Monday, May 4, 2015

Finishing Unfinished Business: Riding the Funicular to Monserrate

Bogotá, sprawled out 1700 feet below the summit of Monserrate, with the cable car wires in the foreground
When I travel, I tend to leave unfinished business behind wherever I go. I've been to Budapest twice and still have not toured the iconic Parliament Building because they keep cancelling English-language tours at the last second whenever I am in town. And if you been following this trip, you heard about the boat trip through the Canal being my perpetual unfinished business when visiting Panama.

The unfinished business in Bogotá was riding the funicular to the top of Monserrate. I love funiculars ("inclines" to you people from Pittsburgh). There is a reason the first syllable in funicular is F-U-N fun. Well, finally, some unfinished got finished. And on my birthday, to boot!

At the ticket purchasing booth.
I guess this counts as a "selfie" since I'm visible in the middle window as I shoot the picture.
I bought my ticket. It cost $17,000! $10 for every foot increase in elevation. Of course, that's Colombian pesos, which translates to about $7 U.S. total.

Things were lively outside the ticket procuring area.

Ride my llama?
There were even llama rides available, presumably for a fee.

Funicular car
We loaded up into the funicular car on our way to the top.

Clear roof to see what's above the roof
In a little more than five minutes, we were there at the summit. The summit is high. It's about 10,300 feet above sea level. Bogotá is a mere 8600 feet or so.

At the summit of Monserrate
There are two main things to do at the summit. Look down and take pictures.

Pictures of pictures being taken
Selfies being the preferred style of photography.

Vanity at 10,300+ feet
The other thing is to visit the church high atop the summit.

The shrine of El Señor Caido (The Fallen Lord)
It was closed.

No mass
For cleaning.

Actually, it was closed until the 1:00 p.m. mass.

There also is a very nicely done Stations of the Cross that you can walk along the way to the church.

Viewing down on Station XIII
It is nice enough that I will do a whole post on walking the Stations of the Cross at the summit of Monserrate.

And, of course, one need not take the FUNicular or the cable car to the summit. The option of hiking up the steep incline is available.

From the looks of things, I think these may be some walkers
 Available for some. But not for me. Let's have another look at Bogotá, shall we?

It's a long way down to Bogotá
There is another summit with a giant "Christ The Redeemer" style statue on it, which is nicely visible from the Monserrate summit.

That little bit of white on the closest hilltop is the giant Christ
I'm not sure if one is allowed to travel up there. Given that there is no FUNicular, or even a cable car, why try?

And there is private security well-positioned throughout Monserrate. There was a group of Mormon missionaries at the summit when I was there.

Even missionaries get the photography bug at the Monserrate summit
I had a nice long conversation in my pidgin Spanish with two of the missionaries.

Elder ********* from Peru (L) and Elder ****** from Guatemala
In keeping with my usual, I can remember that one was from Guatemala (he was VERY happy to learn that I knew an LDS missionary who is in Guatemala right now) and the other was from Peru.

My conversation with them taught me one thing: struggling to carry on a decent conversation in Spanish -- ranked third among my language capabilities -- is exhausting! Of course, it could have been the lack of oxygen at 10,300 feet.

My ride
Time to take the cable car back down to the valley floor that is Bogotá. The FUNicular was not an option, as it stops running at 11:45 a.m. So it's cable car only from that point onward.

Cable car wires
The decent seems to be even more steep in the cable car. But, then again, that could be because I was in the front of the vehicle.

Upward traversing cable car heading right for us
But I did get a great view of the decent.

Funicular tracks
We actually were above the FUNicular route. But soon we pulled into the station and we were back level with the rest of Bogotá

Pulling into the station

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