Bogotá, Columbia, Jan 17-23, 2019

After Medellín it was onto Bogotá to visit my good friend Karen, who is working here as a middle school counselor in a large bilingual/international school here. Karen lives in a great neighborhood on the north side of town called “Chapinero Alto”, which is near a great restaurant zone called “Zona G” (G for Gourmet). If you visit Bogota I recommend staying in this part of town, which is only a $2 taxi ride to the center of town. Its a very safe part of town, despite (or because of?) the fact that all apartment building have a 24/7 doorman to let you both in and out of the building.

Bogotá is at an elevation of 8500 ft, which took me about 1 day to adjust to after being in Medellín, which is at 5000 ft. The climate is basically a high of 65 and a low of 45F year round, so no one has or needs heat or air conditioning. For folks who don’t like the heat, you’d love it here. It was a bit chilly in the morning, but the climate is pretty ideal.

Bogotá and Medellín, the 1st and 2nd largest cities in Colombia, are definitely rivals. The best way I can think of to describe the difference between Bogotá and Medellín, is to think of San Francisco compared to Oakland back in 1990, before Oakland became hipster central and SF became dominated by tech bros.

Bogotá/San Francisco:

  • More art, music, high-end restaurants
  • More wealthy people
  • More cosmopolitan
  • More expensive


  • More down to earth
  • A bit more friendly / accepting
  • A bit more dangerous
  • Warmer weather
  • Have a bit of an inferiority complex about their rival city

I joined a group of American teachers from Karen’s school to go to Theatron, the largest night club in South America. Wow! A total of 13 bars/dance floors that hold up to 5000 people. It costs $17 to get in, which includes free bottom-shelf rum/whiskey/vodka mixed drinks till 2am. Certainly not my scene, but a really fun/interesting night! Check out the videos in the photo link below.

I did 2 private tours, which provided a great opportunity to talk politics and philosophy with locals who where fluent in English. One of the tours was to the Salt Cathedral about 1 hr north of Bogotá, which was pretty cool, though not in the same league as the one in Krakow.

On Sunday mornings, Bogotá has a huge Ciclovía, where around 10% of the 10 million folks that live here get on a bike and ride around the 120km of roads that are closed to cars on Sunday 7am-2pm. Bogotá is located in a huge valley, and so the roads are mostly flat. Karen and I did a great 30km ride that included a mini adventure. The rear derailleur on my rental bike imploded when we were about 8km from our starting point. Luckily one of the 100 or so bike repair booths they set up along the route was 1/2 block away, had a spare derailleur that fit, and 1 hour and $9 (parts and labor!!) later we were on our way again.

Karen borrowed a car so we could do a great hike to the La Chorrera waterfall, which is about 1.5 from town, and which you’ll see in the photos.

Selection of photos from Bogotá and surrounding area are here.

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