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How cold Colombia got the slit behind with coffee and all-night parties

October 28th, 2015 by admin | Filed under Blog.
  • Once deliberate unsafe, Colombia’s collateral Bogotá has left a past behind
  • Tourists can suffer epic views of a Andes, with good food and night-life
  • Museums, oppulance hotels and a super-warm acquire make a noted trip

Rebecca Seales

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The Virgin Mary clasps my hand, and rises her eyes solemnly heavenward. Her gawk is vacant with a holy calm of prayer, her chiselled Mayan facilities aglow in a light of her halo. 

I squirm awkwardly, ever a balderdash Catholic. Am we sanctified yet? Mostly we usually feel hungry.

Luckily, this is a restaurant, not a afterlife. It’s my initial night in Bogotá, a vibrant, infamous, party-loving collateral of Colombia – where, as I’m discovering, a waiters like to play dress-up. 

#Blessed: The author eyes a exits while assembly a staff during Bogota's Gaira Cafe The restaurant's entanceway embellished out with skulls and candles

#Blessed: Looking ungainly with a Virgin Mary during Bogota’s Gaira Cafe Cumbia House. (Right) The restaurant’s entanceway is embellished out with skulls, candles, and art 

In a dual hours given we landed during El Dorado International Airport, no one’s attempted to fire me, sack me, or manipulate me with cocaine.

In fact, my tasty cooking (at Gaira Cafe in a bar-filled Chico neighbourhood), suggests Death by Carbs is a bigger risk here than narcos. 

Since a blood-stained ’90s, Colombia has worked tough to cut a crime stats – and tourism is sepulchral as a result. 

Boasting world-class museums and galleries, Michelin-starred restaurants, and an considerable operation of oppulance hotels, Bogotá now attracts families and well-heeled business travellers as many as backpackers.

Dress goals: Performers during a Gaira Cafe perform diners in illusory style

Dress goals: Performers during a Gaira Cafe perform diners in illusory style

With this guarantee in mind, we set out to see if ‘the Athens of South America’ unequivocally is one for a bucket list.

Twelve moody hours later, squinting groggily outward a airport, I’m welcomed by a sprouting swoop of green: The Andes Mountains rising above a city. 

The wooded slopes are beautifully equivalent by Bogotá’s red-brick buildings, and after a 40 notation yield by a teatime trade I’m gay to find my hotel room has a good viewpoint of both.

The ‘NH Collection Bogotá Royal Teleport’ is a complicated five-star hotel in Usaquén, a informative entertain in a north of a city. 

The hotel prides itself on being sensitively excellent, and scores an evident ace with this sap traveller by providing pillows of 3 opposite trust levels, a pleasing marble sleet shower, and a truly huge bed.

Vibrant: The viewpoint from my hotel room shows a stretch immature plateau and red-brick buildings of Bogotá

Vibrant: The viewpoint from my hotel room shows a stretch immature plateau and red-brick buildings of Bogotá

The NH Collection Bogotá Royal Teleport is a complicated 5*hotel in Usaquén, a informative area in a north of a city

The NH Collection Bogotá Royal Teleport is a complicated 5*hotel in Usaquén, a informative area in a north of a city

Contemporary: The bedrooms have good light interjection to a vast windows, and complicated though gentle furniture

Contemporary: The bedrooms have good light interjection to a vast windows, and complicated though gentle furniture

Sleep heaven: Three kinds of sham and a bed a distance of Mars got my stay off to a good start

Sleep heaven: Three kinds of sham and a bed a distance of Mars got my stay off to a good start

Waking refreshed, we start a day with 3 soaring plates of breakfast from a hotel buffet. 

Where to begin? There’s a stately march of uninformed fruits, Colombian specialties like empanadas, a whole bakery of breads, cereals, omelettes – not to discuss desserts that go nowhere nearby a breakfast list though are unequivocally going on mine.

The feast-like widespread would accommodate flattering many any diet, that we can contend with certainty carrying fundamentally eaten for a family of five, and cleared it down with a mimosa. (For my health, we understand.)  

Scene of a crime: we ate half a breakfast smorgasboard to check we could safely suggest it. And we can. 

Scene of a crime: we ate half a breakfast smorgasboard to check we could safely suggest it. And we can. 

Spa time? The hotel sauna is open 24 hours a day to assistance palliate flight-weary muscles, and offers a operation of lush treatments. Good news if you've got some detoxing to do... 

