Travel addict confession: this trip wasn’t planned so much because we really wanted to explore Bogota, but because in 2019 we had already visited five continents. We HAD to squeeze in the sixth, right? That being said, we all loved our time in Colombia and hope to return.
We weren’t visiting in the best of times. Our plans were restricted by both limited time and the civil unrest in Colombia at that time. Just days before we arrived, a teenager was killed by police during street protests, there was a national curfew, and the feeling in the streets was tense. Despite this, we found a lot to fill our time.
After a quick bakery breakfast, we headed to the Parque de los Periodistas to meet a local guide for the Bogota Graffiti Tour. What an incredible way to see the city and learn about its history, people, and politics. We learned about graffiti as an art form and a way to give voice to the voiceless. Bogota is a mecca for graffiti artists the world over and is now so much a part of the culture that local businesses often commission artists to paint their storefronts to avoid inevitable tagging. We walked away knowing the lay of the land and with a renewed appreciation for the street art we see around the world.
After lunch at one of Jeff’s Central American favorites, Crepes & Waffles, we headed on a cable car up Monserrate to see the view over the city. This sanctuary is visible from much of the city below, has a great history, and is featured in the Atlas Obscura. At the top we walked to the church, which was built by pilgrims who carried bricks up the mountain one at a time. We visited the sanctuary and the famous statue of the fallen Christ, before walking past the many food and souvenir vendors, taking in the expansive views. It was worth the visit, but after a short time we were ready to seek out the top goal of the day: a tejo bar that would allow the kids to join us in a game.
Jeff had visited Colombia years ago and came home with a love of the country, stories of his time at Carnavale, and tales of a fun game called Tejo, which can best be explained as cornhole with metal weights, clay boards, and gun powder. You divide into two teams and take turns throwing across the court to the same board, which is filled with heavy, sticky clay. The objective is to throw the weight as close as possible to the center ring. You get one point for landing closest to the target, three points for exploding one of the small packets of gunpowder, six points for hitting inside the target, and nine points for an explosion and hitting inside the target at the same time. We played on the upstairs half courts, which was a good thing since I missed more than half the time as it was. Ryan carried our team. Locals get a case of beer, socialize and play for hours. This experience was the boys’ favorite thing about Bogota.
Dinner that night was at La Plaza de Andres. The atmosphere was eclectic and fun with varied options at the many different counters and bars. We had heard the location in Chia is a must see attraction in and of itself, but we weren’t able to make the drive about an hour outside the city.
Sweet bonus: the El Dorado lounge at the Bogota airport was one of the cooler ones we’ve visited. The Gold museum that we hadn’t made it to with our single day in Bogota had exhibits set up throughout, there were several unique seating options, a neat bar, and the one of the most awesome kids’ area we have ever seen. We climbed through tunnels, fake trees, and passageways peeking out into the corridors. It was one of those times I was glad to have a kid with me to allow me access.
Ready to explore Bogota?
- There’s a lot to do in and around Bogota so choose the things that are most important to you. We were limited to one full day, using Uber, and finding activities that the whole family would enjoy. Next time we will make it to the Salt Cathedral, Gold Museum, and Chia.
- We were able to get by with limited Spanish, and each of the activities that we did had English speaking staff. The graffiti tour was in English.
- Book your graffiti tour early and check out the cool workshop options they offer. The tour is donation based but the classes have an assigned fee. We wished we had more time to get a lesson in creating graffiti after learning so much about it.
- There is more than one way to scale a mountain! When visiting Montserrat you can hike, ride the cable car, or take the funicular. The motorized options have differing time tables day by day, so check out the schedule in advance if you have a strong preference.
- If you are traveling with only adults, you won’t have any trouble finding a tejo club. Finding one open in daylight hours that permits children was a challenge. Many are only full court, require the purchase of a full case of beer, and are restricted to adults. After striking out a few times we returned to one Jeff had visited before. It has half court lanes, rents by the hour, and let the kids join in the fun. Read about tejo in Colombia as a whole and specifically at this club.