Wednesday, October 27, 2021

[BOGOTÁ] Blast from the Past at La Candelaria


Imagine my anguish when I landed at and got out of El Dorado and immediately felt the cold breeze, not to mention it was raining cats and dogs. When Wikitravel said that Bogotá enjoys some sort of eternal spring weather, I thought it was going to be cool. 13C is not cool. It’s cold! At least for me. Add the Airbnb check-in booboo which quickly became an upgrade and what I got was a sleepless first night in the Colombian capital. I decided that this pitstop would just be chill and focus more on paying some sleep debt.


The only non-negotiable I have for Bogotá is La Candelaria which is said to have preserved some of its colonial flavor. For the only other available day, I am torn between taking the teleférico to Montserrat or just choosing some random museum for some dose of history buff goodness. Let’s leave that decision for tomorrow. Just to be clear, the first of my three days in Bogotá was spent sleeping the entire day to recuperate. The next day, I finally called an Uber to head to Candelaria.


My Airbnb being located at Chapinero meant a gorgeous view of the cityscape on the hills at just about every corner. Look east and you are bound to see the interplay between the green Andes Mountain range and the red orange bricks that adorn the façade of the mostly residential compounds you’ll find there. The Uber driver coasted along the cliffside highway which gives you a panoramic view of Bogotá’s skyline, which is quite impressive by the way. That view lives rent free in my head to be honest.


I was supposed to get off at Chorro de Quevedo but asked the driver to let me off a few blocks away because we passed by some interesting graffiti. Wow, Bogotá, are you trying to give CDMX a run for its money here? A little bit more walking led me to the historic square I was looking for which proved to be just as quaint as it looked like in photos. What followed was a walkathon, albeit rather chill, just admiring the small Hispanic wormhole I suddenly found myself in. Good job in preserving this area, Colombia!


You can load Google Maps beforehand if you want to be aware as to where you should go. In my case, I just decided to get lost and stumble upon various landmarks at random. One by one they met my line of sight: the Botero Museum, the Gabriel Garcia Marquez Cultural Center, a strange-looking building I could not ID. Of course, the many colonial houses that line up the cobblestoned streets were ubiquitous as well and seeing them converge in the horizon with the green mountains as the icing on top of the cake just makes you feel as though you’re not in the big city anymore, until you look the other way and see the skyscrapers from afar. I am so loving this contrast, Bogotá.


I ended the tour at Plaza de Bolívar, where most tourists start theirs. I can’t help but compare everything to Mexico City so I apologize in advance. The two cities have their own charms, but the parallel history just attracts such comparison. This plaza is way smaller than the Zócalo and rather empty, perhaps because of the pandemic. Most of what I saw there were pigeons. There were tourists and locals loitering about, though I imagine not to be as many as they were pre-COVID. It made me appreciate the plaza even more because the absence of throngs of people made the space seem larger than it actually is.


Serving as its centerpiece is the Catedral Primada de Colombia, the capital’s neoclassical church first constructed back in the mid- 1500’s. It is said to be the biggest in the country and one of the largest in the Americas. I went inside to have a look-see but wasn’t that impressed with the interior. I guess it’s one of those churches that impress from the outside, although I’d say that is primarily thanks to the mountainous backdrop that comes free given its location.


And how else to end the day by having churrasco for lunch. I deliberately entered one of the tourist-trap restaurants flanking the left side of the cathedral. The steak still came cheap at just around COP35,000 (~PhP450) despite the fact. Well. The carnivore in me can get used to this!

[BOGOTÁ] Blast from the Past at La Candelaria

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