OMG, Bogota!

You'll never forget dining in BogotaSo, you and I are chatting, and I mention I’m packing for Bogota, Colombia. “BOGOTA? Seriously? WHY?” {insert concerned facial expression here.} The short answer… food.  The long answer…


Bogota is gaining well-earned buzz, thanks in part to brilliant cuisine. A group of journalists convened in Bogota, including ME, courtesy of the Invest in Bogota organization. Gracias, Leo, por tu gran atencio a detalle y tu estilo tan profesional.

If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you know Larry and I really dig up-and-coming destinations, cool places ahead of the crowd, surprise awesome spots. And eating.  Iceland, anyone?  How ‘bout Rwanda?

IMG_5815So, I JUMPED at the invite to Bogota. A fresh destination. Curious. Not over-traveled. I knew precious little about the place, so much so that I totally believed the Weather Channel report of 90 degrees and raining. Untrue! It’s perpetual spring here.

I’m excited to present how (and why) to get to Bogota, ESPECIALLY if you love food, history, art, culture, nature, shopping. To jump to FOOD, scroll to the bottom of this post.

cosaDISTANCE: From Los Angeles, it’s a 5-ish hour flight to Florida, then an impressive SMOOTH transition to the international flight of 3-1/2 hours to Bogota, straight over Cuba. I flew JetBlue; plenty of airlines get you there.

AIRPORT – El Dorado International Airport is sparkling new and efficient. Easy peasy customs on the way home. I carried-on luggage.

JET LAG? Nope. Bogota is just 2 hours ahead of LA.  I easily talked to Larry back in LA via FaceTime with neither of us waking the other guy at a painful hour.

WHAT TO PACK – This is a stylish business hub; don’t be a sloppy tourist. Dress well. Leave the fleece at home. Bring layers. Think classy – this is LATIN AMERICA, for goodness sake. Spit spot! Noooo to sports shoes or sweat pants. Trendy jeans, si.

IMG_5931SAFETY – It’s on your mind, right? I appreciate that {plenty of wise-crack “cartel” questions from friends}. Security is no-nonsense. Police, dogs, other safety measures are in full view. You don’t get into hotels or business offices without a sniff by a yellow lab or golden retriever, and a wand-check by their human.

ACCOMMODATIONS – We stayed at the J.W. Marriott in the heart of the city — posh, quiet, safe, walking distance to exceptional restaurants (including their own La Mina restorante).  I noticed a Hilton around the corner. Taxis are everywhere; use the TAPPSI app to order one from anywhere in the city.

IMG_5522ELECTRICITY & WATER – Outlets are American-style, 120/110v. And drinking water — I brushed my teeth in the sink. But, I didn’t chug-a-lug the tap water. I consumed ice and local fruit juices. Did NOT get sick. {Even after my fair share of 15- and 23-year-old Ron Zacapa rum, a major sponsor of the culinary events this week.} The city center boasts potable water, but they still urge visitors drink bottled water.

IMG_5928WHAT’S BOGOTA “LIKE?” – If pressed to compare it to a U.S. city, I’d choose Chicago. It’s quite cosmopolitan. Elegant architecture amidst classic (some up to 100-year-old) buildings with European style. Interesting graffiti. Heavy traffic. Lots of walkers. Green, thanks to surrounding mountains and plenty of rain. And incredible restaurants… see some, below.

IMG_5520WEATHER – doesn’t get much better than this because it doesn’t alter much throughout the year.  “It’s always spring in Bogota.” Cool and often wet (our August week averaged 68 degrees F daily, one day of intermittent sprinkles). Bogota is in the mountains, 8600 feet altitude. That’s REALLY high, so drink a lot of water, and a daily packet of Emergen-C for electrolytes. August is also the windy season; weekends and holidays, the parks are a solid sky of brightly colored and artful kites.

IMG_5519SIGHTSEEING – OUR sights centered around eating and drinking, but there’s something for every interest here — museums, galleries, parks, concerts, sports, cathedrals, nature, killer shopping.  Here is the site to plan your tourism.

AND OF COURSE, FOOD – The week I visited was Alimentarte (“art of eating”) festival and Restaurant Week – a gigantic food festival in the park by day, featured star chef dinners by night and a forum where 350+ attendees heard Latin America’s top chefs discuss their passions, traditions, histories, struggles and triumphs (humbly presented, I must say) bringing their countries’ cuisines to World Class success. Many of these giants trained around the world to pick up techniques and inspiration, then headed back to home to use local ingredients and resources, producing some of the most exciting dishes you’ll EVER eat.  Return here for links to other posts on this topic SOON.

cuisine collage bogotaStart by clicking on each of these Restaurant Week featured restaurants’ websites, below, to get the visual flavor of what you can taste once here:


Above are two VERY important and delightful people – Carlos Alberto Leyva, Presidente Junta Directiva, Fundacion Corazon Verde and the fabulous (more about her in an upcoming post) Cristina Botero, Directora Ejecutiva, Fundaciion Corazon Verde.  The Alimentarte festival and Restaurant Week supported the Corazón Verde Foundation, a non-profit whose purpose is to develop social initiatives that seek to comprehensively improve the quality of life for the widows and orphans of police. Its primary goals are education, housing and counseling.

{Many thanks to my host, Invest in Bogota. While the experiences and my travel costs were comped to me, all opinions herein are my own.}

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cathy Arkle September 13, 2014 at 9:23 pm

I was just in Bogota in March and fell in love with the city. I tell everyone that Colombia should be on their bucket list. Those food shots look great!

2 Erika Kerekes August 25, 2014 at 10:30 am

I’ve never had much desire to travel to South America but your post makes it sound quite appealing. Putting Bogota on my “someday soon” list. Thanks Patti!

3 Katie August 25, 2014 at 8:23 am

This is a dream vacation for me. Colombia all centered around food. Yes please! I almost made it to Colombia on my travels through Central America, but unfortunately ran out of money and had to get home! One day I will make it there, your trip looked great!

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