Since I didn’t update regularly about our time in Bogotá, I decided to compact it all into one post. Don’t worry, it’s not too long!
Wednesday, November 18th
We arrived in Bogotá late Wednesday evening. Dan and I were exhausted from our Guatapé adventure and were ready for some sleep. We grabbed a taxi to Andrea’s house where we were met by a doorman who didn’t speak English. We struggled with our Spanish, trying to communicate that we were there to see Andrea. “Apartamento cinco cero dos.” He just stared at us.
Are we saying it wrong?
He called Andrea and apparently said there were “some English people” here and he couldn’t understand us.
We were finally let in.
Once in the apartment, Andrea greeted us with hugs and pasta. How amazing to not only be greeted with such hospitality, but to also see a familiar face.
We caught up a little about our adventures before Bogotá and our excitement over continuing to New Zealand. After eating some pasta and sharing some stories, Dan and I retired to our room to get some much needed rest.
Thursday, November 19th
The following morning, Dan and I awoke to a brown paper bag that read: “Fresh Bread for Backpackers.”
Andrea, you sweet thing, you!
We chowed down on some breakfast and started our research for the day. The stress soon overcame us and we became discouraged about our travel plans. Every tour we were interested in would cost us way too much money. We decided to leave the apartment and find some food.
Crossing the highway and looking around, we realized we had no idea where we were and the city was more complicated to navigate than we anticipated. Andrea texted me asking if we wanted to meet up, again saving us. We walked another 20 minutes before finding her in front of a Starbucks. From there, she took us to Bogotá Beer Company to grab a bite to eat and try some local brew.
A large plate of nachos and a pitcher of beer later, Dan and I were feeling much better about our lives. Mauricio, Andrea’s friend, came to pick up the three of us and go back to relax at Andrea’s apartment. Before we got there, we stopped off at the grocery store and Dan and I grabbed some food to get us by for a few days.
I was amused by all of the fruits; the shapes, the colors, what are they? “What is this? What does it taste like?” I questioned every piece of fruit.
“Oh, get that! That’s delicious!”
Suddenly, our basket was filled with strange fruits and odd snacks that Mauricio and Andrea insisted we try.
Finally at the apartment, we opened up a bottle of wine and talked for hours about Colombia, about the States, politics, adventures, and places for us to see. We snacked on Achiras (cheese-flavored crackers) dipped in Arequipe1 while they told us about Villa de Leyva.
Friday, November 20th
In the morning, Dan and I ventured to Monserrate to get a good view of the city. We were advised to only go during the day and only hike early in the morning. Since we didn’t get there by 8-9 AM, we decided to take the tram to the top to be safe.
At the top of Monserrate is a church and a bunch of shops, restaurants, flowers and odd decorations including coy fish and red birds. Dan and I walked around and admired the view before heading back down to explore some museums.
Museo del Oro was our first stop. It’s a museum with the largest collection of gold in the world. (Andrea writes about it here.) Then, a couple of hours later, we found ourselves at Museo Botero and Museo de Arte del Banco de la República (which was my favorite because the museum is enormous, much like its name).
By the time we were finished exploring museums, Dan and I were entering our “hangry” alter egos. Andrea recommended we try La Puerta Falsa, as it is one of her favorite spots in Bogotá. Dan and I ordered the chocolate completo (hot chocolate with cheese, served with buttered bread and a biscuit), the aguadepanela completo (hot, sugar water served with buttered bread and a bicuit) and the tamal (Colombian tamale) to split. We didn’t realize how large everything would be. The tamal was about the size of my head and was the best tamale I had ever had. First of all, it’s not the tamale I was used to; it was a Colombian style plate made with corn dough and contains a whole leg of chicken. Oh my yum!
After filling our tummies, Dan and I ventured back to Andrea’s where we would rest up before heading out.
It’s a Friday night and we were told we had to experience the Bogotá night life. We were so sleepy, but fine! We will go.
The three of us went to one of Andrea’s friend’s house where we met two other Americans, a guy from Switzerland and his girlfriend, who is a local. We chatted about travel and shared a cardboard box of “guava” (Aguardiente) before traveling to a local club.
