Mostly I’m going to leave this to a little video of sights and eats and all that on our six days in Bogotá, Colombia. I don’t know that it will give a real feel for the place, but, as the title says, it’s a glimpse. I recommend clicking on the icon in the lower right corner and watching it full-screen.
Thoughts. It’s a fairly big, noisy city, with snarled traffic – in many ways it reminded us both of Lima. Ostensibly, it’s laid out on a grid system, with Carreras (avenues) running north-south and Calles (streets) running east-west. But it’s not a real grid, many of the roads curve and wind, some are diagonals, some start and stop, many, too many, are one-way. And that gives rise to what, at first, looks like taxi drivers being relatively clueless about how to get from one part of the city to another – it’s not that they don’t know, roughly, where they’re headed to, but they have to figure out a route that takes all that stuff into account. Taxis, at least by visitor standards, are pretty cheap (and they have both Uber and Easy Taxi, both payable by credit card or cash), and there’s a bus system that we didn’t take time to figure out, but could have.
In general, we found the residents of Bogotá to be fairly friendly and reasonably helpful. There is a bit of an air of suspicion, or maybe it’s paranoia, that pervades the city – evidenced with security fences and guard dogs around homes, military police/soldiers with automatic weapons stationed at, it seems sometimes, every corner. In general there seems to be an easy interaction between the public and the military, but not always – more than once we were stopped, questioned and/or threatened by a soldier or police officer or even private security guard when we were taking pictures that happened to be near something that they considered a potential target. I gather, from talking to people, that it’s mostly based on history, the long-standing battle with FARC, who would often pose as tourists to take pictures to gather intelligence about military or government installations.
Food of the region is, in general, fairly heavy – a lot of meat and starch, particularly potatoes and yuca. Portions tend to be large, and locals dig in with relish and demolish plates of food that would give Adam Richman (Man vs. Food) pause. It’s generally well seasoned, though not picante, however, in all but I think one place, some sort of homemade hot sauce was available – generally a vinegar, chili, onion, and herb concoction – and even in that one place they had bottled hot sauce. The city also boasts a wide diversity of other cuisines, far more than back home in Buenos Aires, and you can find restaurants (given that we didn’t try other cuisines, no promises on quality or authenticity) for pretty much any type of fare you might want.
Culturally, there seems to be a decent amount to do, though it would take more exploration to really see what there is. We spent six days in town and we sort of felt like we’d run out of things of real interest to do as tourists, other than day trips to other places (which we did one day, so really, five days in town). I’m sure there’s plenty we didn’t tap into, and we both felt it’s a place we’d be happy to come back to and explore more, particularly the areas surrounding the city. I know I’d like to delve more deeply into the various regional cuisines, and the offerings of some of the chefs who are modernizing Colombian food.