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bogota

The road from Rio Magdalena to Bogota is largely uninspiring – or I, at least, am uninspired, which might say more about me than the road.The closer I get to Bogota the harder it is to avoid, if not major highways, then heavily trafficked paved roads.

Mauricio in Villa Maria had told me that people around the Bogota area are not as friendly and helpful as Antioqians. I didn’t pay much heed because people always speak ill of their neighbours but his statement seems to be bourne out in series of villages and fincas where for the first time in Colombia my requests for a place to pitch my tent are met with resounding refusals. I know I shouldn’t assume generosity and hospitality as the norm but it is such a norm that this sudden lack of it is quite shocking.

So I am quite pleased to finally arrive in Bogota where hopefully I can rely on the hospitality of Warm Showers and Couch Surfing.

Bogota is pretty bike friendly for a large chaotic city. It is crisscrossed by interconnecting bike paths...

...and well decorated...

...with bike themed graffiti.

The bikes in the background are free to borrow and ride within a given area of the city centre. The woman at the table records users details, presumably to ensure the bikes make it back to some other station. It a free form - and free - manifestation of the bike rental schemes I've seen popping up over the last few years in places like Paris and London.

The main plaza, is named, of course, for Simon Bolivar. Pigeon infested, windy, grey.

...

I'm not really a big museum fan but I'd heard very positive reviews of the Museum of Gold and it's 3000 peso ($1.50) entry fee makes it pretty affordable so I check it out.

The name is slightly misleading because there is way way more than gold to be seen here - Colombia's incredibly sophisticated pre-Colombian (sic) culture is on display and merits significant time and attention.

The building is chock full of amazing art works that seem to prefigure just about anything and everything in modern and contemporary art. Does this remind anyone but me of Keith Haring?

I couldn't...

...stop...

...taking...

...photos.

Absolutely...

...beautiful.

Out on the streets, Colombia's vibrant and diverse artistic expression...

...is still going strong. Sophisticated graffiti murals abound on all sides expressing a range of wry political and social comment.

The Transmillenium public transport system is extensive and more or less efficient .... but pricy! During peak hours a ride will set you back 1700 pesos and at quieter times 1500. The cost doesn't stop people literally forcing their way into space-stationesque portals and funneling onto the big red buses though. I only attempted it once at peak hour and my crowd agoraphobia threatened to send me into a screaming heap.

Whole lanes of the cities streets are devoted to the Tranmillenium system...

...

...but more chaotic bus services thrive and abound, too.

...and on Sundays, of course, main city thoroughfares are closed to cars and motorised traffic and turned over to human fueled wheels. Bogota's famous Ciclovia is an much loved institution in Colombia and the inspiration for similar initiatives all over the world.

Contemporary art? Or maintenance? I like to think, art... but I'm not sure...

{ 1 } Comments

  1. Sarah | March 17, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    I’m not a museum person either but we also went to this one. Like you, Tom found the photographic opportunities mesmerizing!

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