Bogota, Colombia: Nine Million People at 8000 Feet


It was a rather odd time to depart on a flight from JFK–6:55 am.  So I tried to nap and then left Deerfield at 1 am for the journey to the airport and after a relaxing five-hour flight, we were driving along the streets of Bogota Colombia.

This is my third trip to this country and like the past two trips, my hosts were eager to dispel the fear that might have been building up, with facts about how safe it is here now and how long ago it was that Pablo Escobar killed policemen and the FARC battled it out with the opposition.

Just from the construction and sparkling look of the new terminal at the Bogota airport, you can tell that this nation is prospering. Their economic growth dwarfs the recovery we’ve experienced in the US, and now Cartagena is a must-see city on any well respected traveler’s bucket list.  Bogota is at 8000 feet elevation, like many cities here perched amid the massive Andes mountains.

Pouring a fine Argentinian Malbec at NN Restaurant, Bogota.

We checked into the Hilton greeted by a beagle and a retriever, wearing badges that read Explosivo–all over the country dogs like this sniff out bombs and have made things much safer.  We walked a few blocks to an unmarked building and entered a shop full of ceramic decorative pieces….and proceeded up some stairs and past a glass wall where chefs were cooking, and then past a bank of bathrooms upstairs to a sumptuous dining room. It’s a new place in Bogota’s financial district called NN, it stands for No Name.  Some very fine Argentine Malbec paired with a rare pepper steak sated our big hunger.

Now it’s time to get down to business in the lounge and begin to share the trip with you, dear readers. Our itinerary will include a city tour and a chance to see the museum of gold here in Bogota and on Monday we’ll fly to Pereira, a coffee-growing region in the center of the country. We will to the Corora Valley and Salento, and taste some of the coffee. Most of the good stuff gets exported but I’m sure that in the country it will be good.  Finally we’ll fly to Cartagena de Indias, that sparkling colonial walled city founded in 1533.  I can’t wait to see this up and coming place that so many travelers are raving about.