We decided our first stop in Colombia would be Bogota simply because that was the most reasonable city to fly into using budget airline Viva Colombia. While it took us three hours to book the tickets online and over the phone (don’t ask) it saved $200 each versus other carriers. The things you put up with to save money while traveling like this.
Going in we both were a bit nervous yet excited about Bogota. On one hand, all travel blogs and guide books warned us the city (along with many others in Colombia) were full of muggings and petty crime due to poverty. On the other, almost every traveler we met in South America over the past few months who had been there said Colombia was their favorite country in South America. Hence the competing inner feelings.
We arrived just before midnight after about 30 hours of travel from our starting point of Mancora, Peru. This included a 17-hour bus ride, 10-hour layover at the Lima airport then a 3-hour flight. Once we managed to secure a taxi we were on our way to the hotel. What shocked us the most was the look of the city, even at night. Maybe we were in the nicer parts but it was by far the closest we have seen to a U.S-looking city. Roads were in good shape, people actually followed the road rules (shocking) and buildings were diverse yet well built and attractive. We stayed in the Zona G neighborhood which has tons of bars and restaurants, most of which looked like something you would see in a trendy part of Seattle. Our hotel (Hotel Boutique Zona G) itself was a small 10 room hotel tied to a wood-fired pizza restaurant. For $37 a night we got a nice little room, good wifi and free breakfast and coffee.
We spent the couple days we had in the city going to the gold museum (dedicated to all gold artifacts), attending the Sunday street fair in the historical La Candaleria area, crushing street food, walking around the city and enjoying the various types of cuisine. It was a good entry point to the country and gave us our first glimpse of just how wonderful and friendly the Colombian people are.