This post will be all about how Kieran and Alina ate their way through Bogotá along with a few travel tips! Here goes:
- La Candelaria: the historical center filled with museums, cheap food and hostels.
- Santa Fe/Centro: one of the most “traditional” districts of Bogotá; it is a bit of a mess (traffic wise and just in general), but worth a visit for some good food and people watching.
- Chapinero/Zona G: the “modern” neighborhood with cool restaurants and bars. It is also the LGBT hotspot. Gastronomically speaking, it is a paradise. This is where the rich and the poor, the popular and the not-so hang out together. In my opinion, it is a good representation of Bogotá as a whole.
- Zona Rosa/Parque 93: big part of the city’s nightlife is concentrated here with a great amount of bars/parties.
- Usaquén: a beautiful place to walk, buy stuff, drink a coffee, have dinner or sit down for a beer.
WHERE TO STAY:
Since we couldn’t stay here…..
- Fulano Backpackers Hostel: super clean, friendly, cheap, awesome neighborhood in Chapinero and with options to either stay in a dormitory or a private room. Drawbacks for us old folks: super loud at all hours of the day/night. It is a party hostel. So, if you want to party, you will LOVE it! We just wanted to recuperate from being sick and this was NOT the place to do it. Another not so great feature is although they have free WiFi, they block many sites that are important to travelers (booking.com, tripadvisor, etc.), which makes it hard to book your next point of travel.
- Grace Hotel: I wish I could tell you that this was an AWESOME place; however, when we arrived (aka – walking for 15+ blocks with our backpacks), they said “oops, we booked over your reservation, sorry”. So, while sitting in the lobby of this place, we booked the next spot – which would turn out to be our home for the next 4 weeks!
- Mila Hotel: Oh, Mila – how I love thee. This place is BOMB DIGGITY and became our home for weeks to come. You may ask WHY did we stay in Bogotá for a month? A few reasons come to mind: 1) we really wanted to settle down for a bit and stop moving around; 2) my family has sent Kieran and I a package of some requested items and birthday gifts, so we had to wait for it to arrive (more on this later) and 3) why not! Back to Mila – what a WONDERFUL place. For a pretty decent price, you get the following: a) a super cozy bed, b) a wonderfully clean room which is made up daily with nightly turn down service with chocolates, c) full breakfast included with the sweetest chef (shout out to Alex) who on daily basis would let me use the blender so I can make myself smoothies, d) free super fast WiFi and finally e) the most amazing staff who treats you like gold sprinkled with diamonds. And to add to this, it is in a fantastic location in Chapinero in Zona G or Gastronomical district with fabulous restaurants all around.
What’s impressive about restaurants in Bogotá is the super cool ambiance, interior design and the presentation of food. People really know how to do it up here!
- Masa: Oh hi! I LOVE YOU! I want to marry you and have your almond croissant babies. Two locations! Pretty sure we were there daily for lunch, dinner, dessert, brunch, coffee, WiFi; if we didn’t show up, our credit card company probably thought there was fraudulent activity. We stumbled on this place on day 2 of us being in Bogotá and well, we never left. The food – fabulous! The people – very nice! I am sure they (and I) wondered how Kieran maintained his figure after eating 3 croissants/day. An added benefit was that this gem was around the corner from Mila Hotel!
- Monkey House: before we knew that Masa existed, we ate here. Overpriced and not tasty. But great live music and a good selection of beers.
- El Gato Gris: we just came here after a walking tour for a quick bite of empanadas; it is definitely a place worth checking out. It is a gorgeous Colonial house.
- Juan Valdez: it’s the Starbucks of Colombia, except this place is WAY cooler and again with free WiFi. In fact, we are sitting here now, sipping on our cappuccino’s while writing this blog (getting hungry again).
- Julia: two locations with fantastic pizza (think mushrooms and truffles). Yum!
- Asadero 5001: a super cool locals spot. It is tiny and you have about 5 options (meat, meat and more meat). Cash only!
