Wednesday, September 29, 2010

On top of the world

My orientation to Bogota included a visit to Quinta de Bolivar --- one of Simon Bolivar's homes.  It is located at the foot of the famous mountain, Monserrate, amidst beautiful gardens and with the thanks of an English speaking guide, we learned many colorful and interesting facts about the leader of Colombia's independence and his lover who was definitely a woman ahead of her time.

Bolivar's bed shows just how short he was -- under 5' tall.

The kitchen

Bolivar liked to bathe at 4:30 a.m. each morning in this outdoor wonder he died of tuberculosis.

We then took the cable car to the top of Monserrate.  It stands at 10,341 ft. with spectacular views of Bogota, a beautiful church, gardens, and restaurants.  There were no tacky souvenir stands and classical music was played throughout the grounds making for a very tranquil way to spend a few hours.  I want to go back with Roger in the evening so we can see the sun set and the lights of the city, as well as those around the mountain.
Throughout the grounds, there are statues depicting the stations of the cross.  Up until recently when the path up the mountain was closed for upgrading, people would ascend the mountain on their knees - a feat I can't even fathom.
Below: We had lunch at a beautiful restaurant overlooking the city.

Terry and Carol had been using the rapid transit system called Transmilenio, so after a butt clenching, "oh my God, I'm going to die" taxi ride in the morning, I decided to try it.  It is an above ground system that runs with red buses that have dedicated traffic lanes and stations similar to Calgary's C-Train.  The most challenging part was getting through the throngs and finding the exit, but it is definitely something I would do again.

Transmilenio Station by our apartment. 
From the walkway (right to far left) - the lane that is dedicated to the buses; traffic looking deceptively calm; grass median -- then do you think you see cars parked? is actually 2 lanes of traffic that will have at least 3 lanes of cars squished in with motorcyclists weaving in and out of traffic effectively creating a 4th and 5th lane of traffic. 
Bogota is a vibrant city that is finally emerging from years of fear, to become a 'go to' destination.  I'm glad I'm here to see it.

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