Monday, May 4, 2015

Arrival in Colombia

Parque 93, Bogotá, with Montserrat looming in the background
Sunday, May 3, 2015. The day to say "good-bye" to Panama and "hola" to Bogotá, Colombia.

For those of you who do not know, Bogotá is huge. As in "just under eight million living in the city limits" huge. The neighborhood in which I am staying, Chico, is the upscale barrio. How upscale?

A cool refreshing Zipaquirá ale from the local brew pub
I went to the local "chain" of brew pubs, the Bogotá Brewing Company -- there seem to be a few locations around town -- and the coasters say "Bienvenido al 1%." Translation: "Welcome to the 1%." Maybe I'm putting my American spin on this, but there really can't be any other interpretation. The clientele of this upscale establishment are the "One Percent" in the Occupy/Elizabeth Warren sense of that term. But here in Colombia, they are out and proud about that fact. They celebrate it.

I ordered the nachos to go with it.

Colombian-style nachos at the Bogotá Brewing Company
They were surprisingly tasty. Lots of really good chicken meat under that healthy dollop of guacamole and sour cream. But you know what was missing? Cheese. And chips. There really weren't enough chips to eat this respectively. But once you got passed the fact that these weren't "nachos" in any Americanized-Mexican sense of the word, it was a quite tasty snack.

Bogotá Brewing Company building, seen from Parque 93
Again, the neighborhood has a distinctly upscale vibe. And it is safe to walk at night.

So after my beer and snack, I headed across the street to an interesting looking sports bar called "Buffalo Wings." I was hoping it was a local rip-off of the "Buffalo Wild Wings" chain, but, unfortunately, it WAS the local Buffalo Wild Wings chain. But for some reason in Colombia, the wings aren't wild.

Club Colombia cerveza roja. Pretty good, actually.
I had a local cerveza, a Club Colombia, roja, of course, my favorite color for a beer. I liked the sports bar atmosphere of the place. The crowd was into a game from two of the top teams in the Categoriá Primera A, also known as "Liga Águila," the top soccer league within Colombia. The Millonarios, the local heros, were playing Nacional from Medellin. On the drive in from the airport, we passed a soccer stadium and the cars driving up to it were screaming and yelling and whooping it up, most with blue and white flags from their car. Those are the colors of the Millonarios, so it was the early arrivals for this game that I saw.

Watching Los Millonarios in a Bogotá franchise of Buffalo Wild Wings. Does life get better?
Two quick observations. First, calling the team the Millonarios is no big deal in Colombia. I got over a million Colombian pesos for this trip. Total value of a million Colombian pesos? Less than $500. Second, Los Millonarios play their home games in Estadio Nemesio Camacho. You are not allowed to wear a belt -- or otherwise bring a belt -- to Millonarios' games. Oh, the game? Nil-nil draw, which I presume was great news for the visiting side.

Lively twilight time in Parque 93
Parque 93, which defines this neighborhood, isn't especially large. But it was quite active in the twilight hours. My hotel is a block south of the park.

Atton 93. Formerly known as the NH 93. On Calle 93. I detect a pattern here.
My hotel is a nice "businessman's hotel." There are a lot of embassies in the neighborhood, and a lot of financial institutions, so there's a lot of businessing going on.

The room has a giant king-sized bed which pretty much devours the room.

Mi cuarto en mi hotel
  And that's OK with me, given that it's time for sleep.

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