Why even Ants are tougher in the Concrete Jungle that is Bogota

This is my first ever blog post, therefore I’m taking a free-flowing approach to writing. I think it's important to grasp the important content and context of what I’m sharing without elaborating too much on my emotional perspective, at least for this first post. As I become comfortable with emotional diction and connecting with you, my audience, gauging what you enjoy the most about these posts, I’ll slowly slip my personality into here.

This post is a hybrid of Bogota travel advice, Bogota travel tips, food in Bogota, and my personal experiences. Without further ado.

Bogota, from my perspective, was a tough city to penetrate. Its big city vibes reminded me of Miami, with its diverse graphical representation across elements of the city – graffiti everywhere, unique building designs, and art and museums in random corners. The people, in regular places, are harsh and unwilling to compromise with an English speaker. Honestly, I don’t think they receive too many tourists. Bogota is a place for work, for grinding, for focusing on the task at hand, not babying an outsider into enjoying their concrete jungle.

Our first day was spent in Suba via Couchsurfing. Suba is a neighborhood considered suburb on the outskirts of the city. The people were impoverished, the streets similar to projects in the United States, with the vibe of uncertainty and lack of safety. However, this outside view is somewhat skewed incorrectly. I don’t believe that Suba was unsafe, just unsettling. The food here was nonexistent, there were nearly no restaurants, they didn’t take card anywhere, there was essentially nothing to do in this area. If you’re a tourist, avoid it.

Brandon arrived in town and we moved our location to the Musica Hostel right in the heart of the Virrey/Chico Norte districts. The hostel was perfectly located near all the hotspots of the city as a young, budding traveler searching for a mix of partying and traditional parts of the city. We were on a main street and had access to restaurants, cafes, clubs, cabs, and humans of all types (except for tourists). The restaurant directly across the street – Picnic (something) was amazing for breakfast and lunch. The best being the roast beef arepa (find real name). The arepa is decadent – seeded – and flavored like you’ve never had before. But don’t worry, the egg and roast beef with tomato salsa recover the overpowering flavor to mash into a perfect breakfast meal. Oh, and don’t forget to add the aji hot sauce. Across from the hostel on 85th street is the Virrey Park. A thin stretch of park that runs a few blocks, you’ll find runners, dog walkers, and an extremely diverse and high-quality bodyweight fitness area complete with many strange apparatuses for working out without weights. Juan, the hostel owner, is a bevy of knowledge. Ask him for some interesting things to do in the area.

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Zona T is the hot spot locally for restaurants, clubs, shopping, movies, and girls. It came highly recommended by everyone, 3 blocks from the Musica Hostel – it gets extremely packed in the evenings. Here’s my take. The restaurants – I didn’t have one meal there worth talking about. Actually, I despised all my meals there (5-6 of them). Small portions and pricey, boring plates. The drinks are expensive, the clubs are way too packed and have long lines to get in. I’ll admit, the people are great looking around there, they are definitely city people though – mostly locals there were harder to connect with. Not my forte. The one redeeming place there for us was a club called Coq. A house music club reminiscent of L.A. – it played great music and had a more artsy vibe to the crowd.

Uzequen is a trendy neighborhood 15 minutes south of Chico Norte – trendy, unassuming, and hipster without actually being hipster. Humans of all ages could be found roaming the streets– and everyone just seemed cool in general. Uzequen is a foodies dream. There is a coffee spot that gives you a coffee tour. If you’re searching for high-quality poke with bold flavors and large portions (a rarity) then you have to check it out. And for the coup de gras – as recommended by Juan (concierge for WeWork) the (name of the tart) at (Abraiso) is hands down the best thing I ate in the city. The corn cake had a sweet and salty flavor; the hint of cornbread was salty and connected so well with the Guave sauce. THE GUAVE SAUCE. It screams loudly with subtle flavor. Nothing in this dish is overly sweet either. It felt like I was in a low power microwave walking on endless cornbread stairs while guava was shooting from the walls onto me in showery guave goodness, and I began melting into the stairs. That good. The area is safe and fun to walk around in. It's beautiful – has beautiful streets and feels upscale while also feeling gentrified.

