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Archive for November, 2010

Laguna de Guatavita

by Alex on Nov.14, 2010, under Blog, What to do in Bogotá

The Laguna de Guatavita and the Muisca people, indigenous to her surrounds are apparently the source of the El Dorado legend that originally had nothing to do with a city of gold

guatavita

After telling us that there are many nonsense legends and the one true story, our guide recounted unto us how, as part of his inauguration, the new Cacique (chief-type thing), would strip naked, be covered in honey and then have gold dust blown over him. On a raft in the middle of the lake, the new Cacique would be struck by the first rays of the sun and in luminescent glory, throw offerings of gold alloy and gemstones into the laguna. He never though made it clear as to whether this was the ‘one true story’ or rubbish

Various peoples have over the years gone to great lengths to take the treasures from the lake, including (apparently) enslaving thousands of Muisca to empty water from the lake with pots, and cutting a great cleft in the side of the lake. We were told that the lake now contains only 30% of the water that is once did, 10 million cubic meters having been drained… Many of the artefacts taken from there lake can been seen in Bogotá’s Gold Museum e.g.

muisca-raft

This day trip involves a few hours of countryside walking through very picturesque landscape and a guided tour of the lake.

From Portal Norte, take a bus towards Guatavita, tell the driver that you want to get of at the turning for Guatavita, you come to this after passing through Sesquilé. From here it’s about a 2 hour walk to the entrance of the park, the route is signed. Alternatively, you can get off the bus in Sesquilé and take a colectivo (bus) to the park entrance

On leaving the park (the exit is different to the entrance), walk down the hill a little to a little eating place for snackage. After that you can either get a colectivo or walk back to the main road from where you can catch a bus back to Portal Norte

If asking for directions, make sure that you specify that you want the Laguna de Guatavita as many locals might think you are looking for the Embalse de Tominé, a reservoir near to the village of Guatavita la Nueva

13,200 COP – entrance, foreigners
8,800 COP – entrance, nationals

Entrance hours 09:00 – 16:00, the park is open open until 18:00

Visit the park’s site here

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Mmmmm, beer…

by Alex on Nov.10, 2010, under Blog, What to do in Bogotá

I love beer, real ale is my fave and I’m also a big fan of good Belgian and German beers – Chimay, Duvel, Erdinger, Leffe, Paulaner, Westmalle and that.

Colombian beer is pretty shit. Bavaria (a massive brewery that SAB Miller paid 7.8 billion dollars for and that has probably about 95% market share) makes 5 Colombian beers, all average and below average lagers. Bogotá Beer Company and Colón make European-style beers that sell for more than you’d pay for a pint in London, this might be less disagreeable if the beer were even half as good as your average British beer. You’ll be served BBC or Colón, in Bogotá at least, in most bars that serve draught beer.

botellas San Tomás makes not bad Hefe Weizen, Märzen, Dubbel and a lager. If you are a fan of these styles of beer and don’t want to pay the hefty price charged for imported beers then give San Tomás a go. I’m told by an expert that what San Tomás lacks is due to insufficient maturing time – the cost of the storage would make the beer too expensive to market.

A friend has told me that 3 cordilleras, a Medellin brewery makes great beer, I’ve yet to taste it.

duff The funniest beer in Colombia is Duff, funny from the staggeringly blatant copyright infringement point of view…

Wholly unexpectedly, I recently found myself drinking what I have no doubt must be the best beer in Latin American and certainly better than a lot of ale that I’ve drunk at home. We Met Juan Camilo through Lee, an English guy who’s been in Bogotá for about 5 years, used to work at the Ivy and runs El Inglés, an English café on Kra. 11 with 69. Having tried his beer I was keen to meet Juan Camilo and after a few minutes of listening to his passionate and highly informative talkings it was clear that he was the veritable expert. Needless to say I was very much looking forward to it when he invited us to his house for a tasting.

We tried, and when I say tried I mean drank with great pleasure, American and English pale ales, Southern English and American brown ales, and an English IPA, with brewing notes and detailed explanations regarding the classification and properties of, and differences between the beers. All were exquisite and I felt quite privileged to have had the pleasure. We had invited Nick along, another Colombian friend of ours who is in the process of opening a brewery. By the end of the tasting I was really hoping that Nick and Juan Camilo could in some way work together, combining Juan Camilo’s expertise with Nick’s facilities and business plan – I’d love to be able to buy (or better still get for free :-) ) beer of the quality that Juan Camilo makes and also would like to help introduce Colombians to good beer.

Update: Nick’s beer is good. Better than a lot of beer you get in pubs in the UK. We are in the process of getting it out to market, we’ve had a few tastings in the brewery and already have one pub chain owner interested in buying and many more interesting in trying the beer. We are also organising ‘Piss up in a brewery’ events, the trial of which was a great success. I can’t wait until I can get this beer commercially!

