The capital city at 8,600 feet is under perpetual clouds, and anytime it’s not raining, it looks like it’s going to rain. The temperature feels like autumn and the people are bundled-up like it’s a winter in New York City. The contrast to the chilly gloom is the lush green landscape and plentiful flowers. Unlike most of Colombia you can actually get good pizza and Mexican food in Bogotá along with many other items one would be missing, if you were an American living elsewhere in Colombia. With over nine million people in the city and surrounding area, the city is large enough to salsify most cosmopolitans.
My first observations of Bogotá was the extent of graffiti, It’s ubiquitous. I have never seen a city with so much graffiti. You cannot go a block without seeing something vandalized, and that even includes the block around the president’s house. The United States has given Colombia billions to stop drug trafficking when they can’t stop indiscriminate scribbling of its capital city. This tells me you have a populace that has no respect for private property and a system that can’t even stop pervasive petty crimes.
Bogotá is a big noisy city with small streets. Traffic is bad and it can take 30 minutes or more to flag a taxi during rush hour. In Barranquilla taxi rates are negotiated, in Bogotá the rate is determined by a meter that takes in account time and distance, which means taxi drivers will often take unsuspecting tourist for a ride to jack-up the price. Hotel prices can also be expensive, a small, stale air, dirty carpeted room with an uncomfortable bed can cost over $100.
Another observation is that many if not most establishments’ leave their doors open. You will go to an expensive restaurant and if you are not wearing a jacket or coat you will be cold. Night temperatures are usually in the 40s, yet they won’t shut their doors. Some of the better malls are the same way, all the doors are open and you’re always feeling that chilly Bogotá air. Taxi drivers also want you to feel the taste of the high altitude, you are in the back seat, the front windows are open and you are being blasted by cold air. This is in sharp difference to the behavior of those on the coast, who go into hypothermia if the temperature drops below 75 degrees. In all, I enjoy my stays in Bogotá and would recommend it as a place to visit. But like any place in Colombia, first time visitors should have someone who can take them around and watch over them.