After breakfast at the Ibis hotel, we headed south to the “old town” called La Candelaria. It was a 20-minute walk from Centro Internacional (where Ibis Hotel is located).
| TurisBog – Tourist bus
TurisBog is a great tourist hop-on-hop-off bus taking you around some of the major spots in Bogota. The fare of COP 78,000 (approx $35) include entrance to Museo del Oro (see below) and a guided walk through La Candelaria (see below).
See their website for latest prices and updates.
Officially the first neighborhood of Bogotá, this colonial district was founded in 1538 by Spanish conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada y Rivera. This colorful colonial neighborhood was largely an area to be avoided until Escobar decided to put a hostel here called Platypus. The once proud barrio had become debilitated but now is a ragtag mix of beautifully restored old colonial homes painted in bright colors. Graffiti is common but somehow does not take from the overall atmosphere of this lively and still local neighborhood. The best photos are early in the morning when the light is best and crime is surely at its lowest. The hostels in the area pay a guard to stand at the corner of Calle 16 and Carrera 3 once it gets dark.
The most impressive recent addition to the neighborhood is the Botero Museum, which opened in a handsome villa in 2000 after the Medellín-born figurative artist Fernando Botero gave 208 works, including 123 of his own and 85 by international painters, to the Bank of the Republic’s art collection. This magnificent collection, housed in a beautifully restored colonial mansion (Casa Luis Lopez the Mesa), features series of ‘fat people’ shows skill, humor, kindness, cruelty and critical satire. The collection contains 123 of his own works along with 85 by an impressive range of European masters such as Picasso, Chagall, Dalí, Renoir, Matisse, Monet and others.
The museum is open Mon-Sat 09:00am-07:00pm (closed Tues), Sun 10:00am-05:00pm; free admission.
Inside La Candelaria, there really is no need to get around by any way other than on foot. Rare is the walk that takes more than 10 minutes. It is safe during the day but obviously it always pays to keep your wits about you. Motorcycle coming your way, clutch that bag or camera a little tighter and pay attention. When walking around, heed locals warnings. La Candelaria becomes the much poorer and hence dangerous Egipto before you know it. It all looks the same to us until someone asks for that expensive camera dangling from your neck. Take taxis after dark or in our case, head back to the hotel.
Bogotá’s most famous museum and one of the most fascinating in all of South America, the Gold Museum contains more than 55,000 pieces of gold and other materials from all the major pre-Hispanic cultures in Colombia. It’s all laid out in logical, thematic rooms over three floors – with descriptions in Spanish and English.
Second-floor exhibits break down findings by region, with descriptions of how pieces were used. There are lots of mixed animals in gold and note how female figurines indicate how women of the Zenú in the pre-Colombian north surprisingly played important roles in worship.
The 3rd-floor ‘Offering’ room exhibits explain how gold was used in rituals. Displayed tunjos (gold offerings, usually figurines depicting a warrior) were thrown into the Laguna de Guatavita; the most famous one, actually found near the town of Pasca in 1969, is the unlabeled gold boat, called the Balsa Muisca. It’s uncertain how old it is, as generally only gold pieces that include other materials can be carbon dated.
Take a free one-hour tour Tuesday through Saturday (in Spanish and English; 11am and 4pm), which varies the part of the museum to be highlighted. Audio guides are available in Spanish, English and French.
We walked back to the hotel and met with some friends later in the evening, who drove us to Calle 85 and recommended visiting the area for great restaurants and clubs. And with recommendation from those friends, we stopped by Central Cevicheria for dinner and the food was delicious there – Salteados (prawns with olive oil, garlic and mushrooms) with a side of creamed coconut rice, ceviche, arepa, cervesa con coctles.
The area around Calle 85 has a lot of hostels which makes it a prime backpackers’ choice of neighborhood to stay and cruise around. Stay cautious of petty thieves and burglars, while being vigilant of the surroundings.
After some partying, we took a taxi back to the hotel for much-needed sleep!
Note: All values in USD, unless otherwise mentioned, are approximate and based on the exchange rate of USD 1 = COP 2200 at the time of publishing. Each cost is for one adult.
|Coffee & hot chocolate||$1.27||COP 2,800 per person. At La Candelaria.|
|Museo del Oro Entrance||$1.36||COP 3,000 per person.|
|Lunch at Mama Lupe||$6.36||COP 14,000 per person.|
|Breakfast at Ibis hotel||$3.64||COP 8,000 per person.|
|Water & snacks||$4.54||COP 10,000 per person.|
|Dinner at Central Cevicheria||$24.68||COP 54,300 per person.|
|Taxi from Zona Rosa to hotel||$5.45||COP 12,000 per ride. One way.|
|Total Costs||$47.30||Per person|
|Overall Costs||$1,533.90||Per person|
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First day in capital city.
La Candelaria, Museo del Oro, Calle 85.
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Salt Cathedral, Cerro de Monserrate.