Despacito love it or hate it – the song will follow you all over the globe this summer. And if you find yourself visiting any of the Central or South American countries, be prepared to dance along locals. But before you get carried away by Latino music, make sure that you have enough energy to dance till the dawn. Finding a decent spot in the Colombian capital Bogota won’t be difficult as there is an abundance of restaurants to choose from. Meat lovers will not be disappointed.
I went to a couple of places and will share my experiences in the next few posts but for now, I’d like to share with you some of my first impressions from Colombia.
On the first weekend, my Colombian friend invited me and two of my friends for a day in & out of Bogota. There were a few highlights of the day.
First, the capital goes insane on weekends when it comes to cycling, running or skating. Some of the main roads in all cities in Colombia are being closed late afternoon Saturday to allow cyclists and pedestrians to virtually flood the city (to a doubtful joy of the drivers 😉 ). Initially, I thought it some kind of festival but I learnt this can be seen every weekend*. Chapeau bau ladies and gentlemen cycling in Bogota – I saw quite a few climbing up steep hills surrounding the capital. Great endurance! Mind you, Bogota is 2,644 meters above sea level (8,675 feet) and any cycling up takes you to at least 3,000 meters. Although I’m quite fit I struggled walking on the first day as I had a headache and from time to time would be out of breath. Luckily it went away after one day. Carless streets for a day or two – I think it’s a brilliant idea whatever drivers say.
*The Ciclovía was founded by a band of young Bogotá idealists led by Jaime Ortiz Mariño in 1974 – it became Colombian tradition and started spreading around the world.
Second thing, murals. Once you drive from the airport all grey concrete walls and barriers are covered in colourful murals and street art. I love it! Not only because I’m a big fan of street art but also because it gives a nice vibe to the city and makes it bright. I really enjoyed trips from/to the city center. And when you’re in city center – you are bound to stumble across some mind blowing pieces of street art. You can even join street art guide tour if you want to. Here’s the link to the booking http://bogotagraffiti.com
Last but not least, picnics.
I was told it’s very popular way to spend lunch time during weekends in this part of the world. Midday on Saturday or Sundays people take their family, friends, and dogs and flock nearest parks or green areas to spend time chatting, laughing, listening to live music and enjoying traditional food. They would either take their own food or stop by a restaurant like El Tambor, as we did, to grab a basket full (literally) of Colombian food.
Here’s what you find in a basket: Churraco (grilled beef), pollo (chicken), Lomo (steak), chicharron (fried pork belly or fried pork rinds), morcilla (blood sausage), mazorca (grilled corn), papa criolla (roasted potatoes), yucca fries, maduro (fried plantain),arepas (cornmeal cakes), guacamole. Ok, I have to admit, it isn’t the healthiest meal but taken that some of us planned for a little trek in Guatavita and then for a night out in Bogota – extra calories wouldn’t do us any harm. Plus, unless you’re vegetarian, you cannot leave Colombia without being a part of this fantastic gathering. And the bonus is just on your way to your car or bike (depending how you got there) i.e. ice-creams. One of the most beautifully presented ice-creams I’ve seen in my life. Fresh, natural ingredients and the presentation – just have a look at the pic – sometimes too beautiful to eat them. Not to mention that your wagging tales would be pleased as well, the company makes a few flavours suitable for our four-legged friends. Shhhh – Chester is unaware of that. He’d be upset to learn that I didn’t brought any for him 😉 Romeo y Paleta remember that name and look for their amazing ice-creams.