Britannia – the British Pub in Bogotá

by Alex on Oct.24, 2011, under Blog, What to do in Bogotá

Britannia is a real British pub with a real British landlord and all the inane banter that that might entail. It’s as traditional as you can get in Bogotá – clearly back home no self-respecting landlord would waste money on waitresses and to my mind a pub can do without TVs but we are in Colombia and with that comes table sevice and perpetual sport. Looking on the bright side you don’t need to expend effort in going to the bar for your next drink and let’s face it, there are a lot of sports fans out there and you only need ask to have your game shown, so long as there is no one bigger and tougher than you wanting to watch something on the other chanel…

We have Sierra del Tigre beer, the best beer by a long way in Bogotá and probably the best in Colombia. We opened with an American Pale Ale, an Irish Red, an American Brown Ale and an IPA, and have recently put on our second batch of IPA, even more hoppy than the first. We have a good range of imported beers and spirits and use decent liquor in our cocktails (many bars have recognised brands on the shelves and use cheap made-in-Colombia vodka, gin etc. for coctails). You will recognise the difference in quality when you drink at Britannia.

On Mondays we entertain our North American cousins with Monday Night Football, we have games night on a Tuesday and a language exchange on Wednesdays – come and chat foreign with the locals. Our after office special Monday to Friday gives you 20% off jugs of beer, bottles (of liquor) and coctails from 4 until 7 and the atmoshere is always friendly – a safe place to come and sit at the bar and chat with the landlord and staff. Every day we do a lunch with either a half pint of beer or a soda for $15,000 –

Britannia is on the 26 on the way from the airport to downtown or vice versa depending on your point of view, in the Marriot Hotel building, full address calle 26 number 69b-53 local 1. There is secure parking under the hotel, really secure with dogs and guns and all that jazz and you get an hour’s free parking when you come to Britannia.

So I suppose I’ll see you here. I tell you what, I’ve had a few Sierra del Tigres and am feeling generous – bring a couple of friends and if you tell me (Alex) that you found out about the pub here I’ll regale you (as they say in Spanish) with some real chips complete with lashings and lashings of salt and vinegar (whether you ask for it or not)…

Find Britannia on the map here

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¡Gringo Tuesdays!

by Alex on Mar.03, 2011, under Blog, What to do in Bogotá


I recognised ages ago, when we were still planning to open a hostel, the massive scope that there is in Bogotá for doing an event combining a language and cultural exchange with a decent party. I never thought that it would be us who realised it, but that was before we had a club…

After loads of arsing about (we were going to kick off in November) such as waiting 5 months to have a roof on the club and trying to find someone decent, reliable and affordable to do the art work, we are going to inaugurate ¡Gringo Tuesdays! on the 15th of March.

The launch party will be massive and we are hoping, as well as expecting, that the event will soon establish itself as the thing to do on Tuesdays in Bogotá. The market seems ripe for it – there is nothing much on on Tuesdays here, there are hundreds of backpackers, many of whom are keen to meet locals and practise Spanish and there are millions of friendly locals, many of them wanting to meet foreigners as well as to have an opportunity to practise their English, German, French etc.

Look, we done tickets/flyers:

Imprimir Imprimir

And posters (thanks Jaap):


Here is some spiel that I’ll probably change before sending out the publicity stuff:

¡Gringo Tuesdays! is a weekly event to be held at La Villa nightclub, inaugurating on Tuesday the 15th of March.

The concept is to bring together locals, ex-patriots and travellers in a fun atmosphere with the end of promoting an exchange of cultures, experiences and languages, and to throw a big party.

¡Gringo Tuesdays! will offer a friendly and relaxed atmosphere in the cool surrounds of La Villa in which to practise Spanish, English, French, German and whatever other languages want to be spoken, both informally and by way of facilitated conversation groups.

¡Gringo Tuesdays! will put on games and promotions will have a great ‘happy hour’ from 8:00 until 10:00 with two for one beers and gin and tonic, cuba libre and vodka and orange at $10,000.

The happy hour and group events (8:00-10:00) will be accompanied by low background music, allowing guests to focus on getting to know each other practising languages. At 10:00, one of La Villa’s DJs will officially start the ¡Gringo Tuesdays! party, and play through until 3:00. La Villa’s music style is indie, rock and electro (no latin music).

Entry is free until 10:00 at which point a cover of $10,000 will be charged.

As if the above would not be enough to make ¡Gringo Tuesdays! one of the best nights out in Bogotá, we will also have:

  • Cerveza Sierra del Tigre – as good as the real ale back home
  • Marmite and Vegemite on toast – the Brits and Aussies won’t be able to get enough
  • Jägerbombs and Jägertrains – all aboard!
  • Board games and tongue-twisters – red lorry yellow lorry anyone?

La Villa. Kra 14a No.83-56, Zona Rosa. For more details, e-mail

¡Gringo Tuesdays! and La Villa Links:
¡Gringo Tuesdays’! Facebook page
La Villa’s Facebook page

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Shit on the nativity

by Alex on Jan.04, 2011, under Blog

This is well funny…

I’ve been spending a lot of time recently on, a great place to learn Spanish that also has a lovely community of people to help you with questions about Spanish language usage.

Anyway, today came up the question regarding what a caganer is. It seems that it is traditional in some parts to include in one’s nativity scene, a figure of someone just having curled out a massive logger!

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They don’t want my blood

by Alex on Dec.28, 2010, under Blog

A while back I popped in to a blood donation tent in the centre of Bogotá. After being weighed and filling in the form I was told that I could not donate as I had recently been in an area with high risk of contracting malaria. Fair enough.

