Extravaganza

Two days after we arrived in Bogota, we watched an amazing video and live performance extravaganza in Plaza de Bolivar. A newspaper called it a visual journey through the history of Bogota. It was repeated every evening the week before Christmas in a jam packed plaza. The entrances were controlled and bags searched. The atmosphere was much like Time Square on New Year’s Eve but very much a family event. Though it was a holiday season event, Christmas was not a part of the presentation. Some photos please!

White Screens installed just for this event. Imagine the square packed at night with families.
Acrobats dropped in front of the center screen, and performed suspended.
The devil (?) scratched & clawed his way up & down the church steeple.
The highlight was what we called the dancing dolls. Maybe 15′ high, their lights changed, and they floated and twirled in seamless unison, never bumping into another.. Magical. Or maybe computer directed driving under their hoop shirts..
After the dancing dolls exited, fireworks were launched off the rooftop.

I couldn’t get a decent photo but in the middle of the show an acrobatic “Angel” entered, flying overhead from the back of the plaza to just short of the screens, flipping and dancing along the way.

Hike up monserrate peak

The white church at the top of this peak (east of the city) is and has been a Mecca for pilgrims but everyone takes part in this challenging 1500 step hike. I read that the typical time to walk up is 60 – 90 minutes. We did it in the 90. We started too late in the day (11:00) to have the entire trail in the shade, so sun and altitude slowed us. That’s my story. There are three options for the hike up and down: walk, take the funicular, which operates till noon, or the cable car, which runs after noon. We walked up and took the cable car down.

http://www.colombiainfo.org/en-us/cities/bogota/monserrate.aspx

Dave at the beginning of the trail. Pleasantly surprised to find the entire length was stone steps – no scrambling.

Step #1. We’d soon be carrying our jackets.

We saw this sign repeated along the trail. Each time a successive altitude was highlighted, indicating in meters (2350 in total) how far we’ve progressed laterally, not vertically. Helped gauge your progress, or lack thereof.

Altitude map, kind of.
This uphill facing fella, obviously an overachiever, was going down backward. Yes, it was steep.

Thankfully, there were half a dozen snack vendors strategically placed along the trail. The watermelon hit the spot, and was another excuse to rest.

Shade!

Lots of groups of kids bouncing up and down the trail – Christmas break. If an adult was descending in a crisp shirt, likely he or she rode up.

The next images are from the top. Glad we did it.

To the south

To the west
To the south. The end of the trail is the path with walkers on it. Now let’s queue up for the cable car ride down!

Gold, gold, and more gold

More than 34,000 pieces of gold in the Museum of Gold (Museo del Oro) from all of the major pre-Hispanic cultures of Colombia. The guide books note if you only see one thing in Bogota, make it this museum. After visiting it, I would have to agree. If you take the guided tour in English (we should have!), you could get more of the history surrounding the pieces. The pieces were beautifully displayed and the building well guarded.

Some of my photos are below but it’s hard to do the collection justice.

Raft from the legend of El Dorado. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Dorado

The next set of photos are from the last exhibit. You enter a black room and haunting Colombian music begins. Lights begin to dance on the wraparound glass panels in this circular room, revealing thousands of gold pieces suspended in the “waters of Lake Guatavita”, again referring to the legend of El Dorado. It was a very moving exhibit. As we were going in, I asked the attendant if it was also in English and he said yes, English. And every other language, I found out. Only music, lights and gold – no words.

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Sicily

When planning this getaway, Colombia and the Italian island of Sicily were the two finalists. Colombia won out because travel here was less expensive and easier/quicker. Additionally, the ideal time to visit Sicily would be their spring, not winter. In light of the recent eruption of Mt. Etna and an earthquake on the island, seems it was a good choice.

Changing of the guards

One of our guide books advertised a twice-a-week changing of the guard on the grounds near the presidents residence. Two hundred formally outfitted soldiers. Well something got lost in translation or the parade is no more. We did, however, catch a mini guard change our first day there.

Botero museum

If you don’t recognize the name of Colombian born painter and sculptor Fernando Botero ( b 1932), you might recognize his style – massive curvaceousness (a word, Irene?), or just plain chubby. The large Banco de la Republic museum complex dedicated two floors to these chubby-image paintings and sculptures, all donated by Mr. Botero. A sampling is below.

When we get to Medellin, we will visit Botero Plaza, where 23 of his chubby bronzes reside.

Botero pear painting
Mona
Marble horse
At the entry to the museum. The only large piece here.
Botero piece in Medellin

This is a borrowed photo and it looks like the only clothed piece in the Medellin plaza.

Plaza de Bolivar

This is the main square of Bogota, the heart of the historic district.

Plaza church

Circling the square 😊 is the Cathedral Primada above (interior shot below), the mayor’s building, the nation’s capital building , and their Supreme Court. Pretty heavy stuff in one spot.

View from the church – Mayor’s building on the right, capital building on the left. Borrowed photo.
The Supreme Court, covered with screens for the projected holiday extravaganza put on nightly the week before Christmas.

In the photo above, note what looks like a white column on the top of the distant hillside. That is a Monserrate Peak, which we climbed – slowly. Remember- we’re at 8800′.