Spa time? The hotel sauna is open 24 hours a day to assistance palliate flight-weary muscles, and offers a operation of lush treatments. Good news if you’ve got some detoxing to do… 

Resolving to persperate out a toxins in a hotel sauna later, we make for a tourist must-see: The Museo del Oro (Gold Museum). 

This blingtastic cavern of wonders is one of South America’s best museums, and binds some-more than 55,000 pieces of bullion and other artefacts done in Colombia before a Spanish arrived in a sixteenth century. 

There are pleasing bullion figurines, bowls, necklaces, rings, and large other treasures. It’s roughly overwhelming. 

Owning a purchase of pre-Hispanic breastplates would substantially move we tighten to Kanye West’s net worth. Security here contingency be like a Temple of Doom.

Priceless: The Museo del Oro is a value trove of ancient bullion and artefacts 

Priceless: The Museo del Oro is a value trove of ancient bullion and artefacts 

Bling for miles: English tours are accessible to move some context to a many pleasing pieces 

Bling for miles: English tours are accessible to move some context to a many pleasing pieces 

Impeccable: The bullion is so ideally recorded that it's tough to trust it's centuries old 

Impeccable: The bullion is so ideally recorded that it’s tough to trust it’s centuries old 

A womanlike figure from a museum's 55,000-piece collection A golden jar with an elaborate base

A womanlike figure (left) and a golden jar are among a museum’s 55,000-piece collection

Next stop is La Candelaria, Bogotá’s colonial district, a 10-15 notation travel from a Museo del Oro. All cobbled streets and pastel-painted houses, it buzzes with food vendors offered drinks or obleas – a waffle-y dessert oozing with jam or precipitated milk.

It’s also a chair of a Colombian government. Plaza de Bolivar, a ancestral block during a heart of a Old Town, is home to a ginormous National Capitol where a country’s Congress meets. The President’s residence, Casa de Nariño, is usually down a road.

The churches here are generally picturesque. The neoclassical Catedral Primada de Colombia wins my heart with a grandeur, while a splendid yellow Iglesia de la Candelaria brightens adult an differently rain-filled sky. 

The Iglesia Nuestra Señora del Carmen also deserves a curtsy for handling to demeanour Gothic notwithstanding a red-and-white striped candy-cane extraneous that a locals review to pyjamas.

Stunning: The Cathedral Primada on Plaza de Bolivar shines whatever a weather 

Stunning: The Cathedral Primada on Plaza de Bolivar shines whatever a weather 

Street food: Obleas are a waffle-y, wafer-like dessert filled with jam or precipitated milk. This box caused a frenzy among flitting schoolchildren a few mins later

Street food: Obleas are a waffle-y, wafer-like dessert filled with jam or precipitated milk. This box caused a frenzy among flitting schoolchildren a few mins later

A travel food seller waits for business on a renouned traveller street

The cloud-topped plateau are simply manifest down a streets of La Candelaria

Colourful: Pastel walls, cobbled streets and art deco pattern supplement to a attract of La Candelaria 

Colourful: Pastel walls, cobbled streets and art deco pattern supplement to a attract of La Candelaria 

The Iglesia de la Candelaria The candy-striped Iglesia Nuestra Señora del Carmen

Churches galore: The Iglesia de la Candelaria (left) and candy-striped Iglesia Nuestra Señora del Carmen

The walls of La Candelaria are abloom with charming murals, and there’s even a street art debate for graffiti fans.

If galleries are some-more your thing, check out a Botero Museum, founded by Colombia’s best-known artist Fernando Botero, or a Museo de Arte Colonial, a breakwater of portraits and eremite art set around a balmy garden courtyard.

Street art: Colombia has an tractable opinion to graffiti, seen here in a Plazoleta del Chorro de Quevedo

Street art: Colombia has an tractable opinion to graffiti, seen here in a Plazoleta del Chorro de Quevedo

Old meets new in this design on a front of a residence in La Candelaria. Fans can suffer a graffiti debate of a area

Old meets new in this design on a front of a residence in La Candelaria. Fans can suffer a graffiti debate of a area

By a afternoon, I’m starting to onslaught with a reduction endearing underline of Colombian tourism: Altitude sickness. 

Bogotá sits on a high plateau 2640 metres (8661 ft) above sea level, that means there’s reduction oxygen in each exhale we take. Visitors generally acclimatize after a few days, though some notice headaches, breathlessness or lassitude until then.

