I wasn’t sure what to expect from Bogota.
Very much like Colombia itself, its reputation precedes it. It’s huge (9 million population), hard to travel around, some areas are total no-go areas for the average backpacker, and it’s cold, even in summer (mainly die to its height, after La Paz and Quito it is the 3rd highest capital in the world).
But, as is so often the case, I was pleasantly surprised. We stayed in the old Candelaria section, full of little cobbled streets and cute little houses. We wandered around the city centre, visited the Botero musuem, went up the Monserrate mountain for a view of the entire city, which really is bloody enormous and went on a steam train.
Like the vast majority of South America there are very few passenger train services in Colombia, but one that has survived is the Tren de la Sabana which goes twice a week from Bogota to the town of Zipaquira around 45km north of the city, from where you can visit the Catedral de Sal. As the name suggests it is a Cathedral built in an abandoned salt mine 180m below the surface.
But I enjoyed the train – a proper old steam engine, complete with 2 drivers covered in coal dust, it must be a real sight as it steams its way along the tracks in the centre of Bogota. About 5 minutes from station in Bogota we’d got a bit of speed up, on the home stretch when all of a sudden there was a lurch and the train screeched violently to a halt. After a minute or two a couple of nosy souls in our carriage decided to investigate, and came back all happy and announced that we had hit a horse. After another few minutes it became clear that we weren’t going anywhere soon so we jumped off and sure enough, lying on the tracks next to the train was half a horse. Not something I’d ever thought I would see, but there you go, you live and learn…