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Favorite thing: Bogotá's oldest neighbourhood La Candelaria is a very pleasant area to wander around admiring the colourful colonial houses adorned with lovely balconies. But there is more La Candelaria has to offer. It's cultural and artistic heart of the city.
If you look up you will notice several statues on tops of the buildings. They are life-sized figures of ordinary people doing usual and sometimes unusual things on the edges and tops of buildings: sitting, walking a tightrope, sneaking into rooms or just looking at the city. This is a unique art project by local artist Jorge Olave. He uses recycled material, mostly copper, to make these statues.
While doing your walking tour of La Candelaria you'll certainly come across these eccentric rooftop sculptures, so don't forget to look towards the sky! :)
Updated Feb 7, 2010
Favorite thing: To improve the transportation system in the city and encourage the use of alternative means of transportation Bogotá held the most successful car free day in the world on February 24, 2000. Even though some European cities had held successful car free days, this was the first time that the use of private vehicles was restricted in an entire city.
For the last years every Sunday the city closes 110 kilometres of main arteries to all auto traffic during 7 hours (07:00am-02:00pm), so that more than one and half million people can use this public space for recreational purposes and people go cycling, skating, jogging or just walking. On the Ciclovía (Cycleway) people from all social and economic classes meet so this has environmental as well as social benefits.
The main street, Carrera Septima, which crosses the city from north to south, is also among the streets that are closed for traffic. There are all sorts of live music concerts, street theatre plays and magic shows, and you can buy healthy (and unhealthy) food, crafts and other stuff.
I very much enjoyed my Sunday morning stroll here. Unfortunately, soon after it I had to say 'Goodbye Bogotá, goodbye Colombia!'
Updated Feb 25, 2009
Favorite thing: Most of the local people don't buy original music CDs and film DVDs but pirates. Street vendors sell pirate CDs on the traffic corners of Bogotá and there are hundreds of stalls in the street markets that openly sell pirate products. This lately became a big business and many support their families by selling pirate CDs. Piracy continue to dominate the Colombian market.
I made a huge list of Colombian music and films that I wanted to buy. I always buy original music CDs and film DVDs. There were several that I could not get so Donna suggested to buy the pirates. She has her own dealer but he was not available at that day. So we walked on Carrera 7 and asked a guy who was offering pirate music and films. He brought us to the nearby shopping centre (he worked for) only dedicated to pirates. Incredible, I could not imagine that something like that existed. I was happy to get all the missing titles, and besides, I save a lot of money as they are incredibly cheap (3.000 COP each; if you buy a lot they even give you discount). Sometimes you just have to compromise :)
Updated Feb 19, 2009
Favorite thing: La Candelaria is in central Bogota and it's the historical centre, with many colonial buildings, museums and old charming churches. its heart is in the large Plaza Bolivar, where you can find, among others, the cathedral, the parliament building and (slightly hidden) palace Nariño, the home of the president of Colombia.
Rumours want it that it's a dangerous place to vist, but I did not find it so, at least during the day... there's plenty of police around and you'll see lots of local women walking about with their handbag AND not really holding on to it, which is a clear sign that criminality is not as high as people want you to believe.
At night it's a different story.. until 10 PM it felt very safe, with plenty of people strolling about - then suddenly everyone disappeared and the area started to look scary: hardly any visible police around, and some dodgy faces. needless to say, we took a taxi to return to our hotel.
Fondest memory: My fondest memory of Bogota, and the main reason why we went there, were two excellent museums: the gold museum (museo de oro) which hosts the richest collection of pre-columbian gold artefacts, and the Donacion Botero where you can admire a large number of statues and paintings of the world-reknown Medellin-born artist.
Both museums are located in the historical Candelaria area.
Updated Aug 6, 2008
Favorite thing: .
Bogota, the capital of Colombia is acutally called Santa fe de Bogota and it's a 7 million metropolis located 2640 metres above sea level - hence expect cool temperatures during the day and cold temperatures at night... moral of the story: bring a sweater and a jacket or you will freeze.
