I was invited to come to Bogotá last minute by my incredible friends Maurah & Katie.
Maurah is Miss Global United States, and she is currently preparing for Miss Global. Bogotá is known for training many Miss Universe's, Miss Colombia's, and many other high ranking pageant titleholders. Maurah invited me to come along on the trip with wanderinheels.com and also suggested I do some pageant training here. Our main purpose of this trip was to work with the incredible designer, Angel Viva Designs, and to also work runway lessons with the infamous Fabian Chacon. Both of these individuals were absolutely an honor to work with and an overall incredible experience. I will touch more on that later on. :)
Besides pageant training, we got to immerse ourselves in the beautiful heart of Bogota, despite the new quarantine mandate. The culture here is beautiful and I am so excited to tell you all about it!
When we originally planned our trip to Bogotá, there were no said Covid-19 restrictions in place. We all got tested 72 hours before our flight just to be on the safe side, and thank God we did. Upon arrival at the airport, we were informed that you must fill out the Migración Colombia Check-Mig both before departing to and from Colombia. It is fairly simple, but it is of course best to do it ahead of time.
Colombia is VERY prominent in requiring you sanitize your hands before EVERYTHING, wearing a mask, and other sanitation protocols. They will even hand you your silverware/plates wrapped in paper using tongs to place them on the table. They are extremely sanitary here.
We had lots of activities planned for our trip, that were unfortunately disrupted. The night we arrived, there was a mandatory quarantine that was to be enforced at midnight. It was sort of like we were in a movie... military guards were EVERYWHERE and they were even flying helicopters to check the streets. However, we made the best of the trip and traveled outside of the mandatory quarantine area to tour some amazing places. It all worked out in the end!
The altitude in Bogotá might be much higher than you are used to. In fact, Bogotá is one of the highest capital cities in the world, sitting at 8,660 ft above sea level.Bogotá is in the upper part of the Andes mountain range in South America.
The unusual altitude can create some complications, especially if you are used to living closer to sea level.
Give yourself time to rest. Let yourself chill out when you first arrive in Bogotá to allow your body to adjust to the altitude.
Personally I had a hard time adjusting to the altitude due to my asthma and also wearing a mask most of the time... limiting myself from even more oxygen. It probably didn't help that I did cardio every morning, lol. Drinking lots of water helped, as well as eating rich carb-y foods (not a problem here). When I experienced dizzy spells I would just take a few moments to rest and I would feel much better. The altitude sickness was definitely manageable (and I had it the worst out of anyone), but next time I will definitely come more prepared.
Oh, and another thing... your products in a tube WILL explode. Maybe leave your expensive oils and creams at home, LOL!
Here is an unedited photo so you can see how truly pale I was, lol
Amazing view from our suite at the W!
Where We Stayed
We chose to stay at the W Bogotá because it is a great central location. It is in a very nice area with lots of security. The W takes great measures to keep guests safe during the pandemic as well. Every time you walk in the door you must use hand sanitizer and do a temperature check. The hotel was very sanitary and inviting to guests. The staff here went to great measures to make sure that we were well taken care of. They were very friendly and gave us lots of guidance and information on navigating Bogotá. I give the hospitality at this hotel 5 stars! The food and cocktails were also phenomenal, along with the luxurious ambiance that the W always sustains.
When you think Colombia you may think Colombia = cartel... in which, you aren't exactly wrong, but a lot has changed for the better. While Colombia can be dangerous, it is important to travel in groups and be aware of your surroundings. Staying at the W was the best option for us, as it is surrounded by 3 Embassy's. The security surrounding the building was much higher than it might be in other areas.
Colombia has a distinct social class system. In Colombia, instead of classes, they are called strata. I found this to be so interesting! Your stratum or "Estrato" is based upon where you live. Every district in Bogotá is classified by stratum 1-6. If you live in a stratum 1 area, you are considered to be poor, while if you live in a stratum 6 neighborhood, you are one of the wealthiest people in Bogota. The difference between a 2-4 however, is not that dramatic. Your stratum doesn't simply categorize where you live, but your social class.
For example, when asking a friend about a high end restaurant, they may say it is a "Stratum 6 restaurant." Or someone may say the W Bogotá is a Stratum 6 hotel.
I guess we tend to classify things as the states as well, we just don't technically label it so finitely.
The Spanish Colonial Era left a long lasting impact on Colombian culture. The influence is everywhere, especially in religion. Most Colombians in the community are Roman Catholic or Catholic. There are grand Monasteries, Cathedrals, Churches, and catholic symbols everywhere.
As the capital of Colombia, Bogotá culture values tradition and celebration. They have many long weekends throughout the year to celebrate many different events and public holidays. On normal occasions, you will see them celebrating in the streets, however this year is a little bit different due to COVID-19. Some of the national holidays that they celebrate include Día de los Reyes Magos, Corpus Christi, Declaración de la Independencia de Colombia, and Día de los Santos.
Because of Colombia's rich history, they celebrate in the fact that they have so many different ethnic groups. It is a source of national pride that stems from cultural heritage. There are so many different festivals and celebrations to celebrate all groups, with indigenous dances, and a wide range of cultural music.
