Bogota: First Impressions

I honestly didn’t know what to expect going into Colombia. Everyone I’d met who has been there said wonderful things: that it was beautiful, interesting and diverse. Everyone I’d met who hadn’t been there immediately started talking about cocaine and narco-terrorism. Although I patiently explained that Colombia is much safer now then it was ten years ago and that the bad people were easily avoided, the truth was I didn’t really know what I’d find either.

First stop: Bogota, for an entire month of working, exploring and hanging out with my new four legged friend Dexter, a bull dog with an underbite to die for.

Bogota is a big modern city that in many ways isn’t all that different from the United States. It has nearly the population of New York City and is one of the top 30 largest cities in the world. It’s not a tall city like New York though, from our balcony view, low apartment buildings spread out into the vast smoggy distance. In the distance on every side are rolling hills. The weather is constantly that of an overcast October day.

Our view- not bad!

Oh yes and it’s LOUD. From our tenth story bedroom we can hear horns blasting, sirens clanging and the occasional unplaceable house music down on the street below. Construction work, random loudspeakers and the zip zip of deranged taxi drivers (seriously: I thought China was bad but I had no idea). They are disruptive sounds but strangely comforting: they are big city sounds.

In the 1990’s Bogota was one of the most dangerous cities in the world, but walking around over the past week we’ve felt pretty safe. Part of it is that we’re staying in one of the ritziest neighborhoods (and definitely not trying to wander into any bad parts of town), but it’s also true that Bogota has done a lot to clean up it’s act over the years. Aside from pick-pocketing and mugging we’ve been told we don’t have to worry too much.

Hot Chocolate with Cheese
La Candelaria

Another thing about Bogota is it’s really high up- like, in altitude. It’s taken some getting used to- I don’t like getting winded going up the stairs and accidentally napping all afternoon! As a result we haven’t done much sightseeing yet: that will be on the agenda for next week. In the meantime I’m acclimating myself to South America (and yes, practicing my Spanish).


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21 thoughts on “Bogota: First Impressions”

  1. My wife is from Bogota. She moved back home a few months ago and I’m joining her soon. So I’ll be living there. I’ve never been there but everything I’ve read paints a positive picture. I’m looking forward to it, though I will miss Pittsburgh quite a lot. As long as I can follow the Pirates online I’ll be ok, I love baseball so much. Wish me luck on my new adventure.

  2. makes me happy that you talk about my city, and the best thing here are the parties, all the people being to dance.

  3. Hi, Would you send me the photo on la Villa in Bogota with my Austrlian friend??? Thas was a great party hahahaha

  4. Interested to see how you find Bogota. As you noted, we have heard nothing but overly glowing reviews from bloggers, so I am interested to see your impressions!

      1. Apparently you are supposed to cut up the cheese and mix it INTO the hot chocolate. I didn’t know that at the time so I just ate it separately. Will try again soon!

  5. Hope you guys are settling in, if you need anything, any tips, just drop me a line. From that picture I’d guess you’re in Chapinero, be sure to try Zona G for some great food.


    1. Thanks Paul! Hoping we’ll get a chance to meet you while we’re here- spend the day with Marcela and JL on Sunday and it was so much fun.

  6. Hi Steph,

    Glad you’re enjoying it. It’s a great city although I’m no fan of the altitude sickness but hopefully you’re adjusting now. Like anywhere I think you just have to be street wise and keep your wits about you. My aunt lived there for 6 years during the 90’s and survived so if she can you sure can! Hopefully the Spanish course will help you along.


    1. We are just house-sitting him, so he’s kind of like our temporary dog! Hopefully he won’t miss us too much when we set off to explore the rest of South America.

  7. Ha! That bulldog!! What a cutie. How did you get thim? Are you house sitting for someone?

    I can’t wait to hear more about your South American adventures! Good luck with Spanish!

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