The city, founded in 1538, is all surrounded by mountains and it's a city of contrasts: modern skyscrapers and colonial buildings, incredibly wealthy people and plenty of homeless living on the pavements. Traffic from hell and the most amazing and modern form of public transportation (the new transmillenio).
Fondest memory: Bogota can roughy be divided in 4 large areas:
- the central area, between carreras 1-14 and calles 5-34, which includes the Candelaria and the international centre
- the northern area, very modern and rich, with many restaurants and businesses
- the southern area, mainly a large industrial area
- the western area, with the Eldorado airport, many parks and sportgrounds.
Due to my limited time in Bogota I did not have much time to explore it all, I only saw parts of the central and northen area. My first impression was that the central area had a lot more vibe and the people were more like the people I would like to be associated with: simple and unpretentious. I did not find much at ease in the northern area, especially at night - and not for safety purposes: people seemed a bit too loud and brash for my taste.
Updated Aug 6, 2008
Favorite thing: In 1998 the Mayor of Bogota decided to transform the city. Until then the city had been suffering from traffic congestion, crime, and corruption. The problem were getting worse every year as more than 140,000 Colombian moved from the countryside or other cities to Bogota. Crime had become uncontrollable. The Mayor built schools, repaired parks, pedestrianised streets, extended domestic services to poor neighbourhoods and decided to restrict the use of private cars. So he built bicycle lanes, improved transportation and finally introduced the TransMilenio. He was more successful than he could ever hoped. Pollution dropped dramatically, crime was reduced by 50% and commuters saved a lot of time. Today it is no more dangerous than any other big city in the world! It was a miraculous change and other developing cities are considering Bogota as a model.
Another Mayor helped in the transformation focusing on educating the citizens. People learned about the problems and understood they should have to change their personal behaviour in the urban setting. He used effective ways to convince them, with symbolic and humorous actions that were more effective to people. He also managed to reduce corruption .
Understandably, there is a lot more to be done. The city is not yet free from crime and violence but the difference is obvious and admirable.
Click on photo for more of Bogota...
Written Jun 30, 2008
Favorite thing: The best part of visiting Bogota was definitely getting to see some friends, both old and new. One of my friends in Philadelphia, Mauricio, is a doctor originally from Bogota who was living there when I visited for a year to do some training. I was able to spend an evening with him and his girlfriend and they were even kind enough to take me on a nighttime driving tour of La Candelaria.
I also was able to spend some time with Amy (pictured) who works for Children's Vision, a non-profit school/orphanage in South Bogota. She's been in Bogota for 6 1/2 years and is doing truly remarkable work with kids who were abandoned and unloved and who have now found a home at Children's Vision. Being able to spend some time with Amy and visiting the kids was truly rewarding.
Updated Dec 30, 2007
Favorite thing: I am not sure what the water is like now. However l when lived in Bogota in the 80's. I got really sick because of the water. I did take precautions but because l was a vegetarian and ate mostly salads, whenever l ordered salads they were washed in tap water. I was really ill for weeks on end. Better off buying bottled water and using that brushing your teeth. There are parisites that get into your tummy, which are called amibas l think that is how its spelt. They cause havoc especially if you have a few drinks, its like a disco party in your belly and once they get in its very hard to get them out. Not very nice. Make sure you have a hepatitis A injection to prevent this.
Updated Jun 19, 2006
Favorite thing: Make sure you skin is covered from dusk till dawn try to cover yourself around the dusk time. I know this can be hard especially if the weather is good. However the mossies come out in their millions so its a good idea to use insect repellent. I always had a newspaper handy for swatting those annoying mossies, besides its hard to sleep with them buzzing around you. If your travelling into the heat take a mossie net with you. They dont supply them in hotels. Although its a lot to take with you, if your fair skinned you need as a lot more protection. Nets can be bought in stores through out bogota.
Updated Jun 8, 2006
Favorite thing: Bogota is 3000m above sea level. I found myself having dizzy spells and headaches and nausea for the first month l was there. If your climbing make sure you have plenty of bottled water and eat enery rich carbohydrates.
Written Feb 25, 2005
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