Lynn & David travelling in South America travel blog

Salt Cathedral, Zipaquira, Colombia

Salt Cathedral, Zipaquira, Colombia

Landscape near Bogota, Colombia

Landscape near Bogota, Colombia

Lynn and Acacia Tree, Cerro de Monserrate, Bogota, Colombia

Panorama of city from Cerro de Monserrate, Bogota, Colombia

Golden Raft, Gold Museum, Bogota, Colombia

Bogota from Cerro de Monserrate, Bogota, Colombia

Black Jesus in church at Cerro de Monserrate, Bogota, Colombia

Pre Columbian Necklace, Gold Museum, Bogota, Colombia

Pre Columbian Gold figure, Gold Museum, Bogota, Colombia

Pre Columbian Gold figure, Gold Museum, Bogota, Colombia

Pre Columbian Gold figure, Gold Museum, Bogota, Colombia

Pre Columbian Gold pendant, Gold Museum, Bogota, Colombia


Friday 2nd May 2014

Villa de Leyva to Bogota, Colombia

Travelled from Villa de Leyva this morning. We had to transfer our luggage from the hotel to the truck park as the truck was not able to enter this historic town. As we were not far from Bogota, we stopped at Zapiquira and visited the Cathedral of Salt, a church with many caverns built entirely underground in an old salt mine. We walked into the old mine via a tunnel and walked down past the stations of the cross to where the cathedral was located 180 metres underground. This cathedral was only opened in 1999 as the previous one had collapsed. Many different rooms had been tunnelled out of the rock and it was very impressive. There were gift shops with shop assistants wearing hard hats!! Lunch was at the fast food places above ground. We then travelled towards Bogota, arriving at our hotel about 10km from the city centre in a ‘nice’ suburb at around 3:30pm. Bogota is spread out in a long valley with steep sides. It is at about 2,580 metres above sea level so the feeling of lightheadedness that goes with altitude was apparent. We went out to dinner later to a pizza restaurant just around the corner and were home by about 9:30pm. It is considerably cooler here than we have been accustomed to recently and we even needed a heater on in the room.

Saturday 3rd May 2014

Bogota, Colombia

After breakfast in the hotel, most of the group (now numbering 18) planned a trip to the city on the metrobus system. We walked down to the bus station and caught the bus. The system in this city is huge with thousands (or seemingly so) of red “bendy” buses plying 4 lane (2 each way) bus ways along the main roads. They are all full of people. There are also many other buses in this city of around 7 million people and it is a very busy place. We were into the city in about 15 minutes. After alighting from the bus, we walked with our companions (about 8 of us) from the bus terminal to the base of Monserrat the hill overlooking the city (500m higher than the town). There we caught the funicular railway up to the top of Monserrat where we had a fantastic view of the city and its suburbs. Today was a clear day and quite warm for Bogota so it was a good day to go up there. There is another “stations of the cross” in stone that leads up to a church where pilgrims go to get blessings from the Black Jesus in the church there. Apparently there have been some miracles performed and demonstrated. At Easter pilgrims go on their knees up the trail from the base of the hill to the church (instead of using the funicular or cable car). After visiting, we then went back down on the cable car which was very steep. Once back in the city, we walked down to the Bogota Gold Museum. We had an early lunch in a delicatessen while our companions went to the museum. After lunch we visited the Gold Museum. It has a fantastic amazing exhibition of the treasures of Colombia and considering the Spanish carted away shiploads of gold and silver for about 350 years from the time of the conquest (that is what they call the Spanish invasion here), it was an incredibly impressive display of gold, silver and other artefacts. The sheer volume and quality of the items in this place is unbelievable and we spent about 2 hours looking at everything. We then did some shopping and walked up to the square to take some photos then by chance met our companions who were just heading back to the hotel. By now it was about 4.30pm and the square had a decidedly seedy feeling. Even inside the cathedral felt like that and we have since been told that people even get robbed inside the cathedral. It was lucky we met our friends because the difficulties we had negotiating getting back by bus were pretty interesting. Although the bus we came in on this morning set us down within 15 minutes, this afternoon we had to negotiate buying a card for our fares, changing buses and then travelling in the opposite direction for a while to get back to our hotel. This all took about an hour and a half. We then went out to dinner with some of the group and back to the hotel again to pack up ready to head off tomorrow to Coffee Country (Zona Cafetera), still in the mountains.

