(photos from) Bogota

The sun does exist here! We hiked up Monserrate this weekend, ignoring the advice to avoid that place on a holiday weekend, because the sun was so inviting. The crowds definitely made it less enjoyable, but we couldn’t resist.

Since the Museum of Gold was free on Sundays, we thought, why not do that too? Of course the rest of the city thought the same. We wandered through the crowded rooms and laughed at the tourists taking photos of every signal item. Just to prove we were there, I took this one photo.

Needing a day trip for Monday, we headed for Zipaquirá to check out the famed Salt Cathedral. It was a bit of a trek to get out there. We had to catch a Transmilenio bus first, to reach the north end of the city. Unfortunately for us, we were told to catch the B1 which stopped at every single stop.. 45 minutes later we were transferring to a mini-bus and heading out of the city. While Bogotá remained sunny in our absence, we dealt with near constant rain during the whole excursion. This, combined with the expensive entrance fee ($23,000 COP each), and we started wondering if all the effort was worth it. At least we caught the correct Transmilenio bus on the way back…

We’re still very much enjoying this city. Our hostel is so pleasant and full of nice people. It’s hard to believe that in a few days we’ll be thousands of miles south of here, in a city even bigger than this one.

The view from our hostel room window

Chilling in Bogota

Most everyone we’ve met in Colombia, travelers and residents alike, are always comparing Medellin and Bogotá. A sort of capital city vs cool upstart argument. We’ve heard people from Bogotá (pop. 10 million) complain that Medellin is too small (pop. 4 million). Both cities have great public transport, but the bus-rapid-transit Transmilenio seems to baffle a lot of backpackers we’ve met, while the metro and cable car combo in Medellin is much easier to understand. No one argues that Medellin has the better climate.

Transmilenio stop – that bike lane (under stop) goes all the way into the city center too!

Walking la septima (Carrera 7), a pedestrian-only street in the center

I think where you stay colors your impression of any city, and in both cases we’ve been very lucky. The vibe at Palm Tree in Medellin was so similar to our hostel here. It has certainly made us feel comfortable immediately, which is crazy when you consider just how big this city is. From view points around our neighborhood, the city seems to never end. Our cab ride from the bus terminal took roughly 20 minutes (mostly on a major elevated expressway), passing non-stop density on the way, but when you look on a map, the bus terminal isn’t even located half-way across the city from our hostel.

Looking north from La Candelaria neighborhood

Looking east…

And south…

So which is the better city? I’m not sure I can say. If you love big cities, chances are you will fall for both of them. If you don’t, you might still have a great time in Medellin. We’re glad we’re here for a week to get a basic feeling for Bogotá – maybe I’ll have a verdict by the end.