January 1, 2013 | By Ali Moffitt
Jay Burghardt, a corporate travel advisor for Christopherson Business Travel, (the business travel division of Andavo Travel) had the opportunity to take a family vacation to Bogota, Colombia and provides his report below:
My family and I just came back from quite an adventure. We spent a week in Colombia. We have a cousin who lives in Bogota temporarily so we thought we would “drop by” and spend a few days with her.
We flew on Delta Airlines and had a relatively smooth trip. Upon arrival, my wife, son and I entered the big new, international airport for Bogota that was built right next to the old airport (which they still use for domestic flights), resulting in a pretty congested area. But we made it through immigration, and into the waiting arms of our cousin. She had a “private” taxi already pulled aside for us, and we were whisked away to their apartment in the city. And thank goodness they did this, as there was a huge line for taxis outside the airport.
Once in the city, taxis are everywhere! But be careful just picking one up off the street, as they have a reputation for charging the unknowing passenger much more than they should, or even taking the passenger to an “out of the way” place and robbing them. One tip to avoid this is to always call in to the taxi dispatcher, and they will tell you exactly what cab is being sent, and which number to look for, so you don’t hop in a “bad” cab. This is very good habit to get into if you are in Bogota for a few days.
I found Bogota to be one gigantic, crowded city of 9 million people. The people were nice enough, but no one spoke even an inkling of English except in the hotels. We enjoyed several exciting adventures while there. First, we took a six hour bike tour through the older part of the city, as well as the main downtown area, with a company called Mike’s Bike tour. I enjoyed that very much and did get a good feel of the city, as we peddled and peddled.
One day we hopped on a bus and went out to a city called Zipaquera, which has a famous place called the Salt Cathedral. It’s an old salt mine built into the hillside that has been turned into a series of chambers reflecting different parts of the bible, as well as a huge main cathedral. Very much worth the trip out of town.
Our last night in Bogota, we took a cab to the city’s most famous restaurant/entertainment place. It was called Andres de Carne and we sampled every type of Colombian dish from Aquecante alcohol to deep-fried beef intestines. There were 10 of us, and the entire evening came out to about $28.00 per person, which is very inexpensive for all that we ate and drank. We had great food in all the restaurants we ate at in Colombia, from fancy restaurants to little eating places on the side of the road.
We departed Bogota after three days and headed to Medellin, which I found to be a very enjoyable city. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in a section of town called El Poblado. The hotel room was spectacular, with an entire wall as a window. We were on the 20th floor of a 21 story building. The only thing better than the view from our room, was the view from the floor above, where they served breakfast each morning (included in the room price).
One day we drove up into the hills to a small coffee plantation. The owner of Café Cereza (or Coffee Cherry) was a very friendly man who gave us a private tour of his plantation. He walked us around the hills of his farm, and explained everything from him planting seeds to grow the coffee plants, to replanting them on the hillside, to picking the fruit of the coffee bush, to removing the pulp for the bean. It was quite fascinating, and we spent a solid 3 hours wandering up and down the hills. He showed us the plantain and banana trees he has planted there as well. He walked us through his home, and the home of his workers. And we finished it up with him making us some coffee that was about as fresh as is humanly possible.
It was a perfect final adventure to our trip to Colombia. All in all, it was a memorable trip that I am so glad my family and I were able to experience together.