Bogotá: Sunday Things

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    The Cathedral of Bogotá in Plaza Bolívar

Boredom on a Sunday in Bogotá is something that I’ve never experienced. Some may decide to sleep in, dream about rainbows and unicorns or stay at home to look at the four walls. Others may choose to go out and taste a refreshing natural fruit juice or a humongous roasted corn glazed with melted butter and salt from the markets. Well, I choose the latter and if you do choose the markets you will inevitably stumble upon some pretty talented bogotanos, allowing you to perhaps deepen your appreciation for the arts. I can personally relate because this did in fact happen to me. From cycling to shopping to sightseeing or to simply strolling one can definitely make their Sunday a memorable and a satisfactorily enjoyable one.

Ciclovía
Cyclists, runners, rollerbladers, skateboarders, strollers and even pets can all be seen on Bogota’s Ciclovía on a Sunday morning. Originated in 1974, a bicycle rally led by Jaime Ortiz Mariño gained support of more than 5000 Bogotanos in the main roadways of the city, Carerra 7, also known as La Séptima, and Carrera 13. This Ciclovía or ‘bicycle path’ was created in an attempt to demonstrate the citizens’ opposition to the rapid increase in cars, environmental pollution and the lack of recreational facilities. Over the years this bicycle rally has been able to gain the support of the mayor and the city government who officially gave it the name Ciclovía. Ciclovía now occurs every Sunday and on public holidays between the hours of 7am to 2pm where certain main streets are closed off for cyclists and pedestrians. What I particularly like about Ciclovía is that it not only promotes a healthy and active lifestyle but it also fosters family bonding time and perhaps encourages and strengthens social interaction among youths, freeing them from the claws of social media and technology for just one day of the week.

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One of the lanes in La Séptima is blocked off for Ciclovía in Usaquén.

 

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Ciclovía on La Séptima in Usaquén.

 

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A cyclist and a pedestrian with his pet dog on Ciclovía at Avenida Chile.

Sunday Markets

Apart from Ciclovia, one can also head to some popular markets in Bogotá. Heading north on La Séptima in just 20 minutes from Chapinero you will arrive at Usaquén, well-known for Bogotá ‘s largest flea market. While making your way through the tiny lanes of the market, you have the possibility of doing a variety of things such as sipping a natural fruit juice made on the spot, enjoying the street performances, observing and even purchasing some traditional handicrafts, trinkets, household items and spices. You may also find yourself munching on that gigantic delicious corn that I mentioned earlier. However, because of its popularity to tourists and because of its location further north, the items there are a bit more pricey than the same items that you would find in el Centro (the Center), the other flea market officially known as San Alejo. Under the yellow and green tents of San Alejo, a wider variety of  antique and brass household items exist. More traditional street food can also be found at this flea market at more affordable prices.

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Traditional handicraft items and trinkets at the Usaquén Flea Market.

 

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Some street performers at the Usaquén Flea Market.

 

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The yellow and green tents of San Alejo’s Flea Market. Cerro de Monserrate can also be seen at the top of the mountain.

 

La Séptima 

My favorite place however would be La Séptima in La Candelaria. This section of Carrera 7, from Plaza Bolívar to Calle 24 is actually permanently blocked off for only pedestrians and cyclists. However, it is most active on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and of course on public holidays. Along La Séptima, you can find many street performances, a wide variety of  eats and drinks, more humongous roasted corn, traditional handicrafts, clothes and you can even get yourself drawn whether it be a portrait or a caricature! After stopping of at the Las Aguas transmilenio station, which is the last stop anyways, you walk towards the Museo del Oro where you will once again find yourself on the famous La Séptima. As Trinis would usually say ‘is rel vibes’, that’s how I would describe La Séptima. The energy level there is at its highest since there are more street acts, more people and even Zumba, on Sunday mornings, where you can simply join in for free. La Séptima is not so much of a market since there are no tents like that of Usaquén and San Alejo. What is interesting to note though is the people that come out on these days to make a dollar. The average tourist may perceive them as being talented and dynamic or may think that these persons work on La Séptima part-time, however, the majority of them actually depend on these informal jobs to support themselves and their family. Personally I think that this reflects ambition in the people who live here as they start their day early whether it be for the purpose of selling arts and crafts, food and drinks, or performing street acts. 

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The delicious, gigantic roasted corn on La Séptima.

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Soursop juice made on the spot on La Séptima. Everything in Bogotá is big.

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Scores of people strolling on La Séptima just in front of the San Alejo Flea Market.

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This is what La Séptima looks like on a Sunday just in front of the Museo del Oro.

San Victorino

If you’re a shopacholic then San Victorino is a must see. I call it the ‘cheapland’ because well the word itself explains it all. It reminds me of the busy streets of San Juan and Chaguanas in Trinidad. From clothing, to shoes, to electronics, to household items, San Victorino has it all at mind-blowingly reasonable prices. After visiting San Victorino only then you will realize how overpriced Trinidad really is. To get there you just stop off at the Jiménez transmilenio station or after strolling on La Séptima in La Candelaria, you can walk straight to San Victorino as all these areas are relatively nearby.

Museums

Another interesting activity to do is to visit the many museums that exist in Bogotá, especially if history or art interests you. They are relatively cheap and besides, on the last Sunday of each month all the museums are free. Some museums that I have visited so far are the Museo del Oro, which is highly recommended, The National Museum and the Botero Museum.

A display of gold objects that were worn by the indigenous Muisca chieftain in the Museo del Oro. Gold was symbolic of power and hierarchy.

A display of gold objects that were worn by the indigenous Muisca chieftain in the Museo del Oro. Gold was symbolic of power and hierarchy.

These unique ‘Sunday Things’, especially that of Ciclovía and La Séptima all contribute to the authentic, exclusive and diverse culture that exists here in Bogotá and is a must see and do for all who visit this wonderful and dynamic city in order to get the true Bogotan experience.

 

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