Art and Ajiaco

The perks of business class
The dream when flying is always to be upgraded and sometimes it’s hard to believe that such a dream actually even comes true. When boarding the plane from London to Miami, Ramsey found his name on a list of “special people” who had been chosen to have extra security checks before getting on the plane. ‘How strange’ you might think, however what you don’t know is that Ramsey was blessed with a rather un-English surname (much like myself) with its Egyptin roots ensuring he is stopped and searched every time he’s in an airport. Slightly annoyed that we had become the last people boarding the plane due to the hold-up, the blow was softened as we were directed to our seats, only to find there was far more leg room than normal and an air hostess was there to greet us and offer us a glass of wine before we had even made it to the runway. . .this was not the normal service we had experienced before! An unlimited flow of drinks, an “enhanced” menu and seats that reclined way more than usual. It goes without saying that we made the most of the experience. We hoped it was a sign for things to come!

Flying over The Bahamas
View over Miami
We made it to Miami, maneuvered the complicated airport and soon found ourselves on the last plane to complete our journey to Bogotá. By the time we landed we had officially experienced the best and worst flights of our lives in one day. Flying through a lightening storm and some terrifying turbulence led us to doubt we would be making it back onto land again alive. In hindsight the storm was incredible, lighting up the sky, with forks of electricity dancing between the clouds. At the time however, we had to pull down the blinds and say some prayers. Needless to say we were incredibly thankful to touch down and have our feet firmly on the ground once again. 

Getting a safe taxi without getting ripped off was one of my main concerns when we arrived in Bogotá (along with hoping our bags would appear on the conveyer belt too). We played it super safe and got a cab from the terminal building and we hope we will never have to pay that much for a cab again. Our hostel was cosy with a small courtyard and an open fire in our room. Breakfast guaranteed freshly made juice that changed from day to day but was sure to be delicious. The bread and butter that went with it was less thrilling, however it did the job of filling the hole until lunchtime.

After an early night we woke up at about 5.30am, with an awkward kind of jetlag and headed out to explore the city we hadn’t yet seen in daylight. We were greeted with small colourful houses, narrow streets and a beautiful view due to our hostel being located on a hill. We wandered through La Candelaria checking off some touristy spots and stopped in a cafe so Ramsey could get his hands on a cup of Colombian coffee. In the afternoon we went on a graffiti tour around the area, which had been highly recommended by friends and online. It was fantastic. Informative, not only about the art but also about the history and politics of the city and Colombia. The art was beautiful, with different styles, bright colours and stories bringing them to life. With our new found knowledge we were even able to identify some of the artists for ourselves as we wandered around on our own for the rest of the afternoon. It’s difficult to find a wall in Bogotá that hasn’t got graffiti of some kind on it, with the emotions and messages woven into each piece bringing the city to life. 

It was clear that La Candelaria was a hub of activity for tourists and locals alike during the day. People were walking, talking, eating and drinking everywhere we went. We had read that it became shady at night and as our stomachs rumbled that evening we had to head out in search of some food. As we had been warned from our reading, the streets had become deserted aside from the few homeless that continued to search for recycling in the bins. We had been told that the government program that allowed the homeless to collect recycling and trade it for food and shelter has been cut and the homeless of Bogotá now find themselves in an even more difficult situation than before. Needless to say, we didn’t go far and stopped at one of the first restuarants we found, where I had the most delightful lemonade (which tasted just like a non alcoholic mojito), contrasted with a below average lasagna!

The most beautiful work of art
Ajiaco at the famous Puerta Falsa
The next morning we headed out to find out about the history of the city on another tour. Once again incredibly informative and leaving us with our stomachs rumbling for some traditional ajiaco. A wonderful chicken and potato soup that comes with rice, avocado and corn on the cob. It goes without saying that we left feeling stuffed! We carried our full stomachs up to the cable car that was to take us to the top of Monserrate for a view of the city, only to find that we didn’t have enough money between us to get to the top! We frustratingly wandered back down to our hostel, some coca tea in hand, to top up and head out again.

It was worth returning, as the view at the top was spectacular. Below us the city sprawled out across the plain that was surrounded by mountains on all sides. As time has gone on, the city has expanded to begin encompassing some of the mountain sides too. From behind us ominous clouds crawled over the mountains and began to hide our view, bringing with them drops of rain that encouraged everyone to leave the mountain top. We found ourselves in a long line for the cable car down, allowing us to watch darkness fall across the city as we waited to descend back to civilisation.

More beautiful street art:

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