Nine Hours in Bogota

One of the many gold artifacts in the Museo de Oro
One of the many gold artifacts in the Museo de Oro

Before we could embark on our Inca Trail adventure, Doug and I first had to suffer through 24 hours of transit, including 9 hours in Bogota and 4.5 hours overnight in Lima.  It all started at JFK circa 6am, when we thought we were smooth sailing until we got caught in the extremely long line to check in, then were told we were officially the last to check in before the cutoff.  In the end, we finally took off at 8:45am, nearly an hour delayed (not our fault!).  Unlike with Singapore Air, I had zero expectations for Avianca Airlines as I hadn’t even heard of them until they came up in my Kayak search.  While they were no 5-star airline, they actually weren’t too bad – but then again, my standards were set low enough where landing in one piece was considered a success.  The aircraft was rather spacious, with lots of in-seat entertainment featuring some pretty old movies, which didn’t matter because I conked out immediately.  At some point while I was dozing off, they served some suspect looking scrambled eggs and bacon, thankfully the food was of no interest so I could prioritize sleeping.  We arrived at 1:30pm to a pretty confusing airport situation; apparently Bogota doesn’t care much for tourism since we couldn’t find a single tourist map anywhere.  Alright, time to wing Bogota with very little grasp of the Spanish language…

That was obviously a big mistake.  We jumped into the cab and were greeted by a cab driver that knew zero English.  Apparently my “enough to get by” Spanish was not enough to get by.  I gave him “Plaza de Bolivar” – the main square in Bogota – as our destination since I figured that was foolproof.  Nope.  Somehow, he confused this with “Centro Commercial Bulevar” even though I repeated myself about three more times.  Either my Spanish was way worse than I thought, or this guy was deaf.  So basically, we spent the good part of our Colombia visit at a suburban mall, far from the city center.  Not a great first impression!  We wanted to avoid jumping into a cab off the street due to all the warnings we heard, but didn’t know how to hail one otherwise.  After failed attempts to 1) figure out where we were then 2) hail a cab through the local Tappsi app, we were about to resign to replacing the Inca Trail itinerary with 10 days in the Colombian mall when we finally found a taxi stand in the garage.  By this time, we’d wasted a good two hours of our layover with only another three left.  This time, we gave our taxi driver a much more specific destination – the Gold Museum – which we arrived at with success.  As one of Bogota’s most famous sights, the Gold Museum depicted the history and importance of gold in Colombia.  It was definitely comprehensive to the point where we were pretty tired of looking at gold by the end.  In all honesty, it was the highlight of our day only because it was the ONLY thing we got to do in Bogota.

These exhibits are interactive, right?
These exhibits are interactive, right?
Well, it's not technically gold, but I thought this guy looked pretty cool
Well, it’s not technically gold, but I thought this guy looked pretty cool

By this time, it was time to think about getting dinner before having to head to the airport…already.  We wandered through the Candelaria district for a bit, but it looked like most of the restaurants were either closed or maybe hadn’t opened yet, so we made the executive decision to eat at the first place that looked halfway decent called La Romana (again, slim pickins) which ended up being semi-Italian.  The food actually wasn’t too bad – I had a grilled steak with fries while Doug got the same but with tomato sauce and a fried egg.  The Tappsi taxi-hailing app actually worked this time, and we successfully got to the airport way early, so we picked up our obligatory magnet and enjoyed a round of beers at “American Bar,” the only bar we could find.

The square outside of the Museo de Oro in the Candelaria district
The square outside of the Museo de Oro in the Candelaria district
Trying to take as many random pics of Bogota as I could before it was time to head out again
Trying to take as many random pics of Bogota as I could before it was time to head out again
My grilled steak at La Romana...not too bad!
My grilled steak at La Romana…not too bad!
Doug, of course, decided to get crazy and put a fried egg and tomato sauce on top of his steak
Doug, of course, decided to get crazy and put a fried egg and tomato sauce on top of his steak

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