Bogota Without the Hinks

We woke up in Bogota, a family of three again. So we got up, made ourselves pretty, and headed out for breakfast. We picked Bagatelle, a french cafe a couple of blocks from our hotel, and despite their beautiful menu, the best we can say is that we had some food. Captain was on good behavior, and got a little bit of a walk around the park, before we fled a dog-walker and her substantial pack.

We hadn’t been left to our own devices in a big city in several years, and our clothing stores had been suffering sun, sea, and boat grease. So we had to do some shopping. Better less said about that part of the day, except that we found some pretty decent Asian-fusion food at the mall. In the evening, we tried to visit one of the three Christmas markets in the area, and found Parque de la 93 still in the setup stages. We would try a second Christmas market after dinner, closer to our hotel, and find that we were a day early there too. Apparently the info we’d found online was for the previous year.

So we wandered around the empty fairground for a few minutes, and then ducked into Ko Asian Kitchen for some truly excellent cocktails and a tasty dinner. While we’re talking food, we’ll tack on the next day’s breakfast: right next door to Bagatelle is Crepes & Waffles Artesano, the boutique outlet of a Colombian chain, with much better food than their neighbor at half the price.

After that delicious breakfast, we took a cable car up the hill to Monserrate. Once again, we found Colombia to be way more pet friendly than we’d expected, with crates on hand for transporting your pet up and down, because of course you can bring your pet, what are we, savages?

The views from the top are excellent. We watched some tiny rain storms drift across the city, with downpours just blocks away from sunny skies. Note also the sign about the footing: “Fall at different levels”.

The church itself was not particularly notable, except for some weird stained glass and the Jesus of the Side Plank.

Andrew and Jazz both took the same picture in the bathrooms, on separate sides of the building, amused by the “EVERY CHILD PAYS” signs (US equivalent, 25 cents). Truly we spend too much time together.

Christmas in Colombia is everywhere, and we were a little sad we hadn’t picked this spot for an evening visit with Jazz’s parents, especially when we found out that there’s a fancy French restaurant with beautiful views and a prix-fixe menu. The transition from daylight to city lights would have been nice, and with the Christmas lights added in, amazing. But we had a good time with the angel statues even in the daytime. Everything is set up for easy Instgram photos everywhere we go, and we were sad to have left @boatbengal behind.

Especially since it would have broken his lifetime altitude record. Also apparently there’s a gym up here somewhere (we saw a sign). We did not go. We sailors are not acclimated to being above sea level.

Back down the hill (but still way above sea level), we went back to the chocolate and cheese cafe from the end of our Candelaria tour. Andrew was really excited about the cheese-chocolate phenomenon, and though he had envisioned the cheese being mixed in, he was still pretty happy with the experience. This is also the spot where we would have played tourist-friendly Tejo with the tour, instead of the rowdy local version we ended up with. A little ways away, note the cow in socks; an offshoot of the famous restaurant that everyone now says has jumped the shark.

We tried to go to the Botero museum, but we had neglected to plan ahead, and found that it’s closed on Tuesdays. As is MAMU. American museums are more often closed on Mondays and we hadn’t bothered to check. So we stopped in at the Museo de Botota, which was an enlightening if depressing tour of how different citizens live here. Then we walked back down to the Plaza de Bolivar…

… and into the Museo Santa Clara, housed inside an old cathedral. It was weird but neat, with a mix of traditional religious icons and trippy modern pieces. There’s a man holding a skull, probably not Hamlet, and entirely too many creepy wooden dolls. Plus there’s an open crypt entrance, just roped off. And still this is one of the prettiest places we went in Bogota. Stunning ceiling. But then why are there left eyeballs on either side of Jesus? Presentation 2, content 5.

They also had this great display of gold-embossed works by a local artist; here are some of our favorites.

Walking back out, we headed downhill towards Carerra 10 and the big central market there. As the crowds thickened, we started running into food vendors, and stopped to try a hot cup of canelazo, a hot drink made from sugar cane and mulling spices with optional aguardiente. Andrew had read up on traditional local beverages, and he was pretty excited that he got to try this one before heading back to Santa Marta, where hot beverages are not in favor.

The market and crowd thickened to almost unphotographable densities, with wares catered to the local market with Christmas on the mind. We managed to find a jacket for Captain, and then made our escape. That left us with one more mall to visit before we could really be done “working”, and this one was even more explicitly pet friendly than the last. “Somos pet friendly”!! We also enjoyed some of the decorations along the way.

We got Captain dressed up in his new jacket, and headed back to the now-open Christmas market a few blocks from our hotel. We had a great time browsing the craft stands and sampling some local beers. The cat had a great time skulking around the displays and sniffing the toys, and everyone was super excited to see him. He was the only cat, and he surprised people a little, but all the dogs we ran into were extremely well socialized. Colombia seems to have high expectations for pet behavior, relative to the US, which goes along with the incorporation of pets into normal life. It sometimes feels like he’s more welcome in social situations in Colombia than a baby would be in the US.

Captain was not as excited to ride the big plush horses as we were. But he kept up his good spirits the whole night, and the down vest seemed to keep him warm enough. (He’s never had to spend time out in the cold before, and Bogota at night was pretty chilly.) He even walked most of the five blocks home, enjoying the hours when the city traffic is lower.

It turns out that when it’s cold, Captain is much more cuddly. The windows to the room did open fully to the outside, but there was no heating or AC, so it got cold at night. At some point we’d asked the hotel if there was anything we could do about the temperature, and they gave us a space heater for the room, and we only got a little bit of that feeling that they thought we were weakling foreigners. Jazz wished we had asked earlier. (This was clearly a business-oriented hotel, with a couple of conferences and corporate parties during the time we were there.)

Our last morning greeted us with a fly-over of a bunch of helicopters as we packed up the hotel room. We decided to go back to Crepe & Waffle for breakfast, and were once again pleased with the food. Though they were a lot slower on day two, and Jazz’s stomach is eating itself in the picture.

And then it was time to hop in a taxi, take a quick flight back to the coast, and taxi back to Villa, who had managed to get covered in a nice thick layer of coal dust in our absence. Oh, Santa Marta.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.