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Working abroad, if you’re new in the game, can feel daunting. The biggest concern is usually stable WiFi. I plan to make it a point to establish the best WiFi I find across every city, as a landmark location for digital nomads to stock up on internet service – a key element being upload speeds. Bogota – for a big city – struggled with perfect WiFi in hostels but had great WiFi in local cafes. Namely, Juan Valdez – a chain found throughout all the barrios of the city – has mostly great wifi and upload speeds.

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Our Nomadic journey took us to WeWork – a collaborative workspace chain that is found throughout the United States, has 6 new offices in Mexico, and many others throughout the world. The collaborative space effort is exploding for both established corporations and digital nomads, and everyone in between. It’s a highly effective space to work where you rent weekly, monthly, or yearly spaces for individuals or teams. There are tiers that give you access to more advanced workspaces, meeting rooms for rent, and ad-ons such bathrooms and computer rooms. They provide beer, coffee, and most of all – networking propositions. I highly suggest that if you’re a digital nomad – finding coworking spaces in every city you plan to attend.

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WeWork is no different – in the heart of the working district (93d), this brand new building is bustling with vibrant and hard working people from different industry sectors – technology, nutrition, and corporate all alike. We collaborated with WeWork in order to help promote their business, they provided us space to work for the week for free. Perfect internet and WiFI speeds, comfort, and best of all… they gave us a list of tenants throughout the building that could be on our podcast. Beyond the scope of work, we spoke with some awesome people in the building who are doing great things down there and throughout the entirety of South America. As a nomad – this is the ultimate growth space, to meet like-minded individuals grinding and interested in collaborating.

I highly suggest connecting with Juan (concierge) downstairs or Carolina. Juan gave us great restaurants to eat at,  linked us up with the marketing manager of WeWork for all of Latin America, got us in contact with the head of graffiti tour, and gave us fantastic advice on what to do and see in the city (from a raw perspective). My trick to conquering a city is finding a respected and knowledgeable local to show you around and connect you with people.

For techno and after-hours clubs, Video Club is the best around. A tip from a friend in the know really paid off. This club is clean, deep, and dark. While the music is classic underground techno, the club is warehouse style with 2 floors, that are sexy and big at the same time. The party doesn’t start until late, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying the place. The difference between Video Club and the rest of Bogota? The people. Everyone in Video Club was friendly, upscale, spoke a minimum of English, and had an interesting back story. We met people that were “ in the know” in a few areas – sports, parties, marketing, soccer games, these were the movers and shakers who were young, hip, and friendly. My kind of party people.

The last area of notice in Bogota was Candelaria (Can-day-lah-ree-uh) – the old part of the city. This is a grandiose, winding, tortuously large section of the city - half on the side of the mountain, half in a valley. Its streets are swamped with people, both local and visitantes. It has an old Spanish empire feel to it, drastically catholic and European at the same time. Part of the city is filled with vendors selling you things while the gridded streets can lead you into art galleries, restaurants, or something in between. They say the area isn’t safe at night – we were stuck there after 6 pm and it did have the feel of an area somewhat dangerous.

Uber into Candelaria and out of the area was a nightmare. Driver wait times were extremely long. We were told not to use or trust a cab in the area. Wifi is spotty at best and the people are hustling you left and right. To be fair, the area is nowhere near as hustley as Cartagena or other places in the world, but that doesn’t negate how it appears from the inside.

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The food in the area was average and touristy. We did eat some fire ants outside of the Museo de Oro, those were actually spectacular. Price was 5000 COP which is annoyingly expensive for a small taste of ants, though they taste was salty, crunchy, earthy and nutty, I would eat those as a snack daily if there were no other choices.

The Museo de Oro is a great see – the Museum of gold. It costs 4500 COP for a regular walk in and 14000 COP if you want to get a listening tour. I took the listening tour. I must say that the museum was beautiful but a bit of a let down.

Look, you made it this far. I commend you. You must be interested in Bogota – as I wrote this to be informative and descriptive. The truth is, I give Bogota a 6.42/10. That’s what you’re really here for, isn’t it? Go out there and get it.

 

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