Bogota's Beat Goes On
It's back. Perhaps the hottest Latin American destination today is Bogota, Colombia. The last 10
years have seen a tremendous turn-around in safety, prosperity and international
reputation for the entire country and Colombia's capital is enjoying the benefits. Cruise ships are back, resorts and hotels are filling and business is booming.
It is again fashionable to jet down to Bogota for a long weekend and several direct flights from U.S. cities make that possible.
On a recent trip to the beautiful city I found many Americans and European
tourists enjoying the newfound hospitality of the friendly Colombians. A couple of business associates that I met one evening at the fabulous Restaurante Club Colombia had
originally flown to Miami on Thursday prior to a business meeting scheduled for the following Monday. When they found a huge international boat show had taken most of
the hotel rooms in Dade County, they jumped on their blackberries and booked a $300 direct flight and 3 nights in Bogota for less than what they had planned on spending in Miami.
There are several great hotels that are reasonable in the
city and the food is excellent in most restaurants. One outstanding meal that was a highlight for me was at the Restaurante Habemus Papa (www.restaurantehabemuspapa.com) in Usaquen, where I feasted on Cerdo Montado, a ground pork dish with corn,
mushrooms and mashed potatoes. The luncheon special included empanadas for the appetizer and strawberries and cream for dessert along with a drink for less than $10.
The attraction options for visitors are many. One of the
favorites of most tourists has to be the Republic Bank's famous Gold Museum (www.banrep.gov.co/museo) in the restored Barrio La
Candelaria neighborhood. The Museo de Oro maintains one of the most important Pre-Hispanic collections in the world. The intricate gold threads and
other cast artifacts are indeed impressive!
Who wouldn't like to climb the lush mountains of Bogota
in a cable car or funicular for a great view of a bustling city below? The sanctuary of Monserrate (www.cerromonserrate.com) offers a panoramic view of the
landscaped city on one side and of the "nature-scaped" Andean mountain range on the other. To spend additional time in this "heavenly" place of Cerro de
Monserrate, make reservations for a lunch at the Casa Santa Isidro Restaurant (www.restaurantecasasanisidro.com) one of two located on the hill's peak near the
Don't miss the Salt Cathedral (www.catedraldesal.gov.co) at Zipaquira, the country's number one tourist attraction less than an hour outside of town. Gated
communities with homes and landscaping that rivals any in the U.S. surround the attraction, which should not be missed. The cathedral has a huge climbing wall near the
entrance for the adventurous, and a Brine
Museum, water mirror and subterranean auditorium some 600 feet below the surface. They also have a "miner's route" for adventurers who want
to walk in the "shoes" of the miners that still work there in a different section. Wear comfortable shoes for the slow descent and climb out.
Most of Colombia (www.colombia.travel) is now very safe and
Bogota is one of the most prosperous destinations now in Latin America. Tourism is again a priority of the country, as attested to by
its recent push of TV advertisements and promotions. Bogota, which is currently developing state of the art transportation and infrastructure, is certainly prepared to be a top destination for
visitors, and many are already enjoying the new accessibility and promises.