As I left London it dawned on me that I’m going to be without my family and friends for the longest time ever and that this trip, my first ever solo could be quite lonely. Well that was London, fast forward to me arriving in Colombia´s capital city Bogotá and I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I arrived at the airport at 3am, the Avianca flight from London to Bogotá was perfect and I would recommend this based on some of the stories I have heard about the BA-Iberia flight from Madrid.
Having taken a mild sleeping tablet on the flight and sleeping 6 hours, I arrived into Bogotá airport with my brain not functioning quite as it should.
Thankfully my first Colombian angel saved me from making a big mistake, that every guide book and practically every traveller says ” DO NOT GET A TAXI WITH A RANDOM MAN..” thankfully my angel saved me and put me in a yellow taxi straight to the hotel. Taxi to Candelaria was 38,000cop or about £9.60.
I arrived at the lovely Hotel Casa de La Vega at 4:30am, 13hours before check in. Thankfully the young night porter checked me in and took me to a great room over looking over the court yard. Now I wasn´t 100 percent sure, but my gay dar is normally pretty good and he was definitely a friend of Dorothy. Maybe it was the bleached blond hair, or the shy smile he gave through his eyes every time I saw him.
It turned out my hotel was in the perfect location for seeing the old part of the city, Candelaria. Like in most capital cities, there are lots of museums to visit, like the gorgeous Bodero museum, a must to visit for the artists famous paintings of funny looking oversized people and objects.
Bogota being one of the highest cities in South America at over 2000m above sea level, most travel books advise you about the impact of altitude sickness. Now the highest point I had probably previously been would have been skiing in Val d’isere and at no point then did I ever feel this effect. Feeling out of breath from the smallest walk up an incline, or slight light headed ness and just being damned tired from a few hours walking. Don´t over do it on the first day is all I can say. Having said that..
I ventured to the highest point in bogota, Cerro de Monserrat. The cable car (teleférico) takes you another 1000m higher. This now being the highest point I have ever been while on dry land, and it certainly had its effect. Just walking the 10 steps from the cable car, I had to sit and catch my breath, I felt like a 80 year old man, not a relatively fit 30 something. It was way worth it, the views of Bogotá were incredible. Cable car cost 19,000cop/ £4.80 return.
You do have the option to walk up or down or both, but having heard about a couple got mugged a few days before, I decided not to risk it on the first day of my travels.
The best way to see the city is to take advantage of the free walking tours by http://www.beyondcolombia.com. The tours start at 10am and 2pm everyday from the museum of gold (El Museo del Oro). They last about 3 hours and give you whistle stop tour of Colombia´s history and Bogota´s key points of interest.
They also do a food version where you get to try the local cuisine while you see the city. Try the local dish ajiaco, a potato soup, with chicken and a side of corn, rice and avocado. Simply delicious and sets you up for a days walking.
Well, Who knew Colombia´s name originated from Christopher Columbus, yet he never actually set foot in the country. Not me until now. Take the tour and find out so much more.
As a solo gay traveler, where would we be without our social apps for finding other gay men. This has proved to be an excellent way of having your own personal local guide to show you the city and go to places only locals go. I found 4 personal guides over 3 days, one lunch and one dinner paid for. Result!! For
As most books tell you there are a few days trips you can do from Bogota but, what they don’t tell you… Is if you try to book online, they are not for the solo traveler. They are all geared towards two plus people and are expensive if on your own. It just means being brave and doing it alone.
A couple of my local guides had told me not to miss the Catedral de Sal (salt cathedral) which was only 30km outside Bogotá in a small town called Zipaquirá. Again the organised tours were for couples or more, so I decided to navigate Bogotá´s bus network and make the 2 hour journey myself. Yes 2 hours to go 30km… Bogotá’s traffic is mad, avoid traveling after 4pm.
The B74 from Las Aguas bus terminal to Portal North was simple enough, you buy a plastic bus pass for 6500cop/£1.50 which includes your bus fare. Walk to platform 2 through the underpass to catch the B74, don’t wait under to sign that says B74 as it’s wrong and you will wait like me for twenty minutes before you realise this isn’t the stop. The bus network is pretty impressive and easy to use.
After about 45 minutes your arrive at Portal Norte, and you go through the barrier to the intermunicipal platform and look for a bus with Zipa in the window. Get on and a young guy will take your fare once you are on the road (5000cop/£1.20). The bus takes about 45 minutes, once in Zipa get off around carrer 10a and then walk the rest of the way to the Cathedral. It’s a small town and easy enough to find the cathedral from the main square.
You won’t be disappointed. I did think why would you want to build a cathedral in a salt mine!!! All becomes clear once you take the tour. It lasts an hour and costs 50000cop/£12.70. The great thing about tours is your meet fellow travellers. Here I met my first fellow British travellers Henry and Reid. Both would become my drinking and dancing partners for my last night in Bogotá.
After 4 days, tonight was my last night in bogota, and I had finally acclimatised to the altitude and was ready for a night of drinking and dancing. First stop was Andres DC, a crazy six floor restaurant full of dancing and drinking. Very popular with the upper middle classes of Bogotá. Thanks to Andrea, a local beauty we got treated especially well.
Sharing a bottle of aguardiente between 3 is defiantly the way to make the night fun, but oh my do you pay for it the next day. Lesson number one, do not order a bottle of aguardiente when flying the next day. 🤢
From Andreas DC I took my 2 new traveling pals to what is meant to be one of the biggest gay clubs in South America, Theatron. It did not disappoint with its 13 different clubs, each with their own theme and type of music. A defínate must for any one that likes a club, regardless if you are gay or not. Both my partners in crime for the evening were straight and loved it just as much as me.
I aso had my first merengue dance lesson from a cute Colombian, and he seemed impressed with my hip action.
Sadly It is time to say good bye to Bogota and head to my second Colombian city that is Medellín, where the weather is much warmer and isn’t referred to as the “London of South America” like Bogotá. Bogota you were great, but 4 days was enough to experience what you have to offer.