Bogotá, Colombia

Km 16 399

The first thing that jumped out at us in Bogotá were all the cyclists we saw everywhere in the streets. So after a rest day at Claudio’s, our Warmshowers host for the first 3 nights, we test the famous Ciclovía. Every Sunday, the main roads of Bogotá are closed to vehicles and reserved for bikes, skaters and pedestrians. The concept was founded in Bogotá, but nowadays Ciclovía’s exist in almost every major city in South America. We love the atmosphere and we hope it will spread to Europe too! We take the opportunity to visit the Parque Metropolitano and the botanical garden where we spend several hours.

The next day, we move to an Airbnb flat more in the centre, in the middle of the skyscrapers of the international district. We visit the gold museum, which houses the largest collection of goldsmiths’ work in the world, and the San Francisco church, the oldest church in Bogotá, built in 1623. Then it was time for our bikes to be pampered. We contacted the Taller Innovación urbana shop which is known for helping bike travellers. We spend Saturday afternoon at the shop where our bikes get new cassettes and chains and a thorough maintenance (complete wash, re-greasing of the bottom bracket axle, brake and shifter adjustments). We have a great time with the team and Alejandro, the manager, shows us the bamboo bikes he builds him-self. After finishing, he even invites us to eat an almuerzo together with the team and for the work on the bikes, he doesn’t ask for anything at all! Thanks a lot, Alejandro, for your precious help!

On Sunday, we participate in the Corre Chicaque trail in the Chicaque natural park, only a few km from Bogotá. We have to leave early to go to the meeting point with the bus, we have our heads still in our dreams. Moreover, it’s raining, which doesn’t help our motivation. But the atmosphere is nice and then let’s go. We start with a long and steep descent. Matthieu is in the leading group, Kati is not far behind. At the bottom of the descent, we continue on a small path with small ascents and descents through the forest and past a small waterfall. We are in a cloud forest environment, it is the jungle of the altitude, we love it! We pass by a small lake half hidden in the fog, but it has a great atmosphere. Then, it’s already the ascent back to the start. It’s steep, it’s very muddy and it’s long. We are exhausted at the finish. Matthieu thought he was 2nd, there was only one guy in front of him during the whole race, but at the finish, there are already several participants, itha’s weird. As we talk, we realise that the others have only done 8km and not 11km as announced. There are complaints and suspense until the prize giving ceremony. We have to wait for 3 hours (fortunately, the sun came out in the meantime), then they finally checked all the runner’s times. Matthieu is well in second place, and surprise, Kati is second of the women too. We each get a Decathlon gift voucher of 80 000 COP (about 18 EUR) and special medals for our places in the respective categories (Kati 2nd too, Matthieu first – the first man was a youngster). We go home exhausted but happy!

During our second week in Bogotá, we can hardly move because all our muscels are so sore. On Tuesday, we dare to go to the Plaza Simón Bolívar (the main square) and visit the Convento Santa Clara, the second oldest church in Bogotá. But every step is a pain, so we return home soon. Then the rest of the week, Matthieu participates in an online conference in English, where he also has to present his work.

On our last weekend, we hike to the sanctuary of Montserrat which overlooks the city. The view is really spectacular! Then on Sunday, we go back to the centre through the pedestrian area, which is very lively on weekends, to visit the museums of the Banco de la República (a good part of which is dedicated to Fernando Botero, the most famous painter and sculptor in Colombia), the military museum and the Plaza Chorro de Quevedo. This is the end of our stay in the Colombian capital and after 2 weeks of rest, work, visits and bike refurbishment, we are ready to leave to discover the north of Colombia!

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