Photo Credit: Javier Albarracin
My flight took about 6 hours non-stop from San Francisco International Airport to El Nuevo Dorado International Airport in Bogotá. You need a passport valid for at least six months to enter Colombia. A tourist visa is not required if you are a US passport holder.
Photo Credit: Click Here
Bogotá was not originally on top of my list of places to visit this year. But there was a sudden change in my travel plans for the month of March, so I just decided to go see my good friend who happens to live there. Colombia is the 2nd country in South America that I have visited.
The museum is closed on Mondays and any public holidays which falls on a Monday. Children under the age of 12 years and adults of 60 years and older have free entrance. Free tours are offered in both English and Spanish. The English tour starts at 11:00 and 16:00. Please click here for more information.
The Gold Museum. My first morning in Bogotá, I stopped by the reception area and asked for a tourist map. Paulina, the hotel receptionist, suggested the Gold Museum which was also recommended by some of the locals that I met during breakfast. I am not a big museum person, but I know it provides a quick history lesson of the country you are visiting. Like any other country with abundance of gold, pre-Colombian era uses gold as ornaments, tools etc., but one particular practice that they use it for is during ceremonies. They believe that gold and nature are interconnected. The museum is believed to house the biggest collection of gold in the world.
CATEDRAL DE SAL
Opening Hours and Rates (Source: Click Here)
Open Everyday from 09:00 to 17:30
Adult (13+ years): 25 Colombian Peso
Child (4 – 12 years): 17 Colombian Peso
English Guided Tour: 10 am, 12 noon, 2 pm, 4 pm
Salt Cathedral ( Catedral de Sal). My friend mentioned this particular tourist attraction about 1.5 hours drive from the capital. I did a little bit of research, and became excited to see it. The salt mine was enormous, and they still actively digging and renovating inside. I initially thought that they just built a church as part of the salt mine. Wrong!! They converted most part of the mine. They have the station of the cross, lots of religious statues, several chapels, mini stores, light shows and of course, a functional Cathedral. Also, don’t forget it’s a salt mine, therefore, walls and ceiling were made up of salt rocks
Catedral De Sal was both beautiful and different. Inside has a huge crucifix surrounded by walls of salt. You can even have a quick break in a cafe 180 meters down.
Monserrate. This is a symbol of religion, nature and culture located on top of the mountain. It rises to ~3,200 meters above the sea level. It was rainy on the day that I visited which also happened to be Palm Sunday, but that didn’t stop the devotees to come and pray.
There are two ways to reach the top of the mountain: by cable car or a train. Please click here to see hours of operation and costs. We opted to go up on a cable car. I am not sure what is the weight capacity or the number of people the cable car can hold but we were packed in there like sardines when it was our time ride the car. The ride up to our destination was still amazing though with an excellent view of the city.
Once we reached the top of the mountain, the view was spectacular. There is a church on top which serves as the point of interest. There are several other things that you can see or enjoy here, such as plants that only survive in the cold weather, the high altitude environment, the highest “shopping mall” in Bogotá, a couple of fine restaurants (that offers French and Traditional Colombian cuisine), different statues, and unique houses, etc. It is almost like a little city on top of the mountain.
Bandeja Paisa is my favorite Colombian dish. The main characteristic of this dish is the generous amount of scrumptiousness over each servings. It includes fried egg, chorizo, ground meat, beans, plantain, avocado, and Chicharrones (I am eternally grateful on whoever came up with this amazing fried yumminess!). Pictures below are some of the delectable dishes that I have enjoyed while on this trip.
Bogotá satisfied my appetite really well, what can I say. I already knew I will love Colombian cuisine ever since I had the first taste of Bandeja Paisa in 2010 when I was in Miami. I don’t really know a place here in the Bay Area (San Francisco) that offers good authentic Colombian food. So if anyone who reads this knows of such place, please let me know!
Day and Night. In between my adventures, I was also able to enjoy other things, like walking around La Candelaria (old town), see the beautiful graffiti all over which were made in good taste, and a nightlife with a good combination of western and Latin music.
I am very glad that I decided to visit Bogotá. I am surprised of how beautiful it was. I know a lot of people are scared or cautious to travel there because of what they hear or read in the news. At some extent I would say they are right, but we all know sometimes media exaggerate news to make it more interesting. You just have to be open minded. But like any other new place you visit, always practice safety and be mindful of any danger that may come your way as a traveller.