GOLDEN HOUR AT MONSERRATE
I have always loved heights, that fear that so many people feel when standing at a precipice or at the top of a skyscraper never really affected me (my brother is like this as well - we like to jump off things). In new cities, after spending some time on the streets, I try to seek higher ground to get a different perspective (see belltowers in Croatia, sunrise hikes in Bled, etc). Luckily, in Bogota you don't really need to be imaginative about where to get that bird's eye view, it's kind of obvious.
The city of Bogota is 2640 meters above sea level, flanked on the eastern side of the city by the massive Eastern Cordillera of the Andes mountain range, a dramatic verdant series of mountains jutting up above the city. Considering the sprawl of the city (even more so than Mexico City, but with a smaller population), the greenness and wildness of the mountains is a welcome respite from the monotony of brick and concrete buildings. If you look closely towards one of the taller mountain peaks, you can see a white blip, the Church of Monserrate, perched precariously high above the city. To reach Monserrate there are several methods:
1) Hike. What some of us wanted to do, yet the pathway was closed "indefinitely." After realizing it was 512 meters of incline at an already high altitude, I wasn't entirely upset about this setback.
2) Take a rickety funicular up the mountain. (Clearly I was skeptical of the ability of this "train" to make it up the mountain)
3) Teleferico aka Cable Car designed by the Swiss. (Always trust the Swiss)
I arrived at the Cable Car station at the base of Monserrate around 5pm Saturday afternoon, purchased roundtrip tickets (19,000 pesos = $6.33), and waited about 15 minutes to board a cable car up up up the mountain. Arriving to the top (at 3152 meters), my first thought was "s***, this city is VAST." I mean, you can't even see the whole city as it wraps around beyond the northern end of the mountains and stretches as far as you can see to the bordering hills. As the sun began to drop, the mountains and the city were slowly swathed in golden light, making a dare-I-say enchanting scene. You feel a part of the city, but also removed, as if you're in an entirely different world. I'm not at all spiritual in any way, shape, or form, but I can understand why someone plopped a church up here. Kudos whoever you are.
After watching the sun dip below the western hills of the city, we headed to restaurant a few steps away on the mountain, San Isidro, for a somewhat French somewhat Colombian meal with stunning views. It was the perfect end to my first full Saturday in Bogota.
**Note to visitors. DO NOT head up to Monserrate on a Sunday. Tickets are 50% off on Sunday, so everyone in Bogota/many church goers head up there. I happened to drive by the Cable Car station and was shocked by the massive massive lines. Do avoid.**