Places to Visit
Plaza De Bolivar
Plaza De Bolivar is known as the colonial heart of the Candelaria. It is the main square of Colombia's capital dating back from 1532. It is absolutely gorgeous and a great place to snap some photos. Grab a some Colombian coffee, pastries, and candies at La Puerta De La Catedral. Plaza De Bolivar is where these 4 historic buildings are: the Palace of Justice, Lièvano Palace, National Capitol, and the Primary Cathedral of Bogotá. Oh... and watch out for the birds!! LOL
These are the vibrant and colorful Colombian streets you've seen on Instagram. Pastel colored buildings grace the streets of this historic district. Many of the buildings in this area were constructed during the pre-colonial era, with beautiful architecture dating back to 1538. There are lots of museums, shops, graffiti walls, and historic spots along La Candelaria that are definitely something you don't want to miss.
Monserrate is one of the highest peaks in Bogotá , at 10,341 ft high. Many people like to hike to its peak, but there is also an air tram available for quicker views! Monserrate is said to have the best view in Bogotá. At its peak there is a beautiful church, restaurants, markets, and shops.
Museo De Oro
Museo De Oro closed the day after we arrived due to the quarantine so we were unable to visit. It was on the forefront of our itinerary! This museum holds the most gold artifacts in the world due to the rich indigenous and colonial history of Colombia. Everyone raves about how beautiful it is and how much history you can learn here.
Markets - Mercado de las Pulgas de Usaquen, Paloquemao Market, Mercado de Pulgas San Alejo
As the capital of Colombia, Bogotá is rich in culture and liveliness. Markets are a huge part of Bogotá, but unfortunately they were all closed during the quarantine. This is something I look forward to seeing when I come back in the future!
Catedral de Sal Zipaquirá
Catedral de Sal is one of the 7 Wonders of Colombia and scholars say it should be added as the 8th Wonder of the World. Discover this wonder 660 ft underground a halite mountain in the town of Zipaquirá. We were able to see this during the quarantine since it was outside of the city. This is probably one of the most incredible things I have ever seen. Crosses depicting the story of Jesus are carved into the salt rock of the caves. Salt miners starting creating the caves around 1815, and they are still mining 60% of Colombia's salt production today. 10% of this 60% is for consumption while the rest is used in medicine, textiles, paper, clothing, and more. Salt mining is extremely dangerous work. Miners began creating the crosses on their own time to thank the Lord for what he has done and keeping them safe. They built the Cathedral to worship God with their families, and many still gather here to worship once a week today. The atmosphere in the caves was extremely spiritual, and you could 100% feel the power of the Holy Spirit here as hymns are sang over the beautiful artwork honoring the Lord.
Andres Carne De Res Chia - Do NOT leave Colombia without going here! This place is insane. It is about 40 minutes outside of Bogota, but it is halfway between Bogota and Catedral de Sal, so we planned to come here the day that we went there. First of all, if you are a foodie, the menu here is 72 PAGES!!! I have never even seen such a thing. There is so much authentic Colombian Cuisine to try. The restaurant itself is very interesting, with many different parts. It is one of those things you just have to see for yourself. The place itself is ginormous, with lots of items... EVERYWHERE. The owner, and creator, Andres Jaramillo, was a welder, and every item in the place is different and handmade my him. It took over 30 years to put everything together, and you can see why. Not only is the food spectacular, but it is definitely an experience and something to see.
The crew at Andres Carne De Res Chia (David, Maurah, Katie)
Huerta Bar Coctelería Artesanal - This bar is ranked the best bars in Colombia! The decor and set up of this place is exceptional- not to mention that EVERYTHING is sustainable! From the chairs, to the tables, to the countertops, everything is made sustainably. The ingredients are fresh every morning and every ingredient maximized to its full potential. They recycle and create their own compost to close the environmental cycle as much as possible. They even plant a tree for every 100 cocktails sold (& trust me... a lot of tress are planted...This place has some of the best bartenders and chefs in the world. You can feel good about what you are eating- there are no processed products and virtually everything comes from local farmers.
Oak Restaurant - This restaurant gives you an at home feel with incredible cuisine. This is a casual-fine smokehouse. Being one of the first to bring this American technique to Colombia, they focus on using all local Colombian ingredients. All cuts are a 2-3 day process smoking each between 2-17 hours in the smoker at a low temperature for a long period of time. You have to try their Spare Ribs!
Maurah at Huerta Bar, photo edited using "Beach Shack" from the Aruba Preset Pack
Salvaje Bogota - Salvaje is definitely what you would call an "Estrato 6" restaurant. The menu, vibe, and presentation of the food is somewhat similar to STK in Manhattan. The cocktails were incredible, and fun too! This is the best kind of meal to share with friends, with everything from roasted cauliflower, to yummy sushi, to a nice branzino. Be on the lookout, because Salvaje is coming soon to Miami!
We definitely had a photoshoot in the most famous bathroom in Colombia at Salvaje!
Cafe San Alberto - For a casual breakfast or snack, stop by Cafe San Alberto for Colombia's award winning coffee and pastries.
Foods to Try
Pan de bono
Jugo de maracuya
Soups (ajiaco, sancocho, pollo guisado)
There are over 40,000 different types of flowers in Bogotá
Colombia has the deepest variety of fruits in the world due to the different elevations
Bogotá is the Gateway to South America
Bogotá is one of the highest points of the Americas
Colombia accounts for 70%-90% of the world's emerald market (you can buy emeralds for a great price here)
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