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Bogota: How a world-class evening fell into our laps

This morning Craig and I packed up everything we own, slung it on our backs, and caught a cab to the airport.  Leaving Cartagena for Bogota, Columbia felt bittersweet, but I think two months in a place is the right tempo for me.  I’ve always been happiest when I was either anticipating a trip or in the middle of one; this way I’m perpetually doing both!

I need to leave Colombia by Saturday or extend my tourist visa, so we are spending three days in Bogotá and from here we’ll catch a flight to Quito, Ecuador for our next extended stay.

We arrived in Bogotá just before noon, after a really pleasant flight on LAN (I love that airline!). After finding an ATM and getting some lunch, we strolled through the Museo Botero, a huge FREE museum featuring an extensive and delightful collection of Fernando Botero’s work (mostly whimsical and delightful images of very juicy men and women) as well as a surprising collection of works by other 20th century artists, including  Picasso, Klimt, Degas, Dali, and many more. Here are a couple of pics from the museum:

This painting captures Botero’s wit and unique style.
Botero’s most famous painting — I love an artist who can make me laugh out loud!
Me taking a photo of the above painting, just to give you an idea of the scale!
Botero’s luscious bronze nudes can be seen all over Colombia, in public squares and restaurants.
The museum features work by Botero’s contemporaries as well. This piece by Picasso might be one of my favorite paintings in the world. Photos can’t capture the joy and energy of it!
The sculpture room features a variety of artists with a whimsical, modern approach.

At the museum, Craig spotted a poster about a concert that just happened to be this evening at 7:30pm. Eric Franceries, one of the most talented classical guitar players in France, is in town tonight only. Tickets are 20,000 pesos ($10). We took a picture of the poster and went back to the hostel to translate it and figure out where the venue was.

We found the venue online and used TripAdvisor to locate a restaurant nearby. Less than two blocks from the concert was a spot with more than 50 great reviews. It turned out to be a very popular spot because Anthony Bourdain featured it on his show this spring!

So we combed our hair and went to the concert.

Holy mackerel. Eric Franceries’s guitar could gently weep for sure. It could also fall in love, get angry, and tremble up and down the scales with the lightness of a hummingbird. Check him out, you will love him if you love  music. Or if you enjoy the guitar. Or if you have a soul.

We were deeply moved by the concert, and the theater was simply gorgeous. Perfect for an intimate concert with a soloist. It was an exquisite experience.

Then off to the restaurant, La Puerta Falsa. It was small. Really small. Only three tables. One of them was against the wall, so we figure there was a 50/50 chance we sat at thesame table where Anthony Bourdain sat. We ordered tamales – huge, tender, delicate treats of moist masa with a whole chicken leg embedded in each one. We also ordered hot chocolate. It was rich and dark and dense, served with bread, butter and cheese. The local tradition is to put the bread and cheese into the hot chocolate and eat it with a spoon, like soup. We experimented and decided we prefer to just drink ours, like a couple of dumb gringos. Dinner was about $12, for both of us. Seriously. (but we spent another $10 on a tray of authentic local pastries from the restaurant’s window display).

Over dinner, we talked about how easy it all was. We stepped out of our hostel (which is lovely, by the way) and the museum, concert and dinner all fell into place. In fact, everything about this whole crazy world-travel adventure has been so much easier than we ever imagined. I assumed there would be more to it, problems to solve, issues along the way, stress. I had faith that I would be able to solve whatever came up. But so far *knocking wood madly* it’s just been a wonderful dream.

View of the courtyard from our private room in the hostel. You’ll have to imagine the scent of incense and soft buddhist chanting…

So, to recap: Fabulous museum filled with art by modern masters. 7th row seats for an intimate concert with one of the most talented guitarists in France. Dinner at an Anthony Bourdain-approved restaurant. Tray of pastries that will last us all weekend. Grand total for this world-class date night: $32 each.

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