Exploring a new continent

Travel time: March - June 2010  |  by Dominik Weber

22 March Bogota

The long last night out yesterday required a sleep in day. That wasn't a problem since it was a holiday. But something unexpected else turned into a problem: I am very much used to book flights but here in South America everything seems to be slightly different. One flight with a regional carrier I booked the night before for a flight in 10 days, seemed to be ok, but the flight for tomorrow caused problems. I wanted to fly with Avianca, the Columbian national carrier, from Bogota to Cartagena. Although this airline serves a lot of domestic and international airlines, it seems that they don't accept forein credit cards when booking online! Identifying myself as a US internet user (in order to be able to use my US credit card), the flight was 4x more expensive! In the end, Natalia helped me to book the same flight through an online travel agent.
But this is not the end of the story: shortly after booking, the travel agent contacted me via email saying that Avianca doesn't confirm the flight. A few emails and three calls later, I was booked onto a different flight on a different airline for slightly more money. I only had to pick up the ticket in their office in Bogota. Altough it was holiday, they were working and two hours later, I had my ticket in my hand. Next time I will book at least three days in advance and not only one!
Since we were already in a neighborhood with some shops, we thought to have a walk around and to go to an outdoor equipement store. But unfortunatley, due to the holiday, everything was closed. A lof ot people were using the free day for a trip with their bicycles. For that, the police closed several of the main streets to the car traffeic and opened it for bicycles only. What a great idea!

We also went downtown to see some of the tourist attractions from outside that I will visit when I am back in Bogota. To get to the city, we took the TransMilenio. Bogota's traffic can be awful and although plans for a metro are in work (since years), it hasn't been materialized yet. But in order to protect the city from a total traffic chaos, the built the transmilenio. It is a system of busses that run on designated bus lanes, which means that there is a bus map and hardly ever traffic jam. But today, there wasn't anyway due to the St. Joseph┬┤s day.
We had a walk over some streets and flee markets, explored the Candelaria neighborhood with its tiny streets and old, small houses (one of the eldes neighborhoods in Bogota). Today, it is a cheap area to live with its alternativa scene, street artists and all kind of handcraft shops. From there, it was only a short walk to Bogota's main square, Plaza Simon Bolivar with the palacio de justicia and its history: in 1985 guerillas occupied the building and the military bombed most of the building. About 100 people died, but it also marked the end of the guerilla time of the M-19 which is today only actice as a political party.
As late lunch, we had ajiaco santafere├▒o, a speciality from Bogota: chicken soup with three kind of potatoes, artichokes, capers, corn and served with a lot of heavy cream and rice and avocado on the sice. It tastes great but I shouldn't have that every day. It is simply too heavy.
We saw some more museums, adminstration buildings and tourist attractions and after a really heavy rain shower, we took a bus back home. I had to pack, tomorrow was the start of a trip alone with hardly any spanish. How exciting!

Tasting gelatina de pata on a flee market. That will be my only time...

Tasting gelatina de pata on a flee market. That will be my only time...

House front in the Candelaria neighborhood.

House front in the Candelaria neighborhood.

Street view in the Candelaria neighborhood.

Street view in the Candelaria neighborhood.

In front of the palacio de justicia on the Placa Simon Bolivar.

In front of the palacio de justicia on the Placa Simon Bolivar.

Natalia and me.

Natalia and me.

© Dominik Weber, 2010
You are here : Overview The Americas Colombia 22 March Bogota
The trip
 
Description:
After working for too long without a real break, I decided to go on a long planned backpack trip. After changing the departure date and the destination several times, I decided to go to South America. Starting in Colombia, then Peru and finishing in Bolivia. At least, this was the plan but once on tour, you never know what to expect. This report is for all people asking how I am doing, but also for those who are thinking about doing something similar. I hope I can inspire them.
Details:
Start of journey: Mar 19, 2010
Duration: 13 weeks
End of journey: Jun 15, 2010
Travelled countries: Colombia
Peru
Bolivia
The Author
 
Dominik Weber is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 11 years.
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