One of the nice things about being in a city that has important things like pavements, basic road rules and pedestrian crossings, and lacks thick smog, large piles of rubbish and baking heat is that it is easy to get out and about on foot. Our Middle East leg of the trip had made us more and more immobile and the fact that our calories in had not altered meant that this was a little worrying.
Bogotá has a rather marvellous thing called the Ciclovia that involves closing down 100s of km of roads to motorists every Sunday and public holiday and opening them up to cyclists, runners, walkers, skateboarders and skaters. There are refreshment stalls, security posts and general good cheer all around, and more than one million people use it each day that it is open. It is very far from the image of the city that I had and I loved it, using it twice. The first time was to go for a run on my own. I have been trying to get back into running having had a break mostly due to environment but also missing a couple of opportunities through lack of motivation (one marathon every 10 years may well be my limit) and Bogotá was a bit of a shock to the system. I was kicking myself on my first run, finding that I had let myself go enough to find a relatively short and slow run to be a bit of a strain. It was a bit of a relief to be reminded that Bogotá is the worlds second highest capital city and has only 90% of the oxygen content that our bodies are used to. I am sure the shawarma, wine, beer, pizza etc didn’t help, but this gave me a bit of an excuse.
The second trip took J and I north to the Sunday markets in the suburb of Usequen. They are a little like a larger, more spaced out version Sydney’s Paddington markets, with loads of really interesting local crafts, entertainment and food stalls in a really nice suburb. We felt very at home, brought a hammock for the Folly, drank craft beer and smiled a lot. Well worth a visit.
Towards the end of the day, the heavens opened very seriously and we first took shelter in a boozer before realising that Cinema Paradiso across the road showed films with their original soundtrack and Spanish subtitles, let you take booze into the film and was showing Bohemian Rhapsody. The cinema is great and the film fantastic.
Bogotá is a reasonably diverse city, with different characteristics in different suburbs, although ethnic diversity seems very limited when compared with other major cities like Sydney, London or Paris. We saw some of the more ‘colourful’ areas when we visited the huge fruit and flower market on the edge of Downtown (if you like real, working markets I recommend holding out until you get to Medellin’s more manageable and friendlier Plaza De Mercado La America) and the up and coming area of Chapinero. The latter is allegedly the centre of the cities gay area and this is why we went. Generalising hugely, J and I associate the gay community with style, flair, good places to eat and drink, good music, fun and friendliness. We must have got the wrong place and I cannot imagine any of our gay friends choosing to live there. This area is ok, but a little ropey and the best place we found was a very small craft beer place where we took shelter until our Uber arrived, returning us to our local area and 3 for 1 Mojito’s. The evening got a little messy……
The other bits