The club was a club; crowded and pumped with loud music. It just isn’t our scene. We had a good time though. Dancing, laughing and taking pictures lasted a couple of hours before Dan and I gave in to our sleepiness and headed home.
Saturday, November 21st
Dan and I were lethargic in the morning. We lounged around and didn’t leave the apartment until 1:00 PM when we decided to explore the Botanical Garden and see some new, interesting plants. The gardens were great! We enjoyed the odd flowers and Dan discovered he had a favorite plant. “It’s just so perfectly shaped!”
Later this night, we denied another outing with Andrea and her friends (sorry!) in order to get a good night’s rest so we could get up early and make our way to Villa de Leyva.
Sunday, November 22nd
The bus station is overwhelming! Where are we supposed to go? How do we ask?
We somehow find the bus we need. It takes us to Tunja where we have to get off the bus and find one going to Villa de Leyva.
3 and half hours later, we arrive at our destination. The stone streets are hard to walk on. Dogs are running around looking happy as ever. The mountains rise high behind the village. The colonial style town is perfectly shaped. The air is clean. Ahhhh.
After checking in our hostel, Dan and I venture to an information spot where, luckily, the guy speaks English. He informs us that “The Fossil Museum is closed tomorrow” and we should rent bikes and see it today.
Well, since we were only in the town for one night, we took his advice. Except, we decided to walk. Oh. My. Goodness. It felt like it was miles away. We walked uphill, around curves, downhill, uphill again. It seemed like we would never get there.
I discovered what a heat rash was…
We explored the fossil museums (there were two locations for some reason) and on our way back, we checked out the Pozos Azules (blue pools).
These pools were so crystal clear and beautiful, but required us to hike up a steep hill to get out. UGH! My legs hated me.
We (miraculously) made it back to town where we found a spot to rest our legs and drink a cool beverage. We felt accomplished. We managed to get out of the city, work the bus system in a foreign language, hiked a terribly hot and steep hike, and watched as the storm clouds rolled in while we sat, safely under an awning.
We walked the crooked streets back to our hostel and did a little relaxation before heading back out for dinner.
Unfortunately, since we were only staying for one night, I only had the sweaty clothes on my back. Dan, of course, was wearing a suit and was perfectly ready to enjoy a fancy dinner2. Oh well. Who cares?
Dan and I went to El Rincón Gourmet, which is a piano bar and the only restaurant with 5 stars on Trip Advisor (if you click the link, you can check out the menu). We shared Spanish chorizo and a large French Onion soup. Dan had two beers and the Wok and I had two glasses of wine and the Beef Tenderloin. The total? A whopping 146,000 COP ($47 USD). And, let me tell you, that tenderloin was the best cut of meat I have ever had. It was, not only large, but perfectly cooked. Needless to say, we were very satisfied with our decision.
Back at our hostel, there was an odd man who was making some odd noises. The best I can describe this noise is something along the lines of a pre-vomit burp and swallow vomit gulp.
Dan and I slowly looked over at each other.
He rolled over on his top bunk and let out a big sigh, making the strange noise again. Occasionally would say something odd under his breath, or look over his shoulder as if we were going to turn into gremlins.
During the night, Dan and I would occasionally here the odd man and the snoring of the only other person in the room. We have no luck when it comes to hostel roommates.
Monday, November 23rd
Walking down the stone-filled streets, Dan and I found ourselves at a small bakery ordering a light breakfast. Freshly pressed orange juice, a personal serving size of scrambled eggs served on colorful serving plates, a hot latte with freshly ground Colombian coffee beans, and a side of toast. Simple and wonderful.
We soon found ourselves at the bus station looking for a bus to Gachantivá, where we would “walk a short distance” to La Periquera (waterfalls). The guy at the tourism information area told us this was the best way to get there. However, we had just missed the bus and would have to wait another hour. Dan and I didn’t feel like we could wait, especially since the rains usually start early to late afternoon. So, we decided to grab a taxi and in about 30 minutes, we were there!
The first waterfall was great. We took plenty of pictures and then climbed down a steep, muddy path to the third one. During this time, a little black dog had crossed the first waterfall and was now leading us downhill to the next fall. He was so cute and excited and continued to stop and look back as if to check in and make sure we were coming along.
