Cheers, we’ve made it, the adventure begins.
After a successful red-eye flight (aka, I slept) to Miami on a surprisingly comfortable American Airlines 737, we took the quick 3.5 hop to Bogota. Hard to believe that Miami is far closer to South America than Seattle.
Arrival into Bogota was smooth. We were happy to see Uber X was available from the airport to our hotel. First lesson on Bogota from that ride – everything here is cheap. Less than $9 for nearly an hour ride to our hotel, and that is only because of a hefty $4 airport fee.
I picked the first hotel, booked a few months ago after reading a New York Times 36 Hours in Bogota. The Continental delivered with a good location (more on that later) and huge two bedroom apartment. Around $105 a night, it exceeds our average nightly hotel budget, but I figured as we were settling into traveling together, we could at least get our own bathrooms. It will be downhill on the lodging front from here.
After dropping our stuff, we immediately decided to push our luck and head up the mountain. Bogota is slightly above 8,000 feet, so we needed to adjust, and read – after the fact – that one should take it easy for a day or two when arriving to town. Oops. Monseratte, overlooking our hotel at 10,000 feet and staring at us in our room, was too enticing to skip as our first activity. So we walked through the neighborhood without a map, and eventually found the bottom of the aerial tramway. You can also walk to the top (about an hour), but with my hip issues, and the warnings in the guide books to only do it on the weekends, we took the lazy way up and crammed ourselves into the tram car.
In short, it was a breathtaking way to start to the trip. Bogota is massive, more than 7 million people. Even from up top, it was impossible to see the whole city, but the view gave a sense of scale.
We did a quick look at the church and went to the market at the top, which had crafts and food stalls. After perusing, we picked one with less of a view, but locals eating in it. Check out our $5 meal, including the beer.
I had a mild headache while up there, but who knows whether it was the altitude, travel, or lack of caffeine intake. We crossed over to the other side of the top and found a coffee shop with breathtaking views. We sat for an hour next to a group of Korean nuns and stared into the city. It was here that the trip started to sink in. Day 1 of 90. Time is a gift and I’ve got 89 days left to make the most of it.
Next up… Bogota continued, the craziest restaurant of our lives (x2), checking out the local market, and heading out of town to the salt mines.