And, better still in the short term, Juan Camilo has just given me 3 bottles of his IPA, it was young when we tried it, it is now perfect – by far the best I’ve ever had. Mmmmm – beer!

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Crepes and Waffles

by Alex on Nov.01, 2010, under What to do in Bogotá

Crepes and Waffles sell a great range of food, both sweet and savoury and have branches across Colombia, Latin American capitals and even in Madrid

As well as good crepes and waffles, they do salads, ‘pittas’, which are more like pizza bases, and hollowed out loaves of bread stuffed with beef stroganoff, cheese and mushroom and other fillings. The salad bar is great value at 7,900 COP and there are a wide range of deserts with magnificent ice cream which you can buy to take away

It is said that Crepes and Waffles only employs single mothers and although I don’t know the truth of this, I’ve only ever seen women working there

There are many branches throughout Bogotá and Colombia, the full list available on its website, some can be found at:

Avenida Jimenez no. 4-55
Candelaria
(1) 676 7633

Carrera 12a no. 83-40
Zona T
Zona Rosa
(1) 676 7646

Carrera 11 no. 85-79
Zona Rosa
(1) 676 7674

Calle 93b no. 12-10
Parque 93
(1) 676 7648

Carrera 6 no. 119-56
Usaquén
(1) 676 7651

Atlantis Plaza
Zona Rosa
(1) 676 7645

Centro Andino (Ice cream and coffee)
Zona Rosa
(1) 676 7338

Gran Estación
(1) 676 7636

Salitre Plaza
(1) 676 7335

To call a landline from a mobile/cell in Colombia prefix the landline number with 03 followed by the region code. For Bogotá prefix with 031

Find Crepes y Waffles on the map here

Visit Crepes y Waffles’s site here

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Bogotá Beer Company (BBC)

by Alex on Nov.01, 2010, under What to do in Bogotá

BBC is a Bogotá-based brewery with a number of very popular pub-styled bars throughout town. Although a welcome change from the very average lager sold as standard in Colombia, sadly, aficionados will recognise that the beer is not great beer (it is though better than Colón beer in which I think they put actual colons). The best bet for beer lovers is to drink black and tan, a mixture of the porter and red – this tip was given to me by a beer expert who makes what must be the best beer in Colombia. The BBC bars that I’ve been to usually have a great atmosphere and popping in for a pint can often end up in drinking until closing time, just like back home…

BBC bars can be found here:

Carrera 12 no. 83-33
Zona Rosa
(1) 802 6737/802 9762

Calle 85 no. 13-06
Zona Rosa
(1) 805 0105

Carrera 6 no. 119-24
(1) 802 6784
Usaquén

Carrera 11a no. 93-94
Parque 93
(1) 802 6765

Carrera 5 no. 71a-75
Rosales
(1) 802 8759

Avenida 19 no. 120-74
(1) 743 0497

Torre Suramericana
Avenida Jorge Eliécer Gaitán no. 68b–85 Local C-107
Salitre
(1) 805 1348

Avenida 19 no. 139-07
Cedritos
(1) 742 7763

Avenida Calle 116 no. 17-78
Pepe Sierra
(1) 475 9120

To call a landline from a mobile/cell in Colombia prefix the landline number with 03 followed by the region code. For Bogotá prefix with 031

Find BBC bars on the map here

Visit BBC’s site here

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The Irish Pub, Zona Rosa

by Alex on Nov.01, 2010, under What to do in Bogotá

Carrera 12a no. 83-48
Zona T
Zona Rosa

Real name simply ‘The Pub’, this place is an institution. Even when the T is otherwise deserted, the terrace of the Irish Pub is usually packed. Popular amongst ex-pats, visiting business people and the richer of Bogotá, the place is also frequented by those who will spend a day’s income on a couple of beers. BBC (Bogotá Beer Company) beer is sold

Find the Irish Pub on the map here

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La Mona Pizza, Macarena

by Alex on Nov.01, 2010, under What to do in Bogotá

Pizzeria
Calle 26a no. 4-45
Macarena

(1) 3420831/3366408 (landline)

To call a landline from a mobile/cell in Colombia prefix the landline number with 03 followed by the region code. For Bogotá prefix with 031

Great pizza at 2,900 COP per slice, and, in true Colombian Economics style, buying a whole pizza costs more than buying the equivalent in individual slices. Cannelloni, spaghetti, lasagne and various starters, salads and stuff are also available, as is home delivery

Mona Pizza also has branches at:

Candelaria – Carrera 4 No. 12-19 Tel: 2821665/3427737 Cel: 312 449 3977

and

Quintaparedes – Carrera 45 No. 24a-09 Tel: 2692492 Cel: 312 449 3977

Find La Mona Pizza on the map here

Visit La Mona Pizza’s site here

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