Luckily Colombia’s best trade – a coffee, apparently – is a ideal dusk pick-me-up. Banking on a tasting event to revitalise me before dinner, we settle in for a organisation category during a Catacion Publica coffee emporium and roastery (also in Usaquén). A 90-minute tasting, booked for 70,000 pesos and VAT (around £17.40) fast has my blood zinging. 

Owner Jaime Dugue takes a connoisseur’s pleasure in deliberating a many palatable coffee varieties, their origins, aromas, and how best to ready them. Tasters are presented with mixed cups to sniff, sip, and analyse. 

Alas, years of necking Starbucks have unsuccessful to ready me for this challenge. Trying desperately to smell something subtler than ‘overwhelming coffee scent’, we stupidly strike on tomato soup. 

‘Okaaay,’ Jaime nods gravely. More investigate required…

Coffee expert Jaime Dugue shows me a taster's essence wheel The tasting involves smelling and sipping assorted excellent Colombian coffees.

Coffee expert Jaime Dugue shows me a taster’s essence circle (left), that identifies a many nuances a bean can display. The tasting involves smelling and sipping assorted excellent Colombian coffees

The Catacion Publica coffee emporium offers 90-minute coffee tastings for about £17

The Catacion Publica coffee emporium offers 90-minute coffee tastings for about £17

Buzzing with high-end caffeine, I’m all set for a outing to Andres Carne de Res, a mythological Bogotá night-spot so party-centric and extreme that even repeat attendees pronounce of it with reverence. 

Everything we hear about Andres is ridiculous. The restaurant-slash-club is 2.76 miles block – some-more like a Samba-fuelled city than a steakhouse. 

It seats 2,000 people, and a menu is 19 pages long. The crockery and Day of a Dead kitsch décor is all done on-site. 

There are dual dance-floors, a emporium punishment curios, and a climbing wall for children. The residence booze comes in bottles hand-painted by internal artists. I am DYING to see this place. 

Andres in all a glory: The grill seats 2,000 people, and a neon roof taste is done (and sold) on-site

Andres in all a glory: The grill seats 2,000 people, and a neon roof taste is done (and sold) on-site

Diners during Andres Carne de Res are greeted with a internal firewater, aguardiente The residence booze comes in bottles hand-painted by internal artists

Shots on arrival: Diners during Andres Carne de Res are greeted with a internal firewater, aguardiente. (Right) The residence booze comes in bottles hand-painted by internal artists

The bizarre bend of Andres is in Chia, 23km out of executive Bogotá, and after an irascible 45-minute expostulate we step onto a quell to find a sea of neon disco windmills lighting adult a night. 

A cut-out zebra with a quiff leads us to a nearest entrance, where we’re greeted by a smiling waitress and a shot of a internal firewater, aguardiente. 

As a lifelong vegetarian, I’m sadly incompetent to suffer a restaurant’s specialty – a grilled Argentinian beef – that has my inspired cooking companions in raptures. 

Not minimalist: Candles, bells, and thousands of red lamps set off a strenuous celebration atmosphere

Not minimalist: Candles, bells, and thousands of red lamps set off a strenuous celebration atmosphere

Side-effects of Andres mojitos embody detriment of facial control, and cosying adult to a bizarre cat-man

Side-effects of Andres mojitos embody detriment of facial control, and cosying adult to a bizarre cat-man

Consoled by an array of Colombian tiny plates (potatoes, plantain, empanadas, and boiled yucca – all beige, all moreish), we squeeze a mojito a distance of my conduct and strike a dance-floor. It’s what Shakira would want…

Despite spending a night training to rumba with several bizarre Colombian organisation dressed like a expel of Cats a Musical, we somehow arise adult hangover-free. The object is lucent over blue skies, and conditions are ideal for a outing to Cerro de Monserrate, a towering with a best aerial viewpoint of Bogotá.

Monserrate is renouned with visitors who go for a panoramas, though also with pilgrims, many of whom stand a towering on their knees to strech a seventeenth-century church during a summit. 

Less torturous ways adult embody a five-minute wire automobile float (14.000 pesos / £3.20 and cheaper on Sundays), and a funicular railway.

‘Breathtaking’ is an stale word when it comes to views, though it positively relates here. From a tip of Monserrate, all of Bogotá spreads out before you. New York and New Mexico are a usually North American cities to review with it for distance – and a bird’s-eye viewpoint gives a singular sense of a city’s scale and character.

