Colombia – Bogota

What better reason to spend some time getting to know the beautiful city of Bogota than a Colombian Wedding? Our friends Mafe and Craig had invited us to their wedding in August, and we immediately said yes. Visiting Colombia has eluded us for years (a day trip to Cartagena doesn’t really count), so we were looking forward to our 5 day getaway to Bogota.

View on our 14 hour flight from Istanbul to Bogota; Turkish Airlines Palace of San Francisco; Bogota Mural painted on a wall at ""Callejón del Embudo", one of La Candelaria's most recognizable streets Drinking chicha out of a hollowed out gourd, called a "pilche"; Casa Galeria Mural of an indigenous woman looking up at the sky; Callejón del Embudo Chorro de Quevedo Plaza. It is believed that Bogota was founded here in on 6 Aug 1538 Colorful houses on Carrera 2; La Candelaria (Bogota's colonial era historic district) Entrance to an old colonial building; La Candelaria Street art; La Candelaria Old colonial style architecture dominates the La Candelaria district of Bogota Courtyard; Botero Museum Robby poses next to the hand statue; Botero Museum Self portrait of Botero; Botero Museum Artwork on display at the Botero Museum Courtyard at the "Casa de Moneda", Coin and Bill Production Museum Tourists flock to explore the La Candelaria district Tile work outside the San Carlos Palace Hats for sale; La Candelaria College of Saint Bartolomé View of La Candelaria from Gabriel García Márquez Cultural Center Interior courtyard at Gabriel García Márquez Cultural Center Primatial Cathedral of Bogotá; Bolivar Square Panorama of Bolivar Square, Bogota's main square Waiting in line to buy tickets for the cable car up to Montserrat monastery Stunning views of Bogota on the short cable car ride up to Montserrat Becky in front of the 17th Century church built at the top of Monserrate Mountain Bell tower of Monserrate Restaurant at Monserrate Mountain Souvenir vendors; Monserrate Colorful ponchos for sale; Monserrate Mate de coca (coca tea), known to relieve altitude sickness Admiring the views of Bogota on our hike down from Monserrate Cute house in the Chapinero district of Bogota Chicken and beef empanadas for lunch Craig's stag do stage 1: drinks at The Pub; Zona T The boys drinking beer at The Pub Stage 2 of the Stag Do: dinner at Andrés DC Stage 3 of Craig's stag do: drinking beer at BBC; Zona T The night gets progressively hazier as the drinks pile on! Drinking a mojito at the hen do for Mafe; Andrés DC Mafe's hen do One of 8,000 pieces of gold on display at the Gold Museum; Bogota Intricate detail on these gold pieces; Gold Museum Gold earrings Muisca mummy on display; Gold Museum Gold exhibit from the Tolima culture; Gold Museum Gold face mask - notice the facial tattoo etchings Gold jaguar; Gold Museum Gold figurines; amazing craftsmanship on display at the Gold Museum Clay pedastal figurine on display at the Gold Museum The Emerald Museum, located on the 23rd floor of the Avianca Building, is worth a quick stop View of Bogota from the Avianca Building Robby searching for emeralds; Emerald Museum Funky architecture in downtown Bogota Cool graffiti on display at this skate park in La Candelaria Even the spectator stands have graffiti! And so does an outdoor gym Becky on the colorful steps to the skate park; La Candelaria Street view of the graffiti art; La Candelaria We loved the colorful houses of Bogota's La Candelaria district Street art everywhere in downtown Bogota Vibrant street scene in La Candelaria Strolling back through Callejón del Embudo; La Candelaria Downtown Bogota Watch out...a dragon is near! Becky and Lars about to dig in to dinner at Mafe and Craig's rehearsal wedding dinner; M Cocina Arabe Mattie and Robby chatting it up; M Cocina Arabe Breakfast buffet; Hotel Vilar America Antique police cars on display at the Sabana Train Station Becky, Lars and Matt at the Sabana Train Station Riding the tourist train of Sabana, a steam train linking us from Bogota to the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá The four amigos on a train ride Slowly chugging our way out of Sabana Train Station Matt and Lars eat a tamale for breakfast Train station on our route to the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá Local musicians provide some entertainment on our ride out to the salt mines Playing the trumpet; train ride out to the salt mines View of the countryside on our way out to Zipaquirá Robby loving his head massage from Lars! Matt and Robby squeezing themselves out of a toy  bus; Zipaquirá Salt Mines Entering into the salt mines of Zipaquirá First we had to walk through the "star wars" tunnel; Zipaquirá Salt Mine Striking a pose in one of the many altars of the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá Posing by a cross built from salt; Zipaquirá salt mine The main altar of the new cathedral of Zipaquirá Salt Mine Descending to check out the new cathedral; Zipaquirá Salt Mine Detail of the chandelier at the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá Holy family sculpture; Zipaquirá Salt Cathedral Squeezing into the thin passage; Zipaquirá Salt Mine Zipaquirá Salt Cathedral detail The salt mines of Zipaquirá are big enough to house a shopping arcade! Religious icons for sale; Zipaquirá Salt Mine Figurines of miners extracting emeralds; Zipaquirá Salt Mine Cajica train station Steam train statue at Cajica train station Robby and our steam train Robby at Lobo Feroz, serving up the best burgers in Colombia! Lars and Matt dig in to their delicious burgers; Lobo Feroz in Cajica Enjoying a pint of beer at Bogota Beer Company The perfect end to a perfect day! Panorama of the wedding venue at  Hacienda Pozo Chico Craig and Mafe's intimate wedding ceremony;  Hacienda Pozo Chico This saxophonist was amazing! Mafe and Craig get whisked away for wedding photos by horse and carriage! All eyes on the beautiful bride as the happy couple returns to the party Craig's mates beaming with pride The interior decorations at Hacienda Pozo Chico Mafe and Craig's wedding cake Wedding reception dinner A sweet note from Mafe and Craig The TransAfrica peeps dress up nice! Robby, Craig and Chris Taking a photo with the awesome wedding photographer! Lars and Robby acting merry Robby, Craig and Mattie Love these guys! Craig and his nephew Becky, Craig and Mattie Mafe, Catalina & Paola Feeling a bit hungover for our flight the next morning...Ecuador here we come! foto gallery lightboxby v6.1