Friday 2nd May 2014

Villa de Leyva to Bogota, Colombia

Travelled from Villa de Leyva this morning. We had to transfer our luggage from the hotel to the truck park as the truck was not able to enter this historic town. As we were not far from Bogota, we stopped at Zapiquira and visited the Cathedral of Salt, a church with many caverns built entirely underground in an old salt mine. We walked into the old mine via a tunnel and walked down past the stations of the cross to where the cathedral was located 180 metres underground. This cathedral was only opened in 1999 as the previous one had collapsed. Many different rooms had been tunnelled out of the rock and it was very impressive. There were gift shops with shop assistants wearing hard hats!! Lunch was at the fast food places above ground. We then travelled towards Bogota, arriving at our hotel about 10km from the city centre in a ‘nice’ suburb at around 3:30pm. Bogota is spread out in a long valley with steep sides. It is at about 2,580 metres above sea level so the feeling of lightheadedness that goes with altitude was apparent. We went out to dinner later to a pizza restaurant just around the corner and were home by about 9:30pm. It is considerably cooler here than we have been accustomed to recently and we even needed a heater on in the room.

Saturday 3rd May 2014

Bogota, Colombia

After breakfast in the hotel, most of the group (now numbering 18) planned a trip to the city on the metrobus system. We walked down to the bus station and caught the bus. The system in this city is huge with thousands (or seemingly so) of red “bendy” buses plying 4 lane (2 each way) bus ways along the main roads. They are all full of people. There are also many other buses in this city of around 7 million people and it is a very busy place. We were into the city in about 15 minutes. After alighting from the bus, we walked with our companions (about 8 of us) from the bus terminal to the base of Monserrat the hill overlooking the city (500m higher than the town). There we caught the funicular railway up to the top of Monserrat where we had a fantastic view of the city and its suburbs. Today was a clear day and quite warm for Bogota so it was a good day to go up there. There is another “stations of the cross” in stone that leads up to a church where pilgrims go to get blessings from the Black Jesus in the church there. Apparently there have been some miracles performed and demonstrated. At Easter pilgrims go on their knees up the trail from the base of the hill to the church (instead of using the funicular or cable car). After visiting, we then went back down on the cable car which was very steep. Once back in the city, we walked down to the Bogota Gold Museum. We had an early lunch in a delicatessen while our companions went to the museum. After lunch we visited the Gold Museum. It has a fantastic amazing exhibition of the treasures of Colombia and considering the Spanish carted away shiploads of gold and silver for about 350 years from the time of the conquest (that is what they call the Spanish invasion here), it was an incredibly impressive display of gold, silver and other artefacts. The sheer volume and quality of the items in this place is unbelievable and we spent about 2 hours looking at everything. We then did some shopping and walked up to the square to take some photos then by chance met our companions who were just heading back to the hotel. By now it was about 4.30pm and the square had a decidedly seedy feeling. Even inside the cathedral felt like that and we have since been told that people even get robbed inside the cathedral. It was lucky we met our friends because the difficulties we had negotiating getting back by bus were pretty interesting. Although the bus we came in on this morning set us down within 15 minutes, this afternoon we had to negotiate buying a card for our fares, changing buses and then travelling in the opposite direction for a while to get back to our hotel. This all took about an hour and a half. We then went out to dinner with some of the group and back to the hotel again to pack up ready to head off tomorrow to Coffee Country (Zona Cafetera), still in the mountains.



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