Worth a climb: Cerro de Monserrate has simply a best viewpoint over Bogotá

Worth a climb: Cerro de Monserrate has simply a best viewpoint over Bogotá

The Church of Monserrate is a place of event for Catholics, and dates from the seventeenth century

The Church of Monserrate is a place of event for Catholics, and dates from the seventeenth century

Mind a heat: The tip of a towering is flattering exposed, so don't forget a sun-cream 

Mind a heat: The tip of a towering is flattering exposed, so don’t forget a sun-cream 

The tabernacle dedicated to 'El Señor Caído' (the depressed Lord), facilities stained potion and a black Madonna

The tabernacle dedicated to ‘El Señor Caído’ (the depressed Lord), facilities stained potion and a black Madonna

Panorama: On a transparent day, we can see a whole of Bogotá and over from a mountain

Panorama: On a transparent day, we can see a whole of Bogotá and over from a mountain

The bone-white Church of Monserrate is a distinguished building with pleasing stained glass, and a tabernacle dedicated to ‘El Señor Caído’ (the depressed Lord). 

It’s also a retreat from a cruel Andean sun, that burnt my wintry vampire arms to a frail in about 7 mins flat. (We’re not in London now, Toto…)

As good as dual restaurants, there are food stalls and a commemoration marketplace during a summit. 

ONE LAST MUST-DO… EMERALD SHOPPING!

Colombia has some of a world’s best emerald mines, and we can get top-quality stones during good prices if we know where to go.

To safeguard you’re removing an authentic jewel, equivocate a street-sellers and usually buy from shops that yield a certificate of flawlessness each time. 

Bogotá has copiousness of approved internal sellers, and a selling centres in a north of a city are a decent starting point.

I struck bullion during Don Esteban Joyeros, a emporium in a Centro Comercial Hacienda Santa Bárbara, a mall in Usaquén.

You could also try a Museo Internacional de la Esmeralda (Emerald Museum) (www.museodelaesmeralda.com.co), subsequent doorway to a Gold Museum, for impulse and (naturally) a shop. 

If a altitude is still satirical this is a good place to collect adult some coca tea, a renouned illness pill in Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. Despite furious schoolboy rumours of glass cocaine, it’s a herbal splash done from coca leaves and honeyed with honey.

Back during a bottom of a mountain, we symbol a llama tethered by a side of a road. I’ve been on a watch for alpacas for days, and couldn’t be some-more delighted. 

With no owners in sight, we confirm to climb adult on it, in box of a) spitting, or b) biting, both trustworthy methods of llama-attack. Luckily this man is a tourist-friendly beast, and fast trots adult to snuggle me like a big, downy horse. I’m smiling like a loon – my day is strictly made.

The llama was a finish print pro Coca tea is a renouned altitude illness cure

Coca tea (right) is a renouned altitude illness cure, though tracking down a accessible llama works too

Cuddly: A non-biting, spit-free llama chilling with a dog friend

Cuddly: A non-biting, spit-free llama chilling with a dog friend

The llama is a somewhat uncanny though accurate embellishment for Colombians in general, who we found to be zodiacally comfortable and welcoming. The military during a bottom of Monserrate (bristling with guns) ask for a organisation picture. 

A shopkeeper offers to dump a ring off during my hotel in person. The grill entertainers chuck all their appetite into creation your night fantastic.

Bogotanos conclude tourism, since many remember a time when it looked doomed. That this time has upheld is a win for all concerned.

Go to Colombia, and you’ll find a brave, fun-filled nation on a up. Yes, a past was dim in tools – though a balmy new story is already being written. 

TRAVEL FACTS 

ACCOMMODATION:

NH Collection Royal Teleport is a flagship Latin America hotel of NH Hotel Group, a tellurian hotel sequence with over 400 hotels in 29 destinations. Prices for a Superior Room start from $119 USD (approximately £76) per night, including a glorious daily breakfast. 

To book or for some-more information, visit: www.nh-hotels.com

WEATHER: 

Being tighten to a equator means Bogota doesn’t unequivocally have seasons, and temperatures are identical via a year. 

During my stay, a mercury hovered around a 20C mark, that is sincerely customary for September. The driest months are Dec to March, while many of a sleet comes from Apr to July. 

 

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