Monserrate, TransMilenio & Zona T


IMG_0007Yesterday afternoon I toured Monserrate. It’s north of central Bogota in the eastern Andes surrounded by beautiful lush gardens. Decided to ride the cable car up and walk down. Because it was a holiday it wasn’t crowded and many of the visitors were there on a religious pilgrimage.

The trail up the mountain passes by a series of bronze sculptures depicting the story of the crucifixion of Christ. People from all over the world come to worship the image of “Our Lord the Fallen Christ” in the church at the top of Monserrate. I took photos but the light wasn’t great. The sky here can change from clear blue to dark and ominous in a matter of minutes. Morning is usually the best time for taking photos.

Have been trying to master Bogotá’s TransMilenio transportation system, which seems more difficult than imagined but I haven’t given up.  The website is in Spanish (English version doesn’t seem to work very well) and the layout is confusing – at least to me. Went on an outing via TransMilenio today to Zona T and only got lost a few times. This is one explanation of the system on the Internet. When I arrived at the station I plotted out – Museo Del Oro – it was closed which was the beginning of the drama. Instead I had to leave from San Victorino Station which involved a few connections and transfers.

Somehow I made it to and back from Zona T relatively unscathed! The system moves millions of people each day. It’s extremely crowded and hectic but seems to work. There are buses that stop at every station along their route, express buses that go from one point to another, and those that bring commuters from residential areas to the main stations at no charge.

Compared to central Bogota, Zona T is a different world – clean orderly streets with modern buildings, cafes, and restaurants. It’s a place to go when you need to escape the chaos and high density of central Bogota. IMG_0039Taxis have been difficult as unfortunately many of the drivers try to cheat tourists as well as locals. Once you’re in the cab you’re pretty much at their mercy. I’ve had a few scary experiences when drivers headed away from the city or the opposite direction I wanted – but somehow I managed to get out of their cabs – not fun experiences!

The hotel pickup at the airport didn’t show and it was difficult finding another driver at the same rate (inflated to begin with) but I finally succeeded. It’s NEVER a good idea to get into a taxi without a specific address and agreeing on a fare in advance. Even that doesn’t mean much in Bogota. Also I’ve learned not to be too friendly with taxi drivers as they may see that as a sign of weakness.

I’m trying to walk or take TransMilenio but walking and biking in some districts is dangerous. I explored the older historical buildings near my hotel but have only experienced a few other districts. Guided tours for a single person are sky-high even if there are lots of people going on the tour.  If you’re not part of a group you pay double, so I will stick with the free walking and inexpensive bike tours.

More later!

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