To be honest, I really didn’t do much during my first three days in Bogotá. When I was not working, I stayed in my amazing room at the JW Marriott. I ordered tons of room service and watched almost two seasons of Rescue Me. I actually pulled an “all-nighter” Friday night – went through an entire season. Talked about hooked.
By the time I finished with the Rescue Me marathon it was 11:30 PM on a Saturday. I was leaving the next day so I had to power-through and go do some sight-seeing.
After consulting with the concierge, I decided the best I can do was head to the Monserrate Sanctuary and then visit La Candelaria district. I also got a recommendation for dinner to a restaurant that allegedly serves the best Bandeja Paisa, which is a local traditional dish.
The sanctuary resides on a mountain that dominates the city center of Bogotá. It is 10,300+ feet above sea level, where you can find a church dedicated to “El Senor Caído.” The pilgrims prefer to climb the mountain to reach the sanctuary but I am tourist so I took the areal cable-car. The views were spectacular. I also made a friend, hope the Miaos does not get jealous.
La Candelaria is a historic neighborhood in downtown Bogotá. The architecture of the old houses, churches and buildings has Spanish Colonial and Baroque styles. My first impression was the colonial feel is beautiful but the area felt dirty and run-down. Almost every building was littered with graffiti even the statue of Simon Bolivar, which is our equivalent to George Washington. As I was walking around enjoying the sights, I picked up snacks from different street-vendors and eateries. I had green mangoes, which are so much better than ripe mangoes. I also picked up this super sweet-tostada snack, which I did not like. My favorite were the empanadas, which were fried and stuffed with meat and rice.
This is a free museum in the La Candelaria district. It contains a boat-load of Fernando Botero’s work. He is a Colombian figurative artist with such a distinct style, which some call “Boterismo.” I have never seen his work but it is definitely unique and quite fun. I also came across a couple of pieces by Piccaso.
Museo De Oro
This is another museum in the La Candelaria district but I had to pay to get into this one. Sadly, it was not worth it. Seemed like any other Museo de Oro I have been to. Just tons of gold figurines. I did see some ancient smiley faces, which I thought were funny.
Aguardiente and Local Beers
I make it a point to try the local beers and liquor at every country I visit. I took public trans system to leave the Candelaria area to go back to my hotel. On the way, I came across a bar which was all I needed to get my tasting on. Colombia’s liquor is Aguardiente, which tasted like a less-harsh version of Sambuca. Colomibia has a nice array of local beers but they all pretty much taste the same. My favorite was Aguila probably because I liked the label.
I read somewhere that Bandeja Paisa is one of the “must-try” local dishes in Colombia. The name stands for platter, which is characterized by an over-sized amount of food and the wide variety of ingredients. The massive amount of food prevents the dish from being served on a single regular plate – hence the platter. The concierge told me that Club Colombia has the best dish in town. Turns out – my dish was ok but nothing to scream home about. It contained rice, beans, plantains, ground beef, chicharrón, and avocado. However, the decor and appetizers were amazing. I would got back just for that.
I finished off my night by going out with some co-workers to Andres DC, which turns out to be a really fun club. It is “Dante” themed and incorporates elements of the Divine Comedy throughout the club. Each floor has a represents a different aspect of the poem – from inferno to paradise. Also, the club has amazing mojitos in an artisan-bowl with enough mint leaves to feed a small rabbit.
Jenn is coming to visit this week. I can’t wait.
Strength and Honor,