Exploring Bogotá (Part 1 of 2)
Bogotá is the capital of Columbia and, not surprisingly, its largest city. It is the third highest capital in the world (after La Paz, Bolivia & Quito, Ecuador) at nearly 9,000 feet above sea level. It is home to about 8 million people - only a million behind New York City. It was also our first stop on bugbatical!
We slept in to make up for the night spent on the flight from SF to Fort Lauderdale but we woke up refreshed and were ready to explore Bogotá. We stumbled upon a tiny local restaurant and got our first taste of Colombian arepas. Phil and I both got ham, egg & cheese arepas (which were delicious) but learned we had made the wrong choice when we saw the arepas the local kids on lunch break from school got! Their arepas had cheese, chicken, corn and basically everything else they offered as a filling.
After our quick arepa breakfast (… that we ate at lunch time), we left on our mission to walk the ~3 miles to Bogota’s main park, Metropolitano Simon Bolivar. We figured walking would be a good way to see the city and I guess we were right but I wouldn’t say it was the part of the city that was most interesting to see. After we made it out of the Chapinero district where we were staying, we were pretty much walking along a main thoroughfare with lots of traffic & car exhaust (fun fact: Bogotá had a “yellow alert” for deteriorating air quality while we were there). BUT we persevered and made it to Bogotá’s BEAUTIFUL public library, which sits just outside the park.
After the library, we headed over a pedestrian bridge to the park only to find that it was CLOSED . While the park was normally open at that time (3 PM on a Wednesday) it was closed and there was nothing we could do about it. Our dreams of playing frisbee in Bogotá’s “Central Park” were dashed but we quickly regrouped and decided to take an Uber to La Candelaria, the historic center of the city.
La Candelaria neighborhood dates back to colonial times so it has quaint streets, cool architecture and a big cathedral that sits on the main plaza. We grabbed a late lunch while it rained briefly and then wandered around. We stumbled upon the Botero Museum and decided to check it out - which was an awesome decision! Botero is one of Colombia’s most famous artists - known for the exaggerated size of the people he paints & sculpts. I don’t think I would have known his work by name but once I saw a few pieces, I definitely recognized his distinct style. Most of the museum is dedicated to his work but it also includes works from other famous artists including Picasso, Dalí, Monet and Matisse! I’m not usually much of an art museum person but I really enjoyed Botero’s work (you can’t help but smile at his chubby human, birds and even fruit!) and the additional pieces from other artists.
We headed back to our Airbnb for a bit of break. After we had some down time, we were ready to head out to our two year anniversary dinner!
(True story: Our anniversary is on March 1st but it was March 6th at this point. On our actual anniversary, Phil and I were moving out of our SF apartment and we both COMPLETELY forget about it until about 6 PM that night. Given our exhaustion from the day and the fact we were leaving for Colombia in three days, we decided to postpone a celebration until we got to Bogotá.)
We headed to a restaurant that was less than 3 blocks from our apartment called Instinto. We had walked by it the day before and noticed that a) it looked very hip and b) it had an adorable ceramic pig on the bar sooooo obviously, that is where we were gonna go! They had an entire gin & tonic menu where each drink was made with a different gin and it seemed like the thing to do, so we went for it! The drinks were tasty but the best part was the presentation. Our waiter brought a large, round glass with ice & muddled berries in it, then he presented the bottle of gin to me, dramatically poured it into my glass and handed my the accompanying tonic. I like that my G&T came with a bit of flair! We enjoyed our entrées and were even convinced to order dessert (it was a celebration after all). The dessert was delicious and it came covered in gold dust! Between the cute ceramic pig, the drink flair and the sparkling dessert - this restaurant really seemed like it got me :P. But, the best part was that I got to spend a special evening with my bug!