Saturday, April 1, 2017

Sightseeing in Bogota, Colombia

That's me standing at the entrance to the Banco de la Republica Botero Museum next to one of Fernando Botero's sculptures.
Before I get started, I would like to say that all of the cities I know in Colombia are extremely clean.  All major cities have natural gas networks, excellent quality water so that you rarely see bottled water for sale.  Hotels, restaurants, schools, public areas all have water from Colombia's water system.  The streets are extremely clean and public works is constantly upgraded and repairing things and they do a great job of it.  For example, I saw some city employees painting a light post.  They had cardboard cutouts on the ground around the post so that paint wouldn't be left on the sidewalk.  That's not something you see here in Mexico.

My visit was short and I arrived back home last night after midnight.  My flight from Bogota landed in Mexico City 30 minutes early at 18:05 but because of Interjet flight delays it was a long evening.

The flight from Cali to Bogota on Thursday morning was a short 45 minutes.  Avianca is known for its service and it shows.   On time flights, good in-flight service (more on that later).  We headed to the hotel in Bogota and I rested for a few hours.  The hotel, Lancaster House is truly a piece of art.  With art deco interiors there are a set of five flags flying in front:

Israeli for the owners
Chinese for the workers at the Huawei office towers in front
U.S. for American tourists and workers
Colombian for obvious reasons
Russian as there are people working in various companies

Hotels aren't any cheaper here than anywhere else but the publisher takes very good care of me.  UDP/SM has over 150 employees in Colombia providing religious texts, Spanish and English texts.  Quite an international organization.  Arriving early to the hotel no rooms were ready and they asked me to wait up to four hours.  What?  The gentleman, Christian, who was the customer service desk waved me over and we chatted for a few minutes.  After I explained that I was speaking at an event at his hotel he hopped up and go things going.  They upgraded me to a one bedroom suite complete with kitchen and a garden patio.  He really knows about customer service to the point that he pitched in to get the room ready.

If you know me, you know what came next.  A darkened room to take a nap.  It was great.  They have a wonderful Claro entertainment system with surround sound in the bedroom.  

The event was a success.  I shared Social and Emotional Learning with them.   They hadn't heard of it as it is relatively new in teaching in Latin America.   The pic below shows some of the group I was able to catch on the way out as they were going to the salon for the luncheon we had set up.

We had fun and shared experiences during the presentation and the luncheon.  A group of teachers at one school are all motorcyclists and came on their big bikes with their helmets.   That evening I kicked back and had a couple of beers in my room and that was it.   Liquor is expensive in Columbia.  A pint of Smirnoffs is $11 where in Mexico it is less than half of that.  

I was free Friday morning and one of my coworkers offered to take me out.  It was fantastic.  We headed downtown but we took the go around through the mountains and passed the in-city national park.  Colombia has 35 national parks in their system.  

First stop was my favorite and I'll try not to bore you with all the pictures.  We went to the Museo Botero Banco de la Republica.   Fernando Botero was a famous Colombian artist known for his "fat" paintings.   He offered the country all of his art works under the condition that the museum would always be free and it remains that way today.   I was in heaven seeing his actual works.  My first experience was in the Ciudad Antigua en Cartagena over 15 years ago.   His sculptures were on display there.   We're definitely going back to Colombia.   Along with his paintings in Bogota are Monet, Degas, Picasso and Salvador Dali.   I put up a few so you can get the magnitude of this museum.  I never use the word but here it is, Awesome!

Fernando Botero's works take up many rooms in the museum.

Girl Walking Along the River, Botero

Salvador Dali

Naked Woman, Degas

Pablo Picasso 

 Okay, so on with the tour.  We headed down the street to the Mexican-Colombian Cultural Center where they share a bit of Mexico with Colombians, offer classes and connect people with Mexico.

This is the main square in downtown Bogota.  The buildings you see are the Justice building, the Senate, and the President's residence.

The main cathedral dating back to the 16th century.  My new hobby is studying the life of Simon Bolivar.  That guy really covered a lot of territory in his short life.  Unfortunately, we didn't have time to visit his house which is exiting the city and heading into the mountains.  Remember that Bogota sits at 1640 meters (8600 feet).

Walking the streets of downtown you see mostly college students and executives.  All of the universities are located on the top east side of the city and do a wonderful job of maintaining the streets, grounds and the national park.

We made a pit stop at the home of the 1810 Colombian Revolution.  From the balconies the Creol leaders of the revolution ousted Joseph Bonaparte (Napoleon's brother).  
And finally, waiting at the airport for my flight.


  1. Looks like a city worthy of a visit some day.

  2. We loved our visit in Colombia but other than a few things in Bogota we found it to be the one we liked the least. Far too much graffiti for our liking but as I said it also had things we enjoyed. We also went to the Botero Museum, I like his work. Have you been to the Gold Museum?

    1. Couldn't make it to the Gold Museum in Bogota but I did get to go to the one in Cali, smaller but quality artifacts. Funny about the graffiti, I saw very little if any and we drove around quite a bit. Maybe they've had a campaign to clean it up since then.

    2. I would like to think that they have and maybe it isn't so bad where you were but we walked to all sorts of different places and saw it everywhere. Bogota is the leading graffiti capital of the world and it is legal to do graffiti there. We enjoy seeing the good stuff, like murals but it is all the tagging that looks so bad. Here is one of our posts showing some of it.

  3. Just saw the news on Mocca mudslide, glad you are home.
    love Phil
    9:53am kc time

  4. You may have visited Medellin on your previous trip to Colombia...if not, there are quite a few Bolero works of art in an outdoor sculpture garden there...magnificent in their "bloated scale."

  5. Just caught on your posts, nice that you had so much time to tour around.

  6. A few years ago we had a fabulous Botero exhibit in San Antonio, Texas. I know you often are in San Antonio, but seeing the exhibit in Botero's home country must have been wonderful.