July 30 – Aug 2
Our first full day in Colombia’s capital city was spent making our way up to Monserrate, which is a church on a hill overlooking the city, wandering through the Sunday market and cheering on the local fútbol team.
We made the short trek from our AirBnB to the starting point up to the church. There are three ways to get to the top: you can walk, take a tram type thing, or a cable car. It was Sunday so there were like a million other people in line but we decided to take the tram. The cable car didn’t open until 10. The tram is like a almost completely vertical train car. It was nuts. At the top it was cold and cloudy and we were super bummed because you really don’t get a great view of the city. We walked back down, which took so long and I’m really glad we didn’t walk up. People were huffing and puffing and looking real unhappy. Plus it was kind of raining.
We got to the bottom and got Starbucks, which pretty much made my day, then we hopped on a TransMilenio bus up to Usaquen to check out the market. The bus system in Bogotá is pretty great once you figure it out… until then, it is confusing AF. But we figured out how to get to the market and spent some time wandering around. We ran into some people who had been at the restaurant we ate at the day before so we chatted with them for a bit before parting ways. We didn’t end up buying anything, but it was still fun to see all the stuff.
That evening we ventured back out to the soccer stadium to watch the local team, Sante Fe, play some other team. We took the bus then had to walk a ways and stopped at a little convenience store-turned-pub so Ethan could get an adult beverage. There were tons of fans there all clad in Sante Fe gear and getting hyped up for the match. It was pretty entertaining. On the way in we stopped to buy Ethan a jersey from a street vendor and the guy we bought it from was so sweet he gave me a little flag for free. So cute.
The area around the stadium is completely fenced off and there are like 1000 police officers. You have to show your ticket to get through the gate, then they frisk you and inspect your bag if you have one. Then they frisk you again once you’re in the actual stadium. Oh and I forgot to mention there was a full SWAT team there in complete riot gear. Colombians are serious about their fútbol. Anyway, after asking every worker where our seats were we figured out that we didn’t actually have seat numbers and were in the “general area”. The game was entertaining itself but the fans were the main event for me. The opposing team’s fans have their own section that is completely separate from the home team’s fans. They are roped into an area and there are security guards and police surrounding that area. The fans were chanting and yelling the entire game and went completely nuts when their team scored.
The home team’s “crazy” fans have their own section as well that is also completely separate from the rest of the fans. They were also very entertaining. Chanting, singing and screaming obscenities in Spanish. Ethan was obviously very interested in the game and at one point the referee made a bad call and Ethan yelled “I strongly disagree sir!!” And the guy next to us turned and said “me too!” We both died of laughter because we didn’t think anyone could understand us. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ After the game we took the bus back and ended up having to walk down a road that should’ve been busy but it was Sunday so it was deserted. ‘Twas very uncomfortable, but we made it back safely. Phew! Long day!
The next day, after more confusion at the bus stop, we made our way north to Zipaquira. It’s a small town that was a relief from the craziness of Bogotá. We went there to see the famous Salt Cathedral which was built underground in a salt mine. The name is slightly misleading (I thought it was a church made out of salt), but basically people were mining salt under this mountain and it was dangerous so they turned a dug out area into church down there for the workers to worship hoping to keep them safe. The mine is a huge network of tunnels and they built places of worship along the way and then one big cathedral area with huge pillars, pews and an altar.
You have to take a guided tour and it’s like $17/ person. We got there just after 1, so an English speaking tour had just left. Argh! We waited until 2 for the next one. The tour wasn’t all that great, but we enjoyed seeing all the salt stone sculptures and carvings. At the end there are a bunch of souvenir shops, a light show and a 3D movie. We watched the light show for like 2 minutes, then left. Our next stop was a town called Sopo that Ethan heard might be interesting. I was pretty opposed to going but it wasn’t too far out of the way. So we went and there was nothing interesting so Ethan got an empanada and we hopped on the next bus back to Bogotá. We got dinner at the Bogotá Beer Company and discussed the plan for our last full day. Ethan really wanted to hike to a waterfall and I wasn’t at all interested. We argued about what to do and ultimately I decided to make my decision in the morning.
As you may have guessed, I decided to go because I can’t possibly let Ethan have experiences without me! Haha. In reality, I still wasn’t jazzed about going because it didn’t seem like there was a really solid way to get there and back and it was going to involve a lot of walking through muddy and hilly terrain. I went though because I didn’t think I’d have anything better to do in Bogotá by myself and I was worried about Ethan going alone.
…. and it’s a long story that needs another post so you’ll have to keep reading! 😝