We spent Easter in Bogotá, the capital and largest city of Colombia. With a population of 11 million, the metropolis spans over 600 square miles and is the third highest capital in South America (at 6,880 ft above sea level). Despite having certain architectural resemblances with Panama City (mostly the colonial buildings in La Candelaria being similar to those found in our Casco Antiguo), these two capitals of neighboring countries are worlds apart – economically, geographically and culturally speaking.
Now, can we skip all the nonsense and get to what’s really important? The food! Yes, the rumors are true – Bogota’s restaurant scene, from the traditional cuisine to the gourmet international presence, did not disappoint. In fact, it was probably the highlight of our trip, with us taking turns each day in choosing restaurants (trust me, it was harder than you’d think – so many options!).
A nature lover, I was positively overwhelmed by the amount of green spaces in Bogotá. Of course, even from the plane, the surrounding Eastern range of the Andes Mountains set the tone for the most spectacular location. A cableway to the top of Monserrate, a 10,341 ft mountain in the city center, offered terrific views of the city, and since we climbed down the 2 mile, 2000 ft steep, mud-covered route (instead of a two hour line for the cable car), we got even more glorious views of the city and surrounding valley.
Another unmissable is La Catedral de Sal, an underground church built within a salt mine, in nearby Zipaquirá. This colonial town is just 30 miles north from Bogotá, so we combined that with a trip to Guatavita, a picturesque municipality adjacent to a large lake (Laguna de Guatavita) for a wonderful day of sightseeing. La Catedral de Sal is a structural wonder, complete with the 14 Stations of the Cross that lead the way to the cathedral inside (we should have known it’d be quite crowded on Holy Week, but still – worth it!). We followed the tour of La Catedral with lunch at a local rotisserie for ajiaco (the Colombian chicken, potato, and guasca soup), platano, avocado, arepas, chorizo, meat, and national Club Colombia beer (too hot for coffee otherwise we’d have some more – Colombia ranks third in worldwide production of coffee, and we had a lot of it while there.)
We stayed in Rosales Plaza Hotel in Zona G (the g stands for gourmet). Mom had stayed there before due to frequent trips to Bogota’s financial district when she was in banking. I have nothing but positive things to say about the hotel and the area. The breakfast was specially good, as was the front desk service, high speed Wi-Fi, and spacious, elegant rooms with views. Some of the best restaurants in Bogotá are located in this upscale area, as well as major banks and financial institutions. Lastly, I must say I absolutely loved the vibe in nightlife central Zona T – the lively bars and restaurants with Latin music playing made us return there nearly every single night. Overall, Bogotá offers sightseeing, culture, gastronomy, a vibrant nightlife, and great people. What’s not to love? If the hour plane ride wasn’t enough of a reason, now I’ve got plenty of more to return.