From a delicious coffee to rock in park
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Hello, it’s nice to greet you, I’m Yael Yancelson and it will be a pleasure to do this colorful tour with you, so close your eyes if possible, breathe, relax, give me your hand and let’s travel together with the power of imagination to Bogotá, let’s begin! Bogotá is the capital of Colombia and is located in the center of the country, in a region known as the Sabana de Bogotá in the eastern Andes mountain range.
Let’s take the electric tram and travel through time. Although this means of transport has not been used massively in the capital for 50 years, this special service is a good way to tour the historic center and learn about Bogotá’s past, so I found it interesting to try it, don’t you think?
And our first stop is Plaza de Bolívar, the main square of the city of Bogotá, located in the downtown. Around it we see some of the main buildings of the city: if you look to the north the Palace of Justice, to the south the National Capitol, to the east the Cathedral Basilica Metropolitana de Bogotá and Primada de Colombia, the House of the Ecclesiastical Council, the Chapel of the Tabernacle of the Metropolitan Basilica Cathedral and the Archbishop’s Palace and to the west the Liévano Palace, seat of the Mayor’s Office of Bogotá, and to the southeast the Colegio Mayor de San Bartolomé de Los Jesuitas. This square was proposed as a National Monument of Colombia.
Now let’s walk to get to know a very different perspective of the city by seeing these wonderful works of street art, there is a whole graffiti tour that was formed by a collective of expressions of youth artists from the city and other parts of the world, let’s take a good look at the graffiti tags, which are signatures of individuals or names of groups that have been formed with their own style and if you realize there are even hand-painted murals with spray that rise high and wide from the walls of buildings masterfully located to give to the city a show full of creativity. Behind the graffiti, there is a whole culture that year after year is enriched with its own language full of meaning. With nearly 8,000 artists, this community emerges as a seed of peace that watches political events very closely, criticizing through art. I find it very interesting, don’t you think?
And speaking of colorful wall murals, check out the frontage of the iconic La Perseverancia market square, which reflects the cheerful colors and historic images of farmers and workers from the region. Located in one of the most popular neighborhoods in the city, considered the first working-class neighborhood in Bogotá that gives its name to this scene of fruits, vegetables, and more than one secret. Berta Segura, a merchant in the plaza for 25 years, welcomes us very kindly here and tells us the story that dates back to 1889 when the Vega family sold the land to Leo Koop, owner of the Bavaria brewery in Bogotá. However, the construction of the square would not begin until the year 1940. Over the years, peasants from towns near Bogotá, who came to sell fruits, vegetables, and animals, formed a community that would give rise to a market that the Overtime, would become what is now La Perseverancia market square, a benchmark for great chefs worldwide. Many inhabitants and merchants of the area have left their legacy from generation to generation. Today the square is a pleasant place where knowledge is mixed with the most traditional flavors and aromas of the products of Bogotá and its nearby towns. And it is almost an obligation to taste the traditional dish of Bogotá: the santafereño ajiaco, and in this square you can try one of the best in the city, which in fact has won recognized gastronomic awards, so let’s sit in this little corner and enjoy, ¡what a delight!
Already with energy after that emblematic dish, what do you think if we go to the Botero Museum. As you surely know, Fernando Botero is the most famous Colombian artist in the world thanks to his voluminous and very characteristic figures. In this museum, located in a house from the colonial era, you can see more than 100 paintings in watercolors, oils, pastels and sculptures; as well as works by Picasso, Renoir, Dalí and Matisse. The taste for volume, the allusion to universal painting and the treatment of themes such as violence are some of the elements that are reflected in this collection of the most important plastic artist in the country. Next to the Botero Museum is the Casa de la Moneda, so let’s take the opportunity to explore the history of the Colombian currency.
And continuing with renowned artists, let’s enter the Gabriel García Márquez Cultural Center, which bears the name of a much-loved and famous Colombian writer and journalist. Mainly recognized for his novels, short stories, narrative, speeches, reports, film reviews and memoirs, this cultural center is an icon of contemporary Colombian architecture. Here we will find a library with more than 80,000 books, as well as an art gallery, a record store and a bookstore. We continue walking to reach the Plaza de Bolívar, in the heart of the city. Oh, it scares me a little, because it’s full of pigeons, which are not my favorite animals hehe! But the truth is that it is the perfect place to pause, buy an arepa and a coffee and watch the people. Around it, we see the buildings of the National Capitol, the Palace of Justice, the Primate Cathedral of Bogotá, and the Mayor’s Office.
Later we arrive at the oldest opera house in South America, the Teatro Colón, which is the current headquarters of the Bogotá symphony orchestra. The Colón opened in 1982, and after six years of renovation, it reopened in July 2014.
