Schools here in Colombia are on a different schedule than schools back in the states. Here, the school year follows the regular calendar year. We start school in the end of January and end the year in the beginning of December, with a three week break in June. For my June break this year, I decided to combine business and pleasure and take a week-long trip to Bogota! I needed to take the GRE (apparently I cannot just hang out abroad forever, I have to start making some sort of plan for the future…..). They only offer the computer based test in Bogota and I figured if I was going to go all the way there, I might as well hang around and enjoy the beautiful city and chilly weather for a while! My friend Nina had never been so we planned a week long getaway.
This was my second time to Bogota, but I was only there a few days last time so there was still plenty to see. Bogota is the capital city of Colombia and it is HUGE! To put it in perspective, my little town of Santa Marta has about 400,000 people and Bogota is home to around 7 million! I was very impressed with how neatly the city is laid and how easy the city wide metro is to use. Like any highly populated urban center, Bogota is not without its share of crime and vandalism, but we were SHOCKED at how many police officers and security guards are around keeping things safe! With a nice mixture of old architecture contrasted by modern buildings, a lively history and a bright future, and a thriving city just miles from rolling green hills and quaint rural towns; I could definitely see myself living in this beautiful city!
Some of the highlights of our trip were:
We headed up to the top of the mountain, which can be reached either by walking, riding the funicular, or taking the cable car! There are plenty of breathtaking views of the city and surrounding green mountains, a gorgeous church with an ornate interior, vendors selling souvenirs, and treats like hot chocolate with cinnamon and clove to keep you warm!
The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá
A short 2 hours outside of the city is a charming little town called Zipaquirá. Aside from beautiful plazas, quaint restaurants, and people going about their daily business….this town’s claim to fame is the Salt Cathedral. It is an underground Catholic church built within the tunnels of a salt mine. Nearly 200 meters underground, the Salt Cathedral holds beautiful sculptures representing the stations of the cross and a temple with three sections representing the birth, life, and death of Jesus.
World Cup Madness
Colombia played three times while we were in Bogota and we watched all three games at the same café (since it was obviously good luck!). All of Bogota has a ‘ley seca’ on game day which means no alcohol (to cut down on alcohol related crime and accidents). There is really no way for me to describe what it is like…..Colombians are some of the most passionate futbol fans in the world and game day is like nothing I have ever experienced. I LOVE IT.
The main reason for my trip was to take the GRE and I was glad to get it out of the way one of the first days so I could enjoy the rest of the vacation! The test went well and that made it even easier to kick back, relax, and enjoy all that Bogota has to offer. A week in the cold and rain was exactly what I needed to refresh and recharge. Now I am back in Santa Marta ready to hit the ground running and to take on my last semester at school. I have just over 4 months left here in Colombia……yikes!
Until next time………..paz y amor.
See all of the pictures from this trip HERE.