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Jardin Botanico de Bogotá

It was a long walk

semi-overcast 16 °C

Day 3 Thursday, February 1, 2018

Today’s destination…the Jardin Botanico de Bogotá , the largest botanical garden in Colombia. It was a 4k walk to the garden that took us along a very busy street lined with small low end businesses. The sidewalks were terrible. No looking at your phone while you’re walking because you could go down a coverless manhole or fall off one of the foot high curbs let alone trip over some broken concrete. Another potential occupation – physio therapist.

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Close to the garden is the Parque Simon Bolivar which is actually an interconnected series of greenspaces that is bigger than Central Park in NYC. There were lots of bike paths and cyclists.

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We crossed the park that was surprisingly not busy other than cyclists and went in search of the garden. With the help of several street venders we found our destination, the Jardin, and were delighted to find that being over the ripe old age of 60 we got in for free. Our first stop was the restaurant for a bowl of a traditional Colombian soup – potatoes, pork, beans, and cilantro and empanadas. Bolstered we headed out to tour of the 20 ha garden which is a display and research garden. Unfortunately their huge tropical greenhouse was closed for repair but we had a nice stroll around the garden anyway.

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To get back to our hotel we decided to take a cab. Cabs are prolific and inexpensive in Bogotá with streets sometimes being a ribbon of yellow, its estimated that 70,000+ taxis circulate. However, one has to be very careful about taking a cab unless you want to take "the millionaire's ride" and that's no exaggeration. It works like this: With passengers in tow, unscrupulous taxi drivers suddenly stop to pick up accomplices who then force their victims, at gun or knife point, to pull out their debit and credit cards and withdraw millions of Colombian pesos from ATMs. They usually max out their victims daily ATM withdrawal amount and may hold them till midnight so they can get the next day’s amount also. Best way to avoid this is to only take a cab that has been called for you from a hotel or restaurant which means there is a record of who picked you up. There was no way to call a cab from the garden so we flagged one down on the busy street and we very glad to see it was a senior driving so we felt safe.

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Besides the traffic, getting around Bogotá has another challenge. At some point it was decided to set up a grid system for naming streets. Makes sense…calles go east/west and carreras go north south. The catch is that the streets were here before the grid so the grid bends a bit…think time warp. And there are very few street signs. To figure out where you are you look at the addresses. Our hotel address is Calle 66 8-23, which means building address 23 on Calle 66 between Carrera 8&9. Some blocks were subdivided so there’s 66 a and b. We’re getting better at it with the help of Googlemaps.

Posted by Fredricgail2017 17:41 Archived in Colombia

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