Sunday, September 25, 2011

Getting Out and About

Each weekend, Tim and I try to get out and visit a new part of the city. We’ve started with the traditional touristy-type destinations, and will work our way deeper as the weeks pass. To catch you all up on our recent forays, here are some pictures and descriptions:
At 10,401 feet, perched above the sprawl of Bogota, Monserrate can be seen from nearly any point in the city. The white church and its tower is accessible via a long walk (1500 steps, so my guidebook says), a gravity-defying funicular that crawls up the nearly vertical mountain face, or the teleferico cable-car (like from a ski resort). We went up on a Sunday, which was nearly half-price from the other days for some reason that I could only chalk up to Monserrate hoping to encourage folks to come to mass which seems to run every hour during Sunday mornings into mid-day. We chose the funicular for the way up, and packed into the little car as the only gringos among loads of Colombian families and couples. It was a quick trip with great views of the city interrupted only by the tunnels and drifting clouds.
View from inside the funicular
At the top, we unloaded and explored the mountain-top cathedral and beyond to a lane of trinket shops and further to an alley of, I can’t really call them cafes or restaurants, more like an alley of kitchens with picnic tables offering amazing views to the backside of the mountains and the usual carnivore fest of choices. I truly don't know what vegetarians do in Colombia! I had my usual stand-by ajiaco soup, instead of an entire chicken, a three-foot long chain of sausage links or a side of beef (i.e. what everyone else was eating).
We did mention that this is a BIG city, right?

There were also a few restaurants in beautiful old buildings with views over the city, fancy dining rooms and extensive menus. 
We continued past all the lunch stalls to the end of the alley to a clearing where there was a little beer stand at the very peak of the mountain, under the radio towers and among the stumps of huge eucalyptus trees that we're being cleared for some reason. The view to the east, the opposite direction from the cityscape, was very Man From Snowy River, with incredibly steep faces covered in eucalyptus and evergreens.
Not sure what this is - but it's at the top, too.
Carn-fest with a view

This is where we could have eaten...

...but this is where we DID eat.

Beer shack at the top of the world.
We had hoped to take the teleferico back down the mountain, but the line was over an hour long, and so we returned in the funicular instead.

Yesterday we went down to the Botanical Gardens and walked around through different types of forests, each with neatly labeled trees, and later through a maze of glass greenhouses that varied in climates from dry desert to sweltering Amazonian. It felt great to be above 65 degrees again, until it got to about 100 degrees and I thought I was going to faint in the sudden heat and humidity. There was also a butterfly room where we walked through a collection of tropical plants decorated with tropical butterflies.
One of 30,000 varieties of orchids
After the garden, we walked through parts of the enormous Parque Simon Bolivar, and stopped into a sports complex that was hosting the PanAmeican Championships for Wheelchair Rugby. We watched part of an exciting Colombia vs. Argentina game (the US vs. Canada game was later and meant to be the headline event, but we couldn't wait that long). Instead, we found a taxi just 15 minutes before a gully-washing shower descended on the city, turning our street into a navigable river.

Sidebar: Word came from the customs and shipping guys in the embassy that our truck has finally reached Bogota and is "out there" - somewhere in the city, hopefully behind some form of security fencing. It will be another eight weeks before it can be released by the MFA and licensed, so our weekend trips will remain within walking and taxi distance until then.


  1. How awesome!!! I need to do my weekend trips again.

  2. Absolutely lovely photos! We are looking forward to more outings -- hoping your vehicle makes it to you soon and safely!