Bogota was the hardest month for me on Remote Year, so obviously it would be the hardest for me to write about, right? I have about half as many pictures in my photo album from last month than I normally do. I don’t have many tourist-y recommendations. I didn’t eat at many authentic Colombian restaurants. And I didn’t do any side trips.
And none of that is a dis in any way to Bogota or the people of Bogota. They were lovely! We had really fun and entertaining City Managers thanks to Remote Year. And they hosted great events for us as well. I definitely felt more confident speaking in Spanish after a month in Bogota, because even though I butchered the language many times, people were always encouraging and helpful. The mountains surrounding the city were also a nice addition – I am definitely more of a mountain girl than a beach girl.
But emotions were strong this month. For almost everyone in our group. And, unfortunately, that did hurt the overall experience. As a spoiler for next month’s recap: the sun in Medellin healed almost all emotional wounds. And so did time. We struggle through our emotions together and come out stronger. Thanks to cities like Rabat and Bogota that give us the space and time to do so.
Highlights of the Month
Okay, obviously, ringing in the New Year with my newest closest friends was incredible. Getting to countdown in a strange club/restaurant outside of the city made it that much more special and unique. A night to never forget, and honestly not really remember all that much.
The other highlight of the month was a surprise cave-climbing experience. We thought we would be rock-climbing, but we ended up sliding on our stomachs and pulling ourselves through small crevices. Two of my amazing friends (Eddie and Chris) made videos of our experience. So crazy watching that!
Lowlight of the Month
More construction! The apartment below ours was being renovated, as was a building next door, so there was no way to sleep past about 7:30am. Luckily, I had an amazing roommate and we both bought a ton of pancake mix without meaning to. It’s amazing how pancakes can make you forget the hammering and whirring noises around you ;)
This Month’s Mental State
I wrote about it. And then I got a lot of good feedback and had a lot of emotion-filled talks with people. I learned that authenticity is still one of my strongest values and that it is scary and embarrassing, but it ultimately brings people together.
Recommendations for a Visit to Bogota
If you’ve read any of my other recap posts, you know by now that most of what I recommend is food. Like at least 63% of it. This post is even worse. Apologies to Bogota, but I did a lot of eating and not much exploring this month. At least you won’t be hungry!
Jif Peanut Butter, Kraft Mac and Cheese, and Aunt Jemima Syrup – Sorry people here on vacation, this one is for the crazies who give up small luxuries like brand name peanut butter. The Carulla stores in Colombia carry a bunch of brand-name American foods and sauces. Be still my sad pathetic easy-to-please heart.
Andrés Carne de Res – This is where we were for New Years! It’s pretty far outside the main city of Bogota (although there is a smaller version in Zona T). But I saw one review for it that said “Alice in Wonderland meets Moulin Rouge.” It’s a crazy mess of colors and stimulation. I honestly can’t remember the food, but I remember the drinks we had were huge and sweet. Spending New Years there was amazing, but I’ve heard it’s like that most nights, so definitely worth stopping by to see for yourself.
Park El Virrey – My home park. I lived in an apartment just off of the park, so I walked through it or past it most days. There were always so many people and dogs walking around. At night, there would be groups of athletic people training for athletic things. On the weekends, there were families playing and couples talking. There were even people practicing acrobatics while hanging from long scarves tied to tall trees, which I got to see a few of my friends do. It was never boring, walking through Park El Virrey.
Al Agua Patos – Oh dear. I don’t have a lot of words for this place. It’s huge slices of toast with delicious things on top. Vague, yes. But stop asking me for more words and just go eat it. I honestly never knew I could be so happy eating toast.
Pizza at Julia on Avenida Calle 85 – Two toppings that will change your pizza-loving life: Goat cheese and asparagus. You’re so incredibly welcome. I had it every time. Yes, they have great appetizers and good other flavors, but what more do you need from a place that makes pizza? If you said nothing, you’re correct.
Canasto Picnic Bistro – My roommate was OBSESSED with Canasto. For good reason too. It’s really healthy food and really good. Best soup in Bogota, some would say.
Bogota Beer Company – Oddly enough, this place has great chicken fingers. None of the other food stands out to me. The beers were great though! I’m so amazed by the number of craft beer places in these cities. Amazed and appreciative. You can only drink so much Club Colombia.
Cinema Paraiso – Woah, woah, woah. What a beautiful theater. Everyone needs to see a movie here if you visit Bogota. Don’t go to the mall. Go up north and eat food while you sit in comfy chairs and watch films. We saw La La Land there, which was beautiful by itself, but definitely made better by the setting.
Coffee Tasting/Tour – I can’t drink caffeine and even I enjoyed the coffee tasting I joined. I had no idea that coffee had so many tastes and flavors within one cup. I also had no idea how coffee was made. I can’t actually recite to you what that process is because I was too busy trying to determine if I tasted vanilla or fruits in my cup (hint: it was neither). But drinking Colombian coffee in Colombia is an easy must.
Monseratte – Bogota (like Medellin) is surrounded my mountains. So, like, go be on top of one. Monseratte is an easy choice. They have a funicular and a tramway, so less hiking. But you can also hike at a few places. The view from the top of a mountain into the city of Bogota is incredible. Nothing like standing among the clouds.
Salt Mine in Nemocon – Some people said this was overrated, but I’m a sucker for underground things. Especially where movies (The 33) were filmed and famous people stood. I will admit that the actual tour was by no means my favorite. But I had so much fun geeking out underground that I didn’t really care.
El Corral – Another fave from my roommate. It’s basically the Colombian equivalent of McDonalds but so so so much better. It’s mostly drunk food, but I only ate their sober and I can still attest to its delicious flavor. Plus, they serve beers with your normal meal and have incredible looking desserts.
Shake Yard – This was a last minute find (literally the day before we left), and it was a blessing in disguise. Because I honestly would have gained even more weight if I had found this earlier. First of all, it was adorable and you got to write your order on a piece of paper with a crayon. Then, your order consisted of what you’d like slathered around the edge of your cup (peanut butter for me, obvi). What flavor ice cream (vanilla, it’s not boring). What toppings (peanut butter cups please!). And what liquid topping (skipped, but chocolate would have been a good option. Now give me a minute while I clean the drool off my keyboard. And book a flight to Bogota just to get this shake again.
Get Outside the City – My biggest advice? Especially if you’re on Remote Year and are spending two months in Colombia (Bogota and Medellin). Get out of the cities. Colombia is amazing and beautiful. Get off the well-traveled tourist path and get out of those expat neighborhoods and make your own adventure. I didn’t do this and I am so jealous of all the stories my friends have from their trips.
Songs of the Month
Ay ay ay, no wonder I was emotional. I started listening to Jon Bellion’s CD The Human Condition. Became a little obsessed with AJR. Ed Sheeran released two new songs. Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban made me want to be in love and be loved. But, of course, it wouldn’t be complete without Ya No Me Duele Mas by Silvestre Dangond.
Learnings from the Month
This month, I learned a whole lot more about myself and my needs. And that traveling doesn’t make my fears and anxieties go away, it just means I’m dealing with them in prettier places.
I am planning on writing about what I learned in a future post, but a lot of it boils down to some basic comfort items and needing to feel safe and “at home” in the space I’m living. I was so spoiled in my Spain and Mexico accommodations. They were cozy. Bogota was not.
I was also so sick of packing up at the end of the month and started to dread it really early. I stopped wanting to clean my room as much as I should because I knew I would be packing it all away. I’ll definitely try to move slower in my future travels.