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Wednesday, May 19, 2010



The positive reviews are right on the money -- this place is a dream come true.
First, a word or two about Bogota. It is safe and it is very much worth seeing.
As for where to stay, sleep in La Candelaria, the old part of the City. Trust me.
I'm a product of the Midwest who worries just as much about crime as the next guy.
Clearly, Bogota has a nasty past, but all that is gone. You'll feel safer here than in most big cities in the U.S.

Still, some of the guidebooks will steer you toward Zona Rosa, Parque 93 and other points north. You will think "maybe I should sleep in the more suburban, sterile north and visit La Candelaria and other older areas during the day. That would be a big mistake.

There's nothing like waking up in La Candelaria and walking to a museum, a cafe (Le Etoille at Carrera 4, No. 13-57 is superb and within walking distance of Abadia Colonial), a view of colonial Bogota, a feeling for the vibrancy of the streets, a view up at Monserrate, etc.

When everybody else goes to bed (before midnight on weeknights) in La Candelaria, you can do the same -- that way, you're not out in an alley when nobody else is around...pretty simple, no?

You will sleep well at Abadia Colonial, even though there is a lively student bar-pizza place complex right across the street....because you will be sleeping in a safe, secure, quiet colonial mansion.

My bedroom, one of a dozen, was perfect....old door, high ceiling, lots of wooden the modern conveniences of a perfectly updated shower, commode, etc.
The in-room phone allows you to dial local numbers free and back to the US for a rate that is completive with the calling cabanas (which is good if your cell roaming charges are 5 bucks a minute like mine).

The staff is amazing. Polite, well-dressed, on top of things. Now I will say that your Spanish will serve you well. I confess the front desk people are not as versed in English as well as the staff might be at a dull, cookie-cutter chain hotel in the northern areas.

Practice some basic espanol and deal with the front desk -- it will help you use your second language and you are in Bogota after all....shouldn’t you be using serviceable Spanish if you are in South America?

Other items of note: The breakfast is free and served to your table. The juices (jugos) are fabulous. The fruitas (fresh fruit) were varied each day and fabulous enough to turn this meat-potatoes-bread guy into a lover of all things fresh and sweet from the garden.

The bring the bread (pan) cold. It is very fresh and might taste better toasted (I should have asked, maybe they would have). You can get coffee (cafe) or hot chocolate (caliente). They serve eggs every way known to man.
The Colombian-Italian kitchen is open to the public from lunch till about 9 or 10 p.m. I saw lots of business people wining and dining there, so you knew it was good.

On my final day, I had the best prosciutto, artichoke, olive and mushroom pizza I've ever had...and they baked the thin crust delicacy on the run because they knew I needed to catch a plane (they have a car service to and from the's 3 times as costly as a cab, but if you want ultimate safety and service, splurge for it.)

I paid about $75 US for the was worth double that.

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