Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

10 Things to Do: Bogotá ([i]full text[/i])

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Bogotá is 8,500 feet closer to the stars, or so goes the city motto. But Bogotá boasts more than just beautiful Andean views and year-round spring-like weather. The array of cultural and gastronomic offerings makes the city one of the best-kept secrets in South America.

1) Salseando. For the un-initiated, Bogotá’s club scene—a mix of swinging hips, aguardiente and hot rhythms—may be intimidating. Get a taste at hot spots like Bodeguita del Centro or Son Salomé.

2) Go out to the sabana. At nearby Suesca, a paradise for rock climbers, take a break from the hustle and bustle of the capital. Enjoy great hiking, astonishing views and river rafting.

3) Dance until dawn. Party at the capital’s favorite spot for going loco. Located 40 minutes from Bogotá, the 25-year-old Andrés Carne de Res is a visual delight in its own right, with more than 1,000 knickknacks and art pieces.

4) Avoid traffic jams. Hop on Transmilenio—the first mass transit system in the world to be considered a clean diesel system, as defined by the Kyoto Protocol. Take the J line to the dazzling Museo del Oro or the B line to the stunning Parque Virrey.

5) Lace up your sneakers. On Sundays take a long run on the Ciclovía, the term used to describe the 70 miles (112 kilometers) of streets officially set aside for pedestrians (and cyclists).

6) Toma chocolate. Recharge your battery with a warm cup of chocolate santafereño and try it with pan de yucas (yucca bread), almojabanas (cheese bread) and tamales. Two authentic places are La Florida and La Puerta Falsa in the city’s historic center.

7) Travel back in time. Visit La Candelaria, Bogotá’s historic district—a center of bohemian life, with cafés and art galleries. Don’t miss the Plaza de Bolívar, the presidential residence (Casa de Nariño) or the Quinta de Bolívar museum.

8) Eat Ajiaco Santafereño. If you think you’ve eaten potato soup, think again. There is nothing like this thick green soup with chicken, corn, avocado, and the traditional guascas herb.

9) Enjoy the Iberoamerican Theater Festival. An outdoor, 17-day carnival with hundreds of artists and free concerts. Plan ahead for the 2010 event, which will be held around Easter.

10) Shoppers beware. Souvenirs abound in the Zona Rosa, the former red-light district that is now a favorite hangout for expensive shopping and foodies alike. Go straight to the Centro Comercial Andino or have a bite at any restaurant in the Zona T.

Tags: Ajiaco, Andres Carne de Res, Bodeguita del Centro, Bogota, Casa de Narino, Chocolate santafereno, La Candelaria, La Puerta Falsa, Museo del Oro, Parque Virrey, Plaza de Bolivar, San Salome, Suesca, Transmilenio, Zona T.
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