I have to admit: my relationship with Bogota has not been love at first sight. It’s taken work, patience, and understanding. And as I’m sure most of my ex-boyfriends will tell you, I haven’t always been the most patient, or understanding, girlfriend.
But things change when you move abroad, and you’re forced to grow up. You date people you may not have ever given a chance back home, and you find yourself in countries and cities you never knew existed.
The last year-and-a-half has been challenging. At first glance, Bogota is nothing but a sprawling concrete jungle. The city is dirty and noisy, and black car exhaust fills your nose as you walk along the uneven sidewalks. Construction is constant, and it’s impossible to get a taxi between the hours of five and eight on a weekday. Also, due to the altitude, the weather rarely reaches 75 degrees.
When I was in my 20’s, I might not have found happiness in a place with such a gritty exterior. I also probably wouldn’t have dated someone shorter (or skinnier) than me. And as a 5’7 American, my choices would be severely limited here in Colombia.
Luckily, I’m no longer in my 20’s, and I’m not nearly as superficial as I used to be. Bogota, if you look closely, is actually a great city. Filled with some of South America’s best restaurants, you can find anything from authentic Peruvian ceviche to real Italian thin-crust pizzas, baked in wood-burning ovens. Big-name bands come often, as do dance companies, improv groups, and art exhibits. On weekends, families frequent the many parks for picnics. And sometimes, they go hiking.
Hiking on Saturdays, followed by brunch at expat favorite, Masa, has become my favorite tradition here. It gives me a chance to escape the city for a couple of hours, then reward myself with eggs and baked goods. To get to the hiking trail, you need to take a taxi to Carrera 2 #70A-91. The area is extremely confusing, but this address is directly across from the stairs that lead to the path. Make sure to arrive before 8am, as the trail closes at 10am.
It takes a little over an hour of huffing and puffing up steep inclines and stairs to reach the top. On the way, you’ll pass beautiful waterfalls and greenery, and walk through a fairytale-like pine tree forest. Then you’ll reach a religious statue and cross, situated above Bogota. There, you will see people snacking and taking in the view. But, I strongly urge you to keep a growling stomach. It’ll be worth it when you reach Masa in Zona G.
To get to Masa, head back down the trail, then take the first stairwell you see. You will pass under a bridge, then down another staircase. The restaurant’s address is Calle 70 # 4-83. Order any of the egg dishes, the “Masa” breakfast sandwich, or pastries. The chicha de patilla (watermelon juice with chunks of watermelon) is delicious, and so are the cappuccinos. But the real reason to go to Masa is for the almond croissants: warm, buttery, flaky, oh-so-sinful pastries of perfection, filled with a layer of sweet almond paste. I’ve been known to order one at the table, then take another to go.
With just three months left in Bogota, I know there will be things I’ll miss and things I won’t. But just like any relationship, time goes by, and somehow we forget all the bad times and only remember the good. I know my Saturday morning hikes and almond croissants will be a memory I’ll definitely hang on to.