena and Medellin, and will seek those out in Toronto now.
We knew we needed the exercise, and our host Robin was willing to take us up the nearby mountain for some outdoor entertainment and views of Bogotá. We got up early this morning and left at 6:30am for a long hike up a very high hill.
We walked from Robin’s apartment to the mountain and then up and back, so all in all it took about 3 hours from start to finish.
We left so early because this land is privately owned and only open to the public until 10am. It’s a beautiful spot along a river with eucalyptus and pine trees so it also smelled great too!
Robin told us the mountain doesn’t have a name, but the river site is called Quebrada La Vieja. I’ve also seen some tours online call it Chapinero Mountain, but there really is not much info about it online. It’s a “secret” locals hike, which in parts felt like it was alone to us. It was also steps from city streets but looked, sounded and felt very remote at times.
Don’t listen to everything Lonely Planet writes. There is a very famous restaurant a half hour north of Bogotá called Andrés Carne de Res – Anthony Bourdain has been and they seat up to 2,000 people at a time! We had already determined that it was too far for us to go so had kind of gotten it out of our heads. Well, last night we were having a beer at a local breweryin a Bogotá barrio called Zona Rosa and noticed that Andrés DC, an outpost of this famous restaurant, was right around the corner from us. Lonely Planet said it wasn’t worth it if you couldn’t go to the original. I am glad we ignored that note!
While not big enough for 2,000 people, Andrés DC is still a big place. Four stories of food, drinks, people, lights and music, it is also a feast for the eyes, ears and palate! Zona Rosa is an upscale barrio with a lot of high end shops and restaurants and while most places were closed or just not that busy on a Sunday night, the brewery and the restaurant were both pretty crowded.
Today was a beautiful day in Bogotá, and a great day to experience the city on two wheels.
On Sundays, a big chunk of main streets in Bogotá are shut down for pedestrians and cyclists for Ciclovia, and we wanted to be part of it! So, we went down to the Candelaria barrio to do a bike tour with Bogota Bike Tours. For 35,000 COP (less than $16 Canadian), we got a 5 hour ride around the city with a lot of facts and fun!
Knowing we were going on a bike tour, and also not having eaten dinner last night because of our massive lunch, we made our first stop a street with lots of Colombian restaurants. We wanted an authentic breakfast, so visited La Puerta de La Tradicion, and had coffee, a milk soup called changua (which was delicious) and chorizo. The food was good, the service was good and from there it was a quick walk to the bike shop.
Bogotá is a big bustling city – the capital of Colombia, with the largest population of 6.7 million – and we arrived yesterday for a 3 day whirlwind tour!
Our flight and taxi rides were easy, and we are couchsurfing with a friendly, interesting and generous guy named Robin. He has a roommate who is on crutches, Anna Maria, and 3 cats. His apartment takes up the 2nd floor of a building in the heart of a great neighborhood called Chapinero. This is a barrio north of the city centre with a lot of nightlife and restaurants.