Yesterday, I’m wandering home and walk past another blood tent. Sticking my head round the door I’m told that they will open in 15 mins and would I mind waiting. So, I did some shopping and went back a while later.

The first step was to take my ID card and note, amongst other things, my nationality. Then I had my finger stabbed to give a sample which I think is used to test for anaemia. Next was answering a whole load of questions to determine if my blood was safe to use.

So, including the time that I effectively waited for them to open, the whole process took say 40 minutes.

And, get this. They don’t want my blood as I’m European and there is a risk that I might carry CJD. OK, fair enough but then the first information they took from me was the fact that I was British. So why carry on wasting my time and their time. In fact, it was clear that I was either gringo, European or antipodean when they first spoke to me. How easy would it have been to ask where I’m from. So bloody typical of how things are done here… Note also that a few months ago, nothing was said about my origin with regards to eligibility to donate…

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Piss up in a brewery

by Alex on Dec.09, 2010, under Blog, What to do in Bogotá

cerveza sierra

You have no idea how much I am enjoying writing this post…

The Cervecería Artesanal de Los Andes would like to invite you to try its beautiful beer directly from the tanks

The ‘tour’ consists of me pointing at some metal tanks and saying stuff for about 3 seconds before proceeding with the tasting, and tasting, and more tasting of the beer

We have two very good quality beers, Sierra del Tigre Pale Ale and Sierra del Tigre Brown Ale. The beer is better than much that I have drunk in the UK, home of real ale. I really like this ‘job’

The tour is free and beer is available at the much cheaper than pub price of $15,000 for 4 300 ml glasses and. If you are new to Colombia then you might not know that to buy ‘real’ beer, the most well known in Bogotá being BBC and Colón, you’ll pay, with tip $10,000 a pint

We have a regular event on Wednesday evenings will put on private events if you can arrange a group of a least 10 people, for more info mail me at See our Facebook page here

We look forward to seeing you

P.S. Joking aside, we are happy to talk to you in depth about the beer making process and what makes our beer different to that which has been available until now in Colombia…

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Veg me up baby!

by Alex on Dec.06, 2010, under Blog

So, we’ve got our weekly shop nailed – loving our local market. Czech out the fresh pro-dooce below:


All that for $70,000 pesos – £23.60. Take off the cost of the shroomers and apples (what are very hexpensive here) and you get the rest for £17.50 – not too bad methinks…

That bunch on the left is mint, basil, lemongrass and camomile, for making agua aromatica – a popular herbal infusion here in Bogotá, cost: $1,000 pesos – 34p, which is nice!

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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


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.


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

Please leave feedback in the comments section below

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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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A picture of some cute stuff for Sarah

by Alex on Oct.25, 2010, under Blog


I was in Puerto Nariño in the Colombian Amazon with my fiend Kate on top of a watch tower. Watching and stuff. She went down before me and I was overcome with disdain as the sounds of her ahhhhhhing scratched at my ear drums. I reasoned that she had come across a puppy and/or kitten and railed at the devolution of 25 years that she seemed to have suffered, judging by the stoopid sounds I was hearing. So, I followed her down, nose held high, face of scorn, then promptly turned to mush when I came across these little guys…

More pics here

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Colombian economics

by Alex on Oct.10, 2010, under Blog

Economies of scale, supply and demand – I used to consider these laws reasonably universal. I do remember years ago in Chepstow Market shaking my head at a sign declaring something like ‘t-shirts: 1-£2, 3-£6, 5-£10′. It gets much better than that here…


A box of 100 tea bags – $15,100 pesos, 2 boxes of 50 tea bags $14,320 pesos. Although counter-intuitive, it’s perfectly usual here to find larger quantities of stuff costing more per unit that smaller quantities, always worth checking the prices carefully.

I little while ago we were outside a Crystal Castles gig looking for tickets. We knew there were plenty of tickets on the door and with the number of ticket touts around, you’d imagine you’d have been able to find a bargain. Imagine again:

Me: Hello mate, how much for a ticket
Tout: $110,000
Me: They are only $90,000 on the door
Tout: There are no tickets left on the door
Clearly I did not believe this but checked anyway
Me: I’ve just asked, they do have tickets on the door, for $90,000
Tout: OK then, $100,000
Me: Why would I pay you 100 when I can pay 90 on the door, you need to sell them for less than they cost on the door
Tout: 100
I walk away, familiarly bemused

One day on bed street – a street with about 30 bed shops selling pretty much the same stuff:

Me: Hello mate, I have a price of 420,000 pesos for that bed and I’m going in to every shop looking for the best price I can get, can you do better than 420,000?
Shop bloke: I can do it for 450,000
Me: Ok, well I’ll keep looking to see if anyone can beat 420,000
Shop bloke: 430,000 if you buy it now
Me: I’ve just told you that I can get it for 420,000, why would I pay you more for the same thing…

This does tie in nicely with many sales experiences one suffers here, my best so far being when I went shopping for a shower head, not knowing the word for shower head:

Me: Hi there, I’m looking for the shower thing that goes at the end of the tube that comes out of the wall in the shower. I DO NOT need an electric one, we have gas heating so we have hot water coming out of the tube. I just need the plastic thing that spreads the ALREADY HOT WATER out
Shop bloke: Here you go (handing over an electric shower head)
Me: I just told you that I do not need an electric one. We have hot water, I just need the thing that goes at the end of the tube
The shop bloke then comes back with what looks like a wooden pear with electric windings around it supplied by a long electric cable. I guessed it was a heating element that you could throw into a large pot of water
Me trying not to go mental: What is that, that’s got nothing to do with a shower AND it’s clearly an electical appliance. What has that got to do with what I asked you for?
Shop bloke looks utterly bewildered and a little hurt
I walk away, familiarly bemused

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