Getting to Colombia was quite an adventure, as we started our journey in Saigon with a flight to Istanbul (and a 21 hour layover), before hopping on the next leg of our journey which was a 14 hour flight from Istanbul to Bogota. Thankfully the flight was with Turkish Airlines, who put us up in a hotel for the long layover and had plenty of entertainment onboard to keep us occupied. Once we arrived to Bogota, we chucked our luggage into storage at our hotel and immediately hopped in a taxi to catch a 10 am free city walking tour. What a way to kick start our stay in Bogota, as we got the layout of downtown in a few hours. By the time the tour ended, we were able to check into our hotel by 3 pm and managed to snooze for a few hours before linking up with Lars, who was also in town for Craig & Mafe’s wedding. Good times as we drank a few beers in the room before hitting the streets, stumbling into a circus restaurant, and ending up at a bikers’ bar.

Day 2 of our Bogota adventure saw us catching a morning cable car ride up to Monserrate, a mountain that dominates the skyline of Bogota and offers fine vistas of the city. We opted to hike down and felt bad for the hikers who were huffing and puffing their way up the hill. The 10,000 Peso ($3) ride up was worth every penny! Since we had a stag do (bachelor party) and hen do (bachelorette party) to catch that night, we decided to forego a visit to the gold museum for another day. Our respective parties at Andrés DC (at El Retiro Mall) were loads of fun, although the boys carried on their partying in the night club district of town (Zona Rosa).

Day 3 was a visit to the excellent gold museum, where we spent a few hours admiring the gold on display. Wow, just wow! Next up was a quick visit to the 23rd floor of the Avianca building, home to the Emerald Museum. Afterwards, we did a self guided graffiti tour around the La Candelaria district where there are some amazing works of art painted on the sides of walls and buildings. That evening was a rehearsal dinner at M Cocina Arabe, a lovely Middle Eastern restaurant that was the perfect venue to meet Craig and Mafe’s family and friends. Our friend Matt from the TransAfrica trip showed up and it was lovely to reconnect (7 years since we last saw him!)

Day 4 saw us getting up early for breakfast before rushing to the Sabana train station downtown for a ride on a refurbished steam train to the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá. Matt and Lars joined us for a fun filled day where the salt mines and cathedral were better than expected. Lunch was at the Lobo Feroz burger joint in Cajicá (yum), followed by a short train ride back to Bogota. There, we joined Matt and Lars for beer at the BBC (Bogota Beer Company), topped with pizza for dinner. What a fun day today!

Day 5…wedding day for Mafe and Craig! We had free time until 1:30 pm where we had to link up at the Hotel Dorado in the Zona Rosa district to catch a bus to the Hacienda Pozo Chico. Traffic leaving Bogota on a Sunday afternoon was horrendous, but we managed to get to the hacienda by 3:30 pm, well before the wedding ceremony kicked off. It was a lovely wedding that brought tears of joy, followed by plenty of drink and food and dancing. The party lasted for hours until the wee hours of the morning when we had to load on the bus for the short ride back into Bogota. Well done guys…you threw an amazing wedding ceremony and it will be hard to top that!

Day 6 saw us catching a few hours of shut eye in the morning before having to pack for our onward journey to Ecuador. Goodbye Bogota…you’ve treated us well and we would love to come back!

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