Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Dozen Grapes and Some Whiskey



28 December, 2011 to 1 January, 2012 – Bogotá, Zipaquirá (Colombia)

Bogotá. Contrary to all probable preconceptions, we found ourselves feeling both very safe and very welcome in Bogotá. We are staying in an area north of the centre, about 30 minutes in the "Transmilenio", Bogotá's version of a metro. Couchsurfing courtesy of Isabel.


Downtown Bogotá
Downtown Bogotá

Bogotá Streetscape
Bogotá Streetscape

A Random Courtyard
A Random Courtyard
We spent most of our time in Bogotá in aimless and random wandering. We came across this lovely courtyard, enticed in to the building by an art exhibition.


Me and a Fat Hand
Me and a Fat Hand
At the Museo de Botero, Bogotá. One of Botero's famous gordos.


Monseratte from Museo de Botero
Monseratte from Museo de Botero
Visible from many places in Bogotá, Monseratte tends to pick up the afternoon sun.


Three Characters
Three Characters
In a small plaza in Bogotá. I felt they were an almost unlikely trio of friends. And yet, a fantastic and harmonious company.


Looking to Monseratte
Looking to Monseratte
View from Plaza Bolivar, Bogotá.


Bogotá, from Monseratte
Bogotá, from Monseratte
We joined the hordes on new year's day, and climbed to the white church which watches over the entire city.


One of the best things when travelling is sampling the local delicacies...

Dipping Cheese in Hot Chocolate
Dipping Cheese in Hot Chocolate
A very bogotano dish. It was quite a weird combination. This was in the best place to try such a dish, La Puerta Falsa. The cafe has been in business since 1816.


Another Strange Bogotano Dish
Another Strange Bogotano Dish
Squeaky white cheese, with dulce de leche (caramelised sweetened condensed mild) and strawberry jam. Jo's expression probably sums it up for us.


We made an extremely worthwhile daytrip to nearby Zipaquirá.

Inside the Salt Cathedral
Inside the Salt Cathedral
The cathedral is carved out of an old salt mine, at Zipaquirá. It is a beautiful place to visit. Unfortunately, the photo does not do justice to the scale.


Church Interior
Church Interior
Zipaquirá, near Bogotá.


Zipaquirá Plaza
Zipaquirá Plaza
A day trip from Bogotá.


One of the best things about couchsurfing is the opportunity to gain local knowledge, inside tips, and even be taken to places that you would never get to when passing through as a traveller.

With Isa and Guillermo
With Isa and Guillermo
Isabel is our Bogotá couchsurfing host, and Guillermo is her novio.


Night View Over Bogotá
Night View Over Bogotá


Oh, and those 12 grapes and whiskey? New Years Eve with a Colombian family is going to be different to New Years Eve in Australia. Knowing that we were invited to spend the night with Isabel and her family, and not knowing the way things normally happen, we decided it would be important to not fill up. Parties always have food, and if there is no dinner, we can probably fill up on nibbles, verdad? When we arrived, we could smell delicious odours from the kitchen. We were introduced to the extended family and friends in attendance, and spent some time chatting. But no food. Drinks were offered - whiskey or a soft drink. After a couple of whiskies on our empty stomachs, we both felt we better not drink more before food, otherwise our Spanish would get better, but only for the two of us... Hours later, we counted in the New Year, still with stomachs containing nothing but whiskey, and yet with delicious aromas coming from the kitchen. But, at midnight, there was something that had to be eaten first. A dozen grapes. Nobody told us the significance, but we were just told it was traditional. And then, minutes later, the food began coming out of the kitchen. And what an amazing feast we had. A traditional Colombian stew, to which one could add from a range of bowls. Chicken, corn, avocado, cream, capers. I skipped the capers. It was a wonderfully memorable New Years Eve.

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