After some pictures of the third fall, we realized that we would have to cross the first waterfall to see the second one, so we turned back towards the first fall to see our options.
Signs are posted warning to not cross the waterfall although there is a clearly a path across the way. The top of the falls were dry, except one part that had rushing water, but only three to four feet wide. We could jump that and land on dry rock, or we could walk up a steep path to find a different path that connects. We decided to jump it. Naturally, I landed funny and tweaked my ankle.
This path was sketchier than the other ones we were just on: narrow walkways hugging the jagged side of a mountain, steep drops that required you to lower yourself 12 feet by hugging a fallen tree, a muddy slope you declined by gripping wet rocks, hoping you don’t slip. At the bottom, it was worth it. It seemed like a path less traveled and it was worth it. There is just something magical about waterfalls. I mean, who doesn’t like them? Seriously.
We managed to make our way back up and decided to continue this path out of the La Periquera area, instead of chancing it back over the first waterfall.
As soon as we reached the top of the path, the little black dog was there! He was so excited to see us. He didn’t think he would again.
We continued down the trail and he followed. We kept talking to him, telling him he couldn’t come along, but he didn’t listen.
“Al, you’re really cute buddy, but you can’t come with us.”
I named him Al. Short for Alfredo. I don’t know why as he is a black dog and does not resemble pasta.
Dan and I reached an intersection where a herd of cows began spilling out into the road. Mooooo! Moooo! They all talked to one another. Al looked scared. He lowered his head and looked up as he quickly circled around to get back to us.
Up hills and around corners, we passed farms and cattle and Al stayed with us. When we passed a group of women, Al decided they were the better crew and he turned around and headed back to town with them.
We kept checking our phones and wondering how far this town was. Up more steep hills. Past more farms. Oh my god. That guy did not know what a short walk meant. This was miserable! I am so thankful we didn’t walk this crap there and back! I would chop my feet off!
Finally, we saw it. Gachantivá!
As soon as we arrived in town, there was a bus ready to go to Tunja. Tunja? We need to eat! Oh well. Let’s just go and get food there before the bus to Bogotá.
After a couple of empanadas, we were on the bus to Bogotá and before you know it, back at Andrea’s. We slept really well that night.
Tuesday, November 24th
Dan and I decided this day would be spent doing some research for New Zealand and getting our stuff together and ready. The only thing we had to do today, was meet up with Andrea for lunch at her grandmother’s.
Dan and I were to try Ajiaco, a popular and traditional Bogotá dish. Apparently Andrea’s grandmother makes the best!
The three of us arrived around 1 PM and were greeted by the house maid. Lunch began soon after.
Andrea’s grandmother doesn’t know English, so lunch felt a little awkward. I wanted to say more, but I didn’t know how. Andrea played translator here and there to say we were thankful and full and so on.
The Ajiaco was delicious! It’s a potato and chicken soup served with a small corn on the cob. There are side dishes of avocado, rice and other toppings to add to the soup. It sort of reminded me of a gumbo… It was great!
We were also served our choice of drink: coffee, juice, wine or tea. Us ladies had a small glass of wine and Dan had juice. It was a vibrant pink-red color, and I was curious what it was.
“It’s delicious! Want to try?” Dan passes it across the table. “Don’t chug it.” He adds.
“I’ll take one of those, too!” I say, after trying it. “What is it?”
Andrea laughs. “I don’t know. They’re just saying it’s berry.”
Whatever it is, it’s amazing.
After lunch, we all gave many thanks and headed back home. The rest of the day was calm as we prepared ourselves for New Zealand.
Wednesday, November 25th
I woke up early this morning in order to cook us all french toast before Andrea headed out to work.
The three of us sat around the table enjoying a nice breakfast and chatting until it was officially time to get ready. Andrea left and soon, we did too.
Obviously, the rest of the day was travel, so I will stop here.
Officially in New Zealand, the blog will change! No more bouncing around new places, but still seeing new things.
1 Hands down, the best snack I have ever had.
2 We decided to treat ourselves to a nice dinner since we hadn’t in so long. We were good about spending little money and calculated that enjoying an “expensive” meal was deserved.