Sunday, 26 February 2012

Bogotá - the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Good - The Ciclovía on Carrera Septima (Seventh St). The normally busy street which runs through the city just under the eastern mountains is closed to traffic on Sunday mornings and was busy with cyclists & runners. I was especially impressed with the bike workshops & feed stations along the way. The road surface looked pretty good, so I was missing my road bike which I've left back in the UK for now. Walking back to our hotel through Calle 93, a wealthy area with embassies, a safe park, Juan Valdez coffee shops and the increasingly popular Bogotá Beer Company pub, made for a really pleasant morning seeing a very positive side of the city. The pleasant feel for the day was taken off by watching Cardiff City narrowly miss out on the League Cup in the penalty shootout.

The Bad - Avenida Jiménez just west of La Candelaria, the historic centre of the city. We got off the Transmilenio, a bendy-bus system with dedicated lanes, which is quick and cheap but very crowded even on Sundays and mistakenly decided to walk through this area. There were people lying in the street, staggering around drunk or on drugs and litter everywhere, but the streets were crowded. Really not an area for a Sunday stroll and I decided not to take photos.

The Ugly - Bolivar Square. For the centre-piece of national and city government it was full of litter & graffiti. I'm sure it's not that bad really but sadly it reminded me of Stevenage town centre. The Casa de Nariño, the residence of the President looks great however.

Going up Monserrate via the cable-car, the 3152m mountain with a large white church on-top which overlooks the city was a good way to round off the day. Too cloudy to see the whole city, but worth it anyway. We'll try to go back and maybe climb it on foot.

Saturday, 18 February 2012


Only a few days to go before our flight to Bogotá and the house is slowly emptying of rubbish. We've got our 4 suitcases pretty much packed, although Elena needs to buy a bigger one. A big pile of "stuff" is waiting to go into the 30 sq feet of storage, including my wet-suit. I'm hoping I won't need it in Colombia. My brother is kindly looking after my bikes. I'll try to ship them out once I've seen the state of the roads around Bucaramanga.

I've done 10 trips to the dump lately, and all the guys working there know me. I've started to get the hang of which stuff goes in which skip, but at times, it gets challenging and you have to hope they don't see you sneaking stuff into the general waste. The charity shops have had shocking loads of books, CDs and plenty of clothes.

Freecycle has been both frustrating and useful. You offer things (for free) and many people respond. When you reply to one, they often don't bother responding. And then you need to get them to turn up on time! Still, when people do come, it's great to see things cleared.

Selling with Gumtree has likewise been hit and miss. Dining room table and bedroom dresser went within hours. Other things just aren't wanted.

Biggest headache has been selling the MR2. I put it through the MOT, I dropped the price, but I guess a high mileage sportscar is not in big demand when the roads are covered with snow.

Starting to get really excited about reaching Colombia now, not least for a break from moving 13 years of accumulated junk. I hope the decluttering will prove cathartic. I'm sure many other people would benefit.