Day 1: First we headed to the Botero Museum. The museum is free to enter and there are over 100 works by Botero. It’s a beautiful building with a good view from the second floor too; you can even see Mount Monserrate. Definitely worth a 30 minute stroll through.
Next we walked around the Bolivar Plaza, which is a great place to people watch. Depending on the time of day, you might find more pigeons than people. We found it to be a great place to observe the locals looking to make a few extra pesos. You can buy anything from street food to bubbles to bird seed to balloons. The most entertaining person we saw was definitely the guy who was rolling around on broken glass bottles. We watched him for a good 10 minutes, and the highlight was when he grabbed two huge handfuls of broken glass and rubbed it all over his face. Quite an interesting way to earn a buck!
Then we wandered into the Gold Museum. The museum hosts the country’s largest gold collection. There is a free day, which is Sunday, but we heard it was usually packed that day so we opted to pay. The entrance fee wasn’t much. There were some interesting artifacts, but overall a bit of a disappointment.
A definite must do activity is the FREE Graffiti Walking Tour. You meet your local tour guide at Parque de Los Periodistas and spend around hours walking around the city and finding interesting and unusual street art. Our guide was incredibly knowledgeable about the city, the graffiti artists, the story of the artwork, etc. We learned a lot about the city, got a tour of the neighborhoods, and got some amazing photos of the artwork.
Finally we made the trek to Mount Monserrate to see the views and watch the sunset. It’s about a five minute cab ride from downtown Bogota and then you funicular ride up to the top. There are spectacular views of the city from the top. There’s also a church which you are welcome to peek inside and many restaurants and shops to enjoy.
This day happened to be the World Cup final and, although Colombia was not in it, most of the city was watching the game. We joined in the fun by heading to the nearest pub for beers, sporting our new bright yellow Colombia soccer jerseys that we had purchased the day before for $1.87.
If you can plan your trip around being in Bogota on a Sunday, we definitely recommend it. Sundays are Bogota Ciclovia, which is when they shut down some of the main streets in La Candelaria and make them bike/pedestrian friendly. It’s every Sunday from 7am until 2pm and the streets are filled with vendors, street food, and entertainment. We saw everything from a life-sized Pikachu to drum circles to a guy selling liquid bone marrow.
From there we headed over to La Puerta Falsa. Made famous by Anthony Bourdain there was always a line when we walked by. Today’s line wasn’t too daunting so we decided to stand in it. It moved fairly quickly and soon we were seated at a tiny counter upstairs to try the famous chocolate and cheese. It was a great mix of sweet and salty, and although it sounds odd, it’s actually quite delicious. We also indulged in the tamale, just like Bourdain. If the line isn’t too long, check this place out.
Next we took a 30 minute Uber ride over to Usaquen to go to the Usaquen Market which cost us 15,000 pesos. This market is open from 11-4pm on Sundays. The market was about 30 stalls with handcrafts and clothing. There were a few stands selling food and beer. We stopped by the Bogota Beer Company to sample a few of their beers, which were quite delicious. One of the only craft beer places we saw in Colombia. The town around the market was cool with a huge park in the middle and many restaurants and bars nearby. There was also an indoor market area where you could shop for handmade crafts. If you’re short on time and have more things to do in La Candelaria, this would be what we would have eliminated from our itinerary. I’m not sure we’d make the trek all the way out there again, but it was nice to see a different part of the city.
We ended our evening with a round of Tejo, Colombia’s National sport. We made our way to Club de Tejo La 76, about 20 minutes outside of La Candelaria/downtown. The cost was 50,000 Colombian pesos (or $15 USD) for 1 hour of play. Read more about that adventure in our Trying Tejo article.
Overall we loved the city of Bogota. For a city with 8 million people it still felt small, manageable and welcoming.
When we decided on Colombia as a destination, one of the first things that we did was to watch Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” for Colombia. After that, we immediately knew that we wanted try a round of tejo (a much more fun version of cornhole because instead of tossing towards boards with holes in them you throw at a box full of clay that has gunpowder on it).
Our first step upon arriving in Bogota was to find a place to play. We chose Club de Tejo La 76, about 20 minutes outside of La Candelaria/downtown. The cost was 50,000 Colombian pesos (or $15 USD) for 1 hour of play.
Then, we picked out of tejos. Just like bowling balls, they are all different weights. Finally we got the most important equipment: beer. The seemingly mandatory cerveza was $2,500 Colombian pesos (or .87 cents USD). Beer and tejo go hand-in-hand; the locals playing next to us had a beer in one hand while throwing the tejo with the other.
The helpful employee from Club de Tejo La 76 took us upstairs to the beginners area (downstairs the court was about 3x as long) and showed us how to play. He explained the rules and stuck around long enough to make sure our tejos didn’t go flying toward someone’s head. The room was filled with the sounds of people speaking Spanish, laughter, and the occasional boom of gunpowder.
Tim, of course, became an expert after just a few throws. His tejo hit the paper mecha (the little triangular packet filled with gunpowder) and the club exploded with sound.
We paused for a picture while the group of local men next to us congratulated Tim on his hit. Everyone in the club was extremely friendly. Maybe it was the beer… But it seemed like all the locals enjoyed laughing at the gringos who were attempting to play their pastime.
The best part of playing tejo? You don’t even have to leave the court to go to the bathroom. Why don’t all sports have this option?