- San Fermin Bakery: Can’t find this place online, but NOM NOM NOM and CHEAP desserts! It’s on Calle 63 and Carrera 10.
- Dos Gatos Y Simone: a fabulous take on Mexican food. One of our favorite spots in La Candelaria.
- La Hamburgueseria: tons of locations with tasty burgers and live music any night of the week. Just check out their calendar!
- Crepe and Waffles: this is a great chain all around Colombia. Great breakfast and fabulous ice cream!
- Mini Mal: a locals spot with a Cajun twist. For the price, it wasn’t that impressive. Skip!
- Opa Gyros: another great quick stop if you are over eating rice and plantains!
- Andres DC: there are two locations of this party central, club like restaurant. There is one right in Chapinero/Zona Rosa and one in Chia which is a 45 minute cab ride away (this one is supposed to be even better than the one in Zona Roas). It is not cheap, but it is an awesome place to dance to live music, have fabulous drinks and delicious food. Oh, and if you need a parade for your birthday (like I do), this is the place!
- Myriam Camhi: an impressive selection of desserts!
- Saint Just: this place is rated #1 on tripadvisor. I don’t get it. Meh service, blah food and not cheap. There are far better options in La Candelaria.
- Bistronomy: had a quick bite here and this restaurant also services Mila Hotel with an all day menu. Not super cheap, but good quality.
- El Corral Burger: another burger chain which is pretty decent with about 30 different burger options.
- Diana Garcia: a place that is open for breakfast/lunch and if you get there at noon, you will be standing in line. Super popular with the locals and very tasty!
- BBC: pubs all over Bogotá with lots of local beer options and deliciously greasy empanadas.
- Eric Kayser Bakery: a very fancy shmancy bakery with locations in Paris, Santiago, Moscow, etc. Fabulous pistachio eclairs.
ARE YOU HUNGRY YET?
- Shipping Packages: that’s easy – DON’T DO IT! I asked my sister to send me a few things. The package was shipped on March 2nd, arrived in Bogotá on March 9th and I couldn’t get to it until March 30th as it was being held ransom until we were notified where to find it and pay taxes on it ($5). Pain in the butt! But we did get enough supply of chocolate to last us a good week or two and gorgeous new running shoes (I don’t run)!
- Grocery Shopping: Carulla supermarkets or Exito supermarkets are all over Colombia and are a great spot to get whatever you need.
- Public Transportation: fantastic! TransMilenio runs all through out the city. Just buy a card, fill it up with cash and you are riding back and forth for 50 cents!
- Laundry: Lavanderia’s are all over town with wash and fold. We did our laundry on weekly basis for a pretty cheap price and a two hour turn-around time).
- Mani/Pedi/Hair Blow Out/Wax: also known as Peluquerias are sooo cheap and wonderful. There are REALLY inexpensive places in La Candelaria (we are talking $2 mani/pedi, $5 blow outs and $4 hair cuts). Ladies AND gentlemen in Colombia really take care of themselves and so peluquerias are always packed at all hours of the day.
- Malls/Shopping: Centro Andino and just the entire area where this mall is located is packed with people, shopping and restaurants. Great place to people watch and of course, to eat. The food court is fabulous with delicious meals and inexpensive prices! We came here a few times and one of those was on Good Friday and it was PACKED!
- Movies: Cine Colombia is always a good option on a rainy day. There are numerous locations including the one inside of Centro Andino. In the same area as Andino, there is also a Cinemark movie theater. Wednesday is known as the 2 for 1 deal ($2.50 movies!).
- Just like in all of South America, Sunday is rest and family day. Most things will be closed except for the movie theaters and some restaurants.
After four awesome months in South America, on April 5th, “the bees” will be catching two 11.5 hour flights to Bangkok, Thailand. We are super excited to check out a new continent.
We will miss South America, but I can guarantee that we will be back, especially to Colombia!