Colombia as a travel destination has been on my radar for years, ever since I saw a tweet from someone sharing her excitement about an upcoming trip to Bogota. A conversation with someone else ensued, during which she shared that it was her third or fourth time visiting, she loved it that much. So I was excited when relatives of mine moved to Bogota a couple of years ago and the very real possibility of traveling to Bogota in the near future opened up.
I arrived late at night, but during the drive from the airport to the apartment I took in my surroundings as much as I could. When I was settling into my room I asked myself, “With this first impression, is Colombia what you imagined it would be?”
And that’s when I realized… after years of thinking about the possibility of traveling to Colombia and after a period of time planning for this trip, I had no idea what to expect. That’s so unusual for me. Typically, once I start planning a trip I start to dream about my destination… and the place I visit is almost always so much better than I imagined. But with Colombia, I had no idea what it would be like.
After a good nights sleep I ventured out into Bogota the next day with Nestor, my tour guide, and this is what I discovered:
>> Mountains without snowy peaks are just as breathtaking as those with them.
>> If you like potatoes (and I do), Colombia is the place to be. They have 18 or 19 different varieties of potatoes (insert all the heart eye emojis here) and they were used in a couple of the traditional soups that I tried.
>> Traffic in Bogota makes me anxious.
>> Bogota is huge.
>> The weather is perfect. Dress in layers and expect rain in the afternoon.
>> Everyone I met was so welcoming.
>> Colombians are proud of their country and passionate about the things that make them proud—like the Salt Cathedral (more on that later) and soccer. “You guys are playing us… I’m sorry,” Nestor told me with a grin as he showed off the jersey he was wearing in honor of the first soccer game of the season that night. At 1pm the radio hosts were already discussing the game and everywhere you looked people we were wearing jerseys. A man walked down the street selling small Colombian flags. And three minutes after the game started that night I heard cheers and honking when the first goal was made. The cheering lasted throughout the game.
>> I never would have been able to imagine what Bogota is like. We drove through neighborhoods that were so different as we made our way through Bogota that first day. Some buildings appeared to be more modern, some appeared to be much older. Some neighborhoods were pretty upscale, some were not. There were little shops mixed in with a couple of chains that I recognized from the U.S. There were streets with homeless dogs roaming the sidewalks and streets with dog walkers taking the pet dogs out.
>> Bogota captured my heart on that very first day.
I’m excited to share more about what I did while I was in Colombia and I’m also planning to share what I’d like to do when I go back… because I am planning to go back. One week only brushes the surface of what there is to do and see in Colombia and I’m excited to explore the country some more in the future.