We did have a bit of concern about travelling to Colombia but were assured that it was safe – as long as you were careful! In Bogota we were told that there were no go areas but stay away from them and the rest is reasonably safe. What we weren’t prepared for was the beauty and majesty of the capital. In addition the sheer number of museums and galleries is amazing and they were all either free or very cheap. From the world class Gold Museum which, through some stunning artefacts, gives a vivid portrayal of ancient Colombia, to the Police Museum which gives a more recent take on the country’s troubled history. We particularly enjoyed the Botero Gallery which houses a collection by the artist himself (if you haven’t seen his stuff it’s worth a look – just don’t call them fat!) along with an international collection which included works by Picasso, Monet and many others.
We did a couple of tours while we were there. The first was around the historic Candelaria area and we were accompanied by a class of about twenty teenagers, who were there to improve their English. The tour was really interesting but we missed most of the end of it as the kids decided they wanted to chat and practice their English with us – this led to an invite to accompany them to lunch! They decided that we should sample Chicha which is a Colombian drink. Their teacher bought a few different flavoured bottles for us all to try, we didn’t realise until afterwards that it is alcoholic! Can just imagine a teacher back home treating his class to a couple of bottles of Buckfast!
Another tour we did focussed on the stories of the unsung heroes who fought to improve the lives of Colombians. This covered the rise of the FARC guerilla movement and the Escobar years. It was really interesting to hear the stories and also made us feel very ignorant about our lack of knowledge. It has been a bit of a feature of this trip that the events which have taken place in recent history are sometimes the ones we know least about.
After months of sunshine and even a relatively sunny stopover in London this was our first experience of the cold and rain for some time. In someways it was quite refreshing but as our flat was a bit cold and damp too we could have done without it. The flat was an Airbnb and was a kind of jungle gym with steps up to a bed and down to a bathroom. In the dark it was quite a challenge to find the toilet!