2nd morning in Bogota we rocked up to the office of "Bogota Bike Tours” with the intention of taking part in something along the lines of what the company name suggests. 10 minutes later we were kitted up with a lid and a pushy and after another 10 minutes we were off. The gear wasn’t too flashy, but we didn’t need much as the cycling involved in the tour was mostly along quiet streets and designated bike lanes. As well, Bogota for the most part is extremely flat so the cycling was super cruisy.
The day was led by Mike, an expat from the U.S. who has lived in the city for 10 years. He told us he was an ex journalist, which became obvious throughout the day as Mike constantly took photos from his pushy of everyone and our beautiful surroundings.
He also took down everyones email addresses and sent out photos to us at the end of the day which was awesome - always good to have an extra camera and set of eyes on a big day out.
The tour went for around 6 hours, and at only 35,000 pesos ($18AUD) per person it was awesome value.
We made so many stops with so much information I wouldn’t do it justice to try and recall them all, but I’ll try to list a few of my highlights.
Early on we stopped in a square downtown. Here there were dozens of middle and more aged men haggling in the street over emeralds. Colombia apparently has some of the largest emerald mines in the world, and if you know what you’re looking for (and speak enough spanish) here can be a great place to snap up a bargain. We also learnt about politician Jorge Eliecer Gaitan who was a leftist presidential candidate who was assassinated in 1948 setting off riots and a gigantic period of unrest in Colombia.
We saw a bullring which has been recently closed due to animal cruelty reasons by the current Mayor of Bogota who was a former Guerrilla AND a former prison that is now a library and a centre for street artists. We cycled through a giant public university at lunchtime to check out some political graffiti and buy a delicious lunch off some Rastafarian students. We saw a local coffee roaster and exporter warehouse before continuing through the red light district to a large fruit market to see, smell and taste plenty of strange looking tropical fruits.
One of the last stops we made - and my personal highlight - was to visit a small home of Colombia’s national “sport.” And no it’s not football. Picture a mix between darts and bocce, and then add gunpowder and plenty of cheap beer and you have “Tejo” - (pronounced tey-hoe). Basically, take turns throwing large round stones at a clay board loaded with gunpowder satchels, with a beer in the non throwing hand at all times. I didn’t fully understand the scoring system, but can say it was a lot of fun.
We cruised back to the bike centre late in the arvo and after a day in the sun were happy to have a feed and an early night.
The next morning we woke up and after breakkie strolled down to the plaza near our hostel to meet our guide for the graffiti tour. The last few days we had been staying in La Canderlaria, an old neighbourhood of the city popular with Uni students and absolutely filled with awesome street art. Hence, we were pretty keen to see some more of this and learn a little more about the artists and their motives for painting.
The next 2 hours was absolutely awesome. We learnt so much about the techniques the artists use, the legality of street art in the city with some stories surrounding this and also who some of the artists are and their background - which included a current Bogota university lecturer and an Australian who now lives in the city. We also learnt lots about the political influences and context of a lot of the art.
Anyway, less chat and more pictures….
The only downside of these tours was making me realise how sterile and boring many places are at home in Sydney, all of which could be seriously improved with some loosened regulations and a splash of colour. Oh, and also realising that it’s also possible to ride a pushy through the middle of a giant city in peak hour without constantly fearing for my life.
If you head to Bogota I strongly recommend to make time to do both of these tours as they were both awesome!
G'day I'm Bec
I'm an Aussie who loves travelling, hiking, trail running and pretty much any activity you can do outdoors.
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