If you are like me, a coffee lover, I found a tour that will take us to visit a traditional farm to get to know Colombian coffee in-depth, known throughout the world for its quality and flavor. We discover the complete process, from the cultivation of the grain to the liquid, we go to Fusagasugá and take a beautiful photo at the Tequendama waterfall before arriving at the Coloma coffee farm to learn everything you need about this iconic drink.
Between anecdotes about the history of the farm and the town, they offer us a basket and we arrive at the coffee nursery, where the grain is sown and cultivated. Next, we pass through an arabica coffee plantation in bloom, where we see many of the varieties of coffee that are produced in Colombia and since it is harvest season, we help together to collect the best beans. Following this, we see where it is washed, each coffee bean is pulped, dried, and hand-picked. We go to the thresher before the final step: roasting. See how it is made slowly through an artisan process that gives the coffee its characteristic color, aroma, and flavor. Can you appreciate the delicious aroma? It’s one of my favorite smells, what is yours, tell me… And now, the best part, the tasting of a delicious and steaming cup of freshly ground coffee and look, they give us a tasty liqueur made with the grains. Let’s see this little store to take something home, right?
Now we will do a short guided walk, and admire the panoramic landscape to discover the birthplace of the legend of El Dorado. We see together the views of the Tominé reservoir before visiting the colonial city of Guatavitá and arriving at the Zipaquirá salt cathedral, where the architect Roswell Garavito Pearl discovered and documented the history of salt exploitation in Colombia, interesting right?
For all the reading lovers, Bogotá offers a wide network of libraries distributed throughout every corner of the city, where you can find various types of educational and entertainment materials. The public mega libraries Luis Ángel Arango, Virgilio Barco, Julio Mario Santo Domingo, El Tintal and El Tunal constitute the axis of an example system in the region.
Literature is also present in emblematic places of Bogota’s bohemia, such as the Silva poetry house, and the Gilberto Alzate Avendaño Foundation, which not only welcomes Bogota’s letters, but also rescues different national and international art samples.
At nightfall we have to go to two unmissable places:Andrés Carne de Res:Located just outside the city, in the municipality of Chía, this is the ideal place to enjoy a good picada, giant margaritas and a night of party. It is a very popular place among the inhabitants of the capital, and I promise you that the party here is a joy, I had come many years ago with my friends and I have the funniest memories, let’s go up to the tables to dance and sing, here in Colombia this is how you live the night!!!
Another option is to go to the Gaira Café Cumbia House. I tell you that this bar, owned by the famous Colombian singer Carlos Vives and his family, is one of the best places to dance in Bogotá. There you will also find a large number of instruments and objects of outstanding Colombian musicians.
The music of Carlos Vives keeps the invaluable treasure of the memories of the Colombian Caribbean. Born in Santa Marta, this composer, singer and actor has gone down in history as the greatest ambassador of Colombian folklore in the world, taking to different countries a mixture of traditional and contemporary sounds that represent the country. Let’s hear it.
And if we talk about music, I’ll tell you that Rock al Parque is a rock festival that has been held in the city of Bogotá since 1994 and has been the stage for world-class artists as well as for those who are just beginning to launch their race. In addition, it is one of the Park Festivals, linked to different musical genres such as jazz, hip hop and salsa. The event takes place in the Simón Bolívar Metropolitan Park in Bogotá and some of the artists and groups that have stepped on the stage of the festival are: Juanes (Colombia), Fito Páez (Argentina), Christina Rosenvinge (Spain), Los Auténticos Decadentes (Argentina), Café Tacuba (Mexico), Aterciopelados (Colombia), Zona Ganjah (Argentina), Manu Chao (France) , La Fuga (Spain) and Los Amigos Invisibles (Venezuela). So let’s listen to the Aterciopelados who are precisely from here.
And well, between so much music, color, dance, and art, I feel like eating something, don’t you? If you want, stay here and come with me to the kitchen. CLICK THE BUTTON IF YOU LIKE TO COOK OR IF YOU PREFER, YOU CAN CONTINUE TO TRAVEL.
and that is how we have to say goodbye to the cheerful Bogotá in Colombia, without a doubt it is a place that inspires and spreads happiness. Thank you for traveling with me and I wait for you every week in one more episode,as you know Alternate Reality is a project that seeks to build community by contributing to different causes and I found that Colombia is the country that has welcomed the largest number of refugees and migrants from Venezuela and there are more than 8 million internally displaced people, of which approximately 640 thousand have been displaced since the Peace Agreement in 2016.
ACNUR works to ensure the protection of refugees and asylum seekers, prevent forced displacement, as well as support communities that host people in need of protection. If you are interested in helping and knowing much more about this topic, you can review the following link: https://www.acnur.org/colombia.html and make a difference, as I always say, by helping others, we mainly help ourselves and one of the purposes of this podcast is to raise awareness and show solidarity and inclusive contributing something in return.
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This proyect is born from the intention of helping and creating comunity in different causes and institutions.
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