Saturday, January 10, 2009

Christmas in Colombia (The post is better late than never...)

As promised, here is the Amazing Richert Christmas Adventure 2008, with special guest star, Sherry Silvers.
Bogota, Columbia.  

As you can see...this city and I were obviously made for each other.  Bookstores, libraries, and coffee shops were on every block.  Yes, the majority of the books were in Spanish which causes some slight difficulties, but I don't like to focus on those kind of details.  I'm more of a cup half full kind of gal.  

Also, the city is bike crazy.  There are hundreds of miles of bike lanes; we saw bike lanes throughout the city and even along the highway.  They just created a bike/walking lane in the middle of the highway, incredible!  They even close off some of the major streets every Sunday and holiday so people can ride their bikes through the main arteries of town without dealing with the potentially dangerous obstacle of cars.  The city had me at hello.

Dave found a wonderful place for us to stay that was right in the heart of the historic district of the city.  It is what we would call a boutique hotel in the states, but is pretty common fare in South America.  The rooms were beautiful, though a little chilly, and the hostel had a wonderful restaurant which provided free breakfast and the best hot chocolate I have ever had.  Got to love that.

Bogota was completely decked out for the Christmas season, especially the main historic squares.  The square besides the Presidential Palace was decorated with hundreds of lighted trees and the ever festive pigeon. (Seriously, it was like a scene from Hitchcock's "The Birds."  A little freaky).

One of the highlights was riding the funicular up Mt. Monserrate.  The mountain backs up against the city, providing incredible views of Bogota from its top.  There is also a old church at the top where we were able to hear a Christmas mass.  The views were amazing!

Our favorite Colombian adventure by far was the Salt Cathedral.  This is an underground cathedral made entirely out of salt, found in the salt mine of Zipaquira.  Our guide told us that to fully explore the mine would take three days!  We stuck with the Cathedral tour and were in complete awe.  We walked down the penitent steps, viewed the baptismal font, the choir's perch, and the main sanctuary.  The tunnel leading through the heart of the cathedral was lined with fourteen separate chapels that represented the life of Christ.  It was beautiful.

Other adventures included the famous gold museum, rumored to hold the El Dorado gold, watching the Presidential Guard shoo everyone off the sidewalk in front of the palace, and visiting the oldest restaurant in South America.  It was a wonderful Christmas, and we were so glad to share it with our Aunt Sherry.  